Harvey Man Denied Damages For Truck Falling On Foot, Importance of Proof in Lawsuits

feet_tangerm_c3_bcnde-scaledIf part of a car falls on you at a vehicle yard, you should be able to recover damages for your injuries from the yard owner. However, if you do not provide sufficient evidence, you will likely be unable to recover for your injuries.

While Rico Lee was a customer at a Pull-A-Part vehicle yard in Harvey, Louisiana, he was injured when the rear of a pickup propped up on rims fell on his foot. He filed a lawsuit against Pull-A-Part and their insurer, claiming he was injured when the pick-up truck in Pull-A-Part’s control and control fell on his foot, injuring him. At trial, the jury found Pull-A-Part was not negligent. Lee appealed.

On appeal, Lee argued the jury erred in finding in favor of Pull-A-Part, and the trial court erred by not instructing the jury about res ispa loquitor. Res ispa loquitor is a legal doctrine that allows a court to find negligence by the mere fact that the accident occurred by using circumstantial (not direct) evidence. See Cangelosi v. Our Lady of the Lake Reg’l Med. Ctr. Here, La. C.C. art. 2317.1 required Lee to show the truck was in Pull-A-Part’s custody or control; it had a defect that resulted in an unreasonable risk of harm, Pull-A-Part knew or should have known about this unreasonable risk, and the defect caused his injury. 

The appellate court explained that Lee did not provide evidence about the truck’s alleged defect at trial. He did not present any photos of the truck or provide testimony about what defect might have caused it to fall on his foot and injure him. Only Lee himself testified about how the accident purportedly occurred. He did not call any of the purported witnesses to testify at trial. In contrast, Pull-A-Part provided testimony about the vehicle yard and the daily safety checks for each vehicle. Their medical expert also testified it was unusual Lee had not crushed a bone or fractured his foot given the type of accident Lee testified had occurred.

Furthermore, Lee claimed the trial court should have instructed the jury about res ispa loquitor. However, Lee and his attorneys did not object to the jury charges at trial. Additionally, the appellate court reviewed the jury charges and found the trial court had instructed the jury on res ispa loquitor. Therefore, based on its review of the evidence presented at trial, the appellate court held the jury did not err in finding in favor of Pull-A-Part.

Even with the unusual situation of part of a truck falling on Lee’s foot, he could still not recover from Pull-A-Part because he did not provide sufficient evidence. It would have helped his case if he had provided additional evidence, such as testimony from first-hand witnesses and photographs of the truck. A good lawyer can help you prepare and present evidence to support your claims and maximize your chances of succeeding in your lawsuit. 

Additional Sources: Rico Lee v. Pull-A-Part of New Orleans West, LLC and XYZ Ins. Co.

Article Written By Berniard Law Firm

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