Truck Driver’s Employer Found Liable for Failing to Arrange Safe Crossing at Narrow Bridge

Earlier this month, a Missouri appellate court issued a written opinion in the case of Brown v. Davis, holding that a truck driver’s employer could properly be held liable for his role in a fatal accident occurring on a narrow bridge. The court determined that the employer did owe the victim a legal duty to ensure a safe crossing across the narrow bridge where the accident occurred, and that the employer breached that duty when he failed to arrange for a safe crossing.
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The Facts of the Case

The defendant was the employer of a truck driver who was towing a logging machine on a flatbed trailer. Since the loaded trailer was wider than a single lane, it protruded into the oncoming lane in areas where the road was narrow. One such location where the load protruded into the opposite lane was a narrow bridge.

Before the truck driver crossed the bridge, the driver’s employer crossed and made sure that it was clear. However, the employer told the driver that the bridge was “all clear” when it was not. A car came over the bridge, and the truck driver knew that there was not likely room for both, so he moved over as much as he could. As he moved over, the logging machine struck the side of the bridge, came loose, and collided with the other vehicle, killing the driver.

The driver’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver, as well as the driver’s employer. The driver admitted that he was negligent, but the employer contested that he did not have a duty to the plaintiff, and even if there was a duty, he did not breach it. After a jury trial, the deceased man’s wife was awarded $3,000,000 against the driver as well as the driver’s employer. The employer appealed, echoing the arguments he made at trial.

On appeal, the court determined that the jury was presented with sufficient evidence to find that the employer breached a duty to the plaintiff. The court pointed to the employer’s own testimony that he had arranged to close bridges for similar loads in the past. The court also relied on a local sheriff’s testimony that it was normal procedure for a truck driver (or his employer) to contact the sheriff’s office and arrange for the official closing of the bridge in these situations.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Trucking Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland trucking accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As noted above, compensation may be available not just from the negligent driver but also from his or her employer in certain circumstances. To learn more about Maryland truck accidents, and how you may be eligible for monetary compensation for what you have been put through, call the Maryland accident law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC at 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you obtain compensation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Holds “School Activity Bus” Is Not Considered a “School Bus” for Purposes of Governmental Immunity, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published February 17, 2016.

Logging Truck Driver Loses Control and Flips Rig, Killing One, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 3, 2016.

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