In a recent Southeastern Louisiana case, the expert testimony of two doctors, along with a driver’s own testimony, was not enough to secure a verdict in the driver’s injury lawsuit against the owner of her trailer park. Since a jury’s finding can only be overturned when it is blatantly erroneous, and evidence existed in the driver’s case that cast doubt on the credibility of the driver’s testimony and that of her doctors, the Louisiana Court of Appeal concluded that the verdict was not reversible.
The case centered around Wendy Richardson’s single-car accident in July 2011. Allegedly, the driver’s vehicle lurched when the right rear tire landed in a hole in the surface of one the entrances to the trailer park where Richardson lived. The driver claimed that the accident caused her to suffer serious neck injuries that required spinal surgery to address.
Richardson sued the trailer park’s owner and its insurer for her injuries. At trial, she testified that her neck problems stemmed from the accident. Two of the driver’s doctors also testified that the abnormalities in Richardson’s vertebrae were more likely than not caused by her auto accident, not by other medical problems that were tied to a past incident of domestic violence. The jury concluded that the trailer park owner was responsible for causing Richardson’s accident. However, despite the driver’s and her doctors’ testimony, the jury decided that the auto accident did not cause the driver’s neck injury.
The driver appealed but was unsuccessful. Even though the driver offered the testimony of two medical experts, and the trailer park owner offered no expert medical evidence, the jury still was not required to accept the driver’s theory that the accident caused her neck damage. Louisiana law says that “expert testimony is to be weighed the same as any other evidence, meaning that the experts’ opinions may be rejected in whole or in part.” A jury is free, in carrying out its duties as a fact-finder, to “substitute its own common sense and judgment for that of an expert when such substitution appears warranted.”
The only way an appeals court can throw a jury’s decision on causation is if no reasonable interpretation of the evidence exists that would back up the findings the jury made. In Richardson’s case, she had previously been the victim of domestic violence, including suffering a skull fracture and damage to her brachial plexus. The accident at the trailer park entrance did virtually no damage to Richardson’s car, except for possibly damaging a strut, which may have been damaged in the accident or as a result of everyday wear and tear.
Based upon the conflicting evidence in the case, it was not clearly wrong or unreasonable for the jury to decide that the driver wasn’t credible and, since her doctors’ testimony was based largely upon the patient’s medical history as she described it to them, that their testimony was unpersuasive too. It was reasonable to conclude that Richardson’s neck damage arose from some other cause.
In many trials, each side has enough proof to permit a jury to decide reasonably in its favor. Often, at the trial’s end, the case may turn upon how the evidence is presented and whom the jury finds more believable. For skilled representation in your auto accident case, contact the Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. Our attorneys have spent years helping Louisiana accident victims recover from the harm they have suffered.
For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More Blog Posts:
Proving Causation in Your Louisiana Auto Accident Injury Case, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, May 11, 2015
Belle Chasse Bridge Crash, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Feb. 4, 2015