Georgia Appellate Court Discusses How Conflicting Testimony Should Be Handled by Lower Courts

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case involving a plaintiff’s conflicting testimony and the effect it should be given. Ultimately, the court concluded that neither of the plaintiff’s statements should be accepted on its face by the court, and the case should be submitted to a jury so that it can resolve the factual issues involved.

The Facts of the Case

The case arose in the wake of a car accident involving the plaintiff and an uninsured motorist. Following the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the other motorist. The plaintiff’s father had several policies with the defendant insurance company, each of which provided coverage for accidents involving uninsured motorists. Thus, the plaintiff named her father’s insurance company as a defendant in the case as well.

Before the case reached trial, the plaintiff provided answers to several questions posed by the insurance company. One of the questions asked who lived with the plaintiff, and she responded that she lived with her three children. When asked, she explained that her father lived across the street.

About 10 months later, the plaintiff realized that she made a mistake in answering the question about who lived with her, and she filed an affidavit in hopes of clarifying her living situation. In the affidavit, the plaintiff explained that her father had moved in with her several years before the accident, and she was confused when she initially answered the question. Regardless, the insurance company denied her claim, explaining that only relatives who lived with the insured were covered under the policy, and the plaintiff had admitted she did not live with her father.

The trial court initially determined that the plaintiff was covered under her father’s policy, but it offered no explanation. The insurance company appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the judgment below. The court explained that under Georgia case law, “when a party has given contradictory testimony, and when that party relies exclusively on that testimony in opposition to summary judgment, a court must construe the contradictory testimony against [her].” This rule applies unless there is a satisfactory explanation for the conflict.

Here, the appellate court assumed that the lower court found the plaintiff’s explanation to be reasonable, and thus it disregarded the plaintiff’s prior testimony. However, the court explained that the fact that the plaintiff presented a reasonable explanation merely means that the court should not assume the less favorable version to be true. It does not “erase” the less favorable testimony. That being the case, the court explained, the plaintiff’s initial testimony stating that she did not live with her father was still on the record and thus created an issue of fact that must be resolved by a jury.

Have You Been Involved 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. However, it is likely that you will need to deal with at least one insurance company, and possibly several. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have the experience and dedication you need to feel comfortable placing your case in their hands. We have represented thousands of clients, and we have a successful track record across all areas of personal injury law. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule your free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Court Discusses “Family Purpose Doctrine” in Recent Car Accident Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, February 6, 2018.

Court Excludes Key Witness at Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Identify Witness Before Trial, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 27, 2017.