Earlier last month in West Virginia, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a road-rage case, reversing a lower court’s decision. In the case, Phillips v. Stear, the lower court entered a verdict in favor of the defendant after the jury determined that the plaintiff had failed to prove his case. However, on appeal, the case was reversed, based on the defendant’s failure to disclose his past driving record when asked on cross-examination.
The plaintiff, a commercial truck driver, was injured when he was involved in an accident following an altercation with the defendant. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant swerved in front of the plaintiff, gave him “the finger,” and then slammed on his brakes. The plaintiff lost control of the truck and crashed, injuring himself as a result.
Initially, the defendant fled the scene. However, a witness to the accident followed him and called the police. He was eventually tracked down by the vehicle’s license plate number. When police confronted the defendant, he denied responsibility, claiming that he was the victim of misidentification.
The plaintiff sued the defendant for the injuries he sustained in the accident. The defendant’s position at trial was that, while he was driving on the same road as the plaintiff, and at the same time, he did not do what the plaintiff claimed he did. In support of his position, the defendant claimed that he was a safe driver who normally goes at or below the speed limit in order to get good gas mileage.
In response to the defendant’s comment on his own good character, the plaintiff’s attorney asked the defendant about a previous citation for speeding. The defendant denied any knowledge of the citation, and the judge, not comfortable admitting the citation into evidence for unrelated reasons, prevented the plaintiff’s attorney from continuing that line of questioning. Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the defendant.
On appeal, however, the court determined that the defendant’s misrepresentation of his past driving record during cross-examination prevented the plaintiff from a fair opportunity to present his case. The court was not concerned about whether the defendant was intentional in his misrepresentation, and it focused on the plaintiff’s opportunity to present a case, noting that the defendant’s intent was irrelevant to that inquiry. Thus, the court reversed the decision, and the plaintiff will again have an opportunity to seek compensation for his injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a Georgia accident involving aggressive driving or road rage, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all you have been put through. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Miller Legal Services have decades of collective experience representing clients in all kinds of car and truck accidents. To learn more, call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney.
See Related Blog Posts:
Negligent Drivers Injured in Georgia Auto Accidents May Still be Entitled to Compensation, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2016.
Georgia Governing Law on Damages That a Plaintiff May Be Awarded in a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2016.