Florida Just Made it Harder to Sue Trucking Companies
Florida is among several states that recently passed legislation that would make it more difficult to sue trucking companies. These new rules come as the trucking industry has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of trucking accidents with commuters. Such accidents can often be fatal or cause life-altering injuries. Hence, why settlements and jury verdicts in these cases are so high. Nonetheless, efforts to protect the trucking industry from “frivolous lawsuits” or “excessive jury verdicts” come as trucking companies are hit with “nuclear verdicts” for gross negligence.
The general sense of these measures, which were bought and paid for by the trucking lobby, is to help trucking companies remain profitable. Now, the Florida Trucking Association is celebrating new legislation asserting that there is a cottage industry of shyster attorneys who are using underhanded tactics to file frivolous lawsuits against trucking companies.
New provisions under the bill impact all personal injury lawsuits
While protecting the trucking industry is a major impact of the new bill, the bill affects all personal injury lawsuits, not just truck accident lawsuits. Essentially, the bill reduces the statute of limitations from 4 years to 2, meaning that litigants will only have 2 years to file a personal injury lawsuit from the date of their accident. It also changes pure comparative negligence which allowed a litigant to file a lawsuit even if they were mostly at fault for their injuries. Now, a plaintiff will have to establish that the other party is at least 50% responsible for their injuries. Their damages would still be capped at 50% of their total damages if liability is split. The new provisions would block lawsuits in which a plaintiff is found to be 51% or more liable for their own injuries.
The measures are to prevent lawsuit abuse from unscrupulous attorneys. On the surface, they appear not to endanger legitimate claims against trucking companies that commit negligence. However, the laws were spurred forth by claims that personal injury attorneys demonize trucking companies in court. This culminated with two multi-million-dollar jury verdicts against one company in Texas. This company lost two lawsuits that added up to over $1 billion in damages. They were held liable for punitive damages in both cases.
As a result of those lawsuits, Texas legislators sought to bifurcate claims against the trucking companies. That meant there would be two parts to a jury trial. The first part would only handle negligence related to the accident. The second part of the trial would handle damages. Only after negligence was established would an attorney be able to bring in evidence of other trucking accidents committed by the same company or allege that the company itself was creating an unreasonable hazard to American commuters.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today. We have won a number of these cases for our clients and can help you recover damages related to your injuries.