Appeals court backs dismissal of lawsuit claiming injuries from rear-end accident

By Charmaine Little | May 24, 2018

A lawsuit filed by man who claimed his injuries stemmed from a July 8, 2015, accident at a New Orleans intersection was recently dismissed by Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal.

A lawsuit filed by man who claimed his injuries stemmed from a July 8, 2015, accident at a New Orleans intersection was recently dismissed by Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. 

The court, in affirming a decision by the Orleans Parish First City Court to dismiss the suit, said in its May 2 opinion that the man was unable to prove the driver who rear-ended him was responsible for his injuries.

The appeal was filed by Jeremy Villavasso in his suit against James Farwell and his auto insurance provider, Great Northern Insurance Company, for personal injuries. 

Villavasso, in his appeal, said the lower court erred on 10 issues in reaching its decision. 

The appeals court said the main issue with Villavasso’s claim was that he was unable to provide enough evidence to show that the back injuries he suffered were from the July 8, 2015, accident.

The appeals court cited a handful of previous lawsuits that determined “in a personal injury suit, plaintiff bears the burden of proving a causal relationship between the injury sustained and the accident which caused the injury,” according to the opinion.

The appeals court evaluated Villavasso’s objective medical evidence and testimonies at trial to discover if Villavasso was able to prove the defendant directly caused the injuries. It agreed with the lower court that Villavasso was unable to provide medical testimony or documents to prove his injuries were because of the July 8, 2015, accident.

The medical evidence Villavasso submitted during the trial lacked expert testimony and only included complaints Villavasso made to his physician. Testimony also stated Villavasso was in another collision on Aug. 23, 2015, six weeks after the incident with the Farwell. There is no direct indication that only the first accident caused Villavasso’s back injury.

Villavasso’s credibility was also a factor in the case as the opinion stated notes from the trial court that determined he was “less than truthful in his testimony” as to why he was terminated from his previous employer. While the issue is not related to the case, his testimony certainly created an issue in his credibility.

Considering this, the appeals court backed the trial court’s decision.

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