West Virginia Supreme Court Reverses Lower Decision Granting Accident Plaintiff a New Trial

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently released an opinion overruling a lower court’s decision granting a rear-end accident plaintiff a new trial on the issue of a knee injury that he had allegedly suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff had been awarded a jury verdict for some of the injuries he suffered in the accident, although the jury declined to attribute his knee injury to the crash, instead appearing to accept the defendant’s argument that the knee injury was the result of a previously existing condition unrelated to the accident. As a result of the state high court’s ruling vacating the new trial order, the plaintiff will be unable to receive compensation for his claim for damages resulting from the knee injury.

The Defendant Admitted Fault for the Accident that Injured the Plaintiff

The plaintiff in the case of Harnish v. Corra was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by the defendant as he waited to turn into his place of employment. According to the facts discussed in the recent appellate opinion, the plaintiff alleged to have suffered injuries to his neck, back, and knee in the collision. The defendant admitted he was at fault for the crash, but after the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against him, the defendant denied that the plaintiff’s alleged knee injuries were caused by the accident.

Evidence at Trial Showed a Dispute as to the Cause of the Plaintiff’s Knee Injury

At a trial on the plaintiff’s personal injury claim, the plaintiff presented the testimony of the doctor who performed a knee surgery after the accident. The plaintiff’s expert opined that his knee injury was the result of a condition that was aggravated by the car accident. In response, the defendant called a medical expert to testify that the plaintiff’s knee injury was caused by long-term wear and tear, and it was not directly related to the accident. After the close of evidence, the jury awarded the plaintiff damages for his neck and back injuries but declined to award any damages based on his knee injury. The plaintiff then requested a new trial, arguing that the jury’s verdict was unsupported by the evidence that the car accident aggravated his knee condition, whether it existed before the crash or not. The trial court granted the plaintiff a new trial.

The Defendant Appeals the Trial Court’s Ruling

The defendant appealed the trial court’s ruling granting the plaintiff a new trial, arguing that the judge incorrectly characterized the testimony of the defense expert at trial and proposing that the jury’s decision not to award the plaintiff damages related to his knee injury was supported by the evidence. The state high court agreed with the defendant’s arguments, finding that the defense expert gave testimony that could lead the jury to find that the plaintiff’s knee injury was not caused by the accident. As a result of the state high court’s decision, the jury’s determination not to award damages for the plaintiff’s knee injury will be upheld.

Medical Experts in Virginia Accident Cases

Many accident and personal injury cases will require a medical expert to give an opinion on an issue relevant to the plaintiff’s claim. Expert testimony and opinion is admissible to the jury in a Virginia accident lawsuit if it may help the jury reach a conclusion on an element of the plaintiff’s case and is supported by scientifically acceptable facts and methodologies. Under these requirements for admitting expert testimony, many Virginia personal injury cases will include conflicting expert testimony presented by each side. It is important for Virginia accident victims to retain experts who are credible and respected in their fields to convince the jury to accept their expert opinion.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a Virginia car accident, the knowledgeable Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland personal injury lawyers at The Schupak Law Firm have the experience necessary to make a strong case to a jury for you to receive damages for your claim. Our Virginia accident lawyers have built strong relationships with some of the most respected medical and scientific experts in the region, and with our representation you can be confident that a compelling case is being presented on your behalf. If you’ve been injured, contact the Virginia injury attorneys at The Schupak Law Firm today. We accept clients and have several office locations in the D.C. Metro area, including in Arlington, Fredericksburg, and Woodbridge, as well as throughout Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. Contact us by calling 703-491-7070 (Virginia) or 888-407-4529 (toll-free Maryland and Washington, D.C.), or send us a message using our online form.

See More Blog Posts:

Bar Owner Held Not Liable for Parking Lot Accident After Kicking At-Fault Driver Out of Bar, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 6, 2016.

State Supreme Court Orders New Trial in Slip and Fall Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 29, 2016.

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