If you are a motorist driving in Georgia, the chances are that you are sharing the road with many drivers who are not Georgia residents. Drivers may be passing through from other states on a road trip across the Southeast, or they may be visiting for a few days on a vacation. When this happens, and you are involved in an automobile accident with an out-of-state motorist, it can be more complicated to bring a lawsuit against the other driver for your injuries. Rather than simply bringing a lawsuit in the district where both you and the other driver reside, Georgia residents who are seeking to sue nonresidents must abide by the Georgia Nonresident Motorist Act (NRMA). The NRMA dictates how nonresidents can be sued and how they must be notified of any pending lawsuit. A recent case before the Court of Appeals of Georgia makes clear that proper notice of suit to out-of-state residents is imperative to the success of a lawsuit against such individuals.
In most instances, determining the ownership of a vehicle in an accident is a relatively straightforward inquiry. One can look at title and registration materials and determine who is on the official paperwork for the vehicle. But what happens when an automobile is being transferred from one person’s ownership to another person’s ownership when an accident occurs? Thankfully, Georgia law specifies the precise time when the ownership of a vehicle transfers, and this can be used to assist with questions of liability and insurance after an accident. A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals explains how such determinations are made.
In Selective Insurance Company of America v. Conner et al., a dispute arose regarding the ownership of an Xterra that was involved in an accident in Georgia. Ms. Conner had an accident with Ms. Craig, and Ms. Craig’s husband was killed. Although the case involved numerous factual disputes, solely before the court in this instance was the question of whether Ms. Conner owned the Xterra at the time of the accident, and accordingly who was charged with insuring the damages that resulted from the accident. On the morning of the accident, Ms. Conner went to the DMV in Georgia and filled out the necessary paperwork to transfer the title of the vehicle from a different party, Precision Tapping, to her own name. She completed the paperwork and paid for the transfer. However, it was only six days later that she received the new title for the Xterra. In the meantime, the accident occurred.
As we have previously discussed on this website, when automobile accidents involve state actors, such as during a police car chase, governmental agencies may be immune from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, Georgia’s doctrine of sovereign immunity is not absolute. Instead, under Georgia’s Tort Claims Act, state agencies and employees acting within the scope of their official employment may, in limited circumstances, have their sovereign immunity waived. A recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals looks at whether a waiver of sovereign immunity applies to a state response to an out-of-control wildfire.
In order to successfully bring a claim for negligence under Georgia law, the plaintiff must be able to plead and prove the following elements: the existence of a duty of care on the part of the defendant, a breach of that duty, causation linking the breach to the alleged injury, and identifiable damages resulting from that alleged breach. These elements apply to most personal injury cases, including a lawsuit for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident. In order to maximize your potential recovery for damages from injuries sustained in a car accident, you are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
While each element is an integral and necessary part of a negligence case, the issue of causation is particularly important. Causation or “proximate cause” requires evidence of “a legally attributable causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the alleged injury.”
When a plaintiff initiates a car accident case against an alleged defendant, he or she must be absolutely certain to comply with any applicable legal procedural requirements under Georgia law. For instance, the state code mandates that actions for injuries to a person must be brought within two years after the right of action accrues (or the date of the accident). Furthermore, the plaintiff must file the complaint and “serve” the defendant in accordance with state requirements. Failing to comply with these provisions could easily result in a dismissal of one’s claim, leaving the injured party with no legal recourse for recovery. To help avoid this unfortunate outcome, it is important to consult with a local Atlanta injury attorney who is fully aware of the laws affecting your particular claim.
In a recent car accident case, Covault v. Harris (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the plaintiff filed a complaint against a driver from Kentucky to recover damages for injuries he suffered in a car accident. The parties were both driving northbound on Peachtree Street in Fulton County when they reached an intersection, and the defendant failed to stay in his own lane and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. A police officer arrived at the scene and prepared a report, listing the defendant’s address as 5406 Heafer Farm Lane, Louisville, Kentucky.
Under Georgia law, a person who has been injured in a car accident may be entitled to collect compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory relief covers an injured party’s pain, suffering, and losses. By contrast, punitive damages are typically awarded under “aggravating circumstances” and are intended to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant. But not every personal injury case warrants an award of punitive damages. If you have been injured in a car accident, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced Atlanta injury attorney who will work to maximize your opportunity for relief.
