Proving that a negligent driver caused a plaintiff’s injuries can be difficult in some car accident cases, as illustrated in a September 26, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals. It can help, however, to hire a dedicated Maryland car accident attorney to ensure that the facts are presented persuasively to a jury. The plaintiff in the case brought a negligence claim against the driver who rear-ended her vehicle as they were both merging onto a traffic circle. After a jury found the defendant was not negligent, the plaintiff appealed.
At the time of the accident, the defendant was driving behind the plaintiff in the same direction as they approached a traffic circle in the middle of three lanes. The plaintiff stopped her vehicle, as did the defendant. The defendant testified that she saw the plaintiff started to accelerate, which prompted her to accelerate into the circle. The defendant checked her blind spot to check traffic, and in that brief interval, their vehicles collided. The plaintiff, however, testified that she had been at a complete stop for some time when the defendant rear-ended her.
In Maryland, every driver must exercise the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under similar circumstances. In a rear-end collision, the question of whether the following driver neglected to use care is ordinarily for the jury to decide. Only in exceptional cases, in which it is clear that reasonable minds would not differ with regard to the facts, will the court disturb a jury verdict on the question of negligence. The question on appeal, therefore, is whether there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendant was not negligent.
On appeal, the court explained that the burden was on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent. The court found that the defendant provided a reasonable explanation for why she didn’t see the defendant’s vehicle in time to prevent a collision. On the basis of the parties’ testimony, the court ruled that a reasonable jury could conclude that because of the plaintiff’s sudden stop, the defendant did not have the chance to stop in time.
The court went on to address the fact that, despite the defendant’s failure to assert contributory negligence, a jury is not required to find that the plaintiff was negligent in order for it to find the defendant not negligent. In fact, the court explained, it is entirely possible that an accident will occur despite the exercise of ordinary care by both drivers, and without the fault of either party. Accordingly, the jury verdict in favor of the defendant was affirmed.
The car accident attorneys at Foran & Foran render legal advice and provide representation to injured plaintiffs throughout the Maryland area. We are prepared to learn the facts of your negligence case and take time to discuss your legal options. Arrange your free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today by calling (301) 441-2022 or submitting our website contact form.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Affirms Verdict for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 15, 2016
Maryland Jury Finds Defendant Not Cause of Collision Between Plaintiff and Parked Vehicle, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 12, 2016