Who May Be Liable For A Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident?
Florida defines commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) as any vehicle that has more than 3 axles and/or weighs more than 26,001 pounds, among other criteria. Because of their size, CMVs cause a disproportionate amount of serious injuries and fatalities when accidents happen. However, the question of liability will differ from case to case. There are many different possible defendants who may play a role in an accident involving a CMV, and one or more may be viable defendants in your case.
The CMV Driver
As one might imagine, the first possible defendant that most people look to is the CMV driver. Many accidents are attributable to a driver’s negligent behavior, from speeding to substance usage to driving while fatigued. However, not every accident can be laid at the driver’s door, and even if there is evidence of their negligence, they are often judgment proof (in other words, they do not have enough assets to fund a jury award if they are held liable for your injuries.)
The Vehicle Owner (Or Driver’s Employer)
Depending on the type of CMV involved in your accident, it may be possible to hold the vehicle’s owner (or the driver’s employer, if they do not own the vehicle) wholly or partially liable for your injuries. Florida observes a doctrine known as vicarious liability, which means that if an employee commits a tort (essentially a civil wrong, rather than a crime) while acting within the course of their employment, their employer may be held liable for their actions.
Part Manufacturers or Installers
If mechanical failure or defect played a role in causing your accident, one defendant that you may have overlooked is the manufacturer or installer of that defective part. Florida’s product liability laws allow an injured plaintiff to file suit against manufacturers, designers, installers, assemblers, and essentially anyone who had a hand in ensuring the defective part was installed in the vehicle.
It is possible, if your case goes to trial, that a jury may decide you are partially responsible for your own injuries, through your actions or your failure to act (for example, if you failed to brake in time). That said, Florida law allows you to still potentially recover money damages for the harm you have suffered, minus your own percentage of fault. If a jury holds that you were 15 percent at fault, you would conceivably still be able to recover up to 85 percent of your damages, depending on the specific facts of your case.
Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney
Regardless of who ultimately winds up being held liable, experiencing an accident with a commercial motor vehicle can be life changing. A Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer compassionate and knowledgeable representation during what can be a frightening time. Call our office today for a free consultation.