Tennessee Court of Appeals finds no evidence to support no damages verdict in car wreck case

by Mandy Hicks

Our civil justice system is built on the premise that a jury of disinterested individuals is in the best position to determine matters such as the credibility of witnesses and the amount of money that a person injured by another person’s negligence should receive in compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and so on.

Unfortunately, no system is perfect. Even juries sometimes get it wrong. When that happens, it is the trial judge’s job to grant a new trial so that justice may prevail.

Facts of the Case

In Kempson v. Casey, a case recently decided by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, the plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured when he was traveling along I-24 in Hamilton County, Tennessee, in a Toyota pickup truck. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was stopped in heavy traffic on the interstate. According to the plaintiff, he saw a van approaching him from behind at a “pretty high rate of speed.” The van was driven by the defendant and owned by her employer, who operated a funeral transport service.

The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendants, the van driver and her employer, asserting that the driver’s negligence caused the accident and that the plaintiff had undergone a cervical discectomy and fusion, among other medical treatment, due to the wreck. The defendants admitted that the driver caused the accident but contended that the accident was not the cause of the injuries claimed by the plaintiff. A jury found that the plaintiff was not entitled to any damages as a result of the accident.

Issues on Appeal

Was there material evidence to support the jury’s verdict? Did the trial court judge abuse his discretion in not granting a new trial?

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The court of appeals vacated the trial court’s judgment on the jury’s verdict and remanded the case for a new trial on the issue of damages. According to the court, there was no material evidence to support the jury’s award of no damages to the plaintiff. In their verdict, the jury both failed to consider the aggravation of a preexisting condition and failed to compensate the plaintiff for expenses that were unrefuted by the proof in the case.

According to the court, when the reasonableness and necessity of medical expenses are demonstrated by unrefuted expert proof, the plaintiff in a negligence action is entitled to recover those expenses and possibly more.

For Help with an Auto Accident Lawsuit in Tennessee

Being involved in an accident can be confusing and stressful. The experienced Tennessee car accident lawyers at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley can advise you of your legal rights and help you take the necessary steps toward pursuing compensation for your injuries. Call us at (270) 781-6500 to schedule a free consultation. Please be mindful that the statute of limitations sets an outer limit for the time for asserting a claim in a personal injury case.

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