Mother’s Evidence Not Enough to Secure Damages Award for Children in Jefferson Parish Crash Case

A woman whose vehicle was sideswiped obtained a judgment and damages award for herself but not her children in a recent case decided by a District Court in Jefferson Parish. That ruling was affirmed by the Louisiana Court of Appeal. Despite testimony from the children and their chiropractor, the appeals court nevertheless determined that the trial court’s decision was not so unreasonable as to require reversal.

The crash occurred on Williams Boulevard in Jefferson Parish. A vehicle driven by Joel Hashim moved from the left lane to the center lane of the road and, in the process, struck the vehicle driven by Regina Tezeno, who was already traveling in the center lane. The total damage amounted to one lost headlight and scraped paint. Tezeno sued Hashim and his auto insurer for personal injuries on behalf of herself and her two children. At a trial without a jury, the judge heard evidence and found Hashim 100% at fault. The judge awarded Tezeno $5,535 in damages. The children recovered nothing.

Tezeno appealed the judgment regarding the children but was unsuccessful. The appeals court began by noting that it was not enough for the mother to provide “some evidence that may controvert the trial court ruling.” In order to persuade the appeals court to reverse the lower court’s ruling, the court needed to be persuaded that the lower court’s determinations were not reasonable.

In Tezeno’s case, she offered to the trial court evidence that both children were treated by a chiropractor for six months after the accident. She also had testimony from the children stating that, although they did not experience pain right away, they began having headaches, neck pain, and back pain within a week of the accident. Although one doctor who examined the daughter made no finding of an injury, the mother’s chiropractor examined the daughter three months later and diagnosed multiple lumbosacral and cervical sprains. The same chiropractor saw the son two months after the accident and diagnosed him with a lumbosacral sprain.

Despite this evidence, the trial judge nevertheless ruled that Tezeno failed to prove that the collision with Hashim caused the children’s back injuries. This conclusion, the appeals court decided, was not so far out of bounds as to constitute an unreasonable ruling. As a result, the trial judge was within his discretion in awarding the children nothing. Based upon the appeals court’s description of the case, the trial judge likely could have found for either side and been within the realm of reason, meaning that whatever the trial judge decided was likely going to be affirmed on appeal.

The Tezeno case offers a very compelling illustration of just how far-reaching the discretion held by a trial jury (or judge in a bench trial) is. In many cases, the evidence on each side is evenly balanced enough that whatever the jury or trial judge decides will probably survive on appeal. That’s why putting on the best possible case at trial is so important. For advice and representation in your auto accident injury case, consult the hardworking Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. Our attorneys have many years helping accident victims seek the compensation that they deserve.

For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.

More Blog Posts:

Louisiana Driver Waved into Intersection by Another Driver Held 100% Responsible for Wreck, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Dec. 16, 2015

Louisiana Jury Entitled to Rule Against Injured Driver Despite Multiple Doctors’ Testimony at Trial, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Aug. 28, 2015

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