Normally when you are out to eat, you expect to be free from the dangers of the road and can enjoy your meal in a cozy restaurant booth. One would think that when you are inside a restaurant and not even in your car that is parked outside, that you are safe from negligent drivers. After all, the restaurant is not even on the road.
However, recently that was not the case for two individuals dining at a local restaurant, according to The Indy Channel. They were injured when a semi-truck crashed into the restaurant in which they were dining. The police reported that the semi-truck was traveling southbound when it suddenly veered to the right, left the roadway, and crashed into the café. It is possible that the driver of the truck has a medical episode that contributed to the crash, but police are still investigating this situation.
Although there is no official word on what caused the truck to veer off the road, even if the truck driver did not intentionally hit the restaurant, he and the trucking company that employs him could possibly be held liable for the injuries and property damages he caused if he was distracted or knowingly got behind the wheel while experiencing medical problems. As seen in this case, driving with medical problems can be just as dangerous, if not more so, as speeding, following too closely, etc. Doing any of these things are negligent acts, because they involve taking unnecessary risks and endangering the safety of others on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration requires that anyone operating a large commercial vehicle be healthy and medically fit to drive. Drivers must undergo physical examinations to ensure that they are in proper health to operate large trucks. When a trucking company fails to carry out proper screening or a driver knowingly gets behind the wheel despite a medical problem, they have the knowledge that they could experience medical problems while driving and are putting others at risk of a motor vehicle accident.
A law review article from the North Dakota School of Law explains this legal concept. In a personal injury case, such as a motor vehicle accident, one is liable for negligence where four conditions exist: (1) the individual had a duty to the injured person (ex: the safety of others on the road), (2) the individual breached such duty (ex: speeding, following too closely, and other forms of negligence), (3) and there is a causal connection between the breach and the injuries (ex: but for speeding, a driver would not have to brake so quickly and would not have rear-ended another), and (4) there was an actual injury (the victim suffered personal injuries as a result of the collision). A medical condition can be a factor included in prong two, if the medical condition was foreseeable. For example, if someone is frequently experiencing seizures, they have the knowledge and foresight that this medical condition will not allow them to drive well and if they experienced this condition while driving that an accident could likely ensue. If such a driver chooses to drive anyway, with the knowledge that he/she experiences frequent seizures, then they have breached their duty of safety to other drivers on the road, and but for having a seizure, an accident and injuries would not have occurred. Therefore, if medical emergency was not one that was sudden and unforeseeable, the driver at issue in this restaurant accident could be liable to the victims.
Our Chicago accident firm is experienced in handling motor vehicle accident lawsuits. We understand that when drivers get behind the wheel that they are accepting responsibility for the safety of others on the road. If you have been the victim of an accident due to another driver’s negligent behavior, we may be able to help you hold that driver legally accountable. Contact our firm for a free consultation.