When A Tractor-Trailer Loses Its Cargo
Tractor-trailers are vehicles designed for commercial activity, and they carry commercial cargo all over the United States. However, sometimes accidents happen, and in rare instances, tractor-trailers may spill their cargo during a crash. When this happens, it can cause issues for not only the vehicles involved in the accident, but also for oncoming traffic – for example, an accident in 2022 in Hernando County covered a stretch of I-75 in cartons of spilled beer after two tractor-trailers collided. If you have been injured in this type of accident, it can be confusing – though not impossible – to determine who may be liable.
Who Is Liable?
Tractor-trailer accidents can be laid at the proverbial doors of many different actors, depending on the specific facts of a situation. The driver may have acted negligently, the driver’s employer may have hired the wrong person for the job, the owner of the tractor-trailer may not have properly maintained the vehicle, and so on. When an accident involves a cargo spill, it may be an understandable impulse to lay blame on the person who packed the vehicle – and often, doing so is appropriate – but there are times when other actors also play a role.
Even if you believe that the tractor-trailer driver’s actions directly caused the harm you suffered, it is important to be aware that simply filing suit against them can sometimes result in an unsatisfactory outcome. Tractor-trailer drivers are often what is known as judgment proof – in other words, they do not have sufficient assets to cover a jury award, or only own property that is protected from seizure by law. If you believe that the driver’s employer or another defendant played a role in the accident, it is generally a good idea to include them in your suit.
Know Your Options
While it is true that a driver will very often be at least partially liable in a tractor-trailer accident, it is also true that the vehicle’s owner or maintainer will commonly share in the liability. The origin point of a vehicle is where it is loaded, and if a vehicle is loaded negligently, it can and does directly lead to a crash. Cargo shifting during transport is a common occurrence, and it happens more frequently than one might think. It can also happen as a result of a different type of accident – for example, if a tractor-trailer rolls over, the cargo inside can spill out onto the road.
One thing to keep in mind if you are intending to file a personal injury lawsuit against the tractor-trailer driver, the trucking company, or any other defendant in this type of case, is that Florida has made changes to its comparative negligence law. Comparative negligence is a doctrine that states that a plaintiff cannot recover damages for their own degree of fault – for example, if a plaintiff is found 20 percent at fault, they can only recover up to 80 percent of their expenses. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney can help to clarify your options moving forward.
Contact A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a crash involving a cargo spill, your injuries are likely serious, and you deserve to recover money damages for what you have been through. A Tampa tractor-trailer accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer knowledgeable and compassionate representation during what can be a difficult time in your life. Call our office today for a free consultation.