Appeals Court Affirms Jury Verdict Against Trucking Company and Upholds $1.36 Million Award.

A Michigan case came up on appeal earlier this year, and the Court of Appeals in that state rejected the defendants’ claims that the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff was not justified. The opinion in Button v. Tim Bills Trucking, Inc., Docket No. 306724 (Mich. App. 2014) was released last month and resulted in the jury’s verdict for the plaintiff of $1,360,645 being confirmed.

The Accident
The plaintiff was driving southbound on US-131 in Michigan on May 1, 2008, when she moved into the left lane to pass another car. The defendant was driving a semi-truck in the left lane and collided with the plaintiff’s car after she merged. The plaintiff stated that she saw the semi-truck, and it was “quite a way back” in the lane before she entered, and she suggested that the truck was traveling too fast when it rear-ended her, which resulted in serious injury. Witnesses reported that the plaintiff’s car ended up in the median and flipped over several times after the collision.

The Legal Issue
The defendant truck driver claimed that the plaintiff turned directly in front of his truck and cut him off, resulting in the collision. The testimony of an eyewitness and an accident reconstruction exert hired by the defense suggested that the plaintiff may have merged directly into the passenger side of the defendant’s truck and was herself at fault for the accident. Other eyewitness accounts supported the plaintiff’s version of the accident, and the jury was therefore presented with conflicting evidence, as is common in New Mexico semi-truck accident cases.

In addition to two conflicting stories, the jury also heard evidence that the truck being driven by the defendant had several equipment violations. The plaintiff argued that these violations suggested that the trucking company was negligent in allowing the driver to operate the truck at the time of the accident. It is not known exactly which facts persuaded the jury, but the trial resulted in a $1.36 million verdict for the plaintiff. The defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence did not support the verdict and that evidence of equipment violations should not have been considered by the jury.

The Court’s Decision
After considering the issues on appeal, the court sided with the jury’s verdict. In Michigan, questions of fault and fact are to be determined by the jury, and the jury is permitted to hear any relevant evidence that is admitted. A New Mexico truck accident lawsuit functions the same way. The Michigan court determined that the jury was able to hear all sides of the story and make its decision based on the testimony. The court found that there was sufficient evidence that the truck rear-ended the plaintiff’s car, as she testified. Additionally, the court decided that evidence of the equipment violations could help determine the cause of the accident and were relevant as to the company’s negligence, so they had been properly admitted. The jury’s verdict will be enforced.

Have You Been in an Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, it is important to consult with a skilled New Mexico truck accident attorney as soon as possible. The dedicated advocates at the Fine Law Firm are not afraid to take the toughest New Mexico accident cases, and we know how to stand up to insurance companies and their experts. We know the procedure and substance of New Mexico law, and we can help our clients ensure that a jury is able to hear their whole story. Contact us online or call today at (505) 889-3463 for a free consultation, and get the representation that you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Semi-Truck Rear-Ends Car in Horrible Wreck, Two People Tragically Killed, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, May 20, 2014.

Two Accidents involving Semi-Trucks Cause Three Deaths in Eddy County in A Matter of Days, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, April 23, 2014.