Defense Verdict Reversed in Road Rage Case Based on Withheld Information

burnout-1565377Earlier this month, a West Virginia appellate court issued an opinion in a case that arose after a hated exchange between two motorists caused a truck driver to crash. In the case, Phillips v. Stear, the lower court entered a verdict in favor of the defense. However, on appeal that verdict was reversed based on the defendant’s failure to disclose information about his driving history.

A Road Rage Situation Culminates in a Crash

The plaintiff was driving on a West Virginia highway when another motorist pulled in front of him, gave him the “finger,” and then slammed on his brakes. In an attempt to avoid what he thought would be a certain collision, the truck driver also slammed on his brakes. However, this caused him to lose control of the truck and an accident ensued.

The other motorist sped off. However, a witness to the accident followed the motorist and called police, giving authorities the car’s license plate information. Eventually police were able to locate the driver, who was cited for improper lane change. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the other driver.

The Defense at Trial

The defendant claimed that he did not cause the accident. He took the witness stand himself to testify that he was falsely identified and that it is not in his character to speed or drive in an aggressive manner. He told the court that the last time he received a speeding ticket was back in 2006.

After that testimony, the plaintiff’s attorney attempted to impeach, or discredit, the defendant by asking about a 2011 citation for speeding and reckless driving. The defendant responded that he “did not recall” the incident. The trial judge then prevented the plaintiff from continuing down that line of questioning. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor, finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove his case. The plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict in light of the defendant’s misrepresentation, but that motion was denied.

On Appeal

In front of the appellate court, the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s misrepresentation prevented him from being able to fairly cross examine the defendant. The court agreed, explaining that the lower court was in error when it did not grant the plaintiff’s motion. The court noted that the sole focus is not just whether the defendant misrepresented any fact relevant to the case, but also if the plaintiff was harmed by the defendant’s failure to disclose evidence, intentional or not.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Road Rage Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Florida accident, including one that began as an incident of road rage, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Drivers are required to follow the traffic laws at all times, and are also required to operate their vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. When a driver fails to do this, they can be held liable for the injuries they cause. Call 877-448-8585 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appeals Court Holds Section 57.105 Does Not Entitle Defendant to Privileged Information, February 25, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Hearing Indicates Takata Concealed Evidence of Airbag Defect, February 22, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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