Sadly, Thomas Anderson, of Fort White, was killed in a Jacksonville, Florida truck accident around 6:00 a.m. this morning. According to news reports, Anderson crashed into the rear of a stopped tractor trailer on I-10 near Yellow Water Road. The driver of the tractor trailer, Ramon Alvarez, was not injured. Photo Credit: news4jax.com
As a truck accident attorney, I can tell you that Thomas Anderson’s family will be entitled to very substantial compensation for his death if the evidence proves that the truck driver was negligent.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, charges are pending.
Under Florida law, the rear driver in a rear end collision is normally presumed to be the responsible party. This rule is based on the idea that drivers must pay attention to the road ahead of them as well as drive at a safe distance behind other vehicles.
However, Florida law also states that this is merely a presumption and is one that can be rebutted with other evidence. In legal speak, this is referred to as a “rebuttable presumption.”
I mention all this because there must be more to this story if FHP is considering criminal charges in this case.
That said, more information is needed to determine why and how the truck came to be stopped in the roadway. According to news reports, the truck had some kind of mechanical failure.
If so, what was the nature of the mechanical failure? Was the mechanical failure due to the negligence of an unknown third party? If so, that party may be held accountable as well.
Of all the questions that need to be asked, there is one over riding question that bothers me most: Namely, why didn’t the driver of the truck pull off the roadway?
In the picture seen above, it is clear that he could have pulled over into the grassy median. Instead, he chose to obstruct traffic by simply stopping in his lane of travel.
What could be more dangerous than that, especially at 6:00 a.m. when it is still dark out? It should be emphasized that sunrise didn’t happen until 7:09 a.m.
As an attorney, I also take note of the fact that professional truck drivers should be held to a higher standard. Unlike the rest of us, truck drivers have special commercial driver licenses that they earn after attending school. Additionally, they spend many more hours on the roadway and are far more aware of the types of accidents that happen than regular people.
For this reason, I believe the truck driver should be held accountable, unless he had a really good reason for stopping where he did. For example, if the truck’s transmission froze up or it lost an axle, stopping in his tracks may have made sense.
However, even if the truck was somewhat operational, he should have moved it out of the way of on coming traffic. This is especially so if the mechanical failure caused the truck to slowly come to a stop, as opposed to merely stopping dead in its tracks. If the truck came to a slow stop, that means the driver had enough inertia to pull over and out of his lane of travel.
The bottom line is this: the truck driver made a mistake and a man is dead as a result.
From a strictly legal perspective, the ultimate issue in this case will concern why Thomas Anderson crashed into the rear of the truck. Was it due to the truck driver’s negligence? Thomas Anderson’s negligence? Or a combination of this two?
The bottom line is this: A professional truck driver with a mechanical failure on a dark highway at six o’clock in the morning should know better than to merely stop in the middle of his lane of travel.
He should have pulled over for safety’s sake.
Because he didn’t, a motorist is dead.
My condolences go out to Anderson’s family. I am sorry for their loss and I hope they take the right steps needed to fight this case and make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else in the future.