In spite of their reputation as “Knights of the Road,” truck drivers and the mammoth vehicles they drive can be a bit intimidating to those of us who drive passenger vehicles. Sharing the road with huge tractor trailer rigs when you’re driving even a full sized SUV can make you feel pretty insignificant. If you happen to be behind the wheel of a sports car, the big rigs rolling along beside you can be even more menacing. And we have all had the feeling of dread when we look in the rear view mirror and all we can see is the grill of a big rig.
Now imagine that the big rig is being driven by a man with a nasty attitude.
How would you feel if you were enjoying a casual drive down the highway in your sports car when the driver of a huge semi-truck began to “throw his weight around?” What if that driver began to threaten and bully you by virtue of his larger size?
Such unprofessional behavior is more than disreputable; it could be grounds for a civil suit.
Road Rage From a Semi-Truck – Resulting in Serious Injuries
In the case of Aldworth Co. v. England, 286 Ga. App (2007), a couple motoring down a Georgia road in their two-seater was enjoying an August afternoon. A truck operated by a driver who was obviously in the throes of road rage began to torment them.
The truck twice attempted to merge into the lane ahead of them where there was no room, nearly forcing the couple off the road. He engaged in unfriendly arm and finger gestures, then, when the couple finally exited the road to escape his dangerous behavior, he followed them to a service station where he assaulted the woman who was driving the car.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit
The married couple filed suit against the truck driver as well as the owner of the truck, and the company who supplied the defendant driver to the trucking company. The plaintiffs sued the defendants for compensatory and punitive damages.
Plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had violated federal regulations by not obtaining an address history for the driver. They also employed the driver, in spite of the fact that he had been fired from his previous job because of an accident, and that he had been given numerous traffic tickets which were not investigated prior to his employment. They argued that the employers showed conscious indifference to the consequences of their failures to exercise ordinary care in hiring.
When the trial court found in favor of the plaintiffs, the defendants’ attorneys appealed the verdict which awarded $750,000 in compensatory damages against the group of defendants and 1,000,000 against the employers), the defendants appealed the verdict.
The Response From the Defendants
Lawyers for the defense maintained that there was no evidence that the driver was “acting within the scope of his employment” when he assaulted the woman in the gas station parking lot. (They conveniently forgot that the more terrifying moments of the assault took place on the highway at high speeds.) Additionally, defendants claimed that the damages were excessive in that they exceeded $250,000 limit beyond which the law requires proof of ‘specific intent’ to cause harm. Defendants argued that the plaintiff’s did not meet that requirement.
Ultimately the appellate court ordered a retrial in order for the jury to consider whether or not there was specific intent on the driver’s part to harm the couple. The new trial will also establish what, if any, punitive damages could be awarded to the man and wife over and above $250,000.
Because our laws attempt always to make sure the laws are meted out with great care and accuracy, this case found its way into appellate court two separate times. Both times the facts were very carefully applied. To date, the case has not yet been completely resolved, but one thing remains certain. People who hire other people to drive big, heavy, dangerous vehicles on public roads MUST take every precaution to avoid putting a bully behind the wheel.
Hire Experienced Truck Accident Injury Lawyers
If you have been injured by somebody else’s negligence, you owe it to yourself to consult with one of the personal injury specialists at The Millar Law Firm. We will review your case to determine whether or not you might be able to recover from the injuries you’ve suffered. (And – yes. Being frightened out of your wits by an assault or can be an injury under the laws of Georgia.) Call us today and let us evaluate your claim. When you’ve been bullied, having a powerful friend can be a great comfort.