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Product Liability In Tractor-Trailer Accidents


When a tractor-trailer accident occurs, it is very often due to the negligence of the driver, or of the other driver(s) involved in the crash. However, one less common reason why big rig accidents happen is due to defects in the tractor-trailer or in its constituent parts. If you suspect that your accident was caused by a failure in the truck, you may be able to seek damages not only from the driver and their employer, but also from the manufacturer or maintainer if the evidence is there.

Three Types of Defects

If you suspect a product defect played a role in your accident, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. Sometimes, it will be obvious as to which part of a tractor-trailer is defective – for example, if the windshield shatters or a tire explodes with no warning – but sometimes it will not. Other evidence will be crucial – the statements of witnesses, accident reconstructions, and medical records may all be able to shed light on a piece of the story. In addition, it still may be possible that the driver’s negligent conduct (or your own) played a role in the accident as well as the alleged defect in the vehicle.

There are three types of defects that can be found in a commercial product or vehicle. The first type is a design defect, which means that the inherent design of a product was flawed from the beginning. The second is a manufacturing defect, which means that the product was manufactured improperly. The last type is known as a marketing defect, also known as ‘failure to warn.’ A marketing defect is a flaw in the way the product is marketed – for example, not warning about a potentially foreseeable dangerous use of the item.

Comparative Fault Matters

The way Florida law is written, a product liability case can be brought under a theory of ordinary negligence, breach of contract or warranty, or strict liability, depending on the facts of the case in question. In an accident where the suspected defect is all or part of a motor vehicle, this can make for a complex case, but one that is not impossible to win. Essentially, a plaintiff must be able to establish the defect’s existence, and to show that the defect’s existence was a direct cause of the injuries they suffered.

One thing to keep in mind in this type of case, however, is that a jury award can be reduced if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their own injuries. Florida’s comparative fault rules hold that if a plaintiff is found more than 50 percent liable for their own injuries, they may not recover any damages, but if a plaintiff’s percentage of fault is less, they can recover damages minus that percentage. If a plaintiff’s damages were $100,000, and they were ruled 20 percent at fault, they would still be able to recover up to 80 percent of their expense if the jury voted in their favor.

Contact A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

In most cases, it may simply feel easier, if you are involved in an accident, to ascribe it to negligence on the part of the other driver (or, in some cases, yourself). Product liability cases can be difficult to discover and difficult to win – but having a knowledgeable Tampa tractor-trailer accident attorney on your side can make things less intimidating. The Rinaldo Law Group has handled these cases before, and will work hard on yours. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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