Appeals Court Addresses Negligence Standard in Georgia Car Accident Case

Recently, a Georgia appeals court issued a ruling after a defendant appealed a trial court’s denial of his motion for summary judgment. The case stemmed from a car accident where the decedent was fatally injured while crossing the road in front of the defendant’s car.

According to the opinion, the defendant was on his way to work when the victim walked onto the highway. The defendant alleged that he heard a vibration and his car jerked, but he did not realize he hit anyone. The impact caused the defendant’s window to shatter. In an attempt to avoid another collision, he drove down the highway until he could park his car on the side of the road. When he returned to the accident scene, he realized that he injured the pedestrian. Tragically, the pedestrian suffered fatal injuries.

The pedestrian’s wife filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. She alleged that he was negligent in operating his car and did not exercise due care. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to provide evidence that he engaged in any negligent act or omission. The trial court denied his motion for summary judgment, resulting in this motion to the appeals court. In reviewing the case, the Georgia appeals court discussed state negligence standards in personal injury lawsuits.

Under Georgia law, summary judgment is appropriate when there “is no genuine issue as to any material fact” in the case. During the summary judgment stage, the court will not resolve disputed facts, reconcile any issue, or weigh the evidence. Georgia personal injury lawsuits require the plaintiff to establish that the culpable party had a legal duty to conform to a standard of care, they breached that standard, there is a legal and causal connection between the action and the injury, and the plaintiff suffered damages. Georgia plaintiffs must be able to establish each of the negligence factors to succeed.

In this case, the defendant argued that the plaintiff did not establish that he was negligent in operating his vehicle. It is undisputed that Georgia drivers must exercise due care when operating a vehicle. However, pedestrians are also required to cross the road within a marked crosswalk. Georgia requires affirmative proof of negligence; the fact that an accident and injury occurred is not enough to meet this standard. The court requires plaintiffs to introduce evidence that can lead the fact finder to conclude that it was “more likely than not” that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident and injuries.

The decedent, in this case, attempted to cross the highway in an unsafe manner, and there was no evidence to show that the driver was operating his car negligently. Additionally, a police investigation of the accident and expert testimony both revealed that there was no evidence pointing to negligence on the defendant’s part. The plaintiff could not counter the defendant’s testimony that he did not see the decedent until it was too late. Ultimately, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

Georgia car accident victims should be sure to contact a dedicated personal injury attorney to assist with their case. The attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience handling complex Georgia car accident lawsuits. Summary judgment motions can be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim, and Georgia victims must have attorneys that can represent them through these defense tactics. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you or your loved ones sustained. Contact our Georgia car accident law firm at 404-622-5337 to schedule a free initial consultation.