Tractor Trailer Accidents
In most vehicle accidents resulting in injury, you will try to collect damages from the person who caused your accident (or from their insurer). Tractor trailer accidents can be different, though, because liability is not always so clear-cut.
Depending on the facts of your case, liability can fall on the company that employed or contracted the driver, the company that manufactured the tractor trailer, or a company that performed repairs on the tractor trailer. In some cases, the tractor and the trailer will be owned by separate companies, which complicates the question of liability further.
A First Coast tractor trailer accident attorney will be able to advise you on all the possible defendants in your case and which ones are the most likely to be found liable for your accident. Even if the driver is the person most obviously responsible for your accident, it might be a better idea to go after his employer if your injury is serious or results in permanent disability because the driver might not have the financial resources to fully compensate you.
Florida has a law called the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine,” which says that a vehicle’s owner can be held responsible for damages caused by another person driving his vehicle, as long as the driving was done with the owner’s knowledge and consent. This law originally applied to injuries caused by “dangerous tools,” but in 1938, the Florida Supreme Court extended it to cover motor vehicles.
The “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” does not just apply to employers, but to anyone who lets another person borrow his or her car. There is another legal theory called “respondeat superior” which applies to employers specifically. It says that if a driver causes an accident within the scope of his employment, the driver’s employer can be held liable for any damages caused by the accident.
The laws governing a Florida tractor trailer accident can be complex, but an experienced First Coast tractor trailer attorney can help you sort through the legal issues involved. If you are not already represented by an attorney, please call John Fagan for a free evaluation of your case.