While tractor-trailer accidents inherently involve complex issues, multi-car accidents are common when big-rigs are involved in a crash because the large vehicles can obstruct multiple lanes of traffic. When a collision involves the independent negligent actions of third parties who cause a single injury, defendants often point their finger at one another attempting to shift financial responsibility to the other party. This strategy can raise problems for injury victims because a trucking company typically will have far more insurance coverage than the truck driver or a third party driver. Causation issues also might arise when there are multiple drivers who independently contribute to the same injury. In this blog, our Miami semi-truck accident lawyers consider an appellate decision that reveals the complications involved when multiple drivers cause an accident.
In Granger v. MST Transportation, LLC, the plaintiff's car was struck by another driver causing the plaintiff's vehicle to be hurdled into a tractor-trailer. The truck driver was returning from a run to Florida, but he ran out of gas in the right lane of traffic before the big-rig could be returned to the trucking company's storage yard. When the truck ran out of fuel, the driver placed three reflective traffic cones behind the truck but did not leave the flashing lights enabled. While the driver was making multiple trips to obtain gas, the plaintiff's vehicle was struck from behind. The driver who was rear-ended was traveling in the middle lane adjacent to the disabled tractor-trailer when hit from the rear. The plaintiff's vehicle caromed into the semi-truck. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker, the commercial carrier, and and the trucking company's insurance company.
The defendants moved for summary judgment based on the contention the crash was caused by an unforeseeable, intervening cause, specifically the negligent driving of the third-party. The defendants argued that the truck driver and trucking company were not the proximate cause of the accident. Proximate cause requires not only that a party's conduct was a substantial factor that contributed to the accident but also that the injuries incurred by the plaintiff were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the careless or inattentive conduct of the defendants. (Admittedly, the concept of proximate cause is extremely complex, so this description constitutes an oversimplification.)
The appellate court rejected this attempt to shift blame for the accident to the third-party motorist. Based on the facts, the court reasoned that the jury could reasonably decide that leaving a massive tractor-trailer in an active lane of traffic was the proximate cause of the collision. While the court conceded that the defendant might not have been able to foresee a third party's negligent act causing the crash, it could foresee that its negligence would lead to the serious injury suffered in the trucking accident.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Trucking Accident Victims and Families
Although this case cannot be used as precedent in Florida because it was decided in another jurisdiction, the factual scenario demonstrates the complicated issues that arise when the obstruction created by a disabled large truck and another vehicle contribute to a plaintiff's injuries. Trucking companies are required to administer random drug and alcohol tests, as well as conducting tests after a crash. Commercial carriers also are required to conduct background checks on potential new hires. Liability can be imposed if a trucking company hires a driver with prior drug testing violations. Our Miami tractor-trailer injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to pursue the results you desire. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida's top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.