If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, then you don’t need us to tell you just how extensive the damage can be. After all, you’re living it on a daily basis. But while you and your family struggle to find a way to cope with those losses, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to hold a negligent trucker and his employer accountable. A personal injury lawsuit may get you the outcome that you want, yet there are a lot of steps to building a successful truck accident claim.
Anticipating truck accident defenses
One step that you’ll need to take is diligently anticipating defenses that may be raised by the truck company and figuring out how to counter them. Here are some of the most common defenses utilized by truck companies:
- Contributory fault: Under Florida law, even if you prove negligence and impose liability, your recovery can be significantly reduced if you’re found to be partially at fault. So, a $100,000 award can be reduced to $60,000 if you’re found to be 40% at fault. That’s a significant decrease, which is why truck companies often try to shift the blame back on the victim who has brought the claim. The truck company may argue that you were driving too fast, following too closely, or were distracted at the time of the accident. Be prepared for these comparative negligence arguments with evidence that contradicts the defense’s claims or at least minimizes the impact your actions had on the cause of the accident.
- Trucker frolic: Truck companies aren’t above blaming their own employees for an accident when liability is on the line. Therefore, a truck company may argue that it shouldn’t be held vicariously liable for the accident because the trucker was operating outside the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. This may include running a personal errand or otherwise taking an unprescribed route.
- Third-party liability: Some truck accidents are complicated, whether that be because of weather conditions or the number of vehicles involved. In these instances, a truck company will try to shift the blame anywhere it can. That’s why you’ll want to be diligent in assessing the circumstances of your case to determine if you need to include other parties in your claim. Keep in mind that it’s best to try to place as much blame on the truck company as possible given the fact that it probably has the most resources and is therefore best suited to pay any judgment levied against it.
- Your claimed damages are inflated: Keep in mind that winning a personal injury lawsuit is about much more than just proving liability. You also have to prove your damages. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that the amount of compensation that you’re seeking is backed by evidence. After all, the defense is probably going to have its own witnesses to try to downplay your damages.
- No one is to blame for your accident: In some cases, a truck company will try to say that no one is to blame for the accident, so it, meaning the truck company, shouldn’t be held liable. These arguments are most often seen in situations where there was poor weather, damage to the road, or hazards on the road. Think through how you can counter these arguments.
Stand up to aggressive truck companies
A truck company might try to steer you into a settlement agreement that isn’t right for you, or it may present its defense in a way that leaves you with doubts about your claim. But try your best to not be intimidated by these companies. By working with a competent legal professional, you might be able to aggressively push back and secure the outcome that you need and deserve to further your family’s recovery from a challenging chapter in your life.