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Speed-Lay Testimony Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Summarizes Speed-Lay Testimony Cases

Brien Roche

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Speed-Lay Testimony. For more information on traffic collisions see the pages on Wikipedia. 

Speed-Lay Testimony Cases

1998 Shelby Ins. Co. v. Kozak, 255 Va. 411, 497 S.E.2d 864.Witness testified that he saw vehicle two and one-half car lengths away from intersection and he estimated speed to be 45 to 50 mph. This testimony was sufficient to show that he was person with knowledge of time and distance and competent to give estimate of speed.

1990 Doe v. Dewhirst, 240 Va. 266, 396 S.E.2d 840.To testify as to speed, witness must have had reasonable opportunity to judge speed. Thirteen-year-old witness had momentary observation of vehicle at time of impact and glimpse of taillights at unspecified distance away. Witness did not have reasonable opportunity to form opinion.

1987 Deskins v. T.H. Nichols Line Contractor, 234 Va. 185, 361 S.E.2d 125.Plaintiff testified he did not see defendant’s vehicle until moment before it hit him. For this reason, trial court did not let him give estimate of defendant’s speed. This was not challenged on appeal. Another witness stated that defendant was traveling fast. She saw Fuller’s vehicle for only instant before impact and she could give no estimate of speed. It is doubtful that this is proof of excessive speed.

1983 Geico v. Gallop, 224 Va. 720, 299 S.E.2d 525.Summary judgment was reversed where there was conflicting evidence on speed of defendant’s vehicle, on whether defendant kept proper lookout, and on role of John Doe defendant in accident.

1982 Todt v. Shaw, 223 Va. 123, 286 S.E.2d 211.Jury could have concluded from evidence that defendant was exceeding reasonable speed under existing traffic conditions when she crashed into plaintiff’s vehicle. Witness testified defendant was traveling at “good sized rate of speed.”

1981 Jones v. Downs, 222 Va. 25, 278 S.E.2d 799.Witness testified he was traveling at speed limit and that decedent’s vehicle was “gaining pretty rapid.” Presented jury issue as to negligence of decedent.

1977 Nicholaou v. Harrington, 217 Va. 618, 231 S.E.2d 318.Lay testimony estimated speed of plaintiff at 55 miles per hour (10 mph in excess of limit) when he was approximately 35 feet from scene of accident. Evidence admissible. Discussion of evidence of speed at various distances from scene.

1977 King v. Commonwealth, 217 Va. 601, 231 S.E.2d 312.Witness who did not see vehicle in movement is incompetent to testify from sound alone as to speed. Moreover, evidence not admissible that driver was exceeding speed limit some two miles from scene of collision. Discussion of distances from scene.

1975 Maxie v. Doe, 215 Va. 409, 211 S.E.2d 246.Witness testified, contrary to plaintiff’s testimony, that plaintiff was exceeding speed limit when she passed him short time and distance before accident. Whether such evidence had probative value was matter within sound discretion of trial court.

1973 Smith v. Commonwealth, 213 Va. 781, 195 S.E.2d 845.Not error to admit testimony of witness who observed defendant’s vehicle while in operation short distance from place and in matter of seconds of time collision occurred, and who connected visual observation by intervening auditor perception.

1971 Pennington v. Beamon, 211 Va. 493, 178 S.E.2d 511.Witness admitted she was poor estimator of speed but she still gave estimate.

1970 Yates v. Potts, 210 Va. 636, 172 S.E.2d 784.Speed limit was 45 mph. Plaintiff estimated speed at 40 to 50 mph. Jury could accept higher or lower estimate.

1968 White v. Hunt, 209 Va. 11, 161 S.E.2d 809.Intersection collision. Plaintiff sought to have police testify as to speed of defendant’s vehicle based on his observations at accident scene. Inadmissible as it would invade province of jury.

1968 Saunders & Rittenhouse v. Bullock, 208 Va. 551, 159 S.E.2d 820.Plaintiff who had never driven auto, uncertain as to speed of defendant. The evidence was to be considered with other evidence as to defendant’s negligence.

1966 Meade v. Meade, 206 Va. 823, 147 S.E.2d 171.To be competent to testify to speed it must be shown that witness had reasonable opportunity to judge speed. One is generally incompetent to testify as to speed based on sound alone.

1966 Laster v. Tatum, 206 Va. 804, 146 S.E.2d 231.Plaintiff testified defendant was traveling too fast. Driving too fast does not constitute gross negligence.

1966 Cowles v. Zahn, 206 Va. 743, 143 S.E.2d 200.Witness testified that it sounded like defendant’s vehicle was traveling awfully fast.

1965 Newman v. Dalton, 206 Va. 119, 141 S.E.2d 677.Speed-lay testimony.Fact that estimates as to distances and speed are not in conformity with tables speed and stopping distances does not render testimony of either party incredible.

