Accidents involving commercial trucks often have devastating consequences. When a truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds collides with an ordinary car, pickup truck, or SUV, the forces involved in the collision can cause utter destruction, and they can leave occupants with life-altering or life-threatening injuries.
If you have been severely injured in a truck accident in Florida, if your child or spouse has been severely injured, or if you have tragically lost a loved one, there is a lot you need to know about protecting your legal rights. But, this does not mean that moving forward has to be stressful or complicated. With some basic information, you can make informed decisions, and you can have meaningful discussions with your attorney focused on finding the best path forward.
10 Important Facts to Know After a Serious or Fatal Truck Accident in Florida
So, if you are struggling to cope with the effects of a serious or fatal car accident, what do you need to know? Here are 10 important facts for truck accident victims and families in Florida:
1. Truck Accident Victims and Families Have Clear Rights Under Florida Law
The first thing to know is that you have clear rights under Florida law. In Florida, trucking companies can be held fully liable for their drivers’ negligence, and truck manufacturers and other entities can be held liable when their mistakes lead to accidents as well. When you hire a lawyer to represent you or your family, your lawyer will investigate all potential sources of financial recovery and file all necessary claims to recover the maximum financial compensation available.
Just like other types of auto accidents, most truck accidents lead to insurance claims. However, unlike other types of auto accidents, there is typically significant liability insurance coverage available in truck accident cases. Trucking companies, truck manufacturers, and other entities all typically purchase substantial insurance policies to protect themselves—because they know that they can face significant liability in the event of a serious or fatal accident under Florida law.
2. The Recovery Process Takes Time
While truck accident victims and families in Florida have clear legal rights, asserting these legal rights takes time. As you move forward, this will be important to keep in mind. While you will need to be diligent in working with your lawyer, you will also need to be patient. There is a process your lawyer will need to follow, and going through all of the necessary steps will be essential for maximizing your (or your family’s) financial recovery.
Many truck accident victims and families experience financial pressure; and, unfortunately, in some cases this leads to poor decision-making. If you need financial help or relief from bill collection while your (or your family’s) case is pending, your lawyer can help with this as well. There are a variety of short-term options available, and your lawyer can help you pursue the option (or options) that make the most sense for your individual or family circumstances.
3. Nothing Will Happen Unless You Take Action
While it would be nice if you could rely on trucking companies and truck manufacturers to do the right thing, the simple truth is that nothing will happen unless you take action. In other words, it is up to you to assert your (or your family’s) legal rights. You cannot trust these companies to treat you fairly, and you will need to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced lawyer as you move forward.
4. There Are Lots of Ways a Lawyer Can Help You After a Serious or Fatal Truck Accident
When you are coping with the effects of a serious or fatal truck accident, there are lots of ways a lawyer can help you. We’ve touched on a couple of these already, but this is truly just the tip of the iceberg. For example, at Silva & Silva, when we represent individuals and families in truck accident cases, the types of assistance we provide include:
- Helping our clients with short-term financial relief options like pre-settlement funding and sending letters of protection to healthcare providers;
- Helping our clients find trustworthy medical specialists who focus on treating the physical and psychological effects of serious traumatic accidents;
- Investigating the causes of our clients’ truck accidents, determining what companies are liable, and filing all necessary claims on our clients’ behalf;
- Working with our clients’ doctors and other experts to calculate the total financial and non-financial costs of our clients’ injuries or their loved ones’ untimely deaths; and,
- Helping our clients decide when (and if) to settle their claims while also helping them understand the benefits and risks of taking their claims to court.
These are just examples. Due to the time and effort involved in successfully pursuing a serious or fatal truck accident claim, we get to know our clients very well. As a result, we become personally invested in our clients’ cases, and we truly want to do everything we can to help our clients recover.
5. You Need to Be Careful to Protect Your Legal Rights
Even though Florida law protects truck accident victims and their families in many ways, you can lose your legal rights if you aren’t careful. As a result, you need to make sure you take all of the necessary steps to protect them. Another way your lawyer can help you is by walking you through everything you need to do in order to maximize your chances of securing a full financial recovery.
Equally important, your lawyer can advise you on the mistakes you need to avoid. From posting about the accident on social media to occasionally skipping appointments with your doctor or therapist, there are lots of seemingly simple mistakes that can have significant repercussions for your (or your family’s) ability to recover just compensation.
6. Most Successful Truck Accident Claims Settle Out of Court
The vast majority of successful truck accident claims settle out of court. This is true for claims involving both catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will focus on positioning your case for settlement; and when the time is right, your lawyer will begin working to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf.
But there is a big difference between settling your case and settling your case for just compensation. Since you only get one chance to settle, it is absolutely imperative that you work with a lawyer who can accurately calculate the financial and non-financial costs of your (or your loved one’s) collision. Once you know how much your case is worth, then you can make an informed decision about whether accepting a settlement offer is in your (or your family’s) best interests.
7. You Should Not Feel Pressured to Settle for Less Than You Deserve
This brings us to another important point: Under no circumstances should you feel pressured to settle for less than you deserve. You should not feel pressured by the insurance companies, and you certainly should not feel pressured by your lawyer. Unfortunately, insurance companies will often use a variety of tactics to try to convince truck accident victims and their families to accept lowball settlements, and some lawyers may recommend settling simply because they do not want to go (or are not comfortable going) to trial.
Here too, protecting yourself starts with putting an experienced lawyer on your side. When you have a lawyer with a track record of success in settlement negotiations and litigation, this sends a clear message to the insurance companies. It also gives you the confidence you need to feel reassured that your lawyer is acting with your best interests in mind.
8. The Long-Term Financial and Non-Financial Costs of a Truck Accident Can Be Substantial
As you start thinking about what you might be willing to accept in terms of a settlement, it will be critical to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the long-term financial costs of your (or your loved one’s) truck accident. The financial and non-financial costs of these accidents can be substantial, and over a period of years or decades, they can easily climb into the millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars.
When determining the value of your (or your family’s) claim, your lawyer will work with medical and other experts to determine the costs of the accident in a variety of different categories. For example, in a typical case, the recoverable damages in a serious or fatal truck accident case will include just compensation for current and future:
- Medical treatment (including therapy, rehabilitation, and psychiatric or psychological care)
- Out-of-pocket costs for transportation, home modifications, prescriptions, medical supplies, home services (i.e., cleaning and landscaping), and other necessities
- Loss of future income and benefits
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship, consortium, enjoyment of life, services, society, and support
9. Experience is One of Several Keys to Success
Regardless of the nature of your case, regardless of the facts involved, and regardless of the party (or parties) on the other side, experience is one of several keys to success. Simply put, you need a lawyer who has been there before. When your financial stability and long-term well-being are on the line, you cannot risk trusting your case to inexperienced legal counsel. You need a lawyer who not only has a proven track record of success but who has a proven track record in high-value cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
10. The Sooner You Get Started, the Sooner You Can Move On
Finally, the sooner you get started, the sooner you can move on. Taking action promptly can also be important for making sure your lawyer is able to preserve the available evidence before it disappears. While you may have two to four years to file your claim under Florida’s statute of limitations, you do not want to wait anywhere near this long to assert your (or your family’s) legal rights.
In fact, the best thing you can do is take action as soon as possible. Fortunately, your first step is simple: All you have to do is get in touch with a lawyer who can help you. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain everything you need to know, walk you through your next steps, and take all necessary legal action to help you and your family recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Coral Gables, FL
If you need to know more about what to do after a serious or fatal truck accident in Florida, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer at our law offices in Coral Gables, please call 305-445-0011 or tell us how we can reach you online today.