Skip to Content

New York Directed Verdict Denied to Plaintiff with Conflicting Evidence of Previous Injury

Car Accidents

In a New York car accident case, a plaintiff must show that he or she was injured and that the injuries were proximately caused by the accident. It is not enough to show that there was an accident and that the plaintiff has injuries; the plaintiff must also show that the accident was the proximate cause of the injuries. If a plaintiff has suffered previous injuries or has a condition in the same area of the body, the defendant will likely challenge causation.

In a recent case, the plaintiff sought a post-trial directed verdict after the jury found in the defendant’s favor. She filed suit for injuries allegedly resulting from an automobile accident. She appealed the trial court’s denial of her post-trial motion that the court set aside the verdict and direct a judgment in her favor or alternatively order a new trial. She also appealed the judgment on the jury’s verdict of no cause of action.

The plaintiff argued the trial court erred when it denied her motion for a directed verdict as to causation. The plaintiff testified that she had not had an injury to her neck before the accident, but her medical records indicated complaints of chronic neck pain several months before the accident. Her chiropractor and orthopedic surgeon each concluded that the accident proximately caused her injuries. The appeals court noted, however, that they had relied on the plaintiff’s self-reported medical history in reaching their conclusions. The plaintiff’s chiropractor testified he did not think she had a neck injury before the accident and would have to reevaluate if the information he received was incorrect. Her orthopedic surgeon testified he first thought her shoulder pain was caused by a neck injury but concluded that it was instead a shoulder injury.

The appeals court noted that a jury does not have to accept an expert opinion to the exclusion of other evidence. The jury may reject an expert opinion if it concludes the facts are different from those on which the expert based his or her opinion. Additionally, the jury may disagree with the expert opinion after considering all of the evidence. The appeals court found a rational jury could have found the accident was not a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. There was evidence supporting the verdict. The appeals court found the trial court did not err in denying the plaintiff’s motion as to causation, and therefore it did not address the issues of serious injury and negligence.

A plaintiff with pre-existing injuries should be prepared for causation to be challenged. The plaintiff may need to address that issue before the defendant has a chance to challenge it at trial. If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, an experienced New York car accident attorney can work with you to determine how to address issues of causation. Call the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert at 1.855.252.3788 to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Conflicting Accounts of Accident Preclude Summary Judgment in New York

Multiple Motions for Summary Judgment Complicate New York Auto Accident Cases

Image: / Michael & Christa Richert