Tennessee Court Discusses Establishing Liability in a Hit and Run Truck Accident

While in many truck accidents, it is easy to determine the parties involved in the accident, in other instances, it can be complicated. For example, if a person is injured in a hit and run accident with a tractor-trailer, even if the person observes identifying information on the trailer, it may be difficult for the person to prove the truck driver or the company that employs the truck driver should be liable. This was shown in a recent Tennessee case, in which an appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims, due to insufficient evidence that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s harm. If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident, it is wise to speak with a knowledgeable Tennessee truck accident attorney regarding what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Factual History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was driving on a road in Nashville when the defendant’s tractor-trailer crossed into the plaintiff’s lane and collided with the plaintiff. After the accident, the defendant truck driver fled the scene. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging claims of negligence. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Liability in a Hit and Run Truck Accident

On appeal, the primary issue was whether the plaintiff set forth sufficient factual evidence to allow a rational trier of fact to determine that the defendant owned the truck involved in the accident. The court noted that the plaintiff and plaintiff’s passenger both testified in their depositions that they saw the defendant’s name on the trailer but not the tractor. The defendant’s representative, however, testified that it regularly exchanged its trailers with other companies, which would use their own tractors and drivers to pull the trailers.

Further, in response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff produced an affidavit from his passenger, stating he saw the defendant’s name on the door of the tractor during the accident. The court noted that this contradicted the passenger’s earlier deposition testimony, and therefore, pursuant to Tennessee law, the contradictory statements had the result of canceling each other out. The court clarified that it was not an issue of credibility, but an issue of whether any evidence existed to support the plaintiff’s claim. In other words, the court explained, if a plaintiff’s proof of a fact lies solely with one witness and the witness both denies and affirms the fact without an explanation for the contradiction, the fact remains unproven. As such, the court found that the plaintiff had no evidence to support its position that the defendant caused the accident, and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.

Speak with a Capable Truck Accident Attorney

If you were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney regarding your rights and your possible claims for damages. Attorney Eric Beasley is a capable Tennessee truck accident attorney who is adept at helping injured parties seek recourse for their harm, and he will aggressively advocate on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Beasley can through the form online or at 615-859-2223 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.