Oftentimes accidents occur where liability is contested. Accidents involving commercial motor vehicles are no different. When contested liability tractor-trailer cases arrive at a law firm, it is important for the lawyers involved to remember the heightened standards that carriers are subject to. Although ordinary personal motor vehicle drivers have duties under the law to drive safely, they do not operate under the same heightened standard that commercial motor vehicle drivers are obligated to follow.

Whether the case involves construction zones, rush hour traffic, merging, turning or other potential hazards, it is important to identify and focus on the present hazards. Remember that these drivers are professional drivers and in deposition they identify as such. To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), drivers must take a test. State-specific commercial driver’s license manuals are used by applicant drivers to learn extensive roadway maneuvers and how to respond to roadway hazards.

Using a state-specific manual, you can have the driver who has contested liability admit that a safe, prudent professional driver should slow in a construction zone because not doing so raises the likelihood that someone could get injured or killed. All state CDL manuals educate drivers on rush hour traffic and the likelihood that other drivers will cut them off. Further it discusses the fact tractor trailers and personal motor vehicles have substantially different maneuvering abilities from accelerating and braking to turning and merging.

Establishing what the professional driver knew and ultimately showing the professional driver decided to forgo safety precautions in the presence of a known roadway hazard distinguishes your client and the professional driver. Beasley Allen lawyers have extensive experience handling contested liability cases in both state and federal courts. If you have a question or desire to work a case with us, contact Ben Keen or Cole Portis.

This story appears in the April 2020 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.

Jere L. Beasley, Beasley Allen Founder
Jere Beasley

Jere Beasley, the founding member of Beasley Allen Law Firm, has practiced law as an advocate for victims of wrongdoing since 1962. He was the lead Beasley Allen attorney in the record $11.9 billion award against ExxonMobil Corp. on behalf of the state of Alabama.


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