Auto AccidentMassachusetts Appellate Court Discusses the Standard for Overturning a Jury’s Verdict in a Car Accident Case Involving Causation Dispute

August 21, 20200

If you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, you may be thinking about bringing a claim to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. Understanding the rules that apply to your claim and what it takes to obtain the maximum amount of recovery you deserve is important. At Mass Injury Group, our seasoned team of Boston car accident lawyers are prepared to guide you through the legal process.

In a recent case heard by the Massachusetts Court of Appeal, the parties were involved in a traffic accident. The plaintiff filed a claim alleging that the defendant was negligent in driving her vehicle. A jury concluded that while the defendant was negligent, the defendant’s negligence was not a substantial contributing cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Under Massachusetts law, it is not enough to show that a defendant failed to use reasonable care and skill at the time of an accident, you must also show that the defendant’s failure was the direct and foreseeable cause of your harm. The plaintiff filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which asks the court to change the jury’s verdict, or a motion for a new trial in the alternative. The lower court denied the motion and the plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court first noted that the standard for reviewing a lower court’s denial of a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the appellate court must consider whether there is any evidence in the record or any combination of circumstances from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in support of the jury’s verdict. In reviewing the record, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff was pulling out of a gas station at the time of the crash and that her vehicle was moving very slowly. The photographs also indicated that her vehicle had sustained minor damage. The plaintiff also claimed that she suffered four separate categories of injuries as a result of the accident.


When considering the evidence, a jury is free to accept everything, some of, or none of the information that witnesses offer. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered four different types of injuries as a result of the accident including vertigo and the exacerbation of a pre-existing back injury. Even though the expert witness testified that the plaintiff’s alleged vertigo was a result of the accident, the jury was not obligated to accept this evidence, for example. Based on these observations and the standard for reviewing motions for judgments notwithstanding the verdict, the appellate court found no error with the lower court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motion. There was enough evidence in the record to support a finding that the defendant’s lack of due care was not the direct cause of the injuries that the plaintiff sustained.

If you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, the seasoned trial attorneys at Mass Injury Group are available for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation. We understand firsthand just how important it is for you and your family to receive the compassionate legal counsel that you require during this time. Call our office at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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