You leave your home this morning only to discover that your parked car has been in an accident overnight. Surely you are not at fault for the accident, right? Think again.
This past spring, the Georgia Court of Appeals opened the door to a new and surprising application of an old legal theory. In Newsome v. Linkamerica Express, Inc., the court considered whether the owner of a legally parked tractor trailer could be held responsible if a moving vehicle struck it. In Newsome the defendant, a professional truck driver, routinely parked his trailer on the street in front of his home. In that case, he could have also parked the trailer in his driveway, but low hanging power lines prevented the trailer from passing through.
The trailer was legally parked, although it did occupy substantial space in the roadway. One February morning, a driver rounded the corner near the driver’s home and, while temporarily blinded by the sun, collided with trailer. The driver sued the trailer owner for damages related to the accident.
In an opinion from the Georgia Court of Appeals, a six to one majority found that under these facts, the driver could be found liable for their parked vehicle and that the case should be heard by a jury. In particular, the court found that the owner could be found liable for the collision because, even though the trial court found that there was room for other drivers to pass the trailer, a police officer reporting to the scene disagreed. This created an issue of fact best reserved for a jury.
In a dissenting opinion, Presiding Judge Andrews noted his bewilderment that the defendant “legally parked his bobtail tractor along the right-hand curb of the roadway in front of his residence, leaving enough space between the vehicle and the roadway center line for other vehicles to pass safely, only to have a motorist carelessly crash into the parked tractor and blame him for the collision.” By allowing claims based on negligent parking, the Court of Appeals has potentially opened the door to liability even when an unattended, legally parked vehicles hit by a moving vehicle.
If you or your vehicle have been involved in an accident, do not wait to get the help you deserve. Civil litigation can be extremely complex, and trying to go it alone – even in the early stages of your claim – can be disastrous to your case. Call our office at (678) 483-8655 or email us at info@FrankHarrisLaw.com in order to schedule a consultation today. You can also visit our website at www.FrankHarrisLaw.com.