Fireball Rear-End Collision Causes Serious Injuries on Florida Turnpike
A column of smoke rose into the air from the scene of a rear-end collision between a slow-moving SUV and a produce-hauling large truck.
According to police and witnesses, a Honda CRV was travelling below the posted speed limit as it towed a trailer. Then, near Mile Marker 187, which is between the Fort Drum Service Place and State Road 60 in Okeechobee County, a semi-truck rear-ended the SUV as the truck travelled at full speed. The force of the collision propelled the two vehicles onto the median, where they burst into flames. Two people inside the Honda were transported to a local hospital, where they are expected to survive.
Authorities say they may file charges against the semi-truck driver.
First Party Liability in Truck Crash Claims
Truck crashes are rather common in Florida, largely because of the ongoing truck driver shortage. Since there are not as many operators, some shipping companies hire drivers with little or no practical experience behind the wheel. To establish liability for damages, a Port St. Lucie truck crash lawyer must collect evidence in these cases. Such evidence often includes:
- Police Accident Report: The police report is normally the foundation of a claim for damages. However, these reports are often either incomplete or inaccurate. So, an attorney must pay attention to detail in this area.
- Event Data Recorder: Every large truck has an EDR, a gadget which is a lot like a commercial jet’s black box. EDRs capture and record vehicle speed, brake application, and other important car crash figures. Such electronic data is rather difficult to obtain and nearly unassailable in court.
- SMS Data: The federal government keeps track of prior traffic violations, crash history, and other such information in the nationwide Safety Management System database. The SMS report is essentially a multi-state driving record. Due to privacy laws, these reports are difficult to obtain as well.
Evidence is important because victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in civil cases. These parties must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Insurance company defenses, like sudden emergency, may reduce the amount of compensation the victim receives. The sudden emergency doctrine if the tortfeasor (negligent driver):
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
This rule comes up frequently in rear-end crash claims, as well as pedestrian accidents.
Generally, insurance company lawyers have no trouble establishing the first sudden emergency prong. But the second one is a different matter. A sudden emergency is a completely unexpected situation. Insurance company lawyers often try to apply the defense to things like a slow-moving vehicle. But drivers should anticipate things like slow cars, stalled cars, and jaywalking pedestrians.
Third Party Liability in St. Lucie County Truck Crash Claims
Due to the serious nature of truck crashes, the damages in these cases are normally substantial. Many times, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation. Fortunately, Florida courts have broad third party liability laws. Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) is a good example. Thus liability theory applies if:
- The tortfeasor was an employee
- Who was working in the scope of employment at the time of the crash.
The law broadly defines both these elements. For example, an “employee” could also be an owner-operator, independent contractor, or even an unpaid volunteer.
Damages in Florida truck crash claims generally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Lawyer
Large vehicle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie truck accident attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.