Following a major Georgia car accident, navigating the claims in court can often be a daunting task. Because of the complexity of the legal system, it is crucial that when bringing your claims that you also have the proper evidence to support them. Depending on the state, however, courts may have different requirements when it comes to types of evidence that are appropriate and admissible for consideration.
In a recent Court of Appeals of Georgia opinion, the court considered a case involving whether evidence showing the deceased’s state of mind before an accident could be used to determine pre-impact pain and suffering damages. Specifically, whether the fact that she was pregnant should be allowed into evidence. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving a pickup truck on the interstate when he crossed the median and hit an oncoming vehicle occupied by a couple and their three-year-old daughter. Following the collision, the couple passed away, but their daughter survived the accident. The deceased wife’s mother filed a lawsuit as the administrator of the couple’s estate against the defendants, the driver of the pickup truck. A jury sided with the plaintiff. The pickup driver appealed the decision, arguing that evidence that the deceased was pregnant at the time of the accident should not have been presented at trial.
On appeal, the court sided with the plaintiff and ruled that the evidence of the deceased’s pregnancy and state of mind at the time of the accident was presented properly. On the date of the collision, the couple and their child were returning from a visit from their doctor, where the wife’s pregnancy had been confirmed. She was on the phone with her mother right before the crash, who heard the crash take place on the line. This evidence, the court reasoned, showed the deceased’s state of mind at the time of the collision, and had relevance to her “fright, shock, and mental suffering” before the crash since she knew she was pregnant, her entire family was in the car, and that the accident was imminent. Since this evidence suggested that the deceased potentially knew her death would be imminent as a result of the crash, it had relevance to her damages for pain and suffering.
In Georgia, the courts have ruled that evidence of an individual’s conduct and state of mind are important when assessing pre-impact pain and suffering damages. For these damages to be awarded, the jury requires evidence that the deceased was conscious of her imminent death before impact or following her injury. Further, the fright, shock, and mental anguish experienced by an individual because of negligent actions from the at-fault party when paired with a physical injury, will award the victim or the representative of the victim with damages.
When determining what kinds of evidence are admissible and allowed in these cases, the trial court typically has wide latitude in Georgia when conducting these assessments. For example, photographs are typically admissible in court unless they contain inflammatory depictions that may put the other party at a disadvantage.
Do You Need a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you know has been recently involved in a personal injury accident, contact the Georgia car accident attorneys at McAleer Law. Our lawyers are experienced, compassionate, and will guide you every step of the way through your claim. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today at 404-622-5337.