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Florida Trucking Accident Lawyers Observe $12.6 Million Judgment Reflects the Importance of Seat Belt Use in Trucking Accidents

Our Miami Truck Accident Lawyers report that a jury in Escambia County returned a verdict for $12.6 million in damages stemming from a trucking accident about six (6) months ago.  The Pensacola News Journal reported Jey Michael Hendrix and his wife were driving through an intersection in their Jeep Wrangler when they were struck by an industrial truck owned by the Alabama-based company Burford’s Tree Surgeons.  The drivers of the truck turned left in the intersection into the path of the Jeep Wrangler.  Because the driver of the industrial truck committed an unsafe left turn, the defense focused on contesting damages.  The defense contended that the severe nature of the injuries suffered by Mr. Hendrix was made worse because he was not wearing a seat belt.

Insurance companies frequently take the approach of defending personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits based on challenging the extent of damages when liability is fairly clear.  If an insurance company’s insured slams into the rear of an injury victim’s vehicle, for example, the insurer will investigate the plaintiff’s medical records, the facts of the accident, and efforts by the defendant to “mitigate” damages.  Mitigation refers to the plaintiffs’ duty to take action to avoid exacerbating their own injuries.  A plaintiff’s failure to take reasonable care for his or her own safety also constitutes contributory negligence that can result in a reduction in the trucking accident victim’s damages in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.  For example, the insurance company of a trucking company’s driver who collides with a car stopped for traffic will often focus on contesting damages because liability is fairly clear.

In the Escambia County trucking accident lawsuit, the defendants told the jury that Mr. Hendrix’s failure to wear a seat belt resulted in more severe injuries.  News reports indicated that much of the skin on the plaintiff’s face was peeled away.  He also suffered multiple broken bones in his legs and face and the destruction of his eye.  Hendrix disputed the contention that he was not wearing his seat belt and argued that even if the jury decided he was not buckled up, seat belt use would not have prevented the resulting injuries from being so severe.

Because trucking accidents tend to cause devastating injuries, defenses based on the failure to mitigate damages can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit.  When a fatal two-vehicle accident occurs between a tractor-trailer and a passenger car, the fatality victim usually is an occupant of the passenger vehicle, a motorcyclist, or a pedestrian according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  Given the high risk of severe injury to the occupant of a passenger vehicle in a semi-truck crash, seat belt use is an important way to protect occupants of a passenger vehicle from severe injury.  Seat belt use also can preempt attempts by the trucking company to seek reduced compensation for injury victims.  While wearing a seat belt can be used to mitigate damages, an injury victim does not necessarily face a reduction in compensation if he or she is not buckled in.  Seat belt use is only relevant to the extent the plaintiff would have suffered less severe injury.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Serious Injury and Wrongful Death Victims and Families

Whether you are injured in a trucking accident, our attorneys anticipate defense strategies raised by trucking companies and their insurance companies. The Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to pursue the results you desire.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks

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