Automotive accidents can cause severe injuries to those involved. However, the testimony of accident reconstruction experts can help juries determine what happened and come to the correct conclusions about liability. The following lawsuit out of Baton Rouge shows how an accident reconstruction expert can help you win your automobile accident lawsuit.
In December 2012, Lisa Lirrochi was involved in a collision with a Peterbilt garbage truck driven by David Washington. At the time of the accident, Washington was in his capacity as an employee of Ace Waste Systems, Inc. Ms. Lirrochi was driving behind Washington’s truck around 4:30 A.M. when he moved the truck left into another lane in preparation to make a right-hand turn into a driveway. The two vehicles then collided.
Lirrochi filed a lawsuit against Washington, Ace Waste, and the company’s insurer, alleging injuries and ongoing pain due to the accident. In return, Ace Waste filed a reconventional demand for the loss of its garbage truck. Lirrochi testified that she did not see Washington use his right turn signal and move into a clear open lane ahead. However, Washington testified that he did use his right-turn signal.
In the trial court, a jury found that Washington was not responsible for the accident and awarded 100% of the damages to Ace Waste. Lirrochi appealed the trial court’s decision by a jury that Washington and his employer were not liable for the injuries she sustained in the accident. Additionally, she appealed the denial of a “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” (JNOV) or a new trial.
Louisiana appellate courts will only overturn a trial court’s jury verdict if they find the jury’s decision to be manifestly erroneous or clearly wrong. Detraz v. Lee, 2005-1263 La. 1117/07), 950 So.2d 557, 561. The appellate court, in this case, reasoned that the trial court jury could have made their decision on one or both of the following grounds: that Lirrochi did not provide sufficient evidence showing that Washington caused the accident or that Lirrochi herself was the cause of the accident. Upon reviewing the evidence presented by the defense at trial, the court determined that the jury could have reached either of these conclusions without manifest error.
Although Lirrochi testified that she did not see Washington use his right-turn signal, Washington contradicted this assertion in his testimony. Washington not only had many years of commercial driving experience but drove this same route daily for work, lending credibility to his testimony. Additionally, the defense presented the testimony of accident reconstruction expert Kevin Brown. Brown contradicted the conclusions of the plaintiff’s reconstruction expert, explaining that his findings about the accident were based on several unproven assumptions. Based on all of this testimony, the appellate court found that the jury would not have been erroneous in finding that Washington was not at fault for the accident.
Additionally, the appellate court found that the trial court correctly denied Lirrochi’s motion for a JNOV or new trial. A JNOV should be granted when the evidence in a case points so overwhelmingly to one side that no reasonable juror could find a verdict in favor of the other party. Edmond v. Cherokee Ins. Co., 2014-1509 ( La. App. 1st Cir. 4/24/15), 170 So.3d 1029, 1038-39. Similarly, under La. C.C.P. art. 1972(1), a new trial should be granted when the verdict given at trial is contrary to the law and evidence. For the same reasons detailed above, the court found that the evidence presented at trial did not meet these standards. Accordingly, upon the appellate court’s ruling, all claims against Washington and Ace Waste Systems were dismissed, and Lirochi was ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.
In a confusing situation like an automobile accident, the testimony of expert witnesses is a crucial supplement to eyewitness testimony to determine who is truly at fault. Retaining a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you put on a case with all the successful elements to win your claim.
Article Written by Berniard Law Firm
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