Court Reversed Dismissal of Case Based on Trial Judge’s Improper Jury Instructions

Earlier last month, a state supreme court handed down a decision reversing a lower court’s ruling in favor of a defendant who struck a pedestrian as she was crossing the street. The court based its reversal on the improper jury instructions that were given by the trial judge.

crosswalk-1538871Samson v. Nahulu:  The Facts of the Case

In the case, Samson v. Nahulu, the plaintiff was the family of a young girl who was seriously injured when she was struck by an SUV driven by the defendant. The facts of the case were hotly contested at trial, with testimony from several eyewitnesses differing as to many of the important variables, such as whether the girl was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident, how far into the road she was when she was hit, and where exactly the nearby buses were parked in relation to the point of collision.

During trial, the judge made several important rulings regarding the evidence that the jury was allowed to consider. Specifically, the judge determined that the plaintiff would not be permitted to have a lay witness testify that the defendant was going “too fast,” and the court would not allow a photo of the intersection annotated by a witness that showed the young girl was in a crosswalk at the time of the accident.

Ultimately, the time came for the jury to decide whether the driver of the SUV was negligent, and if so whether she was responsible for the young girl’s injuries. Prior to sending the jury back to deliberate, the trial judge instructed the jury, over the plaintiff’s objection, that pedestrians are required to follow all traffic laws and that pedestrians crossing outside a crosswalk are required to yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles.

The jury ultimately returned a verdict finding the defendant was not negligent, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Appellate Court Determined the Lower Court Made Crucial Mistakes

On appeal, the plaintiff took issue with the evidentiary rulings made by the trial judge as well as the instructions provided to the jury. The court first determined that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury were unfair to the plaintiff and misrepresented a pedestrian’s duty under state law. The court then looked to the evidentiary rulings and determined that both the annotated picture as well as the testimony of the defendant’s speed at the time of the accident should have been provided to the jury for their consideration. Because of these errors, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed the plaintiff to get a new trial.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Maryland pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. As you can see, however, the road to recovery can be a long and difficult one. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you with the preparation and delivery of your case to help you increase your ultimate chances of success. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case today. Calling is free, and you have nothing to lose by doing so.

More Blog Posts:

Car Accident Victim’s Failure to Submit Evidence of Negligence Results in Dismissal of Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 5, 2016.

Court Finds “Good Faith” of Trooper Resulted in Governmental Immunity, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 16, 2015.

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