Appellate Court Reverses Judgment for Plaintiff in Georgia Auto-Pedestrian Accident Case

Georgia roads pose a serious danger to pedestrians attempting to cross the street. This danger is compounded when it is dark outside or in conditions with low visibility. In a recently decided case, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a fatal auto-pedestrian accident case. As a result of the appellate ruling, the plaintiff will not have the chance to recover damages from the death of her spouse.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff sued the defendant after he struck and killed her husband in an early morning auto-pedestrian collision. Evidently, the decedent was hit while he was crossing a poorly lit road, over a mile from the nearest crosswalk. Using the testimony of an expert witness, the plaintiff argued in her complaint that the defendant, who was driving to work at the time of the crash, was negligent in failing to see the pedestrian, and therefore liable for damages related to his death. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment with the court, arguing that there was no legal basis to find he was negligent. The defendant’s motion was denied by the court, which resulted in the recently decided appeal.

According to the Georgia Court of Appeals, a valid negligence claim must establish four elements: (1) a legal duty to conform to a standard of conduct raised by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm; (2) a breach of this standard; (3) a legally attributable causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) loss or damage to plaintiff’s legally protected interest resulting from the breach. On appeal, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to meet the first element of a negligence claim.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to show that he owed the plaintiff any duty of care prior to the accident. Specifically, the defendant argued that the undisputed evidence demonstrated that he was not speeding before the accident, he was using is headlights, and had a proper lookout at all times prior to the accident. The plaintiff argued that his expert witness’ conclusion that the defendant did not maintain a proper lookout from his vehicle presented an issue of fact as to the duty of care.

The appellate court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments, instead noting that under Georgia law, a pedestrian who is crossing a roadway away from a crosswalk must yield to traffic in the roadway. Because the plaintiff presented no evidence from the post-accident investigation that the defendant actually saw the plaintiff before the crash, or could have avoided the crash while operating his vehicle with ordinary care, the court ruled that the plaintiff was not owed a duty of care, and had no cause of action against the defendant.

Do You Need a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Georgia auto-pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your loss; however, it is important to have a skilled and knowledgeable legal team by your side. The fruits of a post-accident investigation can make or break a case. The qualified lawyers at McAleer Law can help you preserve your rights and help you recover a fair settlement for your claim. Our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys and investigators know how to build a case that will get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact our offices at 404-622-5337 for a consultation to speak with a dedicated Georgia accident attorney today.