Each vehicular accident occurring in Tennessee and elsewhere must be first analyzed for the presence of negligence, then whether there is causation, and finally whether the imposition of liability for damages will flow from there. Truck accidents are among the deadliest on the state's highways. A recent accident involving a dump truck sent four people to the hospital with injuries after an evening crash on Interstate 81 in Blountville.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported that a dump truck was traveling southbound with its bed raised. The bed became lodged in an overpass and blocked one or more traffic lanes on the interstate. The Highway Patrol dispatch indicated that the bed was ripped from the truck and thrown onto the roadway.
A 48-year-old woman operating her vehicle hit the dump bed lying in a southbound lane of the interstate. She and her two passengers, a 50-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl were taken to the Bristol Regional Medical Center. The truck driver was taken also for treatment. The Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the accident.
In analyzing the case, the easy conclusion to initially make is that the injured passengers in the car are entitled to collect damages from the operators who are found to be negligent. Clearly, the truck driver was careless under the circumstances by driving with an elevated bed. If the bed was broke and could not be lowered, the driver should not have been driving on the interstate.
A dump truck driver or other truck driver in Tennessee is generally held to knowing the clearance heights for all overpass bridges. Where the height of the truck or its load exceeds the height of the overpass, the truck must take another route. Truck accidents like what happened here appear to carry a strong inference that the dump truck driver and the driver's principal are responsible. The remaining question is whether the car driver was careless in not keeping a good enough lookout on the road ahead. That will depend on further investigation, including discovery of issues like visibility, weather conditions, lighting conditions, speeding and/or violating the assured safe distance rule.
Source: heraldcourier.com, "UPDATE: Four injured after Sunday night dump truck crash on Interstate 81", Zach Irby, Aug. 7, 2017