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Comparative Negligence In Tractor-Trailer Cases


Road accidents involving tractor-trailers can be deadly, and those that survive often have severe injuries. Most of the time, it is possible to file suit against a tractor-trailer driver if their negligence allegedly caused harm – but injured plaintiffs also have to be aware of a concept known as comparative negligence, also referred to as contributory fault. If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer, and you believe that the driver (or their employer) was negligent, be aware that their attorneys may also attempt to paint you as partially liable for your own injuries.

Both Parties Can Be Negligent

Negligence itself is a common-law concept that dates back to English law. It sets out four criteria that must be met in order to hold a defendant liable for any injuries to a plaintiff. They are:

  • The existence of a duty to exercise reasonable care on the part of the defendant. For example, in Florida, all road users must exercise reasonable care with regard to other road users (whether car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian);
  • A breach of that duty;
  • Tangible harm suffered; and
  • A showing that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of that harm, with no other intervening origin.

All these together can establish that a defendant was negligent – but it is also possible for the injured plaintiff to also have been negligent in how they acted during the accident. Essentially, if a court finds that the plaintiff’s actions breached the duty of care, and thus partially played a role in causing their own harm, any money damages awarded to the plaintiff will be reduced accordingly.

Tort Reform Tightens Requirements

Tractor-trailer accident cases can be complex, simply because of the multiple possible defendants available. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may have a claim against not only the driver, but possibly against their employer, the owner of the tractor-trailer (if they are not the same company), and any other actor whose choices might have played a role in causing your injuries. That said, it is still important to be aware of your own actions – doubly so after a 2023 change in the law.

In that year, Florida’s governor signed major reforms into law, modifying the state’s comparative fault law. Previously, a plaintiff could recover damages if the defendant or defendants were found even 10 percent liable; as of July 2023, a plaintiff may not recover if their own degree of negligence is 51 percent or higher. While many plaintiffs are not in danger of being deprived of a jury award by their own negligence. Some, however, are – and consulting an attorney can help you determine whether or not this should be a concern for you.

Call A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, you have the right to seek money damages from them if you suspect their negligence played a role – but at the same time, it is crucial to be aware of your own actions and how they might have influenced events. A Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you clarify your options and decide your next move. Call us today for a free consultation.


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