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Judges reverse summary judgment in collision case

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It should be up to a judge or jury to determine whether a driver’s distance in relation to the vehicle in front of him had any impact on a collision between the driver and another vehicle on Interstate 65.

Brittney Romero sued Teddy Brady; Advantage Tank Lines LLC, his employer; and Jonathan Stigler after she was severely injured in a car crash with Brady while driving on I-65 in Scott County. Romero was driving in the left lane and Brady was driving a tractor-trailer in the right lane behind Stigler, who was driving a box truck. After Romero passed Brady, Stigler swerved into the left lane, causing her to drive off the road, lose control and drive perpendicularly into the right lane in front of Brady’s truck, which struck her car.

Romero settled with Stigler, but Brady and Advantage sought summary judgment on Romero’s negligence complaint. They argued Brady did not owe Romero a duty to maintain a certain distance behind Stigler’s truck, and even if he was following Stigler’s truck too closely, there’s no dispute he had a part in causing Romero’s car to leave the road or enter his lane.

Romero argued that Brady owed her a duty of reasonable care and that if he had not been following the truck in front of him as closely, he would have had time to react to the incident. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Brady and his employer.

It is well established that motorists have a duty to use due care to avoid collisions, and whether a driver was following another motorist too closely goes to the issue of breach, Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Brittney L. Romero v. Teddy Brady and Advantage Tank Lines, LLC, 72A05-1308-CT-471.

The judges found Brady owed Romero a duty to use due care.

“Without assessing Romero’s likelihood of success at trial, we conclude that the Appellees, as the moving party, did not specifically address the issue of breach in their motion for summary judgment and have not established that only a single inference can be drawn from the facts. The issue of breach remains a question for the trier of fact.” Barnes wrote in reversing summary judgment.

“An act or omission is the proximate cause of an injury if the ultimate injury is one that was foreseen, or reasonably should have been foreseen, as the natural and probable consequence of the act or omission. Whether the collision between Brady and Romero was foreseen or reasonably foreseeable as a natural consequence of Brady following Stigler at the distance he was is a question for the trier of fact.”
 

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