Texas Court Affirms Verdict Against Plaintiff in Rear-End Collision Case

Typically, people believe that rear-end collisions are caused by the carelessness of the second driver. While that is frequently the case, the occurrence of a rear-end collision does not establish negligence as a matter of law; rather, the plaintiff must prove each element of negligence to recover damages. This was demonstrated in Roberts v. Staples (No. 06-21-00076-CV), a case in which the Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana, denied the plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict after the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against her. If you sustained injuries in a rear-end collision, it is advisable to meet with a Texas car accident lawyer to discuss your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was stopped at a red light when the defendant rear-ended her. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he was negligent. The defendant admitted fault at trial, but the jury found that the defendant’s negligence if any, did not cause the collision. As such, the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against the plaintiff. The plaintiff moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial, arguing that the jury ruled against the weight of the evidence. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court judgments.

Establishing Liability Following a Rear-End Collision

In Texas, the elements of negligence are a legal duty, a breach of the duty, and damages that are proximately brought about by the breach. In the subject case, the trial court charged the jury with the definitions of ordinary care, negligence, and proximate cause. Thus, the appellate court was tasked with evaluating the evidence offered at trial in light of those definitions.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s testimony conclusively established that he violated the Texas Transportation Code. The court explained, however, that even if he did, it did not warrant a negligence per se instruction. The court further elaborated that under common law, the mere fact that a rear-end collision occurred does not mean that a driver was negligent as a matter of law.

Rather, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that the defendant driver committed specific acts of negligence and that those acts proximately caused the accident in question. It is within the province of the jury to determine whether a plaintiff has successfully established negligence. Here, the appellate court found that, when evaluating the evidence produced at trial within a light most favorable to the defendant, the plaintiff did not meet her burden of proof. Thus, it denied her motions.

Meet with a Trusted Texas Attorney Today

People that carelessly cause rear-end car crashes should be held accountable, but juries do not always find motorists that strike other drivers to be at fault. If you were injured in a collision caused by another driver, it is smart to contact an attorney to determine your rights. Earl Drott is a trusted Texas lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can reach Mr. Drott via the online form or at 903-531-9300 to set up a free meeting.


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