Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Negligent driving by a truck driver also binds driver's employer

In Tennessee and all other states, whenever a vehicle rear ends another vehicle, it is usually determined to be negligent driving. Even when the first vehicle slows down or comes to a sudden stop due to traffic ahead, the driver of the second vehicle is considered to be engaged in negligent driving. The driver is considered negligent for not keeping a proper distance under the circumstances and for not keeping a proper lookout ahead.

In fact, the general rule is that the second driver must be far enough behind the first driver as to be able to bring the vehicle to a stop in sufficient time to avoid a collision. That is often called the "clear distance ahead" rule in the common law of negligence. That rule was apparently violated by a tractor-trailer driver in a recent Tennessee accident.  

The truck driver rear-ended the car in front when traffic heading north slowed on Interstate 75. The truck then swerved and sideswiped another tractor trailer before coming to a stop in the median. The events happened so quickly that the initial news reports of the accident reported a tractor trailer trying to make a U-turn on I-75.

The car that was rear-ended crashed into the car in front of it. The driver of the car rear-ended by the truck was injured and taken to Sky Ridge Medical Center. In line with the vast majority of cases involving rear-end collisions, the tractor-trailer driver is likely to be determined to be liable for the damages and injuries suffered by the injured driver.

Under the law of negligence in Tennessee and all other jurisdictions, the negligent driving of the truck driver is imputed onto the owner of the truck and the driver's employer.  An employer is generally liable for the negligent actions of the employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. Therefore, the injured driver may present a claim to both the driver and the driver's employer.

Source: wrcbtv.com, "I-75 in Bradley backup after semi U-turn", March 12, 2015

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