SW Legal studies in Business

Damage to Road by Trucks May Be Proximate Cause of Accident
Description The high court of Mississippi upheld a judgment for a motorist who was injured when the wheel of her car dropped into a deep rut on the shoulder of a highway, and she lost control of her car. The ruts were caused by trucks coming and going from a factory and were the proximate cause of the accident.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Superceding Cause; Proximate Cause
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts As Stewart was driving to work she became distracted and the right wheel of the car went off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder. The right front tire dropped into a rut in the shoulder that was eight to twelve inches deep and ran along the right side of the pavement. When Stewart tried to get out of the rut she lost control, wrecked the car, and sustained injury. Stewart sued Belmont Homes. Her theory was that Belmont made the rut through its continued transport of mobile homes along that road. The rut begins at the factory site and run down the road for several miles. Highway department personnel knew of the ruts caused by Belmont, but had issued the company permits to travel on the highway anyway. The jury awarded Stewart $250,000. Belmont appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Belmont owed a duty to not cause damage to the highway and so was liable to Stewart. Belmont had the right to use the highway, but in such a manner as to not constitute a source of danger to the public. Belmont contended that Stewart's negligence superceded any act done by its trucks, since she dropped off the road onto the shoulder. That argument fails because superceding negligence must be the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries.

Citation Belmont Homes, Inc. v. Stewart, 792 So.2d 229 (Sup. Ct., Miss., 2001)

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