In a recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Richards v. Robinson, a school bus driver was sued for negligence after a school bus and a car were involved in an accident. The car’s driver was approaching an intersection and began a left turn when the school bus came over a hill toward him. The school bus was driving toward him in a right-turn lane with his blinker on. The car’s driver believed the bus was turning right at the intersection, but the bus driver intended to turn right after the intersection and drove straight through the intersection. The two cars collided.
The bus driver moved for summary judgment in his favor. He claimed the car’s driver failed to present evidence that he acted negligently. The court granted the motion, finding the bus driver demonstrated that there was no issue of material fact as to any essential element of the claim and that he was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. However, a Georgia appeals court reversed the decision, finding there was a dispute of material fact.
One of the disputes in the case was whether drivers in the right turn lane were required to turn right at the intersection, or whether they could continue and turn at an upcoming right turn that was after the intersection. The court noted that the road sign before the first right turn indicated that vehicles in the right turn lane must turn right. This meant that it may have been negligent for him to drive in that lane when he was not turning until the second turn. The bus driver presented contradictory evidence, but this meant only that it was an issue for a jury. The evidence was sufficient for the car driver to prove the bus driver may have been negligent. As a result, the bus driver was not entitled to summary judgment.
Summary Judgment Standard in Georgia
Summary judgment is granted when a party shows that there is “no genuine issue of material fact and that the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, warrant judgment as a matter of law.” This means that a court can decide that, based on the evidence presented, there is no need for the case to go to trial. However, if there is a dispute as to a material fact, summary judgment must be denied, and a jury will resolve the factual disputes based on the evidence presented at trial.
In the case above, the bus driver needed to demonstrate that the car’s driver failed to present evidence of the elements of negligence. The bus driver could also have presented evidence that negated an essential element of the claim—proving it would have been impossible for the car driver to prove his claim. However, just presenting contradictory evidence was not enough to grant summary judgment. For this reason, the evidence exchanged in discovery, prior to trial, is extremely important. If a plaintiff fails to present sufficient evidence, the case will be over before a trial even begins.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident in Georgia?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia car accident, you may be able to recover compensation. At McAleer Law, our car accident attorneys can diligently evaluate your claim, let you know what to expect in terms of compensation, and fight for what you are entitled to receive. We are willing to take all of our client’s cases to trial to help them pursue what they deserve. Contact us at 404-622-5337 or fill out our online form today to set up a free consultation.
See More Posts:
Georgia Court Reverses Decision in Favor of Mobile Home Owner after Woman Killed in Fire, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 29, 2016.
Woman Fails to File Expert Affidavit in Medical Malpractice Claim but Able To Proceed Regardless, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 17, 2016.