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Holding Other Defendants Accountable For Commercial Motor Vehicle Accidents


Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are non-governmental vehicles that (1) weigh more than 26,001 pounds, (2) have 3 or more axles; and (3) require ‘special’ or motor fuel while driving on highways. Accidents involving CMVs are not uncommon, and if negligence is involved, it is usually the driver’s behavior that is actionable. However, what many do not know is that Florida law allows an injured plaintiff to file suit against multiple defendants if they allegedly played a role in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Vehicle’s Owner

The most common defendant included in CMV accident lawsuits after the vehicle’s driver is the company or entity that owns the vehicle. While the immediate cause of a CMV accident may be a driver’s negligence, it is the trucking company that may bear the ultimate responsibility for their employee’s actions. The most common theory used to hold a trucking company liable is known as vicarious liability.

Vicarious liability in Florida essentially holds that an employer can be held liable for the torts of their employees – if it can be shown that the employee was still acting within the scope of their employment at the time. The ‘scope of employment’ has three criteria – (1) that the conduct occurs ‘substantially’ within the time and place of their employment; (2) is a type of conduct the employee traditionally performs; and (3) the conduct is at least partly done with the intent to serve the employer.

The Vehicle’s Maintainer

Another possible defendant in a CMV case is sometimes categorized as merely part of the trucking company, but sometimes is named themselves – the person or people whose job it is to maintain the vehicle. Sometimes, CMV accidents happen due to the negligence or reckless behavior of a driver – but sometimes, they occur due to poor maintenance or upkeep. If an accident is traced to a lack of maintenance, the maintainer may wind up on the proverbial hook.

Parts Manufacturers

In rare circumstances, a CMV accident will occur because of a defective part installed in the vehicle – for example, a tire may explode, or an engine part may crack or break. It can sometimes be difficult to clarify when a part is defective versus when it has simply not been maintained, but if a design or manufacturing defect can be established, an injured plaintiff may be able to file suit under a theory known as product liability. These suits are not always easy to win, but with the right help, it is possible.

Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident with a CMV, it can be confusing to determine who is actually at fault. A Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you clarify your options and can guide you through what can be a time-consuming legal process. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.



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