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Federal Appellate Court Affirms Judgment and Award of $3 Million to Family of Man Killed in Trucking Accident

Posted in Firm News

Late last month, a federal appellate released its opinion regarding a negligence case against a trucker, his employer, and company. The case stems from a tragic accident that occurred back in 2011. According to court documents, a man was killed when a log skidder fell off of a truck in front of him while he was crossing a bridge over the Mississippi River. One of the defendants was driving the truck for his uncle, another defendant, who owned the trucking company.

The deceased driver’s wife brought a claim against the truck driver and the trucking company’s owner, who was supposed to be blocking traffic on the bridge. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent for not following protocol when they attempted to block off the bridge to oncoming traffic. She argued that the accident occurred because the traffic controller (the trucking company’s owner) did not properly direct the driver. In support of her claim, the plaintiff had the sheriff of the county testify. He explained that it is local practice for a driver who is crossing the bridge with a wide load to call law enforcement ahead of time so that they can control traffic, rather than try and control traffic on their own.

The defendant truck driver admitted to being negligent. The other defendant denied being negligent and contested the specifics of the plaintiff’s claim. The jury went on to award the woman a $3 million verdict, finding that all of the parties were negligent. Two of the defendants, the company and truck driver’s employer, filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that there had been insufficient evidence to find them liable for the traffic controller’s negligence. The appeals court and Circuit Court both found in favor of the plaintiff, opining that the plaintiff established all of the necessary requirements of a negligence claim, and that the company and truck driver’s employer should have foreseen the risks of their transport.

Implications When a Party Asks the Court for a Judgment as a Matter of Law in a Jury Trial

Judgment as a matter of a law (JMOL) is a trial tactic that is used after a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial. The timing of a judgment as a matter of law is incredibly important. In civil cases, such as the one discussed above, the plaintiff will present his case, then the defendant will present theirs, then finally the plaintiff will present a rebuttal. In these situations, once the plaintiff has presented their case the defendant can make the motion. Of course, at this point the plaintiff will not be able to make this same motion. However, after the defendant has presented his case, the plaintiff and defendant will both be able to make the motion.

It is important that plaintiffs have a dedicated attorney who can assist them in either motioning for or defending against a JMOL. These occur fairly regularly and an attorney can help when this does arise.

Have You Been Involved in a Trucking Accident in New Mexico?

If you have been a victim of a trucking accident in New Mexico, it is very important that you have a dedicated and experienced trial attorney to assist you. When individuals bring negligence suits against a defendant, there are several ways that the case may get resolved. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm in New Mexico can assist injured plaintiffs and their families through any and all of these avenues. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 505-243-4541 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Finds that Governmental Immunity Does Not Apply to School Bus Driver, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2016.

Specific Limitations in Liability in New Mexico Governmental Tort Suits, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 22, 2016.