Yesterday we took up the case of negligent passing while on a two-lane highway. In this case today we take on a wrong-way driver on a four lane divided highway. First the facts.

On February 23, 2009 the Greeneville Sun reported that Matthew Hall, 52, was driving north but in the southbound traffic lanes of I-81 when he collided with a semi-tractor trailer being driven south by James Pierson, 36 or Gate City, Virginia. What Tripper James Fillers figured happened was that as Hall got closer to the semi-truck the semi-driver in an attempt to avoid a collision drove onto the median. Hall continued onward not realizing he was heading the wrong way on this divided interstate highway and collided with the rear side of the trailer.

I’ve been looking at a lot of these cases lately and as is true in many alcohol and OWI or DUI as it’s referred to, was involved. The trooper hit him with everything he could which included charges against Hall of DUI, violating the implied-consent law, driving on a suspended license, possessing Schedule II drugs, possessing drug paraphernalia, having no proof of insurance, violating the seat belt law, having a switched license plate and driving on the wrong side of the road.

The negligence in this case is clear; Hall is driving in the wrong direction on a four-lane divided interstate highway. Failure to drive using due care is apparent. But in this crash, as in many the alcohol adds a complexity that will not be welcomed by Hall. Driving while under the influence of alcohol may allow Pierson to assert a claim for punitive damages. This collision occurred in Tennessee and their laws may be different than those in Iowa. The laws of the state where the collision occur will govern a collision on an interstate highway. In Iowa you would be allowed a claim for punitive damages that may or may not be covered on insurance. But we’ll save that discussion for another day.

I’m not sure it can get much worse for Hall, although he didn’t die so that could be worse.

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