Earlier last month, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia released an opinion regarding an incident of road rage that went too far, resulting in serious injury to one of the drivers involved. In the case, Phillips v. Stear, the court reversed a lower court’s opinion that had found that the plaintiff failed to make out his case against the defendant.
The accident that gave rise to the case occurred back in December 2010. According to court documents, the plaintiff and the defendant were both traveling in the same direction on the highway when the defendant swerved in front of the plaintiff, applied quick pressure to the brakes, and then made an obscene hand gesture toward the plaintiff. As a result of the rapid slow-down in front of him, the plaintiff truck driver also applied the brakes. However, as he did so, he lost control of the truck and crashed it off the side of the road.
A witness to the accident followed the defendant as he fled the scene, relaying the driver’s license plate information to the police. The police conducted a brief investigation and shortly thereafter located the defendant and issued a citation for an improper lane change. The defendant paid the ticket.
Later, the plaintiff filed a civil negligence claim against the defendant, claiming that the defendant’s negligence resulted in his injuries. At trial, the defendant maintained that he was traveling on the same highway as the plaintiff, and at the same time, but he had not engaged in the type of behavior the plaintiff claimed caused the accident. The defendant told the jury that he was a safe driver who normally drove at or below the speed limit in order to save gas.
In response, the plaintiff’s attorney asked the defendant about a 2011 citation for speeding. The defendant denied any recollection of the citation. The judge then prevented the plaintiff from using the citation itself to impeach, or discredit, the defendant. After the conclusion of the testimony, the jury found that the plaintiff had failed to prove his case against the defendant. The judge then entered a defense verdict.
On Appeal, the Plaintiff Is Successful
The plaintiff was not satisfied with the result of the trial, and he appealed the judge’s ruling about the 2011 citation to a higher court. The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff that he should have been provided an opportunity to question the defendant about the citation, and the court’s denial of that opportunity denied the plaintiff a chance to put up his case. As a result, the case was reversed, and the plaintiff will have an opportunity to seek compensation for his injuries.
Have You Been Involved in an Indiana Road Rage Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an aggressive driving car accident in Indiana, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As the discussion above makes clear, even if the other party denies their role in the accident, recovery is still possible. Call one of the dedicated attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse today at 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation. With their skilled representation, you too may be awarded the compensation you deserve.
Court Upholds Jury’s Zero-Dollar Verdict in Personal Injury Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2016
Federal Court of Appeals Rejects Indiana Man’s Claim Against Equipment Company After Crane Accident, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2016