As most people know, a common place to have an accident is in or near a construction zone. For this reason, it is wise to slow down and leave plenty of room in front of one’s vehicle when driving in such areas.
Rush hour traffic also can be a frequent occasion for an accident because there are more vehicles than usual on the road, many drivers are distracted, and a disproportionate number of automobiles tend to speed.
Recently, an east Texas court was called upon to determine whether a jury made a mistake with regard to assigning fault in a multi-vehicle accident that occurred near a construction zone in rush hour traffic.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case arising in Parker County, Texas, the plaintiff was a motorcyclist who filed suit against the defendant motorist following a collision that happened as the parties were approaching a construction zone during rush hour traffic. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the plaintiff – rather than the defendant – was at fault in the accident and awarded $0 in damages. The plaintiff appealed, raising as the sole issue the factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding that the defendant was not negligent.
Decision of the Appellate Court
The Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Court of Appeals District at Tyler, Texas, affirmed the trial court’s judgment in the defendant’s favor. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was negligent because he had been following other vehicles too closely to stop just before he veered left to avoid a collision with an 18-wheeler that stopped in front of him; the plaintiff further averred that the defendant was negligent in veering to the left without looking to see if other vehicles – including the plaintiff’s motorcycle – were in his path.
The defendant, in turn, asked the court to disregard any error in the jury’s negligence finding because the plaintiff had failed to challenge the jury’s $0 damages finding in the appeal. The court agreed with the defendant’s argument, noting that an appellant must attack all independent bases or grounds that fully support a ruling or judgment about which he or she complains on appeal. Thus, the court reasoned that the unchallenged $0 damages finding fully supported the trial court’s take-nothing judgment, regardless of whether the jury erred in finding for the defendant on the issue of negligence.
While this may seem like a strange result to those unacquainted with appellate procedure, the reality is that there are very detailed instructions set forth by the courts of appeal, and a failure to follow those rules can be fatal to an appeal. One of those rules is that each and every mistake complained of must be identified in a party’s appellate brief, or else it is deemed waived.
Schedule a Free Case Review with an East Texas Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a family member has been in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligent driving, experienced car, truck, and motorcycle accident attorney Earl Drott can help. As a board certified personal injury attorney with 30 years of experience, Attorney Drott fully understands the evasive tactics typically taken by insurance companies, and he takes an aggressive approach against those who want to play games during the litigation process. Call (903) 531-9300 to schedule a free consultation regarding your Tyler or Smith County accident case.
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