Court Rules Defendant Waived the Right to Appeal in a Car Accident Case in Tennessee

In some instances, a person injured in a car accident will be not only able to pursue claims against the driver that caused the accident but also against other parties that negligently entrusted the driver with the vehicle involved in the accident. If a plaintiff fails to produce sufficient evidence to prove negligent entrustment, though, the defendant may be able to request that a court grant judgment in its favor via a directed verdict. In a recent opinion, a Tennessee court explained a defendant’s recourse when a court denies a defendant’s motion for a directed verdict and the defendant fails to file a timely appeal in a case arising out of a collision. If you suffered injuries due to a car crash, you could be owed substantial damages, and it is advisable to speak to a capable Tennessee car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Facts and Procedural History

It is alleged that the defendant driver struck the plaintiff while she was jogging. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver, setting forth negligence claims. She named the driver’s mother as a defendant as well, arguing that she negligently entrusted the driver with the vehicle he was operating during the accident and that she was vicariously liable for the harm he caused. The court dismissed the vicarious liability claim against the defendant mother via summary judgment, and the remaining claims proceeded to trial.

It is reported that, at the close of the plaintiff’s case, the defendant mother moved for a directed verdict on the negligent entrustment claim. The trial court denied her motion, and the court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff. She did not file a post-trial motion but later appealed the court’s judgment against her, arguing it erred in failing to grant her motion for a directed verdict. The plaintiff argued the defendant mother waived her right to appeal.

Recourse Following a Denial of a Motion for Directed Verdict

Under Tennessee law, in any case, tried by a jury, a party that seeks to file an appeal based on an act committed during the trial must first file a motion for a new trial; otherwise, the issue is considered waived. Further, a motion for a new trial must be filed within thirty days of when a judgment is entered. The court explained that the failure to file a post-trial motion denies the trial court the opportunity to reconsider an alleged mistake made during the course of the trial, and therefore precludes appellate review of the issue. As the defendant mother did not file a post-trial motion in the subject case, the appellate court found that, in accordance with the prevailing law, she waived her right to appeal.

Speak to an Experienced Tennessee Attorney

In some instances in which a driver causes a collision, people other than the driver may be deemed liable for the losses sustained. If you lost a loved one in a car accident, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer to assess your possible claims. Eric Beasley is an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome, and he will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Beasley at 615-859-2223 or via the online form to set up a conference.