The violation of a law or regulation can make an injury case against a trucking company much stronger and in the law this is known as negligence per se, or negligence in and of itself. If they broke the law, they must be responsible automatically. This is a powerful concept with a jury.
In the case, Newsome v. LinkAmerica Express, Inc., Ga. Ct. App. (2016), the appellate court reviewed a decision by the trial judge to throw out a case against a tractor trailer driver and the decision touches on some interesting aspects.
The facts of the case involve a car driving down a residential street and hitting a parked bobtail tractor. The driver was injured and claimed that the truck was improperly parked and that he could not see it due to sunlight streaming in his eyes.
The defense argued that the collision was caused by the driver’s own negligence in running into the truck, that the traffic ticket given to the truck driver was not enough to create negligence per se and that the truck driver was not negligent in parking the truck there.
The trial judge agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiff appealed and the appellate court agreed that the negligence per se claim should have been tossed out but that the simple negligence claim against the trucker should go to a jury. The court further ruled that the argument about the plaintiff’s own comparative negligence (remember in Georgia if you are 51% responsible for your own injury, you get nothing) was also an issue for the jury.
The Plaintiff presented evidence that several years earlier, the defendant driver had previously parked his truck in the exact same location, which resulted in a similar accident under almost exactly the same circumstances. The defendant driver nevertheless continued to park his truck in the same location, claiming he could not park the truck in his driveway for logistical reasons. The plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant driver was negligent in parking the truck on the street in front of his home, considering the prior accident. The appeals court ultimately agreed.
The appellate court found that the evidence showed that despite a similar accident having occurred, the defendant continued to park his rig in the exact same location. Additionally, despite the defendant’s claims that he did not park in such a way as to block traffic, the police report specifically stated, and photographic evidence showed, the truck blocking the lane of traffic.
Therefore, the court found, when the evidence was viewed in favor of the plaintiff, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant driver failed to exercise ordinary care (the standard for Georgia ordinary negligence cases) in parking his truck in front of his home and was therefore potentially negligent. The judgment with regard to the ordinary negligence claim was thus reversed.
This case will survive and go to trial but the odds are not in the plaintiff’s favor.
The Atlanta truck accident attorneys at the Simon Law Firm have considerable experience representing injured Georgia drivers, and they are prepared to assist you with a possible claim. Indeed, if you believe you have a possibly meritorious claim and would like to discuss the options you may have for legal recovery, feel free to contact us to arrange a free case consultation.
Georgia Federal Judge Denies New Trial in Tractor Trailer Accident Case, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published February 15, 2016
Georgia Federal Court Sanctions Defendants for Failing to Preserve Driver’s Records in Tractor-Trailer Accident Case, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published May 11, 2016