Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case that required the court to determine whether the instructions provided to the jury by the trial judge were appropriate under the circumstances. Ultimately, the court concluded that the provided instruction was proper and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Rental CarThe Facts of the Case

A rental car company rented a car to a woman while her car was in the shop. The woman lived in her parents’ house, with about 10 to 12 others, most of which were family. According to the woman, she kept the keys in her locked room. However, another witness testified that she kept the keys on the kitchen counter.

One day, a man who was dating one of the other residents in the home took the woman’s car keys, got in the car, and drove to the store. On the way, he struck the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle at the time. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the car, the woman who rented it, and the company that owned the car.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in South Carolina issued an interesting opinion in a case brought by a man who was injured when he was involved in an accident while driving a GM vehicle. The case required the court to determine if a plaintiff’s own negligence in causing their injuries is relevant when the plaintiff files a product liability claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer. Ultimately, the court concluded that a plaintiff’s own potential negligence is not relevant to the inquiry and should not be considered.

Old TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger in a 1987 Chevy Pick-up truck that was being driven by a friend. The evidence presented at trial suggested that the two had smoked synthetic marijuana earlier in the day. At one point, the driver of the pick-up failed to stop at a stop sign, and the vehicle was struck by another truck towing a horse trailer. The pick-up truck burst into flames after the collision. The driver of the vehicle died, and the plaintiff was seriously injured.

The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against GM, the manufacturer of the pick-up truck, arguing that the placement of the gas tank caused the fire. Importantly, the plaintiff was only seeking compensation for his enhanced burn injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a case involving a motorcyclist who was killed after he fell off his motorcycle and was struck by a car. At issue in the case was whether the man’s insurance coverage was triggered. The lower court determined that it was not, but on appeal, the court held that there were material issues that should be submitted to a jury for resolution.

Suit on MotorcycleThe Facts of the Case

The accident victim was riding his motorcycle when a garbage can fell off a truck and got stuck in the wheel of his motorcycle. The man lost control of the motorcycle, fell off, and rolled to a stop in an adjacent lane. Before he could get up, he was struck by a passing vehicle.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. It could not be determined whether he died as a result of falling off the motorcycle onto the pavement, or whether he survived the initial fall and was killed when he was struck by the passing motorist.

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Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a product liability case involving the question of which types of damages are appropriate when a party acts in bad faith during the discovery process. Ultimately, the court concluded that damages to compensate the plaintiff for actual costs incurred are appropriate, but punitive damages may not be awarded by the court.

Tire TreadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were involved in a serious accident when their motor home swerved off the road and flipped over. At the time of the accident, the plaintiffs’ motor home was equipped with Goodyear tires. The plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against Goodyear, claiming that the tire was not safe for motorhome applications because it was not designed to withstand the amount of heat generated when driven at highway speeds.

The pre-trial discovery process lasted for several years. Goodyear was slow to respond to many discovery requests. Specifically, the plaintiffs repeatedly asked Goodyear to hand over the internal test results for the model of tire installed on the motor home, but the information released by the company failed to include any of the requested information.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case brought by a man who was involved in an accident with a school bus. The issue presented to the court was whether a default judgment that had been entered against the school district should be reopened based on the plaintiff’s failure to effectuate proper service. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s method of service was proper and declined the opportunity to reopen the default judgment.

School BusThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant school district, claiming that it was negligent in the hiring, training, and supervision of the school bus driver who allegedly caused the accident. After filing the lawsuit in the local court, the plaintiff hired a process server to serve the defendant school district, as was required by law.

The process server went to the school district’s main building, passed a secure entrance point, and asked where he could serve the district notice of the pending lawsuit. The process server was directed to the desk of the assistant to the Human Resources Director, where he served the school district.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving a two-car collision that resulted in a nearby crossing guard being struck and seriously injured by one of the vehicles. The court had to decide whether both parties to the car accident could potentially be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Ultimately, the court held that a jury should be able to determine and apportion fault between the motorists, and allowed the case to proceed toward trial against both parties.

CrosswalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a crossing guard stationed on the corner near the school. A few minutes before her shift was scheduled to end, she looked up and saw a black car speeding down the road, passing cars in the opposing lane of traffic. As the car approached the intersection where the plaintiff was stationed, it ran a red light. The car entered the intersection at the same time as a pick-up truck also entered the intersection with a green light on its side. The vehicles collided, and the force of the collision sent the pick-up truck careening into the plaintiff. She was thrown against a nearby wall and suffered serious injuries as a result.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both drivers. During summary judgment proceedings, the pick-up truck driver asked the court to dismiss the case against him, because it was uncontested that he’d entered the intersection with a green light. The trial judge agreed that the pick-up truck driver was not negligent because he had a green light, and granted summary judgment in his favor. The plaintiff appealed.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Washington State issued a written opinion in a car accident case brought by a woman who was injured when she was struck by a Highway Patrolman’s vehicle. Immediately after the accident, the plaintiff admitted that she was under the influence of alcohol. The court determined that her unambiguous admission prevented her from claiming otherwise from then on in any trial proceedings. Thus, under state law, the case was dismissed.

Late-Night PedestrianThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was drinking at a party with some friends when she got into a fight with one of the other people at the party. She left the party, and because she had been drinking, she called her brother to pick her up. After waiting for a while and not seeing her brother, the plaintiff saw a car approaching and thought it was him. She ran out in front of the car, which was actually a Highway Patrol vehicle. The Highway Patrol officer did not see the plaintiff in time to stop the vehicle, and struck her. After the accident, the plaintiff admitted to investigators that she had been drinking.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the State as well as against the Highway Patrol. In its defense, the defendants argued that the plaintiff’s admission that she was intoxicated prevented her from recovering for her injuries under state law. The law at issue prevents recovery when a plaintiff is intoxicated, the intoxication was the cause of the accident, and the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault.

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Earlier last month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a man who was injured by a drunk driver who had been given permission to use a truck owned by the company for which he worked. The injured motorist filed a lawsuit against the drunk driver as well as the driver’s employer under the theory of negligent entrustment. Ultimately, the court reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer, finding that sufficient evidence was presented to show that the employer may have known about the employee’s previous DUI convictions.

Traffic JamThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when he was struck by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the drunk driver was operating a moving truck that belonged to his employer. While the employer’s general rule was not to allow employees to use company vehicles for personal use, the employee did obtain permission.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against both the driver and his employer. During pre-trial discovery, the plaintiff became aware that the driver had a prior criminal record, including four DUIs and a charge for possession of cocaine. The plaintiff argued that the driver’s employer was negligent in allowing the employee to use the car, given this information, which was available to the employer.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Virginia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that required the court to determine if the plaintiff should be entitled to a new trial after the jury found the defendant to be at fault for the car accident but awarded the plaintiff no damages. Ultimately, the court determined that the issue of damages depended in large part on the plaintiff’s own credibility and the medical evidence she presented. Since there was conflicting evidence presented about whether the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the accident, the court held that the jury’s verdict should stand.

Damaged HeadlightThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a minor car accident when the defendant rear-ended her. Evidently, the plaintiff was stopped at a red light when the she heard “something boom.” She looked up, and her car was lurching into the intersection. The plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt, and no part of her body came into contact with the steering wheel or dash board. The plaintiff explained that she did not suffer and bruises, cuts, or swelling, but her body “tensed up” upon impact.

After the accident, the plaintiff requested to be taken to the hospital. She was seen by doctors and soon afterward released. The plaintiff testified that she saw her primary care doctor twice after the accident but provided no evidence of the visits. She did, however, provide evidence that she went to an orthopedic center, complaining of back and shoulder pain, 10 months after the accident. She subsequently had surgery on her shoulder.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Ohio issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by a woman who was seriously injured when her vehicle was struck by the subject of a high-speed chase initiated by police. In the case, Agrabrite v. Neer, the court concluded that since the police officers’ actions were not “wanton or reckless conduct,” the officers were entitled to government immunity.

Police CarThe Facts of the Case

Agrabrite was seriously injured when her car was struck head-on by another motorist’s vehicle. At the time of the collision, the other motorist was being chased by police on suspicion of having committed a burglary. The fleeing suspect died in the car accident. Agrabrite filed a personal injury lawsuit against the police department.

Agrabrite knew that she would have to overcome the presumptive immunity that exists to protect government officials, so in her complaint, she alleged that the police officers’ actions were “willful, wanton, reckless, or malicious.” Under the applicable state law, if the court determined that the officers’ conduct was “willful, wanton, reckless, or malicious,” government immunity would not apply to the officers, and the case could proceed to a trial at which a jury may find the officers liable for Agrabrite’s injuries.

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