Should You Sue the Trucking Company or the Driver in Florida?
Trucking accidents can cause terrible injuries and catastrophic damage. The size difference between a semi truck and a typical car or SUV is so great that victims often face severe or permanent injuries in these crashes. If you or a loved one was injured in a trucking accident, the best way to get compensation for your injuries might be to sue in court. However, this leads to a dilemma: if you need to sue the driver who hit you, can you sue the trucking company alongside them? The Miami truck accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked explains whom to sue in a truck accident case in Florida and how courts might divide liability.
Can You Sue for Truck Accidents in Florida?
Before discussing whom to sue, we first need to go over some Florida laws that might limit your ability to sue. Florida requires drivers to carry “no-fault” car insurance, which means that your insurance covers your own injuries in a car crash, and you can typically file a claim with your own insurance to get payments when you get injured. This law also means that you cannot sue the at-fault driver in court under certain circumstances.
If your injuries are especially severe or meet certain cost thresholds, your right to file a lawsuit in court is opened. Injuries that are “permanent” or total more than $10,000 in damages for medical bills and lost wages justify a lawsuit despite the no-fault insurance rules. However, this still leaves semi truck accident injury victims with questions about whom to sue.
Does the Trucker or the Trucking Company Pay for Truck Accidents?
When you sue for an 18-wheeler accident, the driver is almost always included in the lawsuit. No matter how the crash happened, the driver is the one behind the wheel, and they are the one who must personally answer for the crash. However, there are potential ways that the trucking company might be forced to pay for the driver’s negligence, or the trucking company could share fault in the crash and be included in the lawsuit.
Trucking companies are responsible for their employees in the same way that other companies are responsible for mistakes their employees make. This means that if a truck driver hits you or causes an accident, you can usually sue their employer to get damages for the accident their employee caused. These cases are known as “vicarious liability” claims because, even though the trucking company might not have done anything directly, they are held liable for the other party’s mistakes. Since trucking companies are often in a better position to afford to pay substantial damages, this helps victims get full compensation the individual driver might be unable to pay. However, if the driver was an independent contractor or owner-operator, you may have to sue them and rely on their insurance coverage instead, since there is no employer to sue.
Suing Trucking Companies for Semi Truck Accidents in FL
In many cases, you can also sue the trucking company for mistakes that they made in their own right. Trucking companies who own their trucks are responsible for maintaining and servicing the trucks in their fleet. This means that accidents caused by mechanical issues can often be pinned on the company for failing to properly service their vehicles. Additionally, trucking companies may cause issues by failing to follow regulations or hiring negligent drivers, allowing the court to hold them liable for their share of the harm you faced.
Many truck accidents are caused by equipment failure, from faulty headlights to dangerous tires to hitches and trailer issues that cause fishtailing or jackknife accidents. Typically, these issues are directly under the trucking company’s area of control, not the driver’s. In accidents involving equipment failure or mechanical issues, the driver might also be a victim, and the trucking company should pay the majority of the damages.
In cases where the trucking company violates trucking regulations or other laws, they can typically be held at least partly liable for their direct hand in causing the accident. Trucking companies are held to strict legal standards about how long their drivers can work, what certifications their driver must meet, and how much weight a truck can legally hold. If trucking companies purposely overwork their drivers, hire drivers that don’t meet health and safety standards, or overload their vehicles, this can put everyone at risk, and the trucking company should be held directly responsible for injuries that come from these violations.
While a truck driver might be individually liable for causing an accident, their trucking company could share fault for negligent hiring or negligent retention. If the company was on notice that the driver had a bad record of accidents or injuries or they had previous incidents with the same employee, putting that driver behind the wheel of one of their trucks would be a seriously dangerous move. In these cases, the trucking company can be held partly liable for the crash for putting a dangerous driver on the road.
Contact Our Miami Trucking Accident Attorney for a Free Legal Consultation
If you or someone in your family was injured in a truck accident or a loved one was killed in an accident with a commercial truck, call our attorney today. The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked represents victims of serious truck accidents and other injuries, and we fight to get justice and financial compensation for our clients. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our Miami personal injury attorneys today at (305) 690-0244.