A woman injured in a New Orleans wreck with a dumpster truck recently recovered more than $640,000 in damages. But it could have been more. If the jury that decided her case had not held her 15% at fault, the award would have exceeded $750,000. Despite an appeal, the damages award remained unchanged. The opinion issued by the Louisiana Court of Appeal in the case is a useful reminder about the amount of discretion the law gives juries in injury cases. In the case, the injured woman was determined to be 15% at fault, based upon her decision to use the highway and her failure to exercise “greater caution” while driving. The appeals court upheld this jury verdict, stating that the evidence in the case did not indicate that the allocation of fault was “clearly wrong.”
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The case involved Hieu Phuong Hoang, who was injured when the car she was driving on US Highway 90 was struck by a dump truck driven by Kenneth Thornton. Hoang sued Thornton and his employer for her injuries. At trial, Hoang put a variety of witnesses on the stand. She called her neighbor, an expert witness, and herself to testify that the stretch of highway where the accident occurred was a dangerous area, due to heavy truck traffic and road construction. The parties also submitted photographs of the area where the wreck occurred.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jury issued a verdict in favor of Hoang and assessed her damages at $754,000. The jury, however, determined that Hoang was 15% at fault, which reduced the driver’s award from $754,000 to $640,900. The case against Thornton’s employer was dismissed. Hoang appealed the verdict on several grounds. She contended that the jury committed an error by finding her 15% at fault.
The appeals court refused to reverse the verdict. With regard to the jury’s allocation of comparative fault, the appeals court’s opinion demonstrates the wide latitude that juries have in making these decisions. Allocating “fault is not an exact science, or the search for one precise ratio,” the court stated. Appeals courts can only throw out these types of jury determinations if the apportionment of fault is shown to be “clearly wrong.” In Hoang’s case, the appeals court concluded that the jury was not clearly wrong. In fact, some of Hoang’s own evidence may have worked against her. Given that Hoang, her neighbor, and her expert all testified about the highway’s dangerousness, it was potentially “reasonable for fair-minded jurors to determine that plaintiff should have used greater caution while driving in that area, or that she should have taken an alternate route to avoid the danger.”
While it might seem unfair to be deemed partially at fault after being struck by another driver simply because you chose to use a congested road that was under construction, these are the sort of conclusions that the law empowers juries to make. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you put on your best possible case at trial. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, talk to an experienced Louisiana attorney right away. The knowledgeable Louisiana truck accident attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm have a long track record of helping injured people and are ready to help you pursue your case to seek the full amount to which the law entitles you.
For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 1-888-89-CARDONE (1-888-892-2736).
More Blog Posts:
Louisiana Driver Waved into Intersection by Another Driver Held 100% Responsible for Wreck, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Dec. 16, 2015
Improperly Lit Truck Leads Jury to Award $2.8M Judgment, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Oct. 15, 2013