Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maryland issued a written opinion in a case involving allegations that a cement company was negligent in the hiring of an independent contractor. In the case, Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the court ultimately decided that the plaintiff should not have been permitted to submit evidence of the truck driver’s lack of insurance unless the plaintiff was able to show that the lack of insurance was relevant to the negligent hiring claim.
The Facts of the Case
Back in 2009, the plaintiff, Perry, was crossing the street when he was struck by a dump truck. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered broken ribs as well as head trauma. After physically recovering from his injuries, Perry filed a negligence lawsuit against the truck’s driver, the trucking company, and the concrete company that hired the driver. Specific to the later claim, Perry asserted that the concrete company (ACS) negligently hired the driver, and that the company should be responsible for his injuries due to their negligence.
At trial, Perry tried to introduce evidence that the truck driver did not have insurance at the time of the accident. The court allowed the evidence to be considered by the jury, which found in favor of the plaintiff after hearing it. The total verdict amount was $529,500, including $500,000 for pain and suffering. Not satisfied with the court’s rulings on several evidentiary issues, ACS appealed.
On Appeal, a New Trial is Ordered
The appellate court hearing the case determined that the lower court was incorrect to admit evidence of the truck driver’s lack of insurance in the negligent hiring claim against ACS. The court explained that under the applicable rule, “[e]vidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the issue [of] whether the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully.”
The court explained that this is exactly what Perry was hoping to do by introducing evidence that the truck driver was not insured at the time he was retained by ACS. Thus, the evidence was inadmissible. The court explained that evidence of a driver’s lack of insurance would only be admissible when the lack of insurance could be causally tied to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Rules of Evidence in Indiana
Indiana Rule of Evidence 411 contains the same principle as the rule applied in the case discussed above. However, the rule does allow such evidence for other purposes, “such as proving a witness’s bias or prejudice or proving agency, ownership, or control.”
Have You Been Injured in a Indiana Car or Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana car or truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all you have been through. However, succeeding in these cases is not as easy as putting all available evidence in front of a judge or jury. Parties must follow strict procedural and evidentiary rules in putting their cases together. Call one of the experienced attorneys at the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse to set up a free consultation to discuss your case at 888-532-7766.
Court Upholds Jury’s Zero-Dollar Verdict in Personal Injury Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2016
Recent Appellate Court Opinion Finds in Favor of Plaintiff in Road Rage Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2016