A tragic mistake resulted in two people dead in a bizarre mishap in Tennessee on the morning of March 25 on I-40 near Hermitage. A 22-year-old man was driving a Dodge Neon with four passengers when the group apparently decided to get off the road and take a nap. It turned out that they had stopped in the far left lane of the interstate and not on the shoulder, which caused a car crash that left two passengers in the Neon dead and one passenger alive but fighting for his life.
While sleeping, they were struck by a Ford Van driven by a Cookeville man. The van turned over and was quickly hit by another vehicle, also driven by a Cookeville male. Some occupants were trapped and had to extricated by rescue crews.
The accident can be interpreted in different ways. Probably the most likely analysis is that all of the drivers were partially negligent, and that they will share liability as joint tortfeasors. It is easy to pin blame for starters on the operator of the Dodge Neon.
That driver had a duty to stop off of the highway and not on it. It may have been difficult to discern where one left off and the other began. The accident occurred just before 6 a.m. when visibility was still limited by the night darkness.
The Neon driver was dangerously exposed on the interstate highway by stopping in the line of traffic. Through the exercise of due care under the circumstance, he would have found his way off the roadway and into a safer haven. However, it is also true that a driver must be vigilant for objects and persons on the road ahead.
Both the second and third vehicle were operated carelessly in that they failed to observe a vehicle stopped on the highway. Actually, the third vehicle failed to see a two-car collision ahead of him, perhaps making his share of the liability even greater. The estates of the two decedents may file wrongful death actions against all three operators, as joint tortfeasors, under Tennessee law. If there is a jury trial, the jury will be asked to attribute percentages of fault to the tortfeasors in causing the car crash.
Source: fox17.com, “Breaking Update: Police Release Details…”, March 25, 2015