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Arkansas Court of Appeals Decision Illustrates the Importance of Naming All Potentially Liable Parties in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Earlier this year, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that was brought by a man who was injured when an overhead cable was accidentally pulled down by a passing tractor. The issue presented to the court was whether the owner of the wooden poles that held the cable could be held liable to the plaintiff for his injuries. Ultimately, the court determined that the owner of the poles did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Power LinesThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding a motorcycle behind a tractor on a rural road when the tractor’s sickle caught an overhead cable, pulling it down. The cable fell, causing the plaintiff to lose control of his motorcycle and ultimately resulting in a crash. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, including the driver of the tractor as well as the company that owned the wooden poles that held up the cable.

The company that owned the poles was not the same company that owned the cable. However, the company that owned the poles had previously entered into an agreement with the cable company to allow the placement of the cables.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the company that owned the poles asked the court to dismiss the case against it, arguing that it had no duty to maintain the cable. The trial court agreed and granted the company’s motion, dismissing the case. The plaintiff appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court acknowledged that the defendant power company certainly had a duty to inspect its own equipment, but the cable at issue in this case was owned by a third party. As a result, the court determined that the company did not owe a duty to the plaintiff to inspect and maintain the third party’s cable. Presumably, that duty would fall on the owner of the cable. In so holding, the court implicitly rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant company should be liable because it assumed a duty to maintain by entering into the contract with the third party.

The Importance of Naming All Potentially Liable Parties

It is important for all potential plaintiffs to understand the importance of naming all potentially liable parties in a lawsuit as early as possible. By failing to name a potentially liable party, a plaintiff runs the risk of having the named defendants shift the blame onto the non-present party, resulting in unnecessary delay and potentially even the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Have You Been Injured in an Arkansas Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Arkansas accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The motorcycle accident attorney at the Pfeifer Law Firm has experience handling complex personal injury cases involving multiple defendants, and knows where to look for potential liability. Call 501-374-4440 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury advocate today.

See More Posts:

Accident Victims in Arkansas May Be Prevented from Naming Government Defendants in Personal Injury Lawsuits, Arkansas Injury Lawyer Blog, March 4, 2017.

Recovering After an Arkansas Drunk Driving Accident, Arkansas Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2017.