East Texas Court Affirms Jury Verdict for Plaintiff in Accident Case Involving Construction Vehicle – Blevins v. Pepper-Lawson Construction, L.P.

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The fact is that most personal injury lawsuits settle. Some settle early in the process, some during a settlement conference arranged by the court, and some on the courthouse steps.

Both parties feel that they have at least some control over the outcome of the case when they enter into a settlement agreement. Typically, the plaintiff hoped to receive a bit more, and the defendant hoped to pay out less, but they managed to meet in the middle.

When a case does proceed to trial by jury, the jury has considerable latitude in determining issues such as the amount of fault attributable to the parties and the amount of damages necessary to compensate the injured party. It can be very difficult to overturn a jury’s verdict on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In the case of Blevins v. Pepper-Lawson Construction, L.P., the plaintiff was a man who was injured when he hit a construction vehicle while trying to pass a car near a high school that was being renovated. He sued the defendant general contractor (and others), alleging that they were negligent and grossly negligent because the “SkyTrack Telehandler” that he struck was being driven on a public road but was not fitted with tail-lights or headlights.

The case was tried to a jury in the District Court for Harris County, Texas, which rendered a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $170,850 on his negligence claim after finding that he was 49% at fault in the accident. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court made errors in its rulings on certain evidence, that the defendant’s closing argument contained an incurable error, and that the jury’s award for certain damages was against the weight and preponderance of the evidence.

Decision of the Court of Appeals

The appellate court affirmed the district court’s judgment, holding that the plaintiff failed to preserve the issue of the trial court’s admission of evidence of his intoxication at the time of the accident. The court went on to state that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence that the driver of the construction vehicle did not have a license, evidence of the rental agreement pertaining to the construction vehicle, or evidence that a subsequent remedial measure had been taken.

Likewise, the court found that the defendant’s closing argument statements concerning the plaintiff’s intoxication were permissible, rather than “incurable” as alleged by the plaintiff. Regarding the jury’s award of damages for medical expenses and lack of award for disfigurement, the court found that the award was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence and that it was supported by factually sufficient evidence.

If You Need Legal Help in East Texas

Serious, permanently debilitating injuries can happen in truck, car, and motorcycle collisions. If you need to talk to a knowledgeable east Texas automobile accident attorney about your right to seek compensation, the law firm of Earl Drott, P.C. is here to help. For a free consultation regarding your Tyler or Smith County accident case, call us at (903) 531-9300.

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