Is Suing A Tractor-Trailer Driver A Good Idea?
If you have been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, and you believe that the crash was caused by the negligence of the driver, it may seem elementary to file a negligence suit against the truck driver and hope a jury will be persuaded by your arguments. However, it is rare that events will unfold in exactly that manner – among other reasons, because truck drivers may not have the assets to cover a settlement. Depending on your case, it may be a good idea to explore other options.
May Not Get You Monetary Relief
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance purposes. What this means is that when a driver is injured in an auto accident, and their injuries are not “significant [or] permanent,” they are forbidden from filing suit against the driver who caused their injuries. Instead, every Florida driver is required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which is to be used to pay claims for minor injuries.
Injuries sustained in an accident with a tractor-trailer are more likely to be serious, simply because of the weight and size of the vehicle. While this does mean that a standard lawsuit is more likely to occur in these cases, this does not always mean that such a suit will be viable. Even if a tractor-trailer driver can be shown to have played the main role in causing your injuries, suing them specifically means that any judgment must be paid out of their assets – and truck drivers are often judgment proof (meaning that there are not enough assets to do that).
Other Potential Defendants
It is important to keep in mind that while it may not be in one’s best interests to file suit against a negligent tractor-trailer driver, this does not mean that you have no recourse in terms of getting your medical bills paid. In most cases, there are other potential defendants who may have played a role in the accident who have deeper pockets. The most commonly cited defendant in these cases is the trucking company.
There are multiple theories of law under which a trucking company can be held liable for the torts (civil wrongs) of their employees. One of them is called vicarious liability (an older term is respondeat superior), and it holds that as long as an employee is acting within the scope of their employment, their employer is liable for any torts they commit. Another is the doctrine of negligent entrustment, which holds an employer liable if they fail to do their due diligence in hiring. Be advised, however, that an employer is presumed to have done their due diligence in Florida, so pursuing this path may not be easy.
Contact A Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney
Tractor-trailer accidents can be dangerous and cause long-lasting injury. If you have been involved in one, recovering money damages for what you have been through can feel overwhelming, but you have the right to seek what you deserve. A Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help guide you through the legal process and make sure your rights are protected. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.