Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to determine if a jury’s $3 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff was proper given the evidence presented at trial. After reviewing the evidence as well as the defendants’ specific claims, the court affirmed the judgment. The case is important to Virginia personal injury plaintiffs because it illustrates several issues that frequently arise in Virginia truck accident cases.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was driving a van with four passengers inside. As the plaintiff approached a construction zone, he noticed that there was a large construction vehicle pulled off to the right side of the road. The plaintiff realized as he got closer that the vehicle was actually in his lane. Thus, the plaintiff crossed over the double-yellow line to overtake the vehicle. However, as the plaintiff was passing it, the vehicle made a sharp left turn, colliding with the plaintiff’s van. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the construction vehicle, as well as that driver’s employer.
After the accident, the plaintiff requested that the defendants preserve the construction vehicle, and the defendants agreed. However, when the plaintiff arrived to inspect the vehicle, parts of the vehicle had already been removed and were in the process of being repaired.
The case proceeded to trial, where several witnesses testified for each side. The court outlined each witness’s testimony, concluding that the there was an “abundance of conflicting evidence.” Primarily, the conflicting testimony involved the speed at which the plaintiff was traveling, whether the vehicle was engaged in construction work at the time of the accident, and whether the vehicle was displaying any flashing lights.
Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of $3 million in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants appealed.
On Appeal, the Jury’s Verdict Is Affirmed
The court upheld the jury’s verdict, rejecting the defendant’s challenges. The court first held that while there was conflicting evidence regarding the question of whether the plaintiff was justified in crossing the double-yellow line to overtake the construction vehicle, there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The court explained that a jury is free to accept or reject any or all of a party’s evidence. Here, the fact that the jury accepted the plaintiff’s evidence over conflicting defense evidence was not improper.
The court also held that it was not improper for the trial judge to allow the plaintiff to argue spoliation to the jury. The court explained that at the time the plaintiff asked to preserve the vehicle, the defendants did not indicate that it had been repaired and agreed to hold off on any repairs until a later date. However, when the plaintiff arrived before the agreed-upon date, the vehicle was under repair. Given the circumstances, the court held that the plaintiff should have been able to argue its spoliation theory to the jury.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Virginia construction accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Sidney Schupak is a dedicated Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney with extensive experience assisting injury victims and their families in pursuing compensation after a serious Virginia car and truck accident. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today.
See More Blog Posts:
Landowner Determined Not to Be Liable for Accident Caused by Untrimmed Foliage, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, November 29, 2018.
Court Determines Plaintiff’s Misuse of Product Precludes Subsequent Product Liability Lawsuit, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 11, 2018.