Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a truck accident case, holding that evidence of a defendant’s lack of insurance is not relevant and should be excluded from the jury’s consideration. In the case, Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the appellate court reversed the nearly $530,000 jury verdict and ordered a new trial.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was crossing the street in Frederick, Maryland, when he was struck by a dump truck that was working on a paving job at a nearby church. As a result of being struck by the dump truck, the plaintiff sustained head trauma and fractured several ribs. He then filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, the truck’s owner, and the defendant in this case, ACS, which was the company that hired the truck to complete the paving job.
The plaintiff’s theory against ACS was that the company negligently hired the truck driver. The plaintiff claimed that ACS was negligent because it failed to look into the truck driver’s licensing. In fact, the truck driver was not a licensed driver at the time of the accident. He also did not have liability insurance at the time of the accident.
The plaintiff sought to admit the truck driver’s lack of insurance at trial, hoping that it would bolster the strength of his negligent hiring claim. The plaintiff called a police officer involved in the investigation and asked him about the truck driver’s insurance status, to which the officer responded that it had lapsed due to a failure to pay the premium. The defense objected to the testimony as irrelevant, but the trial judge overruled the objection and allowed it to be considered by the jury. The jury ultimately returned a verdict of roughly $530,000 in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant then appealed.
On appeal, the court determined that the issue of the truck driver’s lack of insurance was irrelevant to the determination of what caused the accident. The court explained that a lack of insurance could be relevant to a negligent hiring claim, but only if it related to the cause of the accident. Here, the court determined that the truck driver’s failure to pay his insurance premiums was not an indication that he was a poor driver, nor that he was negligent in causing the accident. Furthermore, the court held that the jury likely would have credited the testimony regarding the truck driver’s lack of insurance when making its decision. Therefore, a new trial was required.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the negligence of the truck’s driver, his employer, or the company that contracted for its services. However, the legal theories that provide for a remedy can be complex and are best handled by an experienced attorney. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case today.
More Blog Posts:
Truck Driver Rear-Ends Amish Buggy, Killing One, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 24, 2016.
Accident Involving Truck and Minibus Results in 12 Fatalities, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 6, 2016.