Georgia Court of Appeals Discusses the Evidentiary Authentication Requirement in Recent Personal Injury Case

Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion discussing the authentication requirement embodied in OCGA § 24-9-901(a). The rule requires that a party seeking to admit a piece of evidence provide sufficient evidence “to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” In the case of Hungry Wolf v. Langdeau, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court admitted evidence that was not properly authenticated and remanded the case so that the trial judge could determine whether a sufficient basis existed to authenticate the evidence.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured outside the defendant’s bar when he was hit by a ricocheting bullet. According to a summary of the facts, the man who fired the weapon, Colbert, was working at the bar on the night in question. The plaintiffs claimed that Colbert was a bouncer, but the defendant claimed that he was working as a cook and DJ on the night in question. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the bar owner under the theory of respondeat superior. The plaintiff argued that the bar owner should be responsible for the negligent actions of Colbert because the conduct at issue was within the scope of Colbert’s employment.

The bar owner filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that Colbert was not an employee who was engaged in any security work and that Colbert was actually hired and trained by the people performing that night at the bar.

The plaintiff obtained a police report from a responding officer. In the report, it indicated that the officer had watched a surveillance video of the night in question that showed Colbert working as security for the bar. The defendant made a hearsay objection, which was overruled by the judge, and then the evidence was admitted. The defendant then filed an immediate appeal, arguing that the evidence was never authenticated.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant that the police officer’s report had never been authenticated. On remand, the lower court will have to determine if there was sufficient evidence presented to authenticate the officer’s report.

Although authentication can be a very quick and easy task, when it is overlooked, it can create additional delays for an accident victim’s case. In some cases, a favorable verdict may even be reversed if it was based on unauthenticated evidence. It is very important to have a dedicated and experienced attorney assist with any personal injury matter to ensure that the case is properly handled from beginning to end.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As discussed above, the involvement of an experienced personal injury attorney can save you time and potentially the devastation of having a successful case reversed on appeal. The knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have the experience you need to feel comfortable putting your case in their hands. Call 404-622-5337 to set up a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

What You Need to Know About The Dangers of Running Off The Road, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, August 8, 2016.

Taser Death Case Lands at the Supreme Court Prematurely, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, August 1, 2016.

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