Tennessee injury accident brings lawsuit against driver, owner of vehicle

by Mandy Hicks

If you drive or ride in an automobile, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be involved in an accident at some point in your life. If and when this happens, it pays to seek legal counsel early in the process, even if the negligent driver’s insurance company seems cooperative. This is because the legal process can be complex. This Tennessee injury accident case shows why it is important to have a qualified attorney involved in your lawsuit as soon as possible.

Unexpected issues such as the timeliness of service of process or the determination of whether a negligent driver is covered under a vehicle owner’s insurance policy can pop up even in a seemingly simple car accident case in which fault is clear.

The Facts of the Case

In case of Daniels v. Huffaker, the plaintiff was driving eastbound on a road in Knoxville, Tennessee, when the defendant driver turned in front of her and caused a collision. At the time of the accident, the driver was operating a truck owned by her brother-in-law and co-defendant, who was deployed to Iraq. There was some dispute as to whether the defendant driver was visiting with her sister or actually lived with her sister at the time of the accident.

The co-defendant testified that he did not give the defendant driver permission to drive his truck, but he conceded that she was a “permissive user” of the truck. The driver had a suspended driver’s license and had no automobile insurance of her own, but both the truck owner and the sister claimed to have no knowledge of the driver’s suspended license prior to the accident.

The injured plaintiff filed suit against both the defendant driver and the co-defendant truck owner in the Knox County Circuit Court, Tennessee, alleging that the driver was negligent in her operation of the vehicle and asserting a claim against the truck owner for negligent entrustment and vicarious liability under the family purpose doctrine. The trial court dismissed the suit against the driver on the grounds that the injured plaintiff had failed to serve her with process in a timely fashion and granted summary judgment to the truck owner. The injured plaintiff appealed.

The Opinion of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants, holding that the plaintiff’s theories of agency, the family purpose doctrine, and negligent entrustment were all inapplicable to the case. With regard to the plaintiff’s argument that the truck owner had a statutory duty to ask to see a valid driver’s license before allowing the driver to operate his vehicle, the court found that the plaintiff had waived any argument concerning negligence per se because she did not raise such an issue at the trial court level.

To Get Legal Advice about Your Tennessee or Kentucky Car Accident Case

If you have been hurt or had a loved one suffer a wrongful death in a truck, car, or motorcycle accident, you need to speak with an attorney about your legal rights as soon as possible. Failure to file suit against the responsible party in a timely fashion can result in the loss of your right to seek monetary compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. To schedule an appointment with an experienced truck accident attorney, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley at 270-781-6500. We represent people hurt in truck accidents throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.

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