Court Permits Plaintiff’s Hit-and-Run Case to Proceed Solely on Circumstantial Evidence

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia hit-and-run car accident discussing whether the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed despite the fact that the defendant denied having been driving the car at the time of the accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the circumstantial evidence presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to call into question the direct evidence presented by the defendant suggesting that he was not driving the vehicle.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when another vehicle rear-ended her car. Evidently, the driver of the other vehicle sped off, and the vehicle was not located until later when police identified the vehicle in a nearby parking lot. The vehicle, which was registered to the defendant, was towed to a wrecking yard.

According to the court’s opinion, an officer went to the defendant’s house but no one answered despite it seeming to the officer as though someone was home. The wrecking service also contacted the defendant, informing him that he would need to contact law enforcement before the vehicle could be released to him. However, the defendant never did so. Ultimately, the police determined that the defendant had likely been driving the car.

The defendant later testified that he was not driving the car on the day of the accident. He explained that he would only drive the car a few times a year, however, the car was insured and had current registration. The defendant explained that he kept the car’s keys on the table in his home and suggested that the accident was caused by someone whom he had let live with him for a few months. However, the defendant could not provide the contact information for this person.

The issue for the court to decide was whether the plaintiff’s circumstantial evidence that the defendant was driving the car was sufficient to create a disputed fact despite the direct evidence that the defendant was not driving the car.

The court explained that circumstantial evidence, in some cases, “could have probative value in the face of contrary direct evidence.” In order to do so, however, the circumstantial evidence “must point at least more strongly to a conclusion opposite to the direct testimony.”

Here, the court concluded that the circumstantial evidence strongly pointed to the conclusion that the defendant was driving the car. More strongly, in fact, that the defendant’s direct denial that he was driving the car. The court considered the fact that the defendant did not contact law enforcement despite being told to do so by the wrecking yard and ultimately abandoned the vehicle rather than following up with police. That being the case, the court held that the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed towards a trial for a jury to resolve her case against the defendant.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia car accident lawsuit. At McAleer Law, we represent injury victims in all types of Georgia car accident cases, including hit-and-run accidents. To learn more about how we can help you recover for your injuries, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Posts:

Court Upholds Athlete’s Award for Future Earnings in Recent Georgia Car Accident Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 20, 2018.

Court Considers Whether Roadway Contractors Are Liable for Georgia Car Crash, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, October 1, 2018.

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