North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Defense Verdict in Motorcycle Accident Claim due to Plaintiff’s Failure to File Appropriate Motions

Car accidents can happen at any place and time, even if you are operating your vehicle as safely as possible. Although you may not be able to avoid being involved in a collision with a careless driver, you can retain a seasoned and diligent North Carolina personal injury lawyer to help you seek the compensation that you deserve for your injuries and damages. A seasoned attorney understands the substantive law that applies to your claim, as well as key procedural rules that can help ensure that you receive a fair and efficient resolution of your claim.

A recent claim underscores the importance of retaining an attorney who has experience in the courtroom. The plaintiff, a motorcyclist, alleged that she was involved in a collision with a vehicle that was parked along the side of the road and that pulled out in front of him without using a turn signal. The plaintiff testified that as he approached the vehicle and realized it was too late to avoid a collision, he “laid down” the bike and collided with the driver’s side of the defendant’s vehicle. At trial, the defendant testified that she was driving slowly and preparing to turn left into the parking lot of a restaurant when the plaintiff attempted to pass her on the left side of her vehicle. According to the plaintiff, she had engaged her turn signal prior to preparing to turn into the parking lot.

The plaintiff moved for a directed verdict, which asks the court to enter judgment in the moving party’s favor based on the evidence presented at trial. The court denied the motion and the jury concluded that the plaintiff did not suffer any damages as the direct and foreseeable cause of the defendant’s conduct. The plaintiff next filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which asks the judge to set aside the jury’s conclusion as being against the manifest weight of the evidence. The plaintiff also filed a motion for a new trial. The plaintiff based both motions on the assertion that the jury disregarded the trial court’s instructions and that the verdict was clearly inappropriate. Both motions were denied and the plaintiff appealed.

The appellate court ultimately upheld the lower court’s denial of all three motions on the basis that the plaintiff did not properly preserve the assignments of error regarding the motion for a directed verdict and the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. At trial, the plaintiff’s attorney made a verbal motion for a directed verdict and failed to submit any written documents in support of the motion. The oral motion did not include any grounds for a directed verdict either.

The court also concluded that because the plaintiff did not properly assert the motion for directed verdict, the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict was also properly denied because the latter is simply a renewal of a motion for a directed verdict at the close of all evidence. Because the appellate court concluded that the trial court did not commit any abuses of its discretion, it also upheld the denial of the motion for a new trial.

If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, it is critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney at your side to ensure that you are being treated fairly and that you are putting forward the strongest claim possible. Our team of legal professionals proudly serves accident victims and their families throughout North Carolina. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online. We are standing by and ready to help you receive the outcome that you deserve.

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