Last month, a Mississippi court issued an opinion in a truck accident case brought by a man who was injured in a chain-reaction accident when he rear-ended another vehicle that was stopped in a traffic jam caused by the original accident. In the case, Ready v. RWI Transportation, the court held that the second accident was too far removed from the first to establish liability against the truck driver. The court based its opinion not on a causation analysis, as one might expect, but instead on the holding that the truck driver did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care.
The defendant truck driver caused an accident on a Mississippi highway when he changed lanes and collided with another vehicle. The accident significantly slowed passing traffic, causing a back-up leading up to the scene of the accident.
The plaintiff was driving on the highway toward the accident at approximately 65-70 miles per hour. As he approached the line of stopped vehicles, he was unable to stop and crashed into the rear of another vehicle. The plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of the crash and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver. He also named the truck driver’s employer under the theory of “negligent entrustment.”
Negligent entrustment is a cause of action that claims one party – the entrustor – should be responsible for the negligent acts of another party – the entrustee – because the entrustor provided a dangerous instrumentality to the entrustee that resulted in harm to the plaintiff. Generally, this theory is used to hold employers responsible for the negligent acts of an employee, or parents responsible for the negligent acts of a child.
The Court’s Opinion
The court did not need to reach the issue of negligent entrustment because it found that the truck driver was not liable to the plaintiff. Specifically, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries were not a foreseeable consequence of the truck driver’s negligence. Because of this, the truck driver – and therefore the driver’s employer – did not have a duty to the plaintiff.
The court considered the fact that the plaintiff’s accident occurred roughly three-quarters of a mile away from the original accident, and almost an hour later. The court noted that liability may be present in some situations involving a chain-reaction accident, but the accidents in this case were too far removed from each other to establish a legal duty.
Have You Been Injured in a Indiana Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, you may be able to proceed against both the truck driver as well as his employer, potentially increasing your chances of recovering for your injuries. The skilled attorneys at the personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have decades of combined experience and a successful track record representing clients in all kinds of personal injury cases. Call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case today.
Court Invalidates Arbitration Clause, Allowing Plaintiffs to Pursue Negligence Claim in Court, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2016
Court Discusses Hotel’s Duty to Keep Guests Safe in Recent Opinion, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, November 16, 2016