A 2013 Tennessee motor vehicle accident case involved a collision between a car driven by plaintiff Ramey Long and an 18-wheeler owned by a trucking company. The plaintiff was driving around 5 a.m. in the left lane on Interstate 40. As she tried to pass it, the 18-wheeler and her car collided. Her car stopped in the left lane and stayed smashed and unable to be operated after the collision.The front left brake booster and tire of the truck were also damaged.
Another truck driver stopped at the scene and came over to help. The plaintiff got out of her car and crossed the interstate to get in the emergency lane.
At the same time Ms. Adair was traveling alone the same route in an SUV. They came to the accident and she brought the SUV to a stop in the right lane. However, a Greyhound bus rear-ended it, sending it into the emergency lane and an adjacent grassy area. The SUV hit the plaintiff, dragging her into a ditch. She suffered spinal fractures.
The plaintiff sued all the drivers associated with the accident for negligence, including the trucking company, the truck driver, the driver of the SUV, the owners of the SUV, and others. The SUV driver and owner brought a motion for summary judgment. It was initially denied, but the renewed motion was granted. The trial court agreed with the driver and owner of the SUV that the evidence supported their claims and defenses that in bringing their vehicle to a complete stop, they took the right action and were not negligent.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the summary judgment was inappropriate because there were disputed material facts that should have been determined by a jury. The plaintiff claimed that the SUV driver and owner had caused her injuries by negligently stopping the SUV in a travel portion of the roadway and staying for an unreasonable amount of time.
The SUV driver and owner argued that they stopped the SUV in the right-hand lane behind the tractor-trailer that hit the plaintiff’s car without impacting another vehicle. The truck was already damaged. The SUV driver testified that when she saw the Greyhound approaching in her rearview mirror, she turned her wheel to the right because she thought she and the owner who was in the car with her would be pushed into the tractor-trailer. The plaintiff argued they shouldn’t have stopped when there was clear roadway in front of them. She denied the tractor-trailer was stopped in the right lane when they got here and said they were parked 300 feet away in the right shoulder. Similarly, the tractor-trailer driver testified that everyone was in the shoulder. The Greyhound bus driver also testified the tractor trailer was in the emergency lane down the road.
The appellate court found that there was a factual dispute about whether the truck was stopped in the right lane when the SUV came along. This issue regarding the court’s finding that the SUV driver and owner took appropriate action and were not negligent should have been left for a jury to decide. The appellate court overturned the trial court and held that a jury needed to decide whether the SUV should have driven through the accident scene without stopping.
If you are seriously hurt or a loved one was killed in a car accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to determine whether any relief is available to you. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys of English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley may be able to help you. Contact us at 270-781-6500 or via our online form.
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