Earlier this fall, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a chain-reaction truck accident case brought by a man who was injured not in the original accident but in a subsequent accident caused by backed up traffic. In the case, Ready v. RWI Transportation, the court determined that the accident injuring the plaintiff was too far removed in both time and physical distance to be considered a foreseeable result of the defendant truck driver’s alleged negligence.
The defendant truck driver caused an accident on the highway when he negligently changed lanes and struck another vehicle. As a result of the initial accident, traffic was slowed as emergency crews cleared the scene. This caused a significant back-up of traffic leading up to the accident.
The plaintiff was driving on the highway toward the accident, traveling at approximately 65-70 miles per hour, when he came upon the stopped traffic. The plaintiff failed to stop in time and ended up rear-ending a vehicle in the far right lane of travel. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and he filed a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver who allegedly caused the first accident, as well as that driver’s employer.
The truck driver and his employer disputed their liability, arguing that they did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. The defendants conceded that the truck driver was at fault for the initial collision, but they argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were too far removed from the original act of negligence. The trial court agreed, and the plaintiff appealed to a higher court.
The Decision Is Affirmed on Appeal
The appellate court began its analysis by explaining that the first element that must be established in a personal injury claim brought under the theory of negligence is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. The court explained that a defendant only owes a duty to those people who are in the class of foreseeable plaintiffs. Here, the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries occurred three-quarters of a mile away from the original accident, and nearly an hour later. The court determined that the subsequent accident was “too remote” to hold the defendants liable for injuries stemming from the accident. Interestingly, the court did indicate that a negligent driver may have a duty to other motorists in some chain-reaction accidents, but the subsequent accident in this case was too far removed from the original act of negligence.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Chain-Reaction Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida chain-reaction car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury lawyers at the South Florida law firm of Cecere Santana have experience handling all kinds of personal injury cases, including those brought after a chain-reaction car accident. We take pride in the quality of our representation and make sure to respect each client’s needs as though they were our own. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation today.
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Cecere Santana Supports Food Drive, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 4, 2016.