Court Determines Causation Issue Not Properly Decided in Summary Judgment Proceeding

Earlier last month, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma decided a case brought by the passenger of a motorcycle against another driver she claims was responsible for causing a head-on collision, resulting in her sustaining serious injuries. In the case, Fargo v. Hays-Kuehn, the issue the court had to decide was whether it was appropriate for the lower court to dismiss the case against the defendant prior to submitting the case to trial.

The Accident

Evidently, the accident involved several vehicles, all of which were heading in the same direction. Vehicle 1 was stopped on a two-lane highway, waiting to make a left turn. Vehicle 2, operated by Hays-Kuehn, quickly approached Vehicle 1 from the rear and swerved around the left of that vehicle. The testimony was that Hays-Kuehn was extremely close to Vehicle 1 as he passed it. Vehicle 3, which was traveling in the same direction directly behind Vehicle 2, was unable to see in front of Hays-Kuehn’s vehicle.

Once Hays-Kuehn passed Vehicle 1 and started to get back into the proper lane of travel, Vehicle 3 saw for the first time that there was a stopped vehicle immediately in front of them. Hoping to avoid a collision with Vehicle 1, Vehicle 3 swerved into the lane of oncoming traffic, right behind Hays-Kuehn. However, the driver of Vehicle 3 did not see that the plaintiffs were quickly approaching on a motorcycle.

The Lawsuit

According to court documents, the lawsuit was initially filed against the drivers of all three vehicles. However, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the drivers of Vehicle 1 and 3, keeping only Hays-Kuehn.

Hays-Kuehn responded by asking the court to dismiss the case against her, arguing that her vehicle was not the one that collided with the accident victim’s motorcycle, and therefore she could not be said to have caused the accident.

The Lower Court’s Decision and the Appeal to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma

The lower court agreed with the defendant and granted her motion for summary judgment. However, on appeal the outcome was reversed. In reversing the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma discussed when summary judgment is appropriate in personal injury cases. The court explained that, when a jury might determine that a defendant’s actions were the cause of an accident, summary judgment is not appropriate. The court determined that it could be reasonable for a jury to determine that Hays-Kuehn’s actions were a proximate cause of the accident. The question at this level is not whether the plaintiff proved their case, but whether it was reasonable that a jury could side with the plaintiff, given the evidence.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?

While this case arose in Oklahoma, similar concepts arise under Maryland law. In fact, in every Maryland personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove causation before they are entitled to recover financially for their injuries. To learn more about Maryland motorcycle accident law, and to speak with a dedicated attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation. The skilled advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience brining all kinds of Maryland injury cases, including those arising from motorcycle accidents.

More Blog Posts:

Chain-Reaction Crash in Prince Frederick Injures Several, Including Motorcyclist, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 3, 2015.

Maryland Motorcyclist Killed in Gaithersburg U-Turn Accident, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 24, 2015.

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