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Inconsistent Testimony Leads to Texas Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Loss

In Imamovic v. Milstead, a Texas appellate court considered a rear-ending case in which the jury awarded zero damages. The case arose when the 42-year-old plaintiff was working as a vehicle-for-hire inspector for a city, traveling around the city to inspect cabs, limos, and buses. While she was stopped in her Prius at a red light, a truck struck her car from behind. She claimed the force caused her to want to black out. Later, an investigator concluded that both her car and the truck were stopped at a red light when the truck moved and hit the back of the car.

When the police responded to the scene, the plaintiff told them she didn’t need medical care, and she drove away in her Prius. She woke up feeling sore, and the day after that, the pain in her neck was unbearable. She made an appointment with a doctor who worked for her primary medical provider. He prescribed her pain medication and anti-inflammatories and ordered x-rays. The plaintiff claimed the doctor ordered physical therapy, but the doctor didn’t note this order.

The doctor’s notes said he put the plaintiff on light transitional duty and told her to come back for follow-up. She went to physical therapy but didn’t go back to work and waited two months before coming back to see the doctor. Her excuse when testifying was that she didn’t think the doctor would do anything for her, and she didn’t control when the medical center scheduled its appointments.

She also testified that during the follow-up, she had asked for a release to return to work, since she didn’t want to be laid off for being out with an injury. The doctor’s notes included a note that she had a workers’ compensation attorney and that she had a soft tissue injury and degenerative arthritis in her neck.

Subsequently, the plaintiff was in a minor accident in which she rear-ended another car and was not hurt. A coworker recommended she see another doctor. She told the doctor she wasn’t taking medication, although she was still taking painkillers and muscle relaxers. She did not tell the doctor about the second accident and denied having injuries before the accident at issue.

At trial, however, the plaintiff testified that she had previously fallen on the job and while roller skating. Although she claimed she hadn’t had previously experienced shoulder pain, x-rays had been ordered of her shoulders, based on her complaints of pain in her shoulders. She had also previously made a workers’ compensation claim with regard to her lower back. On cross-examination, many inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s testimony were exposed.

The jury didn’t award damages to the plaintiff in connection with the accident at issue and entered a take-nothing judgment. She filed a motion for new trial, which the court overruled and she appealed. On appeal, she argued that the zero damages and take-nothing judgment went against the great weight of the evidence.

The defendants argued that the zero damages rule did not apply in the case because her injuries were subjective, and that the jury didn’t have to believe her claim of injury. The appellate court agreed with the defendants, noting that the jury heard evidence that cast doubt on her credibility and from which they could conclude she had not suffered an injury or that the injuries arose out of earlier or later accidents. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed.

If you are hurt in a truck accident, it’s important to retain attorneys who understand the regulations involved in truck accident cases, and understand how best to present your case. The experienced San Antonio truck accident attorneys at Carabin Shaw may be able to help. Call our office for more information at 1-800-862-1260.

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