Using Circumstantial Evidence to Prove a Maryland Truck Accident Claim

Proving a Maryland truck accident claim requires a plaintiff to present evidence establishing that the named defendants violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. This can be done by showing that the driver was distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent. To establish negligence, a plaintiff can rely on direct or circumstantial evidence. A recent case discusses how circumstantial evidence can be used to prove a case against an allegedly at-fault motorist.

Direct Versus Circumstantial Evidence

Direct evidence is evidence which tends to prove the ultimate conclusion that is being asserted without the need for the factfinder to make an inference. For example, if a witness observes a truck crash into car after running a red light, the witness’ testimony would likely be considered direct evidence that the truck driver ran the red light.

Circumstantial evidence, however, requires the factfinder to make an inference before arriving at the ultimate conclusion. For example, if a motorist pulls up too far into the intersection at a red traffic light so he cannot see the light, the fact that other drivers start to enter the intersection would be circumstantial evidence that the light changed from red to green. In this case, the inference would be that the other drivers only would enter the intersection if the light was green.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts giving rise to the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff was a passenger in a minivan when the van came to a stop on a bridge because a ladder was lying in the middle of the road. The bridge did not have a pedestrian walkway and there was no overpass. While the minivan was stopped, a beverage company service vehicle ran into the back of the minivan. The accident occurred about one mile from where the bridge began. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola as well as filed an uninsured motorist (UIM) claim with her insurance company. The case against Coca-Cola was settled, and this opinion deals only with the plaintiff’s UIM claim against her insurance company.

The insurance company argued that the evidence relied on by the plaintiff to prove her claim was insufficient because it relied on stacking multiple inferences to reach the final conclusion. The insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s claim required three inferences to be made. First, that the ladder came from another vehicle. Second, that the owner of the vehicle failed to properly secure the ladder. And finally, that the owner’s failure to secure the ladder is what caused it to fall from the vehicle onto the road. The trial court rejected the defendant’s argument and the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed the plaintiff’s verdict. The court initially found that the plaintiff’s UIM claim required only two inferences: that the ladder came from a vehicle and that the operator of that vehicle failed to properly secure the ladder. The court explained that the first inference was not so much an inference as an established fact because there was no other possible way for the ladder to have gotten on the bridge. The court noted that there was no pedestrian traffic on the bridge and no overpasses, so it was not possible that someone carried the ladder a mile onto the bridge and then left it in the middle of the road. Having established that the plaintiff’s case presented the factfinder with resolving only whether the ladder was not secured properly, the court found no problem with the jury’s verdict.

Are You in Need of a Maryland Truck Accident Attorney?

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the nature of the accident and severity of your injuries, compensation awards may include amounts for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional damages. At the dedicated Maryland truck accident law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims in all types of truck accident lawsuits, including those involving difficult insurance companies. To learn more about how we can help you pursue compensation for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland School Bus and Charter Bus Accidents, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 12, 2018.

Maryland Emergency Workers Face Constant Danger While Working on the Road’s Shoulder, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 27, 2018.

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