Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a woman who was struck by a hit-and-run driver. While the identity of the driver remained unknown, the plaintiff was able to obtain the license plate of the car as the driver left the scene. In a case against the vehicle’s owner, the court allowed the plaintiff to proceed toward a trial or settlement, finding that she has a legally cognizable claim.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was struck by an unidentified male motorist. However, as the hit-and-run driver fled the scene, the plaintiff was able to obtain the license plate of the vehicle and provided it to the responding police officer. The officer looked up the vehicle’s information, finding the owner’s name, and determined that the vehicle was owned by a woman who the plaintiff acknowledged was not driving at the time of the accident.
Once the plaintiff had the owner’s name, she then sought insurance information for the vehicle. The insurance request came back with another woman’s name. The plaintiff initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the woman who insured the car. Later, she asked the court to add the vehicle’s owner to the case as well. The court denied the plaintiff’s request to add the vehicle’s owner, finding that the issue was moot because the owner was not an “indispensable party” because she was not driving the car.
The insured asked the court to dismiss the case against her. The insured argued that she “did not have any authority or control over those responsible for the accident and that she did not cause the accident.” She also noted that she did not own the vehicle and that the owner was her daughter. The court dismissed the case against the insured. The plaintiff appealed both rulings.
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s decision to dismiss the case against the insured. The court explained that there really was no indication that the insured owned the vehicle or was operating the vehicle. However, the court reversed the lower court’s decision preventing the plaintiff from adding the vehicle’s owner to the lawsuit. The court explained that the owner of the vehicle may be considered an indispensable party if she loaned the car to a friend or family member.
On remand to the trial court, the case will proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations against the owner of the vehicle only.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Hit-and-Run Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if you do not know the identity of the at-fault party, your own insurance policy may provide coverage for your injuries. The dedicated Georgia car accident attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience assisting victims with pursuing the compensation they need and deserve. To learn more about Georgia car accident law, and to speak with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney about your case, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.
See More Posts:
Georgia Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant in Recent Car Accident Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, July 5, 2017.
Georgia Appellate Court Clarifies When Accumulated Rainfall Constitutes a Hazard, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, June 27, 2017.