Here’s a recent car accident lawyers’ case. Angela was a rear passenger in a 2008 Toyota. She sat directly behind the driver, Mr. Corrales. Angela was asleep. A collision awoke her. The other vehicle was a tractor-trailer. A man named Murray drove the tractor-trailer. Murray’s company owned it.
CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS’ CASE FILED
Angela’s car accident lawyers filed a lawsuit. Angela claimed that Corrales and Murray negligently operated their vehicles. Angela further claimed to have suffered severe and permanent injuries.
Immediately before the trial, Angela settled with Corrales. Angela then called Corrales as a witness at her trial against Murray.
Corrales testified that he was traveling westbound on Route 78. He was familiar with the highway. He stated that he was driving in the right lane. As he approached the area where the accident occurred, cars slowed down. But he remained in the right lane. Murray’s tractor-trailer then hit his vehicle from the rear. On cross-examination, Corrales denied that he changed lanes before the accident.
Murray’s lawyer asked Corrales about a number of other motor vehicle accidents Corrales had been involved in. There were several.
Murray offered a different story. He testified that the right lane of the roadway was closed. Therefore, traffic merged from the right lane into the center lane. Murray was driving in the center lane. Murray claimed that Corrales “just cut right in front of me.”
In closing arguments to the jury, Murray’s lawyer commented on Corrales’ other accidents. Twice the lawyer stated that Corrales was “not a good driver.” In contrast, he described Murray as “a very good driver.”
The jury returned a verdict in favor of Murray. It awarded Angela nada.
MAY JURY HEAR OF PARTY’S OTHER ACCIDENTS?
Thus, Angela appealed. Her car accident lawyers argued that the trial judge erred in permitting questioning about the prior accidents of Corrales. Angela’s lawyers relied on an evidence rule. A person’s bad acts, committed on other occasions, may not be used to prove that he acted the same way on the occasion which is in issue at trial.
The appeals court concluded that the trial judge erred in allowing in evidence proof of Corrales’s other accidents. Such evidence had no bearing as to how Corrales drove during the incident in dispute.
The appeals court therefore ordered a new trial.
Accordingly, I say good call.