Negligence Lawyer U.: Tree Crushes Car

NEGLIGENCE LAWYER CASE: TREE FALLS ON CAR, INJURING PASSENGER. WAS DRIVER RESPONSIBLE?

An unusual negligence lawyer case: On April 16, 2011, at about 7:00 p.m., Louise Gorrie was a passenger in a car driven by Mary Allen. As Allen was slowing down to allow Gorrie to exit, a tree fell on the car’s roof and windshield. Gorrie claimed she suffered permanent injuries.  She hired a negligence lawyer to sue Allen.

Allen testified that she was driving just two miles per hour. She noticed a white cherry blossom tree falling. Before she could react, the tree fell on her car. Allen and Gorrie were trapped in the vehicle.  They needed assistance to get out. 

Gorrie’s testimony did not contradict Allen’s.

Allen filed a court motion to dismiss Gorrie’s claim.  Allen claimed that Gorrie failed to present any facts proving that Allen drove negligently.  Gorrie’s negligence lawyer argued that Allen should have been more aware that a tree might fall down, as heavy rain was falling.

The trial judge ruled that no reasonable jury could find that Allen had been negligent. Accordingly, the judge dismissed Gorrie’s claim against Allen.  Gorrie’s negligence lawyer appealed.

On appeal, the negligence lawyer contended that Allen saw the tree before it fell and had time to avoid it.

The appeals judges noted that, to prove negligence, the negligence lawyer had to prove that Allen owed Gorrie a duty of care, that Allen violated that duty, and that Gorrie’s injuries were immediately caused by the violation. The mere showing of an incident causing an injury was not enough to prove negligence.

The appellate judges ruled that there was no evidence that Allen was driving over the speed limit. Nor was there any evidence that Allen did anything else wrong, given that the tree fell without warning.  Therefore, even if there was a duty of care, it was not violated. The appeals panel rejected the arguments of the negligence lawyer. It upheld the trial judge. Gorrie had no claim against Allen.

The appeals ruling is found here.

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