Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Award in Bus Accident Case Based on Improper Jury Instruction

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that commonly arises in Maryland bus accident lawsuits. The case presented the court with the task of determining if the instructions given to the jury regarding the aggravation of the plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant’s actions aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition, and thus it reversed the jury’s verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus when a motorist pulled out in front of the bus, leaving the bus driver with an inadequate distance to stop. The bus collided with the vehicle, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff complained of lower back pain and stiffness, which he claimed was a result of the accident. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with disc degeneration. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus.

At trial, each side presented expert witness testimony. The plaintiff’s expert testified that, in his opinion, the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the accident. However, the expert acknowledged that it was impossible to definitively tell when the injuries occurred.

The defense experts testified that the plaintiff’s injuries were less serious than indicated by the plaintiff’s expert. Additionally, the defense experts explained that, in their opinion, the current state of the plaintiff’s back was due to a pre-existing condition that was caused over the course of several years, instead of as a result of the accident.

After the parties finished presenting their evidence, the judge instructed the jury that the defendant was liable if the jury determined that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Over a defense objection, the court also instructed the jury that, if it was determined that the accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition, the jury should only award damages for the aggravation of that injury. The jury returned a non-specific verdict of $1.5 million in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the jury’s verdict based on the defendant’s argument that the jury instruction provided by the court was not supported by the evidence. The court explained that neither of the parties’ experts testified that the accident caused an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, and thus the instruction was unsupported by the evidence.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Bus Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland bus accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. At the Maryland law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we take pride in providing top-tier representation to victims and their families. We handle all types of personal injury cases in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Filing a Personal Injury Claim after a Maryland Truck Accident, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published May 17, 2018.

Court Requires Defendant to Compensate Plaintiff for Medical Treatment of His Choice, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 5, 2018.

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