Manager’s Insight: Your insistence that drivers operate their vehicles in a safe manner and that all equipment be kept in good working order significantly reduces the chances that you’ll get hammered in court should one of your drivers be involved in an injury incident.
What happened: A driver was backing up his truck at a speed of 3 mph. Meanwhile, a man was walking around the area where the truck was operating. The driver didn’t see the pedestrian.
What people did: Even though the backup alarm on the truck was sounding as the vehicle was backing up and the driver was constantly checking his rearview mirror, the vehicle struck the pedestrian, who suffered severe injuries.
Legal challenge: The injured pedestrian sued the driver’s employer, claiming negligence.
The company argued that the victim had a duty to be on the lookout while walking in an area where a truck was backing up.
Result: The company won. The court dismissed the lawsuit. The judge decided that the incident wasn’t caused by the truck driver’s negligence. The court pointed out that the driver was operating the vehicle at a low speed, that the operator was checking his rearview mirrors the whole time and that the backup alarm on the vehicle was sounding at the time of the incident.
The skinny: Victims who sue transportation companies following injury incidents typically have to show a court that the company’s employee did something wrong and that the employee’s mistake caused the incident.
Citation: Estate of Ousley v. Phelps Towing, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 351378, 8/26/21.
(From the Dec. 20, 2021, issue of Transportation Managers Dispatch. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)