According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Sunshine State experiences the most truck crashes out of the majority of the other states in the country. Sadly, many of these have been caused by negligence and safety lapses, which means they were preventable.
Fortunately, you can seek damages for your injuries and losses if you are a victim of a Florida truck accident. The amount of the damages you are entitled to will depend entirely on the specific circumstances of your case, but with the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer, you can recover maximum compensation for your claim.
PIP and Truck Accident Damages
In a truck accident, you must initially pursue compensation from your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage, regardless of who is at fault. However, the damages you are entitled to under that coverage are limited.
Limited Medical Coverage
Victims of truck accidents routinely face serious injuries that need extensive medical attention and treatment. PIP insurance will provide some coverage for medical expenses related to the accident but not a full range of benefits. PIP only covers 80% of medical costs of up to $10,000 in the event of a medical emergency. If there is no immediate medical emergency, PIP medical coverage benefits are capped at $2,500.
Limited Wage Replacement
Injuries sustained in trucking accidents are often severe enough to prevent victims from engaging in temporary or permanent gainful employment. In such cases, PIP coverage allows accident victims to seek compensation for 60% of their lost wages.
However, as with medical coverage, PIP wage replacement benefits are capped at $10,000.
If you were to lose $25,000 in income because of your accident-related injuries, you would not receive anywhere near that amount in PIP compensation.
If a truck accident prevents a victim from accomplishing basic household tasks, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry, PIP will cover the costs of substitution services up to a specified limit.
Limited Death Benefits
PIP also pays a limited death benefit to the family members of victims involved in fatal truck crashes. However, the benefit is only $5,000, typically paid to the decedent’s relatives or executor.
Liability Claims and Truck Accident Damages
Because PIP coverage is limited and Florida truck accidents are often serious, victims usually experience losses far more significant than what is covered by PIP insurance.
Thankfully, they may be able to file a claim against the truck driver’s insurance company, in which case the victim can seek various damages not covered by PIP.
Full Economic Damages
PIP covers limited economic damages, but a claim against an at-fault trucker allows a victim to seek full economic damages, including medical treatment, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses related to the accident.
For example, if you are in a Florida truck accident and accumulate $50,000 in medical bills and $25,000 in lost wages, you can seek to recover the full amount of these losses from the driver’s liability insurance, not just a percentage.
Non-economic damages are forms of compensation that deal with non-monetary losses. They are unavailable through PIP insurance coverage, but if you file a claim against the truck driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit, you may pursue them.
Together with full economic damages, non-economic damages can provide Florida truck accident victims with significant compensation to cover their losses.
In particular, non-economic damages include any of the following:
- Emotional distress and
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and sexual function
- Permanent disfigurement
Additionally, some truck accident cases are eligible for punitive damages, which are not a form of compensation but instead punishment for grossly negligent or intentional misconduct. They are meant to send a message of deterrence to the driver and other responsible individuals.
Proving Fault in Truck Accident Cases
Regarding PIP insurance coverage, the question of fault does not come up. Policies pay out no matter who caused the accident. However, the opposite is true when seeking damages outside of PIP coverage.
Victims of truck accidents must prove that someone else was at least partially responsible for their accident. In truck driving cases, the responsible parties may include the following:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company that employed the truck driver
- A shipping company
- A mechanic or auto shop that serviced the truck
- A truck or parts maker, or distributor
If you have been in a truck accident, you deserve to know the full extent of the damages you are entitled to. For this reason, it is important to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney to learn your options for compensation. Contact the Schrier Law Group for more information and a complimentary case review today.