Mystery Witness In Auto Accident Injury Case

Date: December 10, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law

Bob and his wife Terry were stopped at a stop sign looking to enter onto Route 6. According to Bob, Sam was driving on Route 6 and had slowed down almost to a stop to allow Bob to pull out. At the last second, Sam increased his speed as a result of which there was a terrible collision wherein Terry suffered some severe injuries.

Immediately after the accident Bob was in somewhat of a state of shock but recalled another individual coming up to him saying that he had witnessed the entire accident and that it was Sam\’s fault because Sam had given every indication that he was going to allow Bob to pull out and make his turn. Despite Bob giving his version to the State Police officer who investigated the case, the physical evidence was strongly in favor of Sam who normally would have the right of way.

The case went to trial and the jury found in favor of Sam. Sam denied that he ever waved Bob into the intersection or otherwise even slowed down.

About one year after the verdict came in Bob was approached by a stranger whom he then recognized as the witness that could never be found. The witness apologized to Bob, stating he did not realize that he was being sought after to testify. Once again, this witness affirmed that in fact Sam had definitely signaled for Bob to pull out and had slowed down almost to a complete stop.

Bob contacted his lawyer to see if he could get new trial.

ISSUE: Will Bob be successful?

ANSWER: No. There is a doctrine in law called “res judicata” which stands for the proposition that once a case has been decided you cannot retry it with very few exceptions. In this particular case the fact that the unknown witness had come forward after the trial would not be one of those exceptions to allow Bob a second bite of the apple.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.