Tennessee Court Discusses Permissive Intervention in a Truck Accident Case

When a person is injured in a truck accident, the person has a right to pursue claims for his or her damages. If the person was acting in the course of his or her employment at the time of the accident, however, the pursuit of compensation may be complicated by another party’s claim. This was evidenced in a recent case arising out of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Eastern Division, in which the plaintiff’s employer filed a motion to intervene to assert claims against the defendant. If you were injured in a Tennessee truck accident, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable attorney to discuss how another party’s potential claims could affect your recovery of compensation.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff was driving a tractor-trailer owned by his employer, when it was struck by another tractor-trailer, driven by the defendant. The plaintiff and his wife subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the federal district court, seeking damages for injuries caused by the accident and loss of consortium. The plaintiff also filed a workers’ compensation claim with his employer to recover benefits.

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s employer filed a motion to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. The employer argued that it had paid $34,000 in benefits to the plaintiff and that it suffered property damage as a result of the accident and, therefore, should be allowed to intervene in the proceedings. Upon review, the court granted the motion.

Permissive Intervention

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may grant a motion to intervene, if the request is timely and the party seeking to intervene wishes to assert a claim or defense that shares a common question of law or fact with the underlying action. In weighing whether to grant a motion to intervene, the courts will look at whether allowing a party to intervene will cause unjust delay or prejudice another party’s right to recover.

The Sixth Circuit developed a test for determining whether a motion to intervene is timely, that considers the progression of the underlying case, the amount of time the party seeking intervention knew or should have known of its interests in the case, and the purpose for seeking intervention. The test also assesses whether there are any factors weighing against permitting intervention and whether the intervenor’s failure to promptly seek intervention is prejudicial to the rights of the original parties.

In the subject case, the court found that the employer’s motion to intervene was timely as it was filed six weeks prior to the deadline for joining additional parties or amending pleadings. Further, the court found that intervention would allow the employer to protect its legal interests. The court noted that the plaintiff and employer may have some identity of interest, but found that it did not weigh against permitting intervention. Thus, the court granted the motion.

Meet with an Experienced Tennessee Truck Accident Attorney

If you sustained injuries in an accident with a commercial truck, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover. Attorney Eric Beasley is a skillful Tennessee truck accident attorney who has the knowledge and experience needed to help you hold the parties that caused the accident accountable for your losses. You can reach Mr. Beasley via the online form or at 615-859-2223 to set up a free and confidential meeting regarding your potential claims.