An “underride accident” is a motor vehicle collision in which a smaller vehicle goes under the rear or side section of a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or transfer truck. Many underride accidents result in serious harm to those inside the car that goes under the commercial vehicle. The experienced Pembroke Pines truck accident attorneys at Cohn & Smith can represent victims of these collisions in seeking compensation from any parties that may be responsible.Holding a Negligent Truck Driver Liable for Damages
Car and truck accident lawsuits generally proceed under a theory of negligence. This means that a four-step analysis is applied. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care and breached that duty. Also, the breach must have led directly to the collision, and the plaintiff must have incurred damages that can be reasonably quantified.
Under the comparative fault rule in Florida, a victim’s compensation award may be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault in an accident. However, compensation will not be completely eliminated unless the victim was completely responsible. If the jury determines that the plaintiff was 50% at fault in an accident, for example, he or she still can potentially receive compensation for up to half of the costs and losses that were incurred.
Comparative fault is frequently an issue in underride cases because of the commonly held belief that a driver who “rear-ends” someone else is to blame for the accident. While this is sometimes true, it is not always the case. There may be other factors to consider, including whether the truck driver and his or her employer were operating in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations, including requirements regarding lamps, reflectors, and retroreflective material. The weather may also be an important consideration in underride accident cases, as can the length of time that the tractor trailer had been stopped (if it was stopped) prior to the collision.
In addition to the possibility of suing a driver or a trucking company following an underride accident, a person injured in such a collision may also consider bringing a product liability action against the manufacturer or seller of the truck. This may be appropriate if its rear impact guard, bumper, or trailer underride guard was defectively designed or manufactured. In these cases, a theory of strict liability rather than negligence likely would apply. It would not be necessary to show that the manufacturer acted carelessly but only that the truck component was defective and that the defect caused the accident and the resulting damages.
Forms of compensation that may be available to individuals injured in motor vehicle collisions may include hospital bills, the costs of future treatment, property damage, lost income and earning capacity, and pain and suffering.Contact a Pembroke Pines Attorney after a Big Rig Accident
Regardless of the theory of liability in an underride accident case, there is a statute of limitations that limits the time period for filing a claim. This time period sometimes may be shortened in cases involving a statute of repose or governmental tort liability notice requirements. Thus, you should speak to an attorney sooner rather than later if you have been involved in a truck accident. The knowledgeable Pembroke Pines motor vehicle collision lawyers at Cohn & Smith represent accident victims in Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Hollywood, Davie, Weston, Sunrise, Aventura, and other South Florida cities. Call us at (954) 431-8100 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.