We’ve all heard about putting our “best foot forward” and making a good first impression. That is especially true in your Louisiana injury lawsuit. Many injury cases come down to which side’s evidence appears more persuasive and believable to the jury. When a case is decided based upon the credibility a jury ascribes to each side’s evidence, then it is often very to get that overturned on appeal. That’s why you need to be sure that your trial presentation is as strong as it can be. And that is why you need to be sure you have a skilled and experienced Louisiana injury attorney on your side.
As an example, there is this case from Tangipahoa Parish. The case involved a two-vehicle crash at an intersection in a small town. A school bus was traveling southbound and was seeking to make a left turn. A woman in a passenger vehicle was traveling westbound and seeking to turn right.
The parents of three of the bus passengers sued the bus driver and his employer (the school board) for the injuries their children suffered in the crash. During the trial, one of the children, T.B.B., testified that that he was hurt in the crash and that his injuries occurred when he struck the bus seat in front of his. The parents also had the records from the child’s chiropractic doctor, who diagnosed the child with “[c]hronic post traumatic cervical strain with accompanying cervical nerve compression causing swelling [ of the] left neck, spasm left anterior neck, tension left upper trapezius, and left neck musculature.”
The defense had its own strong evidence. The school board offered the deposition of T.B.B. In that deposition, the child stated that he wasn’t hurt at all as a result of the accident and that he went to the chiropractor “just to kind of get checked out.”
The judge ultimately ruled for the parents. The judge found that all three children suffered injuries as a result of the crash, meaning that the parents were entitled to an award of damages on behalf of each of the children. The judge, in making the findings that supported the judgment benefiting all three children, essentially found that the medical evidence from the chiropractor, alongside T.B.B.’s trial testimony, was more credible and persuasive than T.B.B.’s deposition testimony.
The school board appealed, arguing that trial judge, taking into account the clear statements the alleged injury victim (T.B.B.) made in the deposition, could not reasonably find that the child had suffered harm for which compensation was owed.
Deciding whose evidence is believable (and whose isn’t) is the jury’s job
The appeals court upheld the ruling. It explained that, when it comes to listening to witness testimony and deciding what testimony is more credible and what testimony is less so, the law gives a jury (or, as happened here, a judge conducting a bench trial) a lot of freedom to make those determinations. One of the jobs of a jury (or judge in a bench trial) is to decide what testimony should be accepted and what should be rejected. That decision can only be overturned on appeal if it is shown that it was “clearly wrong,” and that is a very high hurdle to clear.
In J.S. and E.S.’s case, if the judge had decided that the deposition testimony was the most credible bit of testimony and ruled that T.B.B. suffered no injury in the crash, the appeals court probably still would have upheld the trial court ruling. Again, that’s because many trial outcomes come down to which side has the testimony and other evidence that is the most believable in the minds of the jurors, and that determination is often not reversible on appeal.
To make sure you are putting your “best foot forward” in your injury trial, be sure you have the legal representation you need. Reach out to the Cardone Law Firm and our highly experienced Louisiana injury attorneys. We have many decades of experience handling a wide array of vehicle accidents cases, including injury accidents, bus accidents and more.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.