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Another Jury Verdict Upheld by Knoxville Court in Car Accident Lawsuit – Salyer v. Linnen

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville has refused to overturn a jury’s finding that two drivers were equally responsible for a traffic wreck. In Salyer v. Linnen, two motor vehicles collided at a traffic light while both were turning off of U.S. Highway 11-E in Sullivan County. According to testimony offered at trial, the plaintiff was southbound on the highway when she slowed to turn right onto Allison Road. At the same time, the northbound defendant turned left onto the same road. The two vehicles apparently struck one another while each motorist made their respective turns. After the crash, the plaintiff and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. In addition, the couple asked the court to award compensation for property damage and loss of consortium. In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant filed a countersuit against her.

At trial, both the plaintiff and a law enforcement officer who investigated the accident offered testimony that stated the defendant admitted to fault at the accident scene. An Officer with the Bluff City Police Department also testified that the rear passenger side of the defendant’s vehicle sustained damage in the collision, while the front driver’s side of the plaintiff’s car was damaged. He stated both drivers appeared nervous, but neither showed any obvious signs of physical harm immediately following the crash. The officer claimed that the automobile crash took place beneath the traffic signal. The defendant testified that she followed all traffic laws and took the turn with caution. She also denied admitting any fault at the scene of the collision.

At the close of evidence, a jury determined that both parties were 50 percent responsible for the injury accident. Because Tennessee is a modified comparative fault accident state, this means neither party was compensated for her accident injuries. In a state that adheres to modified comparative fault, a plaintiff who is 50 percent or more responsible for his or her personal injury may not recover compensation. In contrast, a plaintiff who is held 49 percent or less responsible for his or her accident injuries may recover for any harm sustained, but the award will be reduced by the amount of responsibility a jury or judge attributed to the plaintiff.

Following trial, the plaintiff in this case alleged that the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence offered because a police officer testified that the defendant admitted to fault on the day of the accident. Based on this purported abuse of discretion, the plaintiff asked the trial court to order a new trial. When the trial court refused to do so, the plaintiff appealed her case to the Knoxville Court of Appeals.

In Tennessee, a party to a lawsuit who seeks a new trial based upon a jury’s verdict faces a tough burden. Even if contrary evidence exists, a jury verdict will be upheld if it was supported by material evidence. After the appellate court reviewed the testimony offered at trial, the Knoxville court held there was sufficient material evidence to support the jury’s verdict. Since the outcome of the case was not against the weight of the evidence, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville affirmed the jury’s finding that each party was 50 percent responsible for the automobile crash.

If you were hurt in an East Tennessee motor vehicle wreck, do not hesitate to contact the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. through our website or call us today at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:

Salyer v. Linnen, Tenn: Court of Appeals 2014

Related Blog Posts:

Modified Comparative Fault is Question for Jury in Knoxville Appellate Case: Wilson v. TMBC, June 4, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog

Blount County Case Highlights the Importance of Hiring the Right Car Accident Attorney: Brown v. Juarez, April 30, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog


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