Miami Senator leads push for larger truck accident payout

Every now and then politicians seem to get it right. Florida State Senator Anitere Flores, R-Miami has introduced a bill designed to compensate the surviving family members of the truck driver who died in a fiery crash near Jacksonville, Florida, back in 2000.

According to state documents, the truck driver was hauling a tanker loaded with gasoline when a Jeep traveling alongside him began to hydroplane after coming into contact with a large puddle of standing water. In an effort to avoid hitting the out of control Jeep and two other vehicles, the 29-year-old gasoline tanker driver tried to leave the freeway and get onto a nearby road. Unfortunately, the gas truck jackknifed during the sudden maneuver and then collided with a guardrail before overturning and exploding near a Jacksonville, Florida, bridge. The driver did not survive the truck accident.

In 2005, the truck driver’s family sued the Florida State Department of Transportation on the grounds that they were at least partially responsible for failing to properly maintain a clogged drainage ditch that led to the presence of the puddle of water near the Hart Bridge Expressway in Duvall County, Florida. A jury agreed with the plaintiffs and awarded the deceased truck driver’s estate almost $1.3 million. However, Florida has sovereign-immunity laws on the books. Those laws limit the amount the state can payout to a successful litigant to a maximum of $200,000.

One exception to the payout limitation is if the Florida State Legislature passes a bill to authorize the payment in excess of the $200,000 limit. On July 31, Sen. Flores introduced a billdesigned to compensate the truck driver’s family in the amount of the original judgment minus the $200,000 already previously awarded. The bill is expected to be argued during the 2015 session.

This case stands for the proposition that Florida residents injured or killed in truck accidents through no fault of their own can still receive justice despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they face.

Source: Florida State Legislature, “Senate Bill 34, filed by Senator Flores” Aug. 05, 2014