In November, a city utility truck was driving west on a Tallahassee, Florida street at 12:40 p.m. when it crossed over the median and hit a car in oncoming traffic, driving east. The first responders determined that at least one individual was seriously hurt and took him to the hospital. An investigation got underway shortly thereafter.
Like other trucks, utility trucks can be dangerous and, due to their size, can cause serious harm to those in smaller vehicles or pedestrians. After an accident with a utility truck, one question will be whose fault the accident was. In order to establish a utility truck driver’s negligence, you’ll need to show: (1) the utility truck driver owed a duty to drive safely, (2) the utility truck driver breached this duty, (3) in breaching the duty, the utility truck driver legally caused your injuries, and (4) you suffered actual damages. In a case like the one described above, in which the utility truck driver crossed over the median, it is likely that the driver failed to use reasonable care while driving.
Reasons for a truck crossing over the centerline into oncoming traffic and causing a head-on collision can vary, but sometimes they are the result of fatigued driving or distracted driving by a truck driver. For example, a driver who got no sleep the night before might become drowsy at the wheel, or a driver who receives a text message might be distracted and accidentally veer into oncoming traffic. Operating a truck can be physically challenging, but it is important for a driver to receive adequate safety training so that he or she can operate the vehicle safely. In the context of a city utility truck driver causing an accident while in the course and scope of employment through his failure to use reasonable care, the employer of the driver may be partially or fully to blame for the accident as well.
An employer can be held vicariously liable, meaning that it is only derivatively liable and must pay only if the truck driver is found negligent. In some cases, however, an employer can be held directly liable in Tennessee under theories of negligent hiring, supervision, or retention. These theories require you to show that the employer’s own acts or omissions were negligent. For example, a city that never bothered to train a utility truck driver in safe driving or who ignored red flags such as a prior DUI or drug problem during the driver’s background check can be held responsible for harm caused by the driver.
Special notice rules apply when suing a Tennessee government entity. Moreover, it is important to be aware that local governments are typically immune for certain actions that are discretionary in nature. This rule provides that a local governmental entity like a city typically cannot be held liable for harm when the injury is the result of the exercise or performance of a discretionary function. Generally, when a decision is at the level of policy-making, it is considered a discretionary act, and no tort liability is permitted, subject to certain exceptions. On the other hand, actions that are considered operational, such as the operation of a motor vehicle, may give rise to tort liability, depending on the facts.
If you are injured in a truck accident, you should retain knowledgeable and skillful representation. The attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us at 1-800-529-4004 or complete our online form to schedule a free initial consultation.