When one person’s negligence causes injuries to another person, the injured person has a legal right to seek compensation from the responsible party for his or her damages. In a typical automobile accident lawsuit, the plaintiff’s damages will include things like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the plaintiff’s injuries are of a permanent nature, he or she may ask for compensation for both past and future damages.
If the plaintiff is married, his or her spouse may seek loss of consortium damages, and the plaintiff may ask for punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct went above and beyond mere negligence into behavior that could be considered reckless or wanton and willful.
Most injury cases are tried to a jury, and the jury decides the damages that are due to the plaintiff. Sometimes, however, the parties agree to waive the right to a jury, and the trial court judge hears the case and decides the issues.
Facts of the Case
In the case of Delacerda v. Quintero, the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in an automobile accident. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that she was negligent in causing the collision and seeking compensation for injuries that he allegedly suffered in the crash.
The case proceeded to a bench trial (a trial in which a judge, rather than a jury, decides the issues). Judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff for $11,537 in damages (representing $6,337 in medical expenses, $700 in lost wages, and $4,500 for past pain and suffering), plus prejudgment interest and court costs, making the plaintiff’s total recovery $13,857.92.
Proceedings in the Appellate Court
The defendant appealed the trial court’s judgment, disputing the damages and costs awarded to the plaintiff by the trial court but not the issue of liability. As grounds for reversal, the defendant argued that part of the plaintiff’s damages were inflated in order “to make his damages seem higher than they really [were],” that the plaintiff failed to provide proof of his lost wages, that the trial court erred in awarding court costs, and that the defendant should have been required to answer a question at trial as to whether his attorney referred him to a particular chiropractor.
After rejecting all of the defendant’s arguments, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. In so holding, the court noted that the defendant’s reliance upon a certain procedural rule was misplaced because that rule pertained to court costs being awarded to the defendant in instances involving offers of settlement (rather than to the plaintiff, as was the case herein). The court also stated that the trial court correctly sustained the plaintiff’s objection to the question concerning referral to a chiropractor, based upon the attorney-client privilege.
To Talk to a Lawyer About an Automobile Accident Case in East Texas
Thousands of people are injured or killed in serious accidents across Texas each year. If your family has been affected by a motor vehicle accident or another act of negligence, east Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott is here to help you as you seek maximum compensation from the person or business that hurt you. For a free case evaluation, call us at (903) 531-9300. We help injured people in Tyler, Smith County, and other areas of east Texas.
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