Warren County car accident case verdict affirmed by Kentucky Court of Appeals

by Mandy Hicks

In an unpublished opinion, a couple was apparently injured in a Warren County car accident case that involved three vehicles. According to the couple, they were hurt when their truck was struck from behind by a minivan that was rear-ended by another car while stopped at a traffic light. As a result of their harm, the couple filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the minivan and the car operator in Warren County Circuit Court.

Prior to trial, the couple resolved their claims against the driver of the car through mediation. Because of this, the motorist did not participate in a subsequent jury trial between the couple and the minivan driver. Still, jurors were provided with apportionment instructions related to both the minivan operator and the car driver at the close of trial. Following trial, the jury issued a verdict stating the driver of the car breached his duty to maintain reasonable control of his vehicle. In addition, the jury absolved the minivan operator of liability. The Warren County Circuit Court then issued a final judgment dismissing the couple’s complaint against the minivan driver.

The couple filed an appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In their appeal, the couple argued that the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury regarding the minivan driver’s duty to maintain reasonable control of her vehicle, although the court provided jurors with such an instruction about the driver of the car. According to the couple, such disparate instructions merited a new trial.

First, the Court of Appeals stated the couple preserved the alleged error even though the record showed they failed to specifically object to the instructions that were provided to the jury at trial. The court said the error was preserved under Section 51(3) of the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure because the couple offered the court proposed instructions that avoided the alleged error.

After that, the appellate court examined the couple’s error claims. The court stated the model jury instructions the couple argued should have been provided to jurors were the same as those that were actually offered by the court with two irrelevant issues deleted. Since the minivan driver was stopped at the time of the traffic collision, the court said the jury did not need to consider whether the woman’s slow speed somehow impeded traffic. In addition, the appellate court said the court properly deleted that portion of the instruction regarding whether the driver was required to sound a horn at the other vehicles prior to the accident. Since the two sets of jury instructions were otherwise the same, the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

If you suffered harm in a Kentucky car crash, you need a personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf. The knowledgeable lawyers at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP have years of experience representing injured motor vehicle accident victims. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a dedicated attorney, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at (270) 781-6500 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Ashley v. Skaggs, Ky: Court of Appeals 2015

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