Transporting heavy equipment from one location to another can be a dangerous job. Drivers have to make sure to secure the right equipment, take proper routes, obtain permits and escorts, and follow regulations. Drivers and their employers also have to be concerned not only about their own safety but the safety of everyone else on the road.
In a recent case, a widow filed a wrongful death action after her husband was killed by a driver transporting heavy equipment across a bridge. The woman’s husband was killed when a driver was transporting an oversized log skidder, a heavy vehicle used in logging. The driver left Atlas, Illinois to deliver the log skidder to Eolia, Missouri. In order to reach Eolia, the driver took the Champ Clark Bridge, which connects Missouri and Illinois. The bridge is 20 feet wide and has two lanes. The log skidder was ten feet wide, so the driver had to take up part of both lanes on the bridge.
The driver transporting the load planned to send a lookout driver ahead in order to block the eastbound lane of the bridge. The lookout went ahead and the transport driver called to make sure that the bridge was cleared. After being assured that the bridge was clear, the transport driver continued onto the bridge with the log skidder. As he was driving across the bridge, he saw a car coming over the bridge in the opposite lane. He tried to move over but he hit the bridge and struck the oncoming car, killing its driver. Although the lookout believed he had blocked traffic, he had not effectively blocked all oncoming cars.
The widow filed a wrongful death action against the driver of the truck, the lookout, and the company. The case was tried in front of a jury, which found for the plaintiff, and the plaintiff was awarded $3 million.
On appeal, the defendants argued that the driver of the car had no legal duty because he did not gratuitously and voluntarily undertake a duty to the plaintiff. However, the jury found that the driver agreed to participate in transporting the log skidder over the bridge and failed to properly advise oncoming traffic. His legal duty did not arise because he was rendering services to the plaintiff. Rather, his legal duty arose because, considering the circumstances, a reasonably prudent person would have anticipated the danger and taken action to prevent it. Accordingly, the decision was upheld.
The Concept of Legal Duty in Illinois
In a negligence case, a plaintiff must prove duty, breach, and causation to show that a defendant acted negligently. The first element to prove is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care. The duty to act with reasonable care does not apply to the world at large. Rather, a court must decide the existence of a duty and its scope.
Whether a duty exists depends on the particular facts of the case. Courts generally look at four factors to determine whether a defendant owed a plaintiff a duty: (1) the reasonable foreseeability of injury, (2) the likelihood of injury, (3) the burden in preventing the injury, and (4) the consequences of placing the burden upon the defendant.
Have You Been in an Accident?
If you or a family member has been involved in a car or truck accident, you should speak with a dedicated Illinois personal injury attorney. The skilled attorneys at Moll Law Group have experience in all kinds of negligence actions, and understand how to persuasively present all of the elements of a claim. Our lawyers are here to help you file your claims in a timely manner and get you the compensation you deserve. If you were involved in an accident, and want to learn more about your claim, please fill out our free consultation form or call us at 312-462-1700.
See More Posts:
Recent Case Discusses How Settlement Terms Can Bar All Future Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 1, 2016.
Safer Technologies in Cars, But Not For Everyone, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016.
Court Considers Causation Issues in Defective Gun Case, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2016.