Trucker back on hook for lawsuit involving merge-lane crash

June 21, 2024

Tyson Fisher


A truck driver must face a lawsuit alleging negligence in a “he said, she said” crash case involving a situation truckers are all too familiar with: merging lanes.

The Georgia Court of Appeals resurrected a lawsuit accusing an Iron Mountain truck driver of causing a crash in Macon, Ga. A Bibb County trial court had dismissed the case, finding the trucker had the right of way when the crash occurred on a road where two lanes merged into one.

At the center of the case is a crash that took place in March 2016 on Forest Hill Road just south of Northside Drive. Going southbound, the right lane of the two-lane road begins to merge into the left lane about 250 feet past the intersection.

Lizzie Curry and her daughter, Donna, were driving in the right lane. Earl Farrior was driving a truck for Iron Mountain in the left lane. The two vehicles were side by side after crossing Northside Drive.

According to testimony by Curry, the truck’s passenger-side wheel began encroaching into her lane after crossing the intersection. She began to accelerate to avoid getting sideswiped. Curry stated she got “a little bit in front of the truck” while remaining in the right lane when she was struck. She recalled the crash occurring before the lanes merged.

However, the trucker has a completely different account of how the crash occurred.

According to Farrior, Curry’s vehicle “snipped” his front bumper as she attempted to get around his truck “on the merge.” He claims Curry cut in front of him and struck the front-passenger side “at the end of the merging” while staying in his lane. The trucker stated that he’d known the right lane ended, which was why he’d remained in the left lane.

No one received a citation. Curry disagreed with the police report’s “diagram depicting the manner in which the merge occurred.”

Curry filed a lawsuit against Farrior, Iron Mountain and its insurance company in October 2017. Three years later, the trial court dismissed the case, finding that Curry merged into Farrior, causing the crash. The court also determined that Farrior had the right of way and that Curry failed to produce evidence showing Farrior was negligent.

On June 3, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed that decision. Explaining its decision, the appellate panel pointed out conflicting testimony:

  • Farrior claimed the crash occurred when lanes were merging. Curry claimed it occurred when there were still two distinct lanes.
  • Farrior claimed Curry cut him off. Curry claimed Farrior came into her lane.

Consequently, the trial court could not conclude Curry merged into Farrior and caused the crash “with the evidence when it is viewed in a light most favorable to Curry.”

“Consideration of a summary judgment motion does not authorize the trial court to sit as both judge and jury, weighing the evidence and deciding issues that are traditionally for the jury,” the panel ruled.

With the trial court ruling reversed, Farrior is back on the hook for negligence claims in a case that could come down to a jury deciding who is telling the truth. LL