The Plaintiff’s Burden in a Maryland Car Accident Case

In a Maryland car accident case, evidence is legally sufficient if a reasonable jury could find it satisfies the party’s burden of proof. In any case, the party that has the burden of proof must produce some evidence supporting their position. If the party fails to do so, the judge may decide the case in the other party’s favor without having a jury consider the case. If a case is sent to a jury for consideration, the party that has the burden of persuasion must also meet that burden, which is generally measured by a preponderance of the evidence standard. Under that standard, a plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that something occurred. If a reasonable jury could not find in the plaintiff’s favor under the standard, a judge will not send the case to the jury and will instead find in the defendant’s favor.

A recent state appellate case serves an example of a situation in which a lower court erred in deciding certain issues instead of submitting them to the jury. In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident and filed a negligence claim against another driver that was involved in the accident and the owner of that vehicle. She also filed an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim against her own insurer. The plaintiff reached a settlement with the driver and the owner and only continued to trial against her insurer.

The evidence at trial revealed that the plaintiff injured her left knee. She had previously injured her knee while she was attending the Naval Academy and injured it again when she was out walking several years after that. She had arthroscopic surgery on her knee two months before her car accident which showed that she had a torn meniscus. After the surgery, she said that her knee was getting better until the accident occurred. After the accident, a doctor performed arthroscopic surgery on her knee and found that she had suffered an ACL tear in the car accident and was permanently injured. The court directed a partial verdict in the plaintiff’s favor finding that the plaintiff suffered a permanent injury to her left knee that was caused by the accident. The jury found in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded her $446,000.

The appeals court found the trial court should not have directed a verdict on the issues of causation and permanency. The insurer did not need an expert to rebut her doctor’s testimony. In addition, there was contradictory evidence, including that the plaintiff had not suffered an ACL tear. Because there was contradictory evidence, a reasonable jury could have found in the defendant’s favor, and the issues should have been decided by a jury.

Contact a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, have an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate your claim. The Maryland law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen offers free consultations so that we can evaluate your situation. Our personal injury attorneys handle a wide range of personal injury claims for clients throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Contact us online or call us toll-free at (800) 654-1949 to discuss your legal options.

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