18 Wheeler Driver who did not Follow Training 60% at Fault for Livingston Parish, Louisiana Accident. In Brewer v. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., 9 So.3d 932 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2009), an 18 wheeler driver changed lanes on a multi-lane highway in Livingston Parish and was rear-ended by a following motorist. A Livingston Parish jury found the truck driver free from fault and found the rear-ending motorist 100% at fault. On appeal, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal reversed. The Court of Appeal found that the truck driver was 60% at fault for disregarding his training as a professional truck driver and for acting negligently in attempting to make a lane change across the solid white lane line, which requires extreme care or caution, as mandated by the Louisiana Driver’s Guide which provides that such maneuvers may only be made with “great care.” The Court of Appeal also found the rear-ending motorist to be negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout and to timely react to the situation caused by the truck driver. Although the following motorist initially made a rightward steering maneuver in response to the movement of the 18-wheeler, he failed to anticipate that the 18-wheeler would slow its speed and would not be able to completely move into the left lane before being stopped by traffic ahead caused by the merging of the two lanes of traffic. The Court of Appeal specifically found that the following motorist breached the duty to timely apply his brakes.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the following motorist contributed to the accident, but was not the primary cause of the accident. He was plainly unaware of the danger and was merely inattentive. The truck driver, by contrast, had the ability to discern from his high vantage point that he could safely and promptly complete his lane change before crossing over the lane line. The magnitude of the risk created by the 18-wheeler and the careless manner in which he attempted to change lanes; his knowledge as a professional truck driver of the danger involved in lane changes, especially across a solid white lane line; his greater experience and training; and the magnitude of the harm created all supported a finding that the truck driver and his employer should bear a greater degree of liability. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal assigned 60% fault to the truck driver and his employer and 40% fault to the following motorist, and awarded total damages in excess of $13,000,000.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or wrongful death in an 18 wheeler accident, contact the experienced Baton Rouge, Louisiana truck accident attorneys at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews to schedule a free consultation.