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The Role of a Directed Verdict in Car Accident Cases


In some car accident cases, a party believes the evidence is so strongly in his or her favor that they pursue a motion for a directed verdict against the opposing party. If granted, the judge will then order the jury to return a verdict for the party that requested the directed verdict. A directed verdict is only proper in situations where a reasonable jury could not find for the opposing party, meaning this motion is only used when the evidence for either the plaintiff or the defendant in a case is so insufficient that the law cannot possibly support a finding in favor of that party.

A directed verdict can be an advantage for a plaintiff, such as an injury victim of one of the almost 400,000 accidents that occur annually in Florida. However, a lack of evidence establishing causation against a defendant can also result in a dismissal of a negligence case by a directed verdict. This is why it is so important to obtain the help of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

What Recent Appellate Case Addressed a Directed Verdict in the Context of a Personal Injury Case?

In Fonger v. Nall, the First District Court of Appeals considered a rear-end auto collision case in which the trial court had denied a motion for directed verdict submitted by the woman hit by a rear vehicle operator. In that case, a woman appealed the trial court’s judgment entered after a jury returned a verdict in favor of the man who had hit her.

Addressing the relevant procedural history, the trial court denied the woman’s motion for directed verdict as to the man’s negligence because the jury found the man not liable and the court entered judgment on the verdict. The defendant had testified that although both parties had approached a green light, for no apparent reason, the tan sedan driven by a third party came to a complete stop just short of the intersection. Both parties braked, but the man apparently failed to stop in time and still ended up rear-ending the woman’s car. The trial court entered judgment on the jury’s not liable verdict after it denied the woman’s motion for directed verdict as to the man’s negligence.

The woman appealed, arguing that the man failed to present evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption of negligence by the rear driver in a rear-end collision such that she would not be entitled to a directed verdict. On appeal, the court reversed the final judgment. It agreed with the woman in holding that because the evidence presented by the man could not rebut the presumption of negligence by the rear driver in a rear-end collision, the trial court erred in denying the woman’s motion for directed verdict. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded the case for entry of a directed verdict on the issue of the man’s negligence and for a new trial on all remaining issues.

Allow Us to Help Direct You.

The good news is that you have rights if you have been injured in Florida due to someone else’s negligence. As the Miami personal injury attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm, we understand the nuances of this area of the law and we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. We have committed ourselves and our careers to getting clients the compensation they deserve for their harm and you can depend on us to help you. Contact us today so we can review the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Orlando, Tampa, Ocala, Bradenton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Daytona Beach areas.




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