Under Tennessee law, when the driver of a vehicle negligently causes a traffic accident, he or she cannot collect third party tort damages from other operators who were without fault. The driver’s negligent driving, however, does not preclude the passengers in that vehicle from collecting damages from the driver. That is the case in a fatal accident that occurred recently on Highway 111 when a driver and his passenger were killed in a collision with a tractor trailer.
The man was operating his car north on Highway 111 when he tried to make a left turn onto a local road and drove into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer that was headed south on Highway 111, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Generally, a left turn in those circumstances would constitute negligence. That is generally because the operator must hold off on the turn if a vehicle is coming in the opposite direction.
It appears that the Highway Patrol is indicating that the tractor trailer driver could not avoid colliding with the vehicle because it came directly into its path. The 29-year-old passenger has a claim for wrongful death damages that may be pursued by her estate against the estate of the deceased driver. If the facts indicate, however, that the tractor trailer driver was partially liable for causing the accident, then the deceased passenger’s estate would also be able to make a claim against the driver and owner of the truck.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol Critical Response Team is performing an accident reconstruction to determine more precisely how the accident occurred. If the forensic report indicates that both drivers were involved in negligent driving that caused the accident, then the estate would have two wrongdoers to pursue for damages. However, the response team’s report does not carry absolute authority, and it may be challenged in a tort claim by the reports and testimony of other forensic experts.
Source: herald-citizen.com, “Local man and woman killed in Highway 111 wreck yesterday“, Tracey Hackett, Feb. 10, 2016