Tractor-trailer drivers are not only obligated to follow the rules imposed on all motorists, but they typically must also comply with federal regulations regarding the operation of commercial motor vehicles. Thus, if a truck driver causes an accident, whether the driver complied with the regulations may be relevant to the issue of liability. A Tennessee court recently issued an opinion discussing whether federal motor carrier regulations should be admitted into evidence in a case in which the plaintiff suffered significant injuries in a truck accident. If you were hurt due to the negligence of a commercial truck driver, you might be able to recover compensation, and you should talk to a trusted Tennessee truck accident attorney regarding your options.
The Accident and Trial
It is reported that the plaintiff was driving her car when she was struck by a commercial truck driven by the defendant. The plaintiff questioned the defendant during his deposition regarding his duties as a commercial truck operator under federal motor carrier regulations. The defendant then filed a motion to preclude the plaintiff from entering the regulations into evidence, on the grounds that she had not argued they formed the basis of a negligence per se claim or demonstrated that they established the standard of care. The plaintiff opposed the motion, but it was granted by the court. Following a trial, the jury found the parties equally liable and denied the plaintiff recovery. The plaintiff then appealed, arguing the trial court erred in refusing to allow her to admit evidence of the federal motor carrier regulations.
Admission of Evidence in Truck Accident Cases
After reviewing the case, the appellate court ultimately ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff argued that the federal motor carrier regulations were relevant, and the refusal to allow her to introduce them into evidence was prejudicial. The court noted that under the Federal Rules of Evidence, evidence will be considered relevant if it tends to make a fact more or less likely than it would be without the evidence, and the fact is important in deciding disputed issues. Continue reading ›