If you are involved in a big-rig collision, the impact on your life of an accident involving a vehicle that weighs 25 times more than a typical passenger car can be catastrophic. The outcome of a personal injury claim typically determines an accident victim’s ability to obtain compensation for lost income, hospital bills, medical expenses, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and other damages. Because some people do not immediately recognize the extent of their injuries, they procrastinate in terms of seeking legal advice and representation. Because plaintiffs are rarely successful in getting an adverse trial judgment reversed on appeal, time is of the essence in seeking legal representation from an experienced semi-truck accident attorney.
In this blog, our Florida personal injury law firm reviews a trucking accident case demonstrating the deference given to the verdict of a trial court on appeal. A married couple was driving on a wet road when another driver lost control of his pickup truck, which veered off the roadway into a ditch. The husband engaged the brakes, but a truck driver operating a tractor-trailer behind the couple was unable to stop. The couple sued the trucking company and the employee driving the big-rig. The jury returned a verdict of almost $4 million, and the defendants appealed.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that the pickup truck driver did not cause the accident. The appellate court rejected this contention by pointing out that the jury could reasonably have concluded that the truck driver should have anticipated the risk of driving at a high a rate of speed and failing to allow sufficient following distance on a wet road. The court clearly articulated its deference to the trial court by observing the jury’s finding was not so against the weight of the evidence as to be clearly unjust and wrong.
The defendants also appealed the trial court’s ruling that the commercial carrier negligently entrusted their employee to operate the tractor-trailer combination involved in the collision. The doctrine of negligent entrustment essentially imposes liability on a party who entrusts another party with a dangerous instrument like a firearm or motor vehicle when the party knows or should know the person entrusted lacks the capacity or prudence to use the item safely. The trucking company contended that the evidence was not adequate to establish their employee was reckless or incompetent. The appellate court reversed the trial court on this issue because the defendants had no reason to know its employee was not competent to operate the large truck safely.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Serious Injury and Wrongful Death Victims and Families
While the court reversed the trial court on the negligent entrustment issue, the deference shown toward the trial judge on the issue of the cause of the accident makes it clear that success in the trial court is imperative. While an appellate court will reverse a trial judge, the deference afforded to the trial court makes it important to focus on avoiding the need to appeal an adverse outcome. Trucking companies often have experts investigating a semi-truck collision within hours or even minutes of a crash, so you should seek legal representation as soon after a big-rig collision as possible.
Our 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.