Hailey Ruiz lost control of her vehicle on I-4 near Park Road in Plant City, Florida at approximately 5:00 a.m. around mile marker 22. Thereafter, she crossed over the median and struck a Coca-Cola semi-truck heading the opposite direction. The accident caused the truck to land on its side. Ruiz had a 7-year-old passenger with her at the time of the collision. The driver of the Coca-Cola truck was Michael Green.
Cause Of Collision Still Unknown
None of the news reports have indicated a cause for Ms. Ruiz to lose control of her vehicle. We can only speculate as to what it might have been, however, if it had been something such a tire blowout, then I would have expected news reports to have indicated as such. At 5 a.m., falling asleep at the wheel is a likely candidate.
Insurance Claims Of Coca-Cola Driver – Good News And Bad News
Here is the good news first. The injury to the Coca-Cola driver is covered under Florida no-fault insurance and workers compensation. Both of these forms of insurance in Florida must pay for the truck driver’s medical expenses and lost wages from work regardless of fault. Therefore, the truck driver’s medical expenses and lost wages are paid no matter what.
Now comes the bad news. If the truck driver intends to make a claim against Ms. Ruiz, he must be able to prove that she was somehow negligent. The answer to this may become clear when the uniform crash report is written. In Florida, what a driver says to police for purposes of creating the written crash report is considered a privileged statement. This means that it cannot be used against her in a courtroom later. Therefore, if she did indeed fall asleep behind the wheel and tells that to the police, then that statement cannot later be used against her at trial (her insurance company, however, may use it to settle the truck driver’s claim against her). Nonetheless, the plaintiff in any personal injury case in Florida has the burden of proving negligence.
Second, since the driver was on the job and in a commercial vehicle, both the workers compensation carrier and the no-fault carrier have a right of subrogation or reimbursement against any settlement that the driver receives. This means that the driver must repay these sources for benefits received. If Ruiz only has a very small insurance policy covering her vehicle, then there may not be very much to go around between subrogation and the truck driver.
What Do You Do When There’s Not Enough Money?
When this happens, Florida’s “collateral source statute” requires that an insurance company with a right of subrogation or reimbursement to make an equitable reduction for the “cost of procurement” (aka attorney fees and costs) and other factors such as the limited availability of insurance or comparative fault. In this case, even though Ruiz is a minor and an adult must have agreed to be responsible for her negligence until she turns 18 in order to obtain a driver’s license as a minor, neither Ruiz nor whoever the “responsible” adult is will likely have assets that cover a loss beyond the insurance limits.
Talk To A Lakeland Truck Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you have been injured in a Lakeland truck accident, you may need help from a Lakeland truck accident attorney to navigate the insurance policies, get the medical treatment that you need, and to make the proper legal claims under Florida law. If you need help with your truck accident lawsuit, you should schedule your free consultation today.
Plant City: Minor injury to both drivers following crash between SUV and semi on I-4 WB and Park Road. pic.twitter.com/DLK8zNHsKn
— Sgt. Steve Gaskins (@SteveG717) February 23, 2017