The “Foreseeability” Requirement in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits have certain elements that must be proved before an injured party is able to recover financially for their injuries from the at-fault party. Generally speaking, these four elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Thus, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff and that this breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Trucker on HighwayOver the course of time, courts have developed a framework for determining when a defendant owes a plaintiff a duty of care. For example, most motorists owe other motorists with whom they share the road a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. However, that duty is not unlimited. Specifically, the duty only covers those who could be foreseeably injured by the defendant’s negligent conduct. A recent case explains this concept in more detail.

Ready v. RWI Transportation:  Foreseeability in a Chain-Reaction Accident

A truck operated by an employee of RWI Transportation caused an accident on the highway when he made an improper lane change. As a result of the accident, the truck and another vehicle ended up blocking several lanes of travel, causing a significant traffic back-up.

A few minutes later, after authorities arrived and cleared the scene, and traffic begun to move again, Ready approached the line of stopped cars and slammed into the back of a UPS truck. The accident occurred about three-quarters of a mile away from the scene of the original accident. As a result of the accident, Ready sustained serious injuries and filed a personal injury lawsuit against RWI Transportation and their truck driver.

The defendants claimed that Ready’s accident was not a foreseeable consequence of the truck driver’s negligent conduct. The trial court agreed and granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. Ready appealed.

On appeal, the court conducted a foreseeability analysis to determine whether the defendants could be held legally responsible for Ready’s injuries. The court determined that since the second accident was so far removed in both time and distance from the truck driver’s negligent act, the defendants could not be held liable. The court explained that while motorists generally owe a duty of care to other motorists with whom they share the road, in this case, the subsequent accident was beyond the limit of what was foreseeable.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled advocates at the Virginia personal injury law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of collective experience representing clients in all kinds of vehicle accidents, including truck accidents and chain-reaction accidents involving multiple vehicles. We understand that being involved in a car or truck accident is a traumatic experience, and we take every step to make the process as easy as possible for our clients. Call 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to you unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Blog Posts:

Proving a Virginia Premises Liability Claim, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, November 16, 2016.

Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Lawsuit Permitted to Proceed Despite Signed Arbitration Agreement, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, November 3, 2016.