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Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyers Provide Primer Regarding the Issue of Proximate Cause in the Context of a Chain Reaction Big-Rig Crash

The bulk, length, and weight of a fully loaded tractor-trailer mean that many trucking accidents often cause incredible carnage.  Most drivers have been stuck at traffic backups while emergency responders attempt to clear the wreckage of a semi-truck accident.  The ensuing chaos often ties up multiple lanes of traffic for hours.  The resulting interruptions in traffic flow, obstacles in the roadway, and presence of emergency responders increases the risk of multi-car pileups.  These types of accidents raise complicated litigation issues because they frequently involve multiple impacts, injury victims, negligent parties, and insurance companies.  In the midst of this confusion, sorting out the responsible parties is complicated as the many parties and their insurance companies attempt to shift the blame.  In this blog, our Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers discuss an appellate decision from another state that illustrates the challenges raised by a traffic back-up caused by a tractor-trailer that is involved in an initial collision.

In Ready v. RWI Transportation, a trucker employed by the defendant trucking company made an illegal lane change on a highway.  This unsafe driving maneuver caused a collision with another vehicle. The semi-truck and the other vehicle involved in the accident were disabled and obstructed the roadway.  The disabled vehicles caused a lengthy traffic backup. 

The plaintiff later crashed into a UPS truck that was stopped in the far right lane because of the interruption in the flow of traffic.  The plaintiff commenced a personal injury action against the commercial carrier and its truck driver.  Documents filed in the lawsuit alleged that the negligence of the truck driver in executing the unsafe lane change caused the traffic backup, which was the proximate cause of the subsequent collision.

The defendants moved for dismissal of the lawsuit based on the contention the second accident was not a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the illegal lane change and first collision.  The trial judge sided with the defendants and granted the motion to dismiss.  The appellate court sided with the defendants and reiterated that the defendants only owed the plaintiff a duty of care if the resulting injuries were the foreseeable consequences of the defendant’s conduct.  The court reasoned that the subsequent crash was too remote in distance and time to have been reasonably foreseeable based on the behavior of the truck driver.  While the truck driver was negligent according to the appellate court, the negligent conduct was not closely enough related to plaintiff’s injuries to be considered the legal cause in the eyes of the law.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Trucking Accident Victims and Families

The concept of legal cause or proximate cause can be difficult to analyze because public policy considerations often factor heavily in a court’s analysis about whether to hold a defendant responsible when there are intervening factors between the negligent conduct and ultimate harm.  Our Miami tractor-trailer injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to pursue the results you desire.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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