Supreme Court of Virginia Upholds Jury’s Zero-Dollar Verdict in Car Accident Case

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an opinion in a car accident case showing the importance of keeping thorough records in the wake of a car accident. The case involved a plaintiff who was injured in a minor car accident that the defendant admitted he caused. However, since the plaintiff was unable to present sufficient proof that her injuries were caused by the accident, she received no compensation.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was stopped at a red light when she heard “something boom.” She looked up to notice that he car was creeping into the intersection. She was wearing her seatbelt at the time and applied her foot to the brake immediately, stopping the car before it entered the intersection. At no time did the plaintiff’s body come into contact with the steering wheel or dashboard. However, she “tensed up” upon impact.

After the accident, the plaintiff did not notice any bruising, cuts, or scrapes but requested to be taken to the hospital. At the hospital, she was seen and then shortly afterward released. The plaintiff claims to have gone to her primary care doctor’s office twice, complaining of pain in her shoulder and back, shortly after the accident, but she was unable to present proof of these visits. Ten months after the accident, she went to an orthopedic center, and she was diagnosed with a “partial tear around her bicep tendon and a labral tear.” Surgery was recommended and subsequently performed.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. At trial, the defendant admitted responsibility for the accident but claimed that the accident was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff had her orthopedic surgeon testify. He explained that the accident could have caused her shoulder injury, but there was also an indication of a pre-existing injury.

In turn, the defendant provided pictures of the plaintiff’s rear bumper after the accident, showing little to no damage. The defendant also presented a medical expert who testified that the plaintiff’s injuries were not likely caused by the accident but by some other pre-existing condition. After the trial, the jury returned a verdict of zero dollars. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that she sufficiently proved her injuries and that the jury should have been required to award her at least some amount of compensation. However, the court disagreed. The court explained that this case depended heavily on the plaintiff’s medical record evidence and her own credibility. Since there was conflicting evidence regarding whether the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the accident, the jury was free to find that her injuries were pre-existing or caused by something else entirely. Therefore, the court upheld the jury’s zero-dollar verdict.

Have You Been Involved in a Virginia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see, maintaining comprehensive records following a car accident is crucial. A dedicated personal injury attorney can assist you in the preparation and presentation of your case in hopes of obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries. Call 703-491-7070 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time or services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Blog Posts:

Virginia Municipalities Are Responsible for Maintaining Safe Roadways, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 23, 2017.

Hotel Chain May Be Liable for Punitive Damages after Shower Door “Explodes”, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 1, 2017.

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