The Florida Legislature has approved a settlement with a Tallahassee man for a wreck that happened in 2009. Mark Sawicki was riding his motorcycle to work and waiting for a red light when a garbage truck turned right and ran over him. He broke 20 bones in the accident. The legislature just approved a settlement of $700,000 for Sawicki in June 2015.
This case represents an interesting convergence of three separate personal injury topics: truck accidents, motorcycle accidents and suing the state for injuries it may cause.
Trucks are responsible for devastating accidents on a frequent basis. There are many reasons why this happens, but some include:
- Trucks are much heavier than cars. A loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pound and, like in this case, a loaded garbage truck can weigh upwards of 60,000 pounds. A typical car weighs less than 4,000 pounds.
- As a result of the weight, a truck carries an incredible amount of momentum when it is involved in an accident and delivers an incredibly larger amount of force to those who are struck.
- Trucks take much longer to stop than a car. The stopping distance for a loaded semi-trailer can be more than 100 yards at 60 miles per hour.
Motorcycles account for an astounding number of fatalities in Florida. In 2013 alone, there were over 450 deaths in motorcycle accidents. What’s more, even though motorcycle accidents only account for about 3% of all motor vehicle accidents in Florida, they account for almost 20% of the fatalities. There are obvious reasons as to why this is, including the fact that motorcycles take skill to ride safely and that the rider is not protected by safety features and a metal shell in the same fashion as those in a car.
Put trucks and motorcycles together in an accident and the result is more often than not a fatal accident. Put them together where the state owns the vehicle and you have another concern, at least regarding the issue of recovering compensation.
Sovereign immunity is a legal principle that dates back to the times of kings and queens and, simply put, means that you can’t sue the state. In Florida, however, sovereign immunity is slightly different. Florida is one jurisdiction that allows itself to be sued by its citizens for the actions of its employees who are acting within the course and scope of their employment. There are definite procedural limitations in place, however. An important distinction between suing the state and suing an average person is that your damages are limited to $200,000 per person unless the legislature approves otherwise.
When dealing with so many elements involved in an accident like the one mentioned above, great representation is essential in making sure you receive the results you deserve. Dealing with the state only complicates the matter further. The skilled professionals at the Tallahassee law firm of Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have years of experience helping accident victims get what they deserve in cases just like this. Call us today at either (866) 346-4186 or (850) 224-3310 to set up your free initial consultation and let us begin working immediately.