Georgia Court of Appeals Discusses Venue Selection in Hit-and-Run Car Accident Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a Georgia car accident case involving one named defendant and an unnamed hit-and-run driver. The case required the court to interpret several statutes and determine if the plaintiff’s choice of venue was proper when neither the plaintiff nor the sole named defendant resided in the county where the case was filed. Ultimately, the court concluded that venue was proper because under Georgia law, a hit-and-run driver is assumed to reside in the county where the accident occurred.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were two passengers in a car that was being operated by a friend on a Georgia highway. At some point, an unnamed driver crossed into the plaintiffs’ lane, requiring the driver of the vehicle carrying the plaintiffs to slow down quickly. As the vehicle slowed, the defendant, who was traveling directly behind them, slammed into the rear of the vehicle.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the unnamed hit-and-run driver as well as the driver who rear-ended them. The plaintiffs filed the case in the county where the accident occurred, which was not where the named defendant lived.

Prior to trial, the defendant asked the court to transfer the case to his home county, arguing that Georgia law requires a personal injury case to be filed in a county where at least one defendant resides. The court looked at another Georgia law, stating that a hit-and-run driver’s county of residence is assumed to be the county where the accident occurred. Since the plaintiffs filed the case in the county where the accident occurred, the court determined that this was the “home county” of the hit-and-run driver. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion to transfer the case. The defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the hit-and-run driver was a “nominal” party who should not be included in the court’s venue determination. The court explained that the unnamed driver played a vital role in causing the accident and could not be considered a nominal party. Thus, the court determined that venue was proper in the county where the accident occurred because that was the hit-and-run driver’s home county under Georgia statutory law.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law can help you seek the compensation you deserve. With experience handling thousands of cases, our attorneys know the ins and outs of Georgia personal injury law and are prepared to put their knowledge to use for you. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney at McAleer Law. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time or services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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.

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