Defective commercial vehicles are a serious hazard to the health and public safety of all Floridians. Although Florida trucking accidents often involve the negligence of a trucking company or its drivers, design defects and faulty parts frequently play a significant role in a trucking accident. The sheer size and mechanical complexity of these vehicles require the safe interplay of various systems. Even seemingly minor defects can cause these large vehicles to become massive safety hazards.
The majority of truck accidents involving defective parts include faulty brakes, defective steering systems, tire failures, defective hydraulics and fuel systems, and inadequate safety and cargo restraints. For instance, recently, a state court heard a case arising from a tractor trailer’s malfunctioning dump gate. In that case, the truck driver was traveling on a highway when the trailer unexpectedly released its dump gate. The uncommanded action resulted in the trailer spilling massive amounts of gravel and sand onto the highway on more than one occasion. One of the incidents resulted in several collisions, damaging cars and injuring several motorists and passengers.
Injury victims and their loved ones may file a claim against various entities. The manufacturer, designer, distributor, retailer, or any other party responsible for putting a defective truck on the road may be liable. In the case above, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against both the trucking company and the defective valve manufacturer that caused the dump gate to spontaneously open. Following a settlement with the plaintiffs, the company sought contribution from the manufacturer. The company filed cross-claims against the manufacturer alleging unreasonably dangerous and defective design of the valve. The manufacturer sought to dismiss the claims, arguing that the company discarded relevant evidence. The court ultimately found that the company acted negligently in discarding the evidence, but not willfully.