Who Owned the Tractor-Trailer That Caused Your Accident?
Sorting out legal responsibility for a car accident can be complicated when the vehicle that caused the accident was owned by a corporation. Unlike individuals, a corporation may be bought and sold by other business entities, transferring their potential liabilities from one owner to another. This, in turn, can make it difficult to figure out just who is liable for the accident victim’s damages.
Procter & Gamble Denies Responsibility for 2016 Trucking Accident
For example, a federal judge in Chattanooga recently denied Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) motion to dismiss it from a personal injury lawsuit arising from a March 2016 accident on I-24. The plaintiffs in this case were driving on the highway when it was hit by a tractor-trailer.
P&G did not own the tractor-trailer in question. The vehicle was transporting a shipment of Duracell batteries at the time. At the time, P&G owned Gillette, which owned Duracell. Durcaell, in turn, signed a contract with the tractor-trailer’s owner to transport the batteries.
A couple of weeks before the accident, however, P&G sold off the Durcaell business to Berkshire Hathaway. P&G argued this sale transferred any potential liability for the plaintiffs’ accident to the new ownership. The plaintiffs maintained the situation was not so cut-and-dried and should be an issue for trial.
The judge agreed with the plaintiffs. She explained that while Tennessee law applied to the substance of the plaintiffs’ personal injury claims, the contract between P&G and Berkshire Hathaway was subject to Delaware law. And Delaware does permit companies to transfer and assign liability via contract.
Here, the critical issue was whether or not P&G effectively transferred its liability under the contract with the owner of the tractor-trailer before the accident occurred. P&G’s position was that liability transferred when it “made and delivered” a Bill of Sale to the new ownership on February 29, 2016, which was before the accident.
But the judge said it was not that simple. The Delaware contract between P&G and Berkshire Hathaway said the sale was only effective upon a “closing” date that referred to another section of the agreement that was not before the court. In other words, the judge said she did not have sufficient information to conclude whether or not the sale was legally completed prior to the accident. She therefore said the matter would have to be resolved after a full trial.
Speak with a Knoxville Personal Injury Attorney Today
When you are suddenly injured in an auto accident, the last thing you want to do is try and sort out who legally owned the vehicle that hit you. This is where an experienced Knoxville car accident lawyer can provide invaluable assistance. An attorney can investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident and help you ascertain the responsible parties.
So if you, or someone in your family, has been harmed due to the negligence of a tractor-trailer or commercial truck driver and you need advice on what steps to take next, contact Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, to schedule a free consultation with a Knoxville car accident lawyer today.