Plaintiff Awarded Second Trial In Car Accident Case After Jury Favors Defendant
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit involving a traffic accident was awarded a second trial after they successfully argued that the jury ignored key elements of fact to render a verdict in favor of the defendant. At issue was whether or not defense counsel’s opening statement effectively misled the jury to ignore the evidence, whether or not there was sufficient evidence for a finding in favor of the plaintiff, and whether or not the plaintiff was entitled to a finding in their favor despite the verdict.
In this case, the appeals court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and remanded the case back to the trial court.
In this case, the defendant was attempting to exit a gas station onto a busy intersection. The defendant was waiting for a long time when another driver in a red pickup truck waved the defendant through. The defendant exited the gas station parking lot slowly but was struck by the plaintiff’s vehicle in the process.
On the other end, the plaintiff was a 15-year-old girl who was driving on a learner’s permit with her mother in the car when the accident took place. She was slowing her vehicle down as she was approaching a red light when the defendant entered her lane and the vehicles collided.
The plaintiff testified that she was the man in the red truck waving but never saw the defendant’s vehicle until it was too late. The defendant also testified that she never saw the plaintiff’s vehicle. In this case, the defendant blamed the driver of the red truck for causing the accident while the plaintiff maintained it was the defendant’s job to maintain their own lookout and not trust the driver of the truck.
After all was said and done, the jury issued a general verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed the verdict and was awarded a second trial.
Issues related to the case
Illinois law makes it clear that a driver exiting a private drive has a duty to yield the right of way to any vehicle. So, it is not entirely a defense to claim that another driver waived them through. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that even if you viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, there is no ground for denying that the defendant was liable for the accident. The appeals court agreed with this argument.
After the verdict was issued, the plaintiff asked the trial court to issue a directed verdict on the plaintiff’s behalf but the trial court denied the motion and left the jury verdict in place. This decision was also called into question because Illinois law makes it clear that a vehicle exiting a driveway must surrender the right of way.
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