Whether in Tennessee or any other state, tragic results are virtually guaranteed when a pickup truck crashes into a tractor trailer head-on in a vehicle accident on a state highway. It happened recently on Highway 54 near Brownsville when a pickup that was traveling eastbound crossed the center line and crashed into a tractor trailer heading westbound. The pickup driver, a 60-year-old female whose apparent negligent driving remains unexplained at this time, died in the crash.
Perhaps surprising is the fact that the tractor trailer driver also died. He was a 44-year-old male from Henning, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. With both drivers deceased, the reason why the pickup driver crossed the center line is unknown.
However, authorities from the Tennessee Highway Patrol indicated that a specialist has been assigned to the case. Whenever a vehicle crosses the center line of a highway and goes into oncoming traffic, it represents a fairly clear case of negligence. The specific reasons can be many, including a major cause of falling asleep at the wheel.
Another possibility may be a heart attack or other physical affliction, but that is not generally held to relieve the driver from liability to compensate others who are injured. In many instances, it can be established that the medical condition should have been controlled and that due care under the circumstances was not taken by the afflicted driver. There are other reasons for a vehicle to suddenly cross the highway, including use of a cell phone or other electronic device, and certain other instances of the driver becoming distracted and losing focus.
As a general rule, liability for negligent driving under Tennessee law will be imposed on the driver who crossed the center line. It is a violation of traffic laws for a driver to wander out of the prescribed lane of traffic, and the causing of an accident while violating a traffic law is usually held to be negligence per se. The bottom line, therefore, is that the estate of the tractor-trailer driver has a likely claim for wrongful death damages against the estate of the pickup driver.
Source: wbbjtv.com, "Troopers ID victims in deadly Haywood County crash", March 18, 2015