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Florida Court Addresses Transfer of Duties in Trucking Accident Lawsuit

An appellate court in Florida recently released an opinion addressing issues that frequently arise in South Florida truck accident cases. The case arose after a woman suffered severe injuries when a trailer flew off a truck and collided with her vehicle. The woman filed a lawsuit against various parties, including the trucking company as well as the automotive company that installed the wheels on the trailer. After amending her complaints, the trucking company was the only defendant remaining. At this point, the trucking company moved to dismiss the claim, alleging that their duty to maintain the truck was a delegable one, and therefore the company was not liable for the injuries that the plaintiff sustained.

The trucking company argued that they were not negligent because they conducted all relevant and applicable safety inspections, and they did not know that the automotive company was negligent in their repair. The woman argued that the company’s duty to maintain and repair its fleet was non-delegable.

Under Florida law, when a person suffers injuries because of a trucking accident, various parties may be liable. Some common defendants in Florida trucking accidents are the truck driver, the truck company, manufacturers of trucking component parts, and mechanics who worked on the vehicle. Although all of these parties may owe the victim a duty of care, issues arise when determining which parties breached that duty. Many times, defendants will argue that they are not responsible because they delegated a duty that was owed to the plaintiff to another party, and that other party should be accountable for the injuries that the victim suffered.

In this case, the court conceded that case law regarding delegable duties is ambiguous and non-specific. In some instances, property owners’ duty of care toward invitees is a non-delegable duty. In contrast, Florida courts have found that a hospital’s duty to a patient who is treated by an independent contractor physician is a delegable one. Here, they found that the trucking company routinely outsourced the repair, maintenance, and inspection of their fleet to the mechanic company, and they had no reason to believe that the mechanic was negligent. Additionally, the trucking company went beyond their duty to inspect their trucks, and it was unreasonable to expect their drivers to engage in extensive inspections. Ultimately, the court concluded that the truck company’s duty to maintain, inspect, and repair was delegable, and therefore they cannot be held liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Trucking Accident?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a negligent truck driver or trucking company, the attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you pursue the compensation that you deserve. As the above case illustrates, these cases are often not as straightforward as they may seem at first glance. It is vital to retain a dedicated and experienced attorney at our law firm to ensure that you include all appropriate defendants. Our attorneys have helped numerous Florida truck accident victims get the compensation that they deserve. Our clients have received compensation for their property damage, pain and suffering, and medical bills. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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