Court Permits Hit-and-Run Accident to Proceed Toward Trial Despite Defendant’s Statement Denying He Was the Driver

In some Maryland car accident cases, the testimony from both sides is in direct contradiction, and the case ultimately boils down to the issue of credibility. That is, which party or witness presented the more convincing testimony and evidence. However, in some cases, one party may not have any evidence that directly contradicts the other side’s evidence, and instead presents circumstantial evidence supporting their position.

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inference be made to reach the conclusion that the party presenting the evidence is asserting. For example, a defendant’s fingerprints left at the scene of a crime would be considered circumstantial evidence that the defendant had been present. In this situation, direct evidence would be testimony from a witness that saw the defendant at the scene of the crime.

A recent case illustrates the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence, as well as how an accident victim can use circumstantial evidence to help prove their case.

The Facts

The plaintiff was injured in an accident when she was rear-ended by a pick-up truck. Evidently, the driver of the truck fled the scene immediately after the crash, but police were able to locate the truck in a parking lot a short time later. The truck – which was registered to the defendant – was towed by a scrapping company.

According to the court’s opinion, when police officers went to the defendant’s home to investigate the accident, they noted that it looked like someone was home, but no one answered the door. The defendant also failed to notify the police, even after the scrapping company informed the defendant that the vehicle could not be released to him until he did so.

The defendant later testified that the car was his, but that he was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. He proposed that the driver was a family friend who used to live with him. However, the defendant could not provide any contact information for the friend.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the defendant, who moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim on the basis that he provided direct evidence, in the form of his statement, that he was not driving the truck at the time of the accident. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s only evidence that he was driving the car was circumstantial, and was not probative in the face of the direct evidence indicating he was not the driver.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument and permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial. The court explained that circumstantial evidence can be probative, even in the face of direct evidence stating the opposite, when the circumstantial evidence is stronger. Here, after considering both parties’ evidence, the court determined that the defendant’s statement denying that he was the driver as well as his version of the events was less likely than the plaintiff’s version of events. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff’s circumstantial evidence sufficiently rebutted the defendant’s direct evidence and summary judgement was not appropriate.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, the attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have decades of experience handling all types of Maryland car accident cases, including hit-and-run accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your matter with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses South-by-Southwest Drunk-Driving Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 2, 2018.

Can Maryland Injury Victims Stack Insurance Policies?, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published September 25, 2018.


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