The 7th circuit court of appeals recently settled major liability questions based on a 2008 crash involving a VH1 “Rock of Love” truck driver. The multi-car crash occurred when the driver fell asleep at the wheel, causing a severe accident that closed the northbound portion of the highway for several hours.
The crash scene and emergency response vehicles created almost 5 miles of traffic backup. The driver tested positive for drugs and did not have a valid driver’s license. VH1 settled with the individuals injured in that crash, but the ongoing litigation was over an accident that occurred within the gridlock.
The question in this case was who’s negligence cause the injury to the plaintiff, who was rear-ended by someone who did not slow down when approaching the traffic jam. The driver hit the plaintiff’s car at about 55 miles per hour, injuring him and causing the death of his brother. The accident victim says that he would not have been injured without the negligence by the truck driver who caused the traffic jam.
The court ruled against him, saying that the actions of the driver that hit him at a high speed overcame the negligence of the truck driver. The judges wrote that sharing liability between both the driver that actually hit the man and the truck driver would “open the door to endless liability.”
This case helps clarify the issue of proximate cause in car accident cases. Proximate cause is a legal theory that allows courts to assign liability to someone who did not directly cause an accident, but in a situation where, without the person’s negligent conduct, the accident would not have occurred. The degree of relationship between the negligence and the accident can be difficult to determine. Lawyers with experience in this type of personal injury action can help a car crash victim or someone accused of causing an accident understand their legal situation more thoroughly.
Source: Courthouse News Service “No Shared Liability in Nearby Car Crashes,” Joe Celentino, Feb. 15, 2012