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Unusual Crash Leads To Trash Compactor Falling Into St. Johns River


In early October 2023, an unusual road accident involving a tractor-trailer led to a trash compactor winding up in the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. According to reports, the tractor-trailer swerved to avoid a disabled vehicle and overturned, veering rightward into “all lanes of traffic.” The vehicle was carrying a trash compactor, which “became detached” and wound up in the river after being flung over the barrier wall. Only minor injuries were sustained by all, but questions still remain about retrieving the trash compactor – and assessing who might be liable for losses.

Severe Injuries Can Merit Lawsuits

Tractor-trailers are ubiquitous on Florida roads, and while most of them are operated in a perfectly competent manner, it is disproportionately deadly when their drivers (or maintainers) are negligent. The size of these vehicles and the weight they carry can cause injury and death with relative ease if they strike the average passenger vehicle. If someone is injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer, they have the right to seek damages from the driver, but also, in many situations, from the driver’s employer and/or the tractor-trailer’s owner (if they are not the same thing).

It is important to keep in mind that in Florida, minor injuries in road accident cases are usually not enough to file suit over; Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system that requires people with minor injuries to seek compensation through their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance instead of the courts. That said, injuries in tractor-trailer accident cases are more likely to be severe because of the factors outlined previously, so it is more likely that you will be able to file a personal injury suit if your injuries are “significant and permanent.”

Establishing Liability Can Be Complex

Tractor-trailer crashes are brought under a theory of negligence, meaning that in order to be found liable, a defendant must be found to have owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff, and have breached that duty by their actions (or lack thereof). In the Jacksonville case, the company that owned the trash compactor may suffer a significant loss if it cannot be fished from the river. However, the question of whether the trash compactor’s owner may file suit against the tractor-trailer driver or their employer will largely depend on the value of the compactor itself.

Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system requires that an injury to property be resolved – if possible – by making claims on any property damage liability (PDL) insurance one may carry (required for Floridians, though many try to go without the mandatory coverage). If the compactor’s value is less than $10,000, it is likely that the matter would have to be settled without filing suit. If it is worth more, the case will inevitably get more complex.

Contact A Florida Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

While the fate of the trash compactor may take days or weeks to resolve, most tractor-trailer accidents are more straightforward. If you have been injured in this type of accident, a Tampa tractor-trailer accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you determine what your best path through the legal process may be. Call our office today for a free consultation.



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