An opinion from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week revealed that the Court affirmed a summary judgment ruling issued by a lower court that held a trucking dispatching system manufacturer should be dismissed from a personal injury lawsuit. The court held that the company could not be responsible for a crash that was caused by a texting driver.
The case is important because of the facts it presents. In the case, Durkee v. Geologic Solutions, Inc., the plaintiff sued after a truck crash occurred on Route 40 in North Carolina. The driver of the tractor-trailer rear-ended several cars that were in front of him. The accident was powerful and ultimately deadly, resulting in the tragic death of one of the plaintiffs’ infants.
The plaintiffs consulted North Carolina personal injury attorneys and began filing claims against all the usual suspects. Included in this group of defendants was a surprising addition, the company that made a texting system located inside the cab of the truck. The plaintiffs made two arguments to try and hold the company liable. First, they said that the texting system required the driver of the truck to divert his attention from the road to read the text messages coming from the dispatcher. Second, the system was poorly designed in that it allowed the driver to receive text messages while the vehicle was in motion. The plaintiffs said that both of these things contributed to the deadly wreck and make the company liable.
Though the logic appears sound, the 4th Circuit disagreed. The Court of Appeals said that it was ultimately the driver’s inattention to the road that was the proximate cause of the terrible accident, not the device used for texting. Though it’s understandable why the families want to see the company behind the device held responsible, so similar tragic accidents do not occur in the future, the fact is the world is full of distractions and it is up to individuals to decide to ignore them. Given the size and weight of a truck, we hope truckers make safe choices and keep their eyes on the road at all times. In the end though, the decision will only be made by the driver and not by the companies who manufacture the potentially distracting devices.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, it is best to contact experienced Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyers like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
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