1961 Brown v. Peters, 202 Va. 382, 117 S.E.2d 695.Witness testified that he guessed or estimated speed of vehicle to be between 80 and 90 mph.

1960 Beasley v. Barnes, 201 Va. 593, 113 S.E.2d 62.Speed-lay testimony.Fact that estimates are not precisely correct does not render testimony of either party incredible.

1960 Moore v. Lewis, 201 Va. 522, 111 S.E.2d 788.Speed-lay testimony.Any person of ordinary intelligence having means or opportunity of observation may express opinion as to speed. Witness need not be licensed driver. For such witness to be competent, he must have had reasonable opportunity to observe.

1959 Dickerson v. Ball, 200 Va. 809, 108 S.E.2d 256.Speed-lay testimony.Witness testified defendant speeding but did not fix speed. This opinion is of doubtful probative value.

1959 Lilley v. Simmons, 200 Va. 791, 108 S.E.2d 245.Witness testified that vehicle was traveling at right good speed.

1959 Brooks v. Hufham, 200 Va. 488, 106 S.E.2d 631.Speed-lay testimony.In auto accident case, witness testified that Buick car traveling in his direction passed him some distance west of scene of accident, running in excess of 60 mph. He later identified Buick as vehicle involved in accident. Another witness identified same vehicle as one that passed him traveling like it was going to fire.

1958 Richardson v. Lovvorn, 199 Va. 688, 101 S.E.2d 511.Police officer conducted skid test to determine how fast defendant’s car was traveling to put down 59 feet of skids.

1955 Fletcher v. Horn, 197 Va. 317, 89 S.E.2d 89.Speed-lay testimony.Lay witness testified that defendant approached scene of collision at speed that was “terrific,” or “pretty fast,” or “making pretty good time.” It is doubtful that such indefinite and relative expressions are proof of excessive speed. Moreover, no proof that accident was proximately caused by speed of defendant’s vehicle.

1953 City Cabs, Inc. v. Griffith, 194 Va. 818, 75 S.E.2d 487.Speed-lay testimony.Where witness did not see oncoming vehicle until 60 feet away, his testimony as to speed does not carry much weight because of brief period between when he saw it and collision.

1952 Burton v. Oldfield, 194 Va. 43, 72 S.E.2d 357.Lay witness who just prior to accident had been in roadway with back to traffic and then saw lights of oncoming car and jumped out of way allowed to testify as to speed of oncoming car.

1952 Sibley v. Slayton, 193 Va. 470, 69 S.E.2d 466.Speed-lay testimony.Plaintiff contended defendant driver was traveling at excessive rate of speed before accident in which plaintiff guest was killed. Defendant and another witness testified as to moderate rate of speed. Physical facts did not raise estimated speed of vehicle above that fixed by witness.

1950 Caldwell v. Parker, 191 Va. 471, 62 S.E.2d 34.Witnesses testified as to speed of vehicle.

1950 Interstate Veneer Co. v. Edwards, 191 Va. 107, 60 S.E.2d 4.Speed-lay testimony.Testimony from two witnesses of speed just prior to accident. First witness placed defendant ¾ of mile from accident traveling 60 mph. Second witness testified that defendant was traveling 60 mph some 400 yards from place of collision. Whether such evidence has probative value is usually within sound discretion of trial court.

1950 Holland v. Harrell, 190 Va. 613, 58 S.E.2d 1.Speed-lay testimony.Plaintiff caught finger in door. No probative value in expressions such as “fast,” “quickly,” “with force,” “stiff;” words alone are too indefinite.

1947 Hill v. Bradley, 186 Va. 394, 43 S.E.2d 29.Testimony to effect that vehicle was going fast.

1946 Slate v. Saul, 185 Va. 700, 40 S.E.2d 171.Witness saw defendant’s vehicle one mile away from accident and was following defendant’s vehicle, and at speed of 50 to 55 mph, was unable to overtake defendant’s vehicle. It was not abuse of discretion to admit such testimony.

1945 Keen v. Harman, 183 Va. 670, 33 S.E.2d 197.Speed-lay testimony.Testimony from witnesses that tracks of vehicle in soft, wet gravel shoulder indicated that vehicle was going fast. Use of word “fast” in this instance is too indefinite to convict defendant even of simple negligence.

1944 Sheckler v. Anderson, 182 Va. 701, 29 S.E.2d 867.Speed-lay testimony.Witnesses testified that defendant “was flying,” when he was about 250 feet from scene of accident. Supreme Court indicated that it is quite evident truck was going too fast.

1943 Neal v. Spencer, 181 Va. 668, 26 S.E.2d 70.Speed estimate of auto based only on noise made by car skidding.

1943 Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54.Speed-lay testimony.Witness allowed to testify as to speed of vehicle even though court described this as guesswork, when there is ample evidence that vehicle was speeding.

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Speed-Lay Testimony Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

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