In a recent Tennessee appellate decision, the court considered a lawsuit arising out of a tractor-trailer accident. One of the plaintiffs was hauling a trailer owned by the defendant with an over-the-road tractor. The hauler’s wife was riding as a passenger on the accident date. The hauler and his wife filed suit claiming that the accident happened because the trailer’s tandem axle suddenly came loose as they went down the highway and that the tractor-trailer overturned. The wife was injured and the trailer and tractor were damaged.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that the owner of the trailer had exclusive control over it and had negligently inspected and maintained it and hadn’t made sure the trailer complied with all federal motor vehicle safety standards. The plaintiffs claimed the trailer had caused the accident and that the wife had suffered severe and permanent bodily injuries as a result of the accident. The plaintiffs also claimed the husband had incurred lost wages due to total loss of the tractor. They asked for damages of $850,000 and later added a request for punitive damages, claiming that the defendant falsified its year inspection reports.
The defendant answered, denying claims of negligence and wrongdoing. The defendant claimed that the causes of the accident were the plaintiff’s speeding and failure to control the tractor and use reasonable care. It also claimed the plaintiff hadn’t performed the requisite pre-trip inspection in accord with federal motor carrier safety regulations and that his own negligence barred recovery.