Jury Sides with Defendant in Car Accident Case in Which Plaintiff Had Pre-Existing Medical Conditions -Texas Appeals Court Affirms

Even in situations in which liability for an east Texas car accident is clear, there are several factors which can potentially jeopardize the plaintiff’s case. For example, if a plaintiff has pre-existing medical conditions, this can be a factor considered by the jury in determining whether the physical problems about which the plaintiff complains were truly caused by, or at least aggravated by, the crash.

If the jury is of the opinion that the defendant is not to blame for the plaintiff’s current physical condition, the plaintiff will not be able to recovery money damages, even if the defendant admits to being at fault in the wreck.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas; No. 02-18-00121-CV), the plaintiff was a woman whose car was rear-ended by the defendant motorist as the plaintiff was traveling in heavy traffic on the interstate. The plaintiff sued the defendant motorist, as well as the plaintiff’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance carrier, seeking monetary compensation for past and future medical-care expenses, impairment, pain, and mental anguish.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the defendant motorist’s negligence did not proximately cause “the occurrence in question” and that the plaintiff was entitled to $0 in damages. Accordingly, the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment on the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial on the basis that the jury’s verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, but the trial court denied the motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The court of appeals affirmed. While the evidence at trial did show that the accident occurred as a result of the plaintiff’s negligent driving, there was also testimony that the injuries about which the plaintiff complained were congenital rather than as a result of the accident. One medical witness also opined that some of the medical care that the plaintiff had received was not necessary, even considering her congenital condition. Although the plaintiff’s own medical witness stated that the plaintiff’s condition was aggravated by the accident, it was the jury’s job to judge the credibility of the witnesses and determine the weight to be given to conflicting testimony.

Finding that the jury’s decision to award $0 damages to the plaintiff was supported by factually sufficient evidence, the appellate court rendered any possible error regarding the jury’s “no negligence” decision harmless.

Seek Legal Assistance in East Texas

Receiving fair compensation following a truck, car, or motorcycle accident can be difficult. Talking to a knowledgeable east Texas automobile accident attorney about your accident early on can make a difference. At Earl Drott Law, we have been handling personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for over three decades, and we would consider it a privilege to serve your family’s legal needs. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule an appointment in our Tyler offices in Smith County.

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