Articles Posted in Employer Liability

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Mississippi issued a written opinion in a chain-reaction truck accident case, affirming judgment in favor of the allegedly negligent truck driver and his employer. In the case, Ready v. RWI Transportation, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries in a subsequent accident not involving the defendant were not a foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ negligence. As a result of the decision, the plaintiff will not be permitted to pursue compensation for their injuries.

Truck MirrorThe Facts of the Case

A truck driver employed by RWI Transportation caused an accident when he made an improper lane change on a Mississippi highway. As a result of that initial accident, the truck and another vehicle were left incapacitated and came to a rest while blocking the highway. Traffic was slowed, and a significant traffic jam formed.

About 30 minutes later, while traffic was still moving slowly, Ready approached the traffic jam and crashed into the back of another vehicle that had come to a complete stop as a result of the traffic jam. Ready filed a personal injury lawsuit against RWI Transportation and the driver of the truck involved in the initial accident. Ready claimed that the truck driver’s negligence was the cause of the subsequent accident that resulted in his injuries.

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Truck drivers, like all other motorists, have a duty to other motorists on the road to ensure that they operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. This includes only driving when it is safe to do so as well as taking precautions to ensure that their vehicles are safe. A driver’s failure to take the necessary precautions increases the chance that a serious or fatal accident will occur and also exposes that driver to civil liability for any injuries that occur as a result of his negligence.

Truck on HighwayLiability in a trucking accident may also extend to the company that employed the negligent truck driver. In some cases, a trucking company overlooks safety violations, fails to conduct adequate background checks, or otherwise employs unqualified truck drivers or dangerous vehicles. In these situations, the trucking company may be held liable for the accident victim’s injuries in addition to the truck’s driver.

Georgia Trucking Company Ordered to Remove Trucks from Operation Based on an “Imminent Hazard to Public Safety”

Earlier this month, a Georgia-based trucking company was ordered to remove its fleet from the road after a series of serious safety violations. According to an industry news source, the most recent incident involved a truck driver who was speeding around a curve and lost control of his vehicle. The truck then crashed into a woman’s home, causing an explosion and subsequent fire. Sadly, the woman in the home was killed as a result, and four others present were seriously injured. In all, four homes sustained property damage.

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Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles and the employees operating them are required to abide by various safety regulations and guidelines that may not apply to normal drivers. Companies and drivers can be cited by state transportation authorities if an inspection or accident reveals violations of the driving or equipment regulations established by the authorities. Companies or drivers with repeated or excessive violations may face administrative consequences, especially in the event of an accident related to the violation.

UnderpassThe Role of Previous Safety Violations in an Accident Lawsuit

The victims of a Maryland semi-truck accident may discover that the commercial vehicle or driver involved in their crash has been cited in the past for a safety violation that relates to the apparent cause of their own accident. As the plaintiff in a Maryland truck accident lawsuit, the accident victim may be able to introduce evidence of previous safety violations to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence in causing the accident. Evidence that a defendant has repeatedly violated safety regulations in the past should give the plaintiff an advantage in making the case for damages. However, this evidence will not necessarily be admitted without litigation over its admission.

Punitive Damages and a Pattern of Gross Negligence in Maryland and D.C.

In some jurisdictions, an accident victim may be entitled to additional damages above and beyond the economic and noneconomic damages relating to their injuries from the accident. In Maryland, punitive damages may only be awarded in a negligence lawsuit by showing actual malice, but in Washington, D.C., punitive damages can be awarded when a defendant has acted in willful disregard of the plaintiff’s rights and was reckless toward the plaintiff’s safety. In some cases, it could be argued that a pattern of gross negligence by a defendant who was guilty of repeated safety violations that resulted in an accident justifies an award of punitive damages to the plaintiff.

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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.

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