Can I Sue For Injuries After A Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident?
Being involved in an automobile accident is never an easy thing to go through, but if your injuries are particularly severe, it can feel as though your life will never get back on track. This is more likely to happen in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to the size and weight of such vehicles. If you believe that the CMV driver was negligent, or that there was a defect in the vehicle, you have the right to seek compensation – though there may be a few more hurdles than there would be in a standard car accident case.
Can I File Suit?
A commercial motor vehicle, in Florida, is defined as a vehicle that meets three major criteria: (1) it uses ‘special or motor fuel’ on public highways; (2) it is not owned or operated by a governmental entity; and (3) it either weighs 26,001 pounds or more, or has 3 or more axles (or both). This encompasses many different types of vehicles, though the most commonly seen can include both passenger and cargo vehicles. There are other definitions for a CMV under federal law, but this is the most commonly used one in accident cases.
Most of the time, if you are injured in an accident and you believe a negligent driver was involved, your next action should be to file suit against that person for what you have been through. In Florida, however, there are questions that must be answered first. Perhaps the most immediate is whether or not your injuries are sufficiently serious to trigger what is known in Florida as the injury threshold. If not, you may not file suit against the driver; rather, you would be required to seek compensation by filing insurance claims using the personal injury protection coverage you are required to carry as a Floridian.
How Many Defendants?
If your injuries are sufficiently severe as to permit filing suit in court, the next question you must face is who to file suit against and how many defendants to include. The natural instinct is to seek compensation from the CMV driver, but an individual driver will likely not have the assets to support a judgment against them. There are some cases in which an injured victim will be able to file suit against the driver’s employer, under a theory known as vicarious liability, but this will not always be an option. In order to hold an employer liable for vicarious liability, the employee must have acted at least partially in furtherance of the employer’s business.
In these types of cases, it is crucial to look to the evidence. If it can be shown that an employer, for example, encouraged their drivers to ignore Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Florida state hours of service regulations, or failed to conduct appropriate background checks, that might be considered evidence of the employer’s negligence. However, this information can be difficult to obtain on one’s own. An experienced attorney may make all the difference.
Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney
An accident involving a commercial motor vehicle can cause serious, if not life-threatening injuries. If you have been through this type of crash, a Tampa CMV accident attorney can provide compassionate and knowledgeable representation during what can be a scary time in your life. Contact our office today for a free consultation.