The highways are plagued with a daily dosage of tragedy from accidents involving motor vehicles. Truck accidents in particular take on a complex variety of factual scenarios. For example, a 40-year-old highway construction worker was killed on March 18 on Ga. 120 when he jumped from the trailer of a construction truck and was killed by a driver who had been rapidly approaching the rear of the truck, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
The authorities reported that the construction truck had been parked partially in the right lane of the highway with its lights flashing to direct travelers to get into the other available lane. They report that the worker jumped from the trailer of the truck when he saw that the approaching car was not going to stop and would hit the rear of the truck. The driver did switch lanes at the last second but hit the worker who landed in front of the car.
The decedent’s family in this case would receive workers’ compensation from the employer’s insurance carrier. The estate would also have a right to file an independent wrongful death claim against the driver of the car on the basis of negligence and possibly gross negligence or recklessness. The Georgia State Patrol indicated in fact that it arrested the car driver for vehicular homicide and reckless driving, among other charges.
The fact of a criminal arrest under Georgia law does not automatically establish negligence for purposes of collecting damages on the separate civil claim for wrongful death monetary damages. However, if the driver is convicted of the reckless driving charge, that would allow for application of the evidentiary rule of negligence per se. Under that doctrine in car and truck accidents, the conviction of a motor vehicle driving offense that is causally connected to the injury or death of the victim is proof in itself that there was negligent driving for purposes of a recovery of money in a separate civil claim.