Texas Appellate Tribunal Affirms Verdict for Plaintiff in Car Wreck Case

In an east Texas car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that he or she must provide enough legally admissible evidence to sway the jury in his or her favor. Simply asserting that he or she was in the right is not likely to carry the day, as the jury will most likely hear a similar assertion from the defendant, who will also claim, “It wasn’t my fault!”

Rather, the prevailing party should have other evidence, such as photographs from the accident scene, the testimony of disinterested witnesses, and (sometimes) an expert’s opinion as to the cause of the crash. Such proof is much more likely to carry the day than the word of the plaintiff (or defendant) alone.

It is important to note, however, that there are rules that govern both the gathering of evidence prior to trial and the admission of evidence during trial. The trial court judge has some discretion when it comes to enforcing these rules, and the appellate court may occasionally weigh in on the matter as well, via the appellate process.

Facts of the Case

In an east Texas car accident case recently considered on appeal, the plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured in a 2016 motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff sought monetary compensation for injuries he allegedly suffered in the crash, asserting that the defendant motorist’s negligence was to blame for the collision. The case proceeded to a jury trial, which resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant sought relief from the verdict, asserting that the trial court had made mistakes with regard to several evidentiary issues.

The Decision of the Reviewing Court

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas affirmed the trial court’s decision in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant’s argument on appeal centered primarily on two evidentiary matters which he asserted were erroneously decided against him by the lower tribunal: an eyewitness’s testimony and a video (without audio) of the accident. The trial court had allowed the plaintiff to introduce both pieces of evidence at trial, and the jury had been allowed to consider both in deciding who was at fault in the wreck. On appeal, the appeals court agreed with the trial court’s decision on both evidentiary rulings. Reviewing the issues for any possible abuse of discretion, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff could not have been surprised by the eyewitness’s testimony at trial because he had prior knowledge concerning the witness’s identity and knowledge. As to the video, the court found that the plaintiff had effectively waived any alleged error by not complaining about its admission until after the trial.

The court also ruled in favor of the plaintiff concerning the defendant’s challenge to the legal and factual sufficiency of the plaintiff’s evidence on causation, holding that the jury’s verdict on causation was not so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be manifestly unjust.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced East Texas Trial Lawyer

The process of winning an east Texas car accident lawsuit begins a lot sooner than you might imagine. While a claim does not necessarily have to be filed immediately after a wreck, it is important to consult a legal expert who can help the plaintiff gather the appropriate evidence from the scene as soon as possible after the collision. Otherwise, the plaintiff may have to rest his or her case on evidence collected by law enforcement – or maybe even by the defendant’s insurance company. Many times, with convincing evidence, a case can be settled without having to go to trial. Without the right evidence, however, the plaintiff’s case is destined to fail. Earl Drott Law has over three decades of experience helping east Texans fight for fair compensation following car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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