Articles Posted in Accident Law

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia hit-and-run car accident discussing whether the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed despite the fact that the defendant denied having been driving the car at the time of the accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the circumstantial evidence presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to call into question the direct evidence presented by the defendant suggesting that he was not driving the vehicle.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when another vehicle rear-ended her car. Evidently, the driver of the other vehicle sped off, and the vehicle was not located until later when police identified the vehicle in a nearby parking lot. The vehicle, which was registered to the defendant, was towed to a wrecking yard.

According to the court’s opinion, an officer went to the defendant’s house but no one answered despite it seeming to the officer as though someone was home. The wrecking service also contacted the defendant, informing him that he would need to contact law enforcement before the vehicle could be released to him. However, the defendant never did so. Ultimately, the police determined that the defendant had likely been driving the car.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiffs were covered under a policy underwritten by the defendant insurance company. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiffs were not among those named in the policy for whom underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage was provided, and the plaintiffs’ argument that the policy was invalid was without merit. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ case.The Facts

The defendant insurance company wrote a policy for a car dealership. The policy provided both liability and UIM coverage. However, the UIM coverage was only extended to “directors, officers, partners or owners of the named insured and family members who qualify as an insured.” In fact, the policy specifically stated that “any other person who qualifies as an
Insured” was not afforded UIM coverage.

The plaintiffs decided to test-drive a car from the dealership. While out on the test-drive, the plaintiffs were rear-ended by another motorist. The at-fault motorist had liability insurance coverage, but the policy limits were such that the plaintiffs were not fully compensated for their injuries, even after settling and obtaining the maximum benefit amount under that policy. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a claim with the dealership’s insurance policy, under the UIM coverage.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against the defendant contained sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense. Ultimately, since the court found that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to give rise to a material issue of fact, it granted summary judgment in the defendant’s favor.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a truck driver who was heading east on a stretch of highway when the defendant’s vehicle, which was traveling in the opposite direction, crossed over the center median and crashed into the plaintiff’s truck. At the time, the plaintiff had no idea what caused the defendant to lose control of the vehicle, but it became evident after the collision that the defendant had collided with a bull that had escaped captivity and walked onto the highway.

The defendant filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that she was negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout. The evidence also showed that the plaintiff was traveling below the posted speed limit and that it was dark outside at the time of the collision. It was also established that there was a line of cars on the side of the road belonging to the people who were searching for the bull.

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Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case involving a dispute between a motorist who was injured in an accident and that motorist’s insurance company. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s failure to provide the insurance company with prompt notice of the accident and subsequent lawsuit was a violation of the clear language contained in the insurance policy. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s four-and-a-half-year delay in notifying the company did violate the policy language and that, as a result, the plaintiff’s lawsuit against the insurance company was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident while she was a passenger in a friend’s car. Several others were also injured. Two years after the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. The plaintiff eventually settled that claim for $36,000, which was all that was available under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after compensating the other accident victims.

The plaintiff claimed that she sustained injuries above and beyond those covered by the $36,000 settlement with the at-fault driver, and she joined her own insurance company as a defendant in the lawsuit. By this time, about four and a half years had passed since the accident. The plaintiff claimed that since the at-fault driver was underinsured, her own insurance company should cover her injuries under the underinsured motorist provision of her policy.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia truck accident lawsuit, addressing the state’s vicarious liability law. The case arose after the plaintiff appealed a trial court’s ruling in favor of an employer who owned the truck that was involved in an accident that killed one of his daughters and injured the other. The driver of the truck worked for the defendant’s company, and on the day of the accident, he and a co-worker were making a stop before traveling to their next job site. When they were leaving the job site, another vehicle suddenly changed lanes and swerved in front of the truck. The truck driver quickly changed lanes to avoid a collision, but in doing so, his driver’s side tire flew off his vehicle and struck the plaintiff’s daughter’s car.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the truck driver’s employer based on Georgia’s vicarious liability laws. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the driver did not properly maintain his truck, and the driver’s actions were attributed to his employer.

Under Georgia law, employers may be subject to vicarious liability laws if their employee’s negligence results in a car accident and injuries to another person. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior employers may be liable in these cases if their employee’s negligent acts occurred while the employee was engaged in the “course and scope” of their employment. However, this theory does not apply if the employee is on a personal errand which does not provide any benefit to the employer. Issues often arise when determining whether an employee was within the “course and scope” of employment, especially in instances where the employee is taking a brief detour during work. In most situations, employers are not liable when the accident takes place on the way to or from work or if the employee was on a lunch break. However, exceptions exist when the employee is on a “special mission” for the benefit of the employer, or if they are in an employee-owned vehicle. In these cases, employers possess the burden to overcome the presumption of liability.

Recently, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued an opinion in an appeal stemming from a personal injury lawsuit a plaintiff filed against the Georgia Department of Public Safety (GDPS). According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff suffered injuries when he was involved in a car accident with a fleeing criminal in October 2014.

