In September of this year, a dump truck being used on a construction site fell off a road on a hill and rolled onto I-40 in Nashville, Tennessee. The accident hit two cars and a semi, and it caused serious injuries to at least one individual and possibly more. The crews at the construction site told the owner of the truck, a waterproofing contractor, that they’d heard a popping sound, and when they turned to look, they saw the truck rolling down the embankment. I-40 was blocked by the crash, and emergency personnel responded right away.
In some truck accidents involving overweight or overloaded trucks, the cause is not immediately clear. When bringing a lawsuit, it is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to develop and work up a truck accident case, which FMCSA regulations might apply, and which tools of discovery are necessary to determine precisely which parties are responsible.
In this case, any number of factors may be at work. The contributing causes could include dump truck driver error, a failure to set a brake, misconduct by another contractor on the site, a braking malfunction, or inadequate chains.
Once the responsible parties are identified, a plaintiff will need to establish negligence. This means he or she will have to show that the defendant owed a duty, which was breached, and in breaching the duty legally caused injuries to the plaintiff. If an employee was negligent in the course and scope of employment, and that negligence caused an accident, the employer can be held vicariously liable. Vicarious liability is a form of indirect or derivative liability; the employer is only held responsible if the jury finds that the employee was actually negligent.
However, it may also be possible to sue an employer directly for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent training. An employer that hires people to operate commercial motor vehicles is expected to conduct a background check and make sure that the driver is qualified and trained to operate the vehicle. A failure to hire appropriate people or properly supervise them can be grounds for liability in the case of an accident that causes personal injuries.
In some cases, more than one person or entity will be found responsible. Tennessee courts follow principles of comparative fault. This means that the jury will determine the plaintiff’s total damages and assign a percentage of responsibility to each party alleged to be at fault.
Tennessee no longer follows the doctrine of joint and several liability, which allowed a single defendant who was even partially responsible for an accident to bear the burden of paying a plaintiff’s total damages. As of July 1, 2013, when there are multiple responsible defendants in a Tennessee accident case, each defendant will only be liable for the percentage of fault that the jury allocates to them. However, one exception to the rule would be if the defendants acted in conspiracy.
Under Tennessee law, if certain responsible defendants are uninsured and have no assets, a plaintiff in a dump truck accident case may have to bear the burden of those damages themselves if they cannot collect from that party. It is important to retain an attorney who understands how to pursue the appropriate defendants and which theories to assert against them.
If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a truck accident in Nashville or elsewhere in Tennessee or the surrounding region, such as in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, or Kentucky, it is crucial to retain attorneys who understand this area of the law. Contact Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4004 or through our online form to set up a free consultation.