East Texas car accident cases arising from collisions at red lights, four-way stops, and other intersections are often highly contentious. Often, the two drivers each insist that they each had the right of way, and it is up to the jury to resolve issues of credibility.
Other issues can arise in such cases as well, including disputes concerning the admissibility of certain evidence, such as out-of-court statements. If a party is dissatisfied with the trial court’s ruling on a particular issue, the burden is on him or her to convince the appellate court that an error was made that should result in a reversal of the judgment ultimately entered by the trial court.
Facts of the Case
In a case recently considered by a Texas appeals court, the plaintiffs were the sons of a woman who died in a motor vehicle accident that occurred when the van in which she was riding as a passenger collided with a car driven by the defendant at an intersection. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the defendant was liable for their mother’s wrongful death due to her disregard for a red light, her failure to control the speed of her car, her failure to keep a proper lookout, and her failure to timely apply her brakes.
The case was tried to a jury, which apportioned fault 80% to the defendant and 20% to the driver of the car in which the decedent was riding. Damages included $300,000 to each plaintiff for past and future loss of companionship and mental anguish, as well as $25,000 for the decedent’s physical pain, $10,000 for her mental anguish, and $5,000 for her funeral and burial expenses. The defendant appealed.
Decision of the Court
The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order entering judgment upon the jury’s verdict. The court agreed with the plaintiffs that it was not an error for the trial court to exclude statements made by a witness and included in a police collision report and investigation file, disagreeing with the defendant’s assertion that the statement was admissible because it was a “present sense impression” exclusion from the hearsay rule. With regard to whether the witness’ statement should have been admitted as a prior inconsistent statement, the appellate court found that, since the evidence at issue would have been highly prejudicial, the trial court acted within its discretion in excluding the witness’ prior statement.
The court also found that the trial court had properly admitted into evidence certain video recordings of an out-of-court experiment conducted by an accident reconstructionist, holding that, at most, the admission of this evidence was a harmless error.
East Texas Injury Attorney Reviewing Cases
If you have been involved in an East Texas automobile accident or lost a loved one in a fatal crash, you should talk to a knowledgeable personal injury or wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Such cases should be promptly and thoroughly investigated from the plaintiff’s point of view, rather than just by the police or the defendant’s insurance company. At Earl Drott Law, we are here to serve injured people and those who have lost loved ones due to others’ negligent actions. Call us at 903-531-9300 for a free, no-obligation case review.
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