Accidents involving commercial trucks can be physically, mentally, and financially devastating. One of the first steps toward legal recovery is determining who is liable in a truck accident. No one wants to be held responsible for what can be a very expensive mistake, and in some cases, the injured party may need to go through a lengthy process to prove who was at fault. If you have been in a serious truck accident in Florida, the experienced team at James Horne Law PA, is here to help you understand your legal rights. We can evaluate the circumstances to figure out who to bring your claim against.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?
There are a lot of factors that can go into causing a vehicle accident. It is important to take a careful look at the situation to determine what occurred and who might be responsible. Let’s discuss a handful of potentially liable parties for truck accidents.
Driver error is the most common cause of vehicle accidents. Driving a truck requires a special license and training, and these drivers are held to a professional standard of care when operating commercial vehicles.
If the driver is working for a trucking company, that company can often be held liable for anything that happens because of an employee’s actions. This holds true as long as the employee was acting in the course of their employment.
Truck Leasing Company
Some trucking companies and other businesses lease their semi-trucks from a truck leasing company. If something goes wrong with the truck that causes the accident, the truck leasing company is one of the parties who can be held liable.
A third-party cargo loader may be responsible for the stability of the cargo in the truck trailer. If the cargo is unbalanced, it may cause the trailer to pull suddenly. This sudden pull can cause the truck to veer into another lane or tip over completely.
If the truck accident was caused by a mechanical issue that should have been caught during routine maintenance, the mechanic may share responsibility for the accident. Some truck and truck leasing companies have their own mechanics, and some contract out for that service.
Defective parts are not uncommon for vehicles, which is why recalls occur. Depending on the nature of the defect and what components of the vehicle are impacted, a defective part could cause an accident. If this is the case, the manufacturer of the defective parts may be the liable party.
Depending on where you are driving, the federal, state, or local government is generally responsible for maintaining roadways. This includes ensuring the ground and traffic signals are maintained. Poorly maintained roads can lead to accidents, and if so, you might be able to hold the government at least partially responsible for your losses.
Importance of Proving Liability
Florida uses a modified comparative negligence system. That means that you can still file a claim even if you were partially at fault for the accident, as long as you were not more than 50% responsible. Your final award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were awarded $100,000, and a judge finds you to be 20% at fault, you would receive $80,000.
Undoubtedly, liable parties will try and make it seem like you were largely at fault, as this helps reduce their own percentage of responsibility. That is why it is important to understand who you should bring your claim against and have evidence to substantiate your claim. In many cases, there could be more than one party at fault, which can make determining who is liable for a truck accident even more complicated.
Florida Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
As of 2023, the Florida statute of limitations extends two years from the date the accident happened. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this timeframe, you will likely be barred from legal recovery. Your attorney can help you determine if any exceptions apply.
The sooner you can start the process, the greater your chances are of uncovering timely evidence to help you prove who is liable in a truck accident.
Contact James Horne Law, PA
James “Jay” Horne has the skill and experience needed to handle the pressure of standing up to large trucking companies and insurance providers. Jay has recovered six and seven-figure awards for vehicle accidents on behalf of clients in Florida, and he is committed to compassionate service and communication. At James Horne Law PA, each case is given the attention it deserves. You will never have to wonder about the status of your case and what the next step is in the process. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.