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Potential Defendants In Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Cases


Normally, when someone is injured in a road accident, they can file suit against the driver of the other vehicle involved, if they believe that driver’s negligent actions led to the harm they suffered. This holds true in crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) or company vehicles, but in these cases, there may be more than one defendant who may bear a share of the liability. If you are unsure as to who you should name in your suit, contacting an experienced attorney may help to clear up matters.

Filing Suit Is Almost Never Pointless

Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimate a recent rise in crashes involving large trucks and buses (two of the most common types of CMV). The rate of this type of fatal crash declined almost 35 percent between 2005 and 2009, but has risen 31 percent in the decade or so since. Injury crashes have declined significantly, but where they still occur, they tend to be severe. The sheer size and weight of most commercial vehicles can lead to life-changing injuries, and yet many people do not try to hold anyone liable.

One of the reasons someone may not wish to file suit is a simple feeling of overwhelm; the legal process can be intimidating. However, another common reason is a belief that filing suit is pointless because the driver who allegedly caused their accident is judgment-proof (that is, the driver would not have enough assets or income to leverage in the event of a jury award against them). In reality, most CMV accident cases can involve more than one defendant, meaning that even if a driver is judgment-proof, another defendant may not be in the same situation.

Other Potential Defendants

While the (allegedly) negligent driver will be the first defendant in most cases, there will often be other parties that may bear a share of the liability. For example, the driver’s employer may also be liable, under a theory known as vicarious liability. Florida law holds that a business may be held liable for the torts (essentially the civil version of a crime) of its employees if certain criteria apply – namely, if the driver was acting in furtherance of their employer’s business, among others. For example, if a driver causes an accident while driving cargo to a buyer, they are engaged in their duties, and vicarious liability may apply.

Another possible defendant in these cases is the owner of the CMV, if it is not the same company that employs the driver. It is not uncommon for CMV crashes to happen due to poor vehicle maintenance – for example, if the tires on the vehicle have not been replaced in a long time, they may be more likely to blow out at a very inopportune moment. Failure to properly upkeep a vehicle is negligence in itself, if it causes direct harm to a person who was owed a duty of care.

Contact A Tampa Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

CMV accidents can change a person’s life in the blink of an eye. A Tampa commercial motor vehicle accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to ensure that your rights are protected during the legal process. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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