In most personal injury cases, the judge plays a fairly limited role, leaving the ultimate decision of whether the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries up to the jury. In the early stages of litigation, a judge also acts as a gatekeeper, ensuring that only meritorious cases reach the jury. If a party asks the judge to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence, and the judge agrees, a case may get dismissed before it is even put before a jury. That is exactly what happened in a recent wrongful death case involving an allegedly negligent truck driver.
In the case of Moreno v. TLSL, the plaintiff brought a wrongful death case on behalf of a man who was killed when the pickup truck he was driving slammed into the back of a semi-truck. In pre-trial depositions, several parties provided the court with testimony. After that process was complete, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the case, based on there not being any evidence of his being negligent.
The parties presented wildly different versions of what had occurred. The semi-truck driver testified that he merged onto the highway when he saw the deceased’s headlights in his mirrors. He estimated that the vehicle was about three-quarters of a mile behind him at the time he entered the highway. However, the vehicle behind him quickly approached and eventually crashed into the back of his truck. The truck driver guessed he was going at about 35 miles per hour when the collision occurred.
The plaintiff presented two witnesses. The first was the only surviving passenger in the car, whose testimony was of limited use to the court. He told the court that he was asleep prior to the accident and only woke up moments before the collision to the driver screaming. He did not recall what the other vehicle involved looked like, or whether it had working taillights.
The plaintiff presented another witness, who was in a vehicle behind the pickup truck. She testified that the truck driver merged onto the highway without yielding and crashed into the side of the pickup truck, causing the fatal accident. However, a state trooper’s report, as well as all other testimony, indicated that the accident was actually a rear-end accident.
The court considered all the evidence and ultimately dismissed the case based on a lack of evidence. The court noted that, while it is usually up to a jury to determine issues of fact, the only issue here was created by a witness’ testimony that was clearly not accurate. That being the case, there was no reliable evidence left suggesting the truck driver was negligent.
Have You Been Involved in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of serious Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As the case above makes clear, it is ultimately the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant was negligent. To discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation. With an attorney’s help, you can ensure that you are doing everything you can to seek the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Truck Driver Rear-Ends Amish Buggy, Killing One, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 24, 2016.
Logging Truck Driver Loses Control and Flips Rig, Killing One, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 3, 2016.