Pursuant to Georgia law OCGA section 50-21-26, the plaintiff provided the relevant administrative agency with ante litem notice of his intent to file a personal injury lawsuit against the GDPS. However, he failed to provide all of the information that the statute requires and subsequently withdrew his initial filing. After that, in 2017, the plaintiff sent a proper ante litem notice to the agency and renewed his action. In response, the GDPS filed a motion to dismiss, based on the untimely notice. The plaintiff argued that OCGA section 9-3-99 tolls his time for filing ante litem notice, because he was a victim of a fleeing criminal’s crime.

The Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA) provides that individuals having a tort claim against the State cannot bring an action against the State without giving the appropriate agency written notice of the lawsuit within 12 months of the date of the loss. However, the OCGA section 9-3-99 provides an exception to the period of limitation with respect to causes of action that arise out of a crime. The statute of limitations is tolled from the date of the incident until the act has been prosecuted or otherwise becomes final, so long as it is not more than six years after the original event.

When someone is injured in a car accident by a reckless, careless, or negligent driver, Georgia state law allows them to file a personal injury suit to recover for their injuries. These suits can be crucial for injured victims in helping them get their lives back on track. Often, car accident injuries result in significant medical expenses, lost wages, and even sometimes funeral and burial expenses. Filing a personal injury suit against the at-fault driver is often the only way that a family can avoid severe financial hardship in the aftermath of accidents.

However, to file a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must notify the defendant of the suit. It would be unfair to allow plaintiffs to move forward with a lawsuit without the other party knowing and able to defend themselves, and so our court system requires notice to be served on the defendant. However, in some cases, defendants may avoid getting served because they do not want to be sued. They may conceal their location, or leave the state and go somewhere unknown, to avoid being served notice. Many times, they may think that if they cannot be served, they cannot be sued, and the suit will eventually go away. However, Georgia law accounts for this tendency, and allows those who exercised due diligence in determining that the defendant was either out of state or avoiding service to serve notice in another way—through publication in a newspaper.

This was the option attempted by the plaintiff in a recent Georgia appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was injured by the defendant in a car accident and attempted to file suit. However, she was unable to find or track down the defendant to serve him with notice, and so after trying for a while, she requested permission to serve notice through publication.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of a car insurance company in a contract dispute. On appeal, the court was tasked with addressing whether a date on an insurance policy was a scrivener’s error. The evidence shows that a man applied for a car insurance policy on February 23, 2017. On his application, he indicated that he requested bodily injury and property damage coverage, but he rejected uninsured motorist coverage, and excluded his wife as a covered party. There were various dates and times noted on the application; however, the most pertinent date was next to his applicant’s statement that was dated May, 23, 2017.

According to the court’s opinion, the policyholder’s wife suffered injuries in a car accident on March 31, 2017, and thereafter requested coverage. The claimant filed a lawsuit after the company denied coverage. The insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the policyholder specifically excluded his wife from coverage. The claimant argued that the discrepancy of the dates in the insurance application creates an ambiguity regarding the effective date of coverage, and should preclude summary judgment.

Under Georgia law, courts should construe ambiguous insurance contracts in favor of the insured and against the insurer. This generally means that when a contract provision can be interpreted in two different ways, it should be construed in favor of the insured. However, this principle is limited to reasonable interpretations.

Georgia is home to many popular companies that offer individuals the opportunity to participate in exciting recreational activities. These activities include rock climbing, rafting, bungee jumping, and sky diving, among many others. However, although these companies typically employ trained and experienced instructors, accidents happen. Given the nature of these activities, accidents often result in serious injuries and even death. When someone suffers injuries while participating in a recreational activity in Georgia, the company or its employees may be liable for the victim’s injuries and damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

However, the majority of these companies require participants or their guardians to sign a liability waiver. Although many of these forms contain similar terms, they are generally tailored to the services the company provides, as well as the company’s policies and procedures. However, the underlying goal is to protect the company from financial responsibility if the participant suffers injuries.

Despite waivers of liability, there are some situations where the court will void the waiver and allow a lawsuit to proceed. These companies may still be held liable for their actions, even if the participant signed a waiver. Courts may find the waiver void and not binding in cases where the company or its agents engaged in gross negligence, when then contract’s language was vague, if there were hidden terms in the agreement, or if the company was violating state law.

With everyone glued to their devices more than ever, it’s no surprise that distracted driving accidents are on the rise. Even though many cars have hands-free answering mechanisms or navigation systems, accidents can still happen when drivers get distracted at a red light to check a text message or make a call. When these accidents happen, they can often be devastating. Those responsible for a distracted driving accident can be held accountable for their actions through a Georgia personal injury lawsuit.

In a recent Georgia news report, a serious crash occurred involving distracted driving. Evidently, the driver of a tractor-trailer crashed into the victim’s car inside a roundabout, causing both vehicles to slide into a nearby ditch. In the ditch, the tractor-trailer rolled on top of the victim’s car, and a rescue team had to remove the driver from her car. After being pulled out from roughly 20 feet down a hill, the victim was transported to a local hospital. Following the accident, the tractor-trailer driver admitted to investigators that he was using his cell phone and didn’t realize he was entering a roundabout intersection.

In Georgia, a new distracted driving law called the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” was passed in 2018 to curb rates of distracted driving accidents. Although it was illegal to text and drive in Georgia before the passing of this law, the Act now makes it illegal to use a mobile device while driving, unless you have a hands-free or Bluetooth system installed in your vehicle.

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