Florida truck accident lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD explains the different parties that can be sued in a Florida tractor-trailer, truck, van or bus accident.
A Florida attorney must peel away the layers of any truck accident case to reveal the true culprits. The attorney has to investigate everything and everyone that may be responsible for the crash. Generally, in Florida truck accidents, blame can be spread between a number of people and/or companies.
In any commercial truck accident case there may be many potential players at fault:
- The owners of the truck (tractor) and/or the trailer can be responsible.
- When there is an accident involving a truck or van, the owner of that vehicle can be responsible for the injuries under Florida's dangerous instrumentality doctrine. For example, a company truck owned by FPL, Fed-Ex, Publix, Wal-Mart, United Van lines, or UPS is generally owned, serviced and maintained by these companies.
- These large companies also hire the drivers so a potential claim under the theories of negligent hiring and retention may be possible. The truck is the power unit but sometimes there is a different owner for the trailer. In that case, the trailer owner may be responsible as well if issues are discovered with the trailer's brakes, wheels, tires, or other mechanical issues.
- The renting and/or leasing company may be liable if it was responsible for the inspection, care, maintenance, and repair of the tractor, trailer, bus, or van.
- The driver of the truck may be at fault for the crash. We must determine whether the driver was independent contractor (self-employed) or an employee of the trucking company. Many times there are weird arrangements between trucking companies and their drivers. For instance, the company owns the tractor but the driver has his own company that is buying or leasing the tractor from the trucking company.
- A trucking company/carrier may be held responsible and accountable for a Florida truck accident in many different ways. Lawsuits to recover damages from trucking injuries are based upon what the company and their employees did or what they failed to do.
- The company may have negligently hired the driver. The company may have not done the required (federally and state mandated) background checks. Under Florida law, employers are responsible for any accidents caused by their employees while acting in the scope of their jobs.
- Trucking companies can also be responsible for accidents for failing to properly inspect, repair, and maintain the truck and/or trailer.
- A third party maintenance company may be liable if inadequate, improper, negligent inspection and/or repair contributed to the accident.
- The shipper or broker may be held liable if inadequate, improper, or negligent packing, loading, and securing of the cargo contributed to the accident. The shipper or broker could also be held liable under the theory of negligent hiring. They can also be held liable if they negligently hired a driver without doing a complete and proper background investigation (as required by law) or kept a driver employed with a known history of dangerous driving, accidents, multiple violations, and/or drug/alcohol issues.
- The manufacturer of the truck, cab, trailer, and/or any truck part can be held liable if there was a defect in the design or manufacture of a part that caused or contributed to the accident.
As you can see, Florida trucking law is complex and there can be maze of people or companies that need to be sorted through to determine the responsible party(s). If you have any questions about a Florida trucking accident case, contact Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168. I handle truck accident cases in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Port Salerno, St. Lucie West, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Sebastian, Clermont, Leesburg, Tavares, Mount Dora, Howey-in-the-Hills, Yalaha, The Villages, Ocala, Belleview, Mineola, Four Corners, Winter Garden, Montverde, Bushnell, Lady Lake and Fruitland Park