Another tragic loss of human life occurred in Tennessee on Friday, May 22, when an SUV driven by a 31-year-old Walland woman crossed into oncoming traffic and caused an accident that killed two people on a motorcycle. The SUV hit a total of four oncoming motorcycles, injuring several other riders, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. It appears that the families of the decedents have personal injury claims for wrongful death damages against the SUV driver.
Another wrong-way driver has apparently caused a deadly accident in Tennessee. The multi-vehicle car crash occurred at about 2:30 a.m. on Interstate 40 on Saturday, May 16. The suspected wrong-way driver is believed to have entered the highway at the westbound exit at Old Hickory in west Nashville while traveling in an easterly direction.
The appropriate type of civil lawsuit to file against a negligent driver for causing death in a traffic accident is called a wrongful death action. The family of the deceased must file an estate in the person's county of residence, and it is the estate that files against the person or persons who are liable to pay compensation. Death claims in Tennessee and elsewhere can be significant, particularly where there may be an extended amount of lost wages or lost earning capacity over the lifetime of a younger victim.
In Tennessee and elsewhere, it is unfortunately true that accidents involving an out-of-control vehicle are common events. When a driver loses control and crosses the highway, then enters into the oncoming lanes of traffic, that driver will virtually always be considered to have been negligent. Generally, any accident that occurs will be that driver's fault, and any personal injury suffered by innocent victims will be his or her legal responsibility.
The tragedies involving death and personal injury that occur when people drive carelessly on the highways bring untold human suffering that could have been prevented with some common sense and a measure of attention. A recent car crash in Tennessee on Interstate 24 is another heartbreaking tragedy that severed the joy of a close family in a split second. A 33-year-old female from Murfreesboro was reportedly speeding on the interstate near Smyrna when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center lane and crashed into and killed a 13-year-old boy who was helping his mother change a flat tire, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
In Tennessee and all other states, it is almost always negligence for an operator of a vehicle to rear-end another vehicle stopped ahead in the roadway. A vehicle can be stopped for a number of reasons: it may be waiting in a line of traffic, it may be disabled or it may have stopped to avoid hitting an animal or to allow an animal to get to safety. It is typically not a defense to a claim of damages for injury or death from a rear-end car crash that the rear-ended vehicle stopped for an improper reason.
A driver does not have to make actual physical contact with the victim's car in order to be found negligent and liable for the victim's damages. Sometimes, the negligent driver can set a chain reaction in motion so that another car strikes the victim's car during the course of a car crash. This scenario appears to have happened recently in Tennessee in the course of a fatal three-car accident that occurred in Wilson County.
Compensation for injuries suffered in a vehicular accident in Tennessee is based on tort principles of negligence. If a person is injured due to the negligence of one or more parties in an auto accident, the at-fault party is liable for compensating the victim for the economic value of the personal injury suffered. A driver's civil law obligation to compensate the victim for injuries in an accident has little to do with whether a driver will also be arrested or convicted for criminal activity with respect to that accident.
When a motorist loses control of his or her vehicle on an icy roadway that does not mean that he or she is off the hook for liability to others injured in the accident. For example, the Tennessee Highway Patrol reported an accident recently in which a 29-year-old man was killed when he lost control of his vehicle on an icy road, crossed over into the oncoming lane and struck another vehicle. After investigations are completed and the facts fleshed out, it may be established that the driver acted negligently by driving too fast for conditions or otherwise failing to exercise due care under the circumstances. Such findings may make a deceased driver's estate liable for a personal injury sustained by another person as a result of his or her negligence.
A recent bus accident in Tennessee illustrates a few basic rules of negligence law. The accident occurred on Feb. 6 on Highway 11 near Calloway Road. One person died and three others suffered personal injury after a head-on collision occurred between a Loudon County school bus and a small SUV.