Court Rules Truck Company Not Responsible for Poor Repairs
An appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision that the trucking company whose vehicle injured a plaintiff is not responsible for faulty repairs made to the truck. The decision reduced the jury’s verdict award by 75% costing the plaintiff well over $300,000.
Tuong Vi Le sued Colonial Freight Systems after a tire detached and struck the vehicle in which she was a passenger. Tuong sued the trucking company, but the judge determined that they were only 23% liable for the accident.
Prior to the accident, another accident occurred involving the same truck. The trailer brakes caught on fire damaging two of the wheels. The trailer was towed to TravelCenters of America for repairs. Two weeks after the repairs were completed, a Colonial Freight employee conducted an inspection, as required by law, and passed the vehicle. Six days later, damaged bearings caused two of the tires to unlatch from the vehicle, leading to the aforementioned lawsuit.
Complicating matters, the injured victim was pregnant at the time of the accident which prevented her from getting an MRI or X-ray. She later discovered that she had suffered a severe back injury that required surgery to alleviate some of the chronic pain that she’s in.
Mistakes Were Made by the Plaintiffs
Initially, Tuong and her attorneys named Colonial Freight and TravelCenters in the lawsuit among other defendants but dropped all the defendants other than Colonial Freight. This was a serious mistake since TravelCenters, having performed the repairs, had the bulk of the liability according to the decision. The judge concluded that Colonial Freight had some share of the blame for clearing the truck for inspection, but TravelCenters got the bulk of the blame for improperly servicing the vehicle.
The attorney for Tuong argued that Colonial Freight had a “nondelegable duty of care” to other drivers on the road to thoroughly inspect the vehicle before allowing it out on delivery. However, Colonial Freight had the better argument. In order to inspect the bearings, the trucking company’s inspector would have had to take the entire wheel apart and then put it back together. This is not something that truck inspectors are expected to do before allowing their trucks out on delivery.
The trucking company also testified that they generally did not check invoices from TravelCenters, but noted after the accident occurred that it didn’t appear as though as much work was performed as was ordered.
This is why it’s important to name all potential defendants in a lawsuit, even when there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove them guilty at trial. In this case, the plaintiff would have been awarded the full $500,000 verdict if both defendants were named, but only received around $120,000 because they failed to name TravelCenters who the jury found to be 77% liable.
Talk to a Miami Injury Attorney Today
Have you been injured in a trucking accident? If so, the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. can help you recover damages for your injuries. Talk to us today for a free consultation.