Jury Instructions for West Virginia Car Accidents – Part I
At the request of West Virginia personal injury lawyers from the defense and plaintiff’s bar, The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals published a number of model jury instructions in 2000. The West Virginia Supreme Court made it clear that these instructions are a work in progress, and it welcomed comments from both West Virginia plaintiff’s and defense lawyers.
At one time, the West Virginia Supreme Court maintained such model jury instructions on its website. However, the Court has removed said jury instructions from its website for unknown reasons. You can still find them below, however.
If you have suffered a personal injury in a West Virginia car accident, slip and fall, or at work, these jury instructions may helpful in understanding West Virginia Law. On the other hand, it is advisable to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your claim. A highly skilled personal injury attorney is always available at West Law Offices to answer your questions and evaluate your case free of charge. In fact, West Law Offices never charges a fee until we recover money for you.
Part I of the Model Jury Instructions for Car Accident Cases
“VIOLATION OF A STATUTE” INSTRUCTION
Prima facie evidence of negligence is evidence that is sufficient in and of itself to establish a given fact. In other words, if you find that the defendant violated any of the statutes regarding the operation of motor vehicles in the State of West Virginia, then the establishment of that fact is in and of itself sufficient to establish negligence on the part of the defendant.
For the defendant to overcome this evidence, the defendant must present evidence himself that said negligence was not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
White v. Lock 332 SE. 2d 240 (W Va. 1985).
“VIOLATION OF A STATUTE” INSTRUCTION – precluding defense of comparative negligence
The court instructs the jury that if you find an employee of the defendant, __________________________ violated a statute intended for the safety of the general public using a public road in this State, specifically by operating a motor vehicle to the left of the center of the roadway, or failing to maintain control of his motor vehicle, and as a proximate result thereof the plaintiff, _____________________ was injured, then you are further instructed that the violation of such safety statute by the said defendant may preclude the defendant, ____________________,from relying on the defense of comparative negligence to reduce it responsibility herein.
Pitzerv. M.D. Tompkins & Sons, 136 W.Va. 268,67 S.E.2d (1951).
The court instructs the jury that a driver of a vehicle must maintain control of his vehicle so as to prevent injury to himself and others.
Robertson v. LeMaster, 301 S.E.2d 563 (W. Va. 1983)
The court instructs the jury that a driver of a vehicle must keep a proper lookout, and must avail himself of what the lookout discloses so as to prevent injury to himself and others. The duty to maintain a lookout thus involves not only the physical act of looking, but also a reasonably prudent reaction to what may be seen.
Donta v. Harper, 283 S.E.2d 921 (W. Va. 1981)
The court instructs the jury that, under the law of West Virginia, a driver of a vehicle must not drive on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions and the actual and potential hazards. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highways in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
WVa. Code § 17C-6-1
“SPEED RACE” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that it is unlawful for any person to engage in, or aid or abet by serving as lookout or timer or in any other capacity whatever, any speed race, on any public street or highway in this State. For these purposes, “speed race” means:
(1) The operation of a motor vehicle in speed acceleration competition with another motor vehicle or motor vehicles; or
(2) The operation of a motor vehicle in speed acceleration competition against time; or
(3) The operation of a motor vehicle in speed competition with another motor vehicle or motor vehicles where the speed exceeds the lawsuit speed limit.
W. Va. Code § 17C-6-8
“DRIVING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that upon all roadways a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway.
W. Va. Code § 17C-7-1
“DRIVING OF VEHICLES PROCEEDING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTION”
The court instructs the jury that drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and upon roadways having width for not more than one line of traffic in each direction each driver shall give to the other at least one half of the main-traveled portion of the roadway as nearly as possible.
W. Va. Code § 17C-7-2
“OVERTAKING AND PASSING A VEHICLE” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an audible signal and pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
W. Va. Code § 17C-7-3
“OVERTAKING AND PASSING ANOTHER VEHICLE ON THE LEFT” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that no vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken.
W Va. Code § 1 7C-7-5
“FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.
W. Va. Code § 17C-7-10
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.
W. Va. Code § 17C-9-1
“RIGHT-OF-WAY”INSTRUCTION – Entering highway from private road or driveway
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from a private road or driveway must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on said highway.
W. Va. Code § 17C-9-4
“VEHICLE TURNING LEFT” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching in the opposite direction.
W Va. Code § 17C-9-2
The court instructs the jury that a driver of a vehicle must yield the right-ofway, and must avail himself of what the right of way discloses so as to prevent injury to himself and others. The duty to yield the right-of-way thus involves not only the physical act of looking, but also a reasonably prudent reaction to what may be seen.
“RIGHT-OF-WAY” INSTRUCTION – Yielding to vehicles that have entered intersection
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle must yield the right-of- way to other vehicles which have entered the intersection from said through highways.
W. Va. Code § 1 7C-9-3
“STOP SIGN” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that the driver of a vehicle must stop at a stop sign as required by law at an intersection where a stop sign is erected at one or more entrances to a through highway and shall proceed cautiously, yielding to vehicles traveling on said through highway.
W Va. Code §1 7C-9-3(b)
“FAILURE TO HAVE PROPER EQUIPMENT” INSTRUCTION
The court instructs the jury that it is unlawful for any person to drive or move or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved on any highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person.
W Va. Code § 17C-15-1
Ask a West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a West Virginia auto accident, feel free to contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney at West Law Offices for a free evaluations of your claim. Our toll free number is 1-877-943-9378.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.