In order to recover punitive damages, a plaintiff is required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, or oppression, among other things. It is important to understand which conduct justifies an award of punitive damages and which doesn’t. Courts are typically called upon to interpret the “proven” circumstances of a car accident case in light of the local law. In a recent Georgia case, Dagne v. Schroeder (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the court upheld a jury verdict and judgment awarding a plaintiff compensatory and punitive damages following a car accident involving the parties.
Some form of negligent conduct on behalf of one or more parties is the cause of most car accidents. A person who has been injured in such an accident may be able to recover damages from the negligent party. But in order to do that, one must be able to “plead” and “prove” the essential elements of negligence as required by Georgia case law: 1) a legal duty to behave in a manner that conforms to a standard created by the law for the protection of others against the unreasonable risk of harm; 2) a breach of this standard of care; 3) a legally based causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and 4) loss or damage suffered as a result of the alleged breach of duty. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to compensation for injuries related to a car accident, you are strongly encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
In a recent car accident lawsuit, Newsome v. LinkAmerica Express, Inc., et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the court reviewed whether a jury should determine the issue of “ordinary negligence.” According to the facts, Eric Rivers worked for a truck company, LinkAmerica, which required him to have access to his tractor-trailer at all times. For this reason, Rivers kept the tractor parked in the street, next to the curb in front of his home. On a morning in 2011, the plaintiff was driving on that street when the bright sunshine affected his ability to see for a brief moment. He slowed down but struck the back of Rivers’ tractor parked in the road.
In many personal injury lawsuits, opposing parties are able to resolve a court action through mutually satisfactory settlement negotiations. Claims arising from automobile accidents are no exception. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a car accident, including any allegations of negligence and the necessary supporting evidence, settling a case is often a wise course of action. But there are important legal steps to follow when embarking on a settlement agreement. And it is equally important to understand the optimal point at which to settle, and for what amount. The best course of action is to consult with an injury attorney from the Atlanta area who handles car accident claims and is fully aware of the local laws affecting your particular case.
Under Georgia law, a settlement agreement must adhere to the rules applicable to contract formation and enforceability. Specifically, one party’s offer must be accepted without equivocation, or the response will be considered a “counter-offer” instead of an acceptance. Essentially, there must be a “meeting of the minds” on the key terms. In a recent case, Cone v. Dickenson (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the court reviewed evidence of the circumstances surrounding an oral settlement agreement to determine its terms.
Car accidents on Georgia roadways are often the result of negligence on behalf of at least one driver. And unfortunately, these accidents tend to cause injuries to innocent drivers and their passengers in increasing numbers. At the very least, however, injured victims and their families may be entitled to legal recourse to recover for their suffering and losses. In order to successfully bring a personal injury claim to recover damages for injuries from a car accident, the plaintiff must plead and prove negligence, which includes several elements. Identifying the essential elements and the proof needed to sustain an action is a complicated process. If you have been the victim of a car accident, you are encouraged to consult with an experienced Atlanta injury attorney as soon as possible.
It is important to be aware of the myriad defenses an allegedly negligent driver may be able to assert in a personal injury case. For instance, whenever a car or other vehicle accident involves a government entity, there is a possibility that the “defendant” (municipality) may be entitled to assert an immunity defense from liability, or being sued generally. Specifically, under Georgia law, states are not liable for losses resulting from the failure to provide, or the method of providing, law enforcement, police, or fire protection. This statute was interpreted in a recent Georgia case, Loehle et al. v. Georgia Department of Public Safety et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015).
Under established Georgia case law, a personal injury action alleging negligence requires proof of the following elements: 1) a legal duty, 2) a breach of that duty, 3) an injury, and 4) a causal connection between the breach and the injury. Proof or evidence of these essential elements may be gleaned from a variety of sources, such as eyewitness testimony, an expert’s opinion regarding the case, or the testimony of the parties involved. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for any suffering and losses attributable to another’s negligence. It is extremely important to sort through the facts of your case and present appropriate evidence to support your claim for damages. The best course of action is to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
There are many state laws governing the sufficiency and admissibility of evidence. For example, the Georgia State Code provides generally that the testimony of a single witness is sufficient to establish a fact, with certain exceptions. As far as admissibility, there are many rules governing what may and may not be introduced as evidence at trial. For one, evidence considered “hearsay” would not be admissible under the law, also with certain identified exceptions. However, if a party does not object to hearsay, the objection would be deemed waived and the evidence admissible.