Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial in Motorcycle Crash Case

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial in a motorcycle collision case. In Shaver v. Carpenter, a motorcycle carrying a husband and wife was struck by an automobile in an intersection. Following the traffic wreck, the couple filed a negligence lawsuit against the driver who allegedly caused their crash injuries. As expected, the issue of fault was a main source of contention at trial. In the end, a jury found that the defendant motorist was 95 percent at fault for the couple’s accident harm. The jury also determined that the couple was five percent liable for the collision. In response to the jury’s award, the allegedly negligent motorist appealed the damages award.

On appeal, Florida’s Second District stated the damages award issued by the jury was tainted by inadmissible evidence. According to the court, a state trooper was erroneously permitted to offer testimony regarding which driver failed to yield the right of way. Although the allegedly at-fault driver admitted some level of culpability for the collision, the appellate court found that evidence related to which driver had the right of way was inconclusive. Despite the automobile driver’s objections, the lower court allowed the law enforcement officer to state the defendant driver violated the couple’s right of way. The Second District held that this ruling was in error based on the relevant case law.

In addition, the court found that the allegedly negligent driver’s responses to certain interrogatories should not have been read to the jury. Apparently, the defendant motorist employed a private investigator to conduct surveillance on the allegedly injured couple. Although the man told the court he did not intend to utilize the surveillance evidence at trial, the court allowed the couple to discuss the evidence acquired in an effort to discredit the driver of the car. The court stated that, although interrogatories may be introduced as evidence in a Florida trial, the information must be relevant. According to the appeals court, the defendant motorist’s surveillance of the motorcycle riders was not relevant to any issues presented at trial. The court instead held that the surveillance information was improperly admitted because it served no purpose at trial.

Since the trial court committed error when it admitted certain evidence in the negligence case, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the lawsuit for a new trial.

If you or someone close to you was injured in a Miami motorcycle collision, a hardworking personal injury lawyer may be able to help you. To discuss the facts of your case with a caring attorney, do not hesitate to call the dedicated personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Shaver v. Carpenter, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2014

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