Can a person who was found guilty of a traffic violation file a claim for negligence against another driver involved in the same car accident? This is the fundamental issue in Duncan v. Taylor, 2015. The defendant, Charles Taylor, sought a summary judgement to have plaintiff, David Duncan’s negligence suit against him dismissed after Mr. Duncan was found guilty in a previous trial for not yielding to traffic where the accident occurred. Mr. Taylor’s counsel argued that moving forward with the current case would mean the plaintiff was trying to re-litigate the issue of negligence which is an abuse of the legal process.
In rebuttal, counsel for Mr. Duncan argued that the judgement in the previous trial should not apply to the current issue because Mr. Duncan’s driving had nothing to do with how Mr. Taylor was driving. Essentially, plaintiff’s counsel argued that the accident between Mr. Taylor and Mr. Duncan was not necessarily the result of Mr. Duncan’s failure to yield to oncoming traffic.
With respect to the summary judgement motion to dismiss the negligence suit, Justice Glass noted that the real question he was tasked with answering is whether or not there was still an issue that required a trial. He concluded that there was.
In agreement with counsel for the plaintiff, Justice Glass noted that the only determination in the previous trial was whether or not Mr. Duncan failed to yield to traffic when he drove onto the street. However, that ruling did not require a judgement on Mr. Taylor’s driving which is a core issue in the current legal action. Mr. Taylor’s driving is an admittance of new evidence and thus is not an issue of re-litigation (which involves trying a new trial with the same evidence in the hopes of getting another outcome).
There are a number of issues pertaining to Mr. Taylor’s driving which the court deemed still warranted a trial. These include the conflicting evidence from various sources as to whether Mr. Taylor was passing a truck or a cube van at the time of the accident; whether or not he was speeding; Mr. Taylor’s exact location when Mr. Duncan drove onto the road; and whether or not Mr. Taylor had a chance to avoid the accident. There was also new evidence comprising expert reconstruction of the accident.
Ultimately, Justice Glass ruled that the case was not a simple one and that there are several outstanding issues to consider and determine, such as the injuries of the plaintiff and the credibility of the eyewitnesses. As foregoing the trial would not be a reasonable decision on these grounds, Justice Glass ruled to deny the defendant’s motion for summary judgement.
It is not always self-evident whether a person involved in an accident has a good case for negligence against another party. Even accident victims who made an error contributing to the accident may be able to claim for damages against another negligent party. The determination of negligence can be a complicated process requiring consideration of the actions of all involved parties under the unique circumstances surrounding a particular incident.
An experienced car accident lawyer has the knowledge and skills to determine and gather the relevant evidence and expert testimony that are required in building a strong case. Even if you believe that your actions played a small part in causing a car accident that resulted in serious injury, it is in your best interests to discuss the specifics of your case with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to assess where you stand with respect to injury compensation.
The lawyers at Rastin & Associates invite you to meet with us to learn the best legal options available to you. We understand how very difficult, both physically and emotionally, dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be for an injured person and their family. Let us answer your legal questions and concerns, and support you in a claim for the compensation you are owed.
You can reach us at 844-RASTIN1 or Rastinlaw.com