A commercial vehicle can weigh up to 30,000 pounds, while a passenger vehicle typically weighs about 3,000 pounds. Therefore, if your car collides with a commercial truck, there is a good chance that you’ll suffer serious injuries and extensive property damage. However, partnering with a Fort Myers truck accident attorney may make it easier to obtain a financial award that holds the defendant liable for what happened to you.
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Preserve Your Rights After A Fort Myers Truck Accident
In Florida, you have four years from your accident to file a lawsuit. Typically, the first thing an attorney will do will file a lawsuit on your behalf. While this doesn’t mean that you can’t settle out of court, taking such a step means you won’t lose your ability to go to trial if necessary.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to resolve your case within four years. The statutes of limitations clock may toll if you are incarcerated, incapacitated, or needed time to link your injuries to the accident cited in the lawsuit.
Finally, the clock may toll if the accident occurred when you were a minor. In such a scenario, you would have four years from reaching the age of majority to take legal action.
How A Fort Myers Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Ideally, you’ll say little or nothing while your truck accident case is pending. This is because anything that you say to a friend, in an email, or on social media may be used against you during settlement talks or at trial. Of course, you can say anything you want to your attorney as communications with this person are considered privileged.
You will also likely need to make a statement to your insurance company as soon as you are physically able to. Your goal is to relay a truthful account of what happened without implicating that you did anything to cause the wreck to happen.
For instance, if you’re asked what you were doing just before impact, you would simply state that you were traveling in the left lane going west on the highway.
As your legal advocate will likely explain, you don’t want to speculate because it could imply that you are at least partially responsible for your actions. For instance, if you lament that you didn’t brake in time, opposing counseling may say that it was because you weren’t paying attention.
In addition, it’s possible that you did brake in time or that failing to hit the brakes wouldn’t have stopped a crash from happening.
Fortunately, your attorney will be able to coach you through the process of making a statement to your auto coverage provider to minimize the risk of it undermining your legal position.
Proving Negligence In A Truck Accident Case
To obtain compensation in a truck accident case, you’ll need to prove that another person’s negligent behavior caused the wreck. Alternatively, you will need to show that the driver’s employer, a government agency, or some other entity played a role in causing the crash to happen.
The first element you’ll need to prove is that another person or entity violated a duty of care toward you. What this means is that someone who did something that a reasonable person would know or likely know could result in harm toward others.
In a truck accident case, this may mean that a commercial motorist was speeding or operating his or her vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A motorist may also violate a duty of care by driving while distracted or while fatigued.
You must also prove that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of your injuries or property damage. This may be done by introducing medical bills, a doctor’s note, or pictures from the crash scene.
You may also want to keep a medical journal as it may take several days after a wreck for signs of internal bleeding, a concussion or other injuries to become apparent. Keeping track of your condition may make it easier to establish that you incurred these ailments after a collision.
Finally, you must show that you incurred financial losses due to the defendant’s actions. This will likely be done by introducing medical bills, car repair bills, or other invoices you received after the crash.
Gathering Evidence After A Truck Accident in Fort Myers, FL
You may have trouble walking, talking, or thinking clearly in the days after a truck accident. This may impede your ability to take photos or videos of the crash scene or talk to witnesses who may have seen the wreck occur. It may also be difficult to make a phone call or email the police department asking for a copy of the accident report compiled in your case.
It’s critical that you obtain witness statements as quickly as possible before their memory begins to fade. Getting pictures before anything is moved from the crash site is also important, making it harder to prove that you were the victim of truck driver negligence.
Even if you can gather evidence independently, it’s possible to overlook something that may impact your case. It’s also possible that a source contacts your attorney after hearing about the matter to provide additional information that might be beneficial.
Your legal advocate may also conduct an independent investigation into the wreck, providing greater insight into what happened to you.
Your Advocate Can Use Discovery to Your Advantage
You may be able to ascertain many things from reviewing evidence found at the accident site. However, there are many things that you won’t be able to find out unless you ask the right questions. For instance, it won’t be obvious whether the crash was caused because the defendant’s truck wasn’t properly maintained.
Our team will ask for maintenance records to determine if the truck wasn’t suitable for driving. This will allow us to figure out when the truck was last inspected, if brakes or other components have been changed recently or if there are other reasons to believe it was defective.
There is also a chance that obtaining maintenance records can lead us to other parties who may be liable for damages. For example, if brake failure is among the reasons why a crash occurred, we can find out who manufactured, sold, or installed them. If any of those parties acted in a negligent manner, they may be added as defendants.
However, this may also imply that the driver and owner of the vehicle aren’t liable for damages. Although that might delay your case settling, it may reduce the chances of an appeal if you obtain a favorable outcome anyway.
Of course, the facts in your unique case will determine who may be liable for damages. They may also decide whether you want to settle or resolve the matter at trial. The main takeaway should be that we can use discovery to better understand what happened and increase the odds that you obtain all the money you may be entitled to by law.
Receiving Compensation For A Truck Accident in Fort Myers, FL
Your medical bills lost wages, and the cost to replace lost property will likely constitute most of your compensation package. In addition, you may be entitled to the cost of future medical costs, lost future earnings, and costs associated with treating mental anguish.
These costs might include seeing a therapist and taking anxiety medication to help control post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD).
You may also receive money to refurbish your home or car to make it easier to use. A settlement might also include funds to pay someone to drive you around town, buy groceries or perform other tasks you can’t do alone. Finally, the defendant in your case might be ordered to pay your legal fees. Legal fees may be a part of your overall package or in addition to what you get from the defendant.
Should You Accept a Truck Accident Settlement Offer?
Our team can also assist with evaluating any settlement offers you might receive from an insurance company. It’s relatively common for insurance providers to make offers soon after an accident to avoid a protracted legal battle. While it is your choice whether to resolve the case quickly, it may not be in your best interest.
This is because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, meaning they want to pay as little as possible. Therefore, accepting an initial offer might leave money on the table.
Furthermore, you may be in too much pain to properly evaluate the terms of the deal even if you have counsel assisting you. You should also remember that you can’t know how much your case might be worth until the extent of your injuries can be properly ascertained.
Speak With A Fort Myers Truck Accident Lawyer Near You To Help Today
With that said, the job of a Fort Myers truck accident attorney is to do what you ask without question or complaint. Ultimately, we will make that happen if you want to settle your case early. Alternatively, if you want to take the case to trial, we will get ready to litigate regardless of how we feel about doing so.
Contact the folks at Shiner Law Group today if you have been involved in a truck accident. During a free initial consultation, you can learn more about our track record as well as how we might go about trying your case. We can also discuss our fee structure and answer any other questions you might have.