When you’ve been hurt in a truck accident in West Palm Beach, you may have the option to file a claim under the trucking company’s commercial liability insurance policy. How will you provide evidence to back up your injury claim? After all, a sound legal argument is crucial to successfully recover all of your damages.
Will PIP Be Enough?
Every accident in Florida comes with the option of filing under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy, which you must do first to cover the costs of any injury. But PIP policy limits run out quickly. For serious injuries or injuries with significant financial losses, you need to seek more coverage to be compensated for all of your losses, not just some.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have extensive experience handling truck collision cases in South Florida. Our West Palm Beach truck accident attorneys know the essential components of a strong case. We approach every truck accident claim as if it will have to stand up in court in front of a jury – because sometimes, it does.
Find out what you need to build a strong truck accident injury claim when you speak to a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in West Palm Beach. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now when you call (561) 566-5021 or contact us online.
Minimum Proof for a West Palm Beach Truck Accident Claim
First, you will have to meet a bare minimum of circumstances and evidence to justify filing a truck accident claim. These minimum provings are:
- Your accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver, their employer, or another related party
- The negligence directly led to your injuries, which created a range of damages that you can be compensated for
- Your injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold in Florida (F.S. § 627.737), allowing you to file a liability claim
Proving Negligence in a Truck Collision Case
Negligence is a legal concept that establishes fault for an injury and liability for that injury’s costs. Every negligence claim has four main parts:
- The defendant had a duty of care to obey professional rules and standards while also exercising “ordinary care” as a “reasonable person” would
- The defendant had a breach in their duty of care, either by violating a known rule, acting recklessly, or egregiously failing to act in a way that a “reasonable person” would know could lead to an accident scenario
- The defendant’s breach directly caused an injury to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff’s injury led to damages that can be recovered through the legal system
Duty of Care
After a West Palm Beach semi truck wreck, establishing a duty of care can be easy or quite complicated. Truck drivers have a duty of care to follow the rules of the road, such as not driving under the influence and obeying all posted speed limits.
At the same time, drivers have a duty to act in accordance with professional standards, meaning they have to do things they know are necessary to prevent an accident. A good example is that trucks may need to use curved exit ramps at a much slower speed than the average vehicle. Driving faster along these curves may not be illegal, but it could be negligent.
Duty of care may also refer to a duty on the part of the trucking company, the individuals who loaded the trailer, the maintenance company, and others involved.
For instance, commercial carriers that routinely pressure drivers to complete unrealistic schedules may be responsible for hours of service violations that lead to drowsy driving, even if the driver was technically an independent contractor.
Breach in Duty of Care
The second component of establishing a duty of care is showing that the duty was somehow violated, leading to unsafe conditions.
Finding proof of violations requires a West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer to subpoena evidence. They may ask for data from the truck’s “black box” telematics unit to prove the driver was speeding. Or, they may ask for records to see if the driver was drug tested after each incident. They may petition nearby businesses to send security camera footage establishing that the driver was erratic.
Your attorney will gather evidence to identify all lapses in “ordinary care” and professional standards to build a stronger claim. Because multiple parties may have violated their duty of care, your attorney may file multiple claims at once. This strategy increases the odds of successful damages recovery.
Direct Causation (Proximate Cause) of an Injury
It is crucial to prove that a breach in the defendant’s duty of care is exactly what led to the accident and the subsequent injury.
Sometimes, the defendant may have acted negligently but that negligence did not directly lead to the accident. For instance, their data can show a pattern of speeding, but they may not have been speeding at the time of the wreck. Similarly, if the injury was not caused by the wreck but by the plaintiff slipping and falling as they went to physically confront the truck driver, then the truck company’s negligence may not be considered to have caused the injury.
Establishing proximate cause is one of the major reasons to seek medical care immediately after your truck accident. A thorough, early diagnosis can demonstrate that the injuries were caused by impact trauma.
To prove your damages, you need financial documentation. That means receipts, billing invoices, hospital discharge papers, and more. It also means proof of your income before the accident and after the accident, allowing you to claim the difference in lost wages.
Many truck accident claim disputes come down to the dollar amounts requested for certain coverage items, and some insurers may allege that the victim has no true damages from the accident. In these cases, your West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer can help you establish all damages, connect them to the defendant’s breach in their duty of care, and show that these damages hurt their client’s financial and emotional wellbeing.
Meeting the Serious Injury Threshold
Florida is a “no-fault” state. This means that accident injury victims are expected to file under their own PIP insurance, except in extreme circumstances. Specifically, the injury victim has to have a qualifying “serious injury,” as determined by state law, in order to file a liability claim against a third party, such as a trucking company.
The exact criteria of a serious injury in Florida is as follows:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Build a Strong Case with an Experienced West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney
Assembling all of the evidence listed above can be difficult, especially for a layperson who also happens to be recovering from an injury. Appointing a West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer to handle your case gives you access to the legal knowledge necessary to assemble a claim as well as the resources to obtain needed evidence.
Let Steinger, Greene & Feiner help you and your family navigate these moments of crisis. We can provide an experienced truck accident lawyer in Miami to investigate your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurers. If your case must advance to a lawsuit, we are prepared to take it all the way to a jury trial.
Schedule a free, no-obligation with our West Palm Beach offices today when you dial (561) 566-5021 or contact us online now.