Ward v. Carmona: Third-Party Defendants in Car Accident Cases

Ward v. Carmona, a case from the North Carolina Supreme Court, involves plaintiff whose son was driving her 1991 Mercedes. Her son was named a third-party defendant in this car accident lawsuit. He was driving east on a road in Raleigh, North Carolina while another defendant was driving his vehicle in the opposite direction, and the two cars crashed into each other at an intersection.

gavel9.jpgPlaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging negligent operation of a motor vehicle against the defendant who was driving the vehicle that collided with her son. After being served with a summons and complaint, defendant filed an answer along with a third-party complaint against plaintiff’s son, alleging he was negligently responsible for the car accident at issue in this case.

During trial, plaintiff’s son testified he was attempting to turn left at the intersection when the crash occurred. When he arrived at the intersection, he said the light was green so he pulled into intersection and stopped until it was safe to make a turn. Once the light had changed to red, he attempted to complete the left turn knowing the light was red. During this left turn, the other defendant’s car collided with his vehicle. He testified he had an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic at time of the accident.

When the other defendant testified, the appellate court noted various inconsistencies in his testimony. He repeatedly testified the light was green when he entered the intersection, but when cross-examined by plaintiff’s attorney, he acknowledged an interrogatory answer submitted by him said the light turned yellow when he was still eight feet from the intersection.

As our Winston-Salem car accident attorneys can explain, interrogatories are discovery pleadings in which one party sends the other parties a series of written questions that must be answered and submitted to the party making the request.

Following close of evidence in the car accident trial, a jury found both plaintiff’s son and the other defendant were negligently responsible for this car accident and did not award plaintiff any monetary verdict. After the court entered no verdict for plaintiff in accord with jury’s findings, plaintiff and her son each filed a motion for new trial. Trial court denied their respective motions for a new trial. Both parties filed an appeal with the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and that court affirmed trial judge’s orders with respect to all matters.
Following this appeal, both parties appealed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

On appeal, the court looked at jury’s function to weigh evidence and make a determination of facts. It was plaintiff’s argument there was no evidence admitted to support a theory both drivers were negligently responsible for this car accident.

Ultimately, court concluded jury was in the best position determine what actually happened during the traffic accident, and jury obviously interpreted the evidence as proving both parties were negligent and thus responsible. The court also concluded it is not their position to reexamine the evidence and make its own determination as to who was responsible for the accident, as the jury had already served its function.

Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Ward v. Carmona, Apr. 10, 2015, North Carolina Supreme Court More Blog Entries:
Hough v. McKiernan – Vehicle Insurer Not Liable Following Physical Attack, Feb. 9, 2015, Asheville Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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