Sometimes Atlanta car accidents are caused not by negligent drivers but by negligent handling of animals or other hazards. In a recent Georgia car accident case, the court considered the obligation of those who keep livestock to appropriately secure them. The case arose one night when a plaintiff was driving south on State Highway 11 with her child. Her car hit a cow owned by the defendants. The cow was standing in the road. The plaintiffs sued the defendants for negligence under OCGA § 4-3-1 and Section 6-34 of the Jasper County Code of Ordinances.
The defendant family asked for summary judgment on the grounds that they’d used ordinary care in maintaining their livestock and fences and that the local ordinance was preempted by state law. One family member’s affidavit set forth that her obligations on the family farm included checking the fences. It was her opinion that a five-foot-high board fence with a five-strand barb wire was enough to confine the livestock. She had inspected the fence after the accident and attested that the gates were closed, and the fences were working properly. She couldn’t figure out how the cow escaped the fenced area. Prior to the incident, the cow had never escaped. In response to the summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs argued that the fence was plainly not enough because three cows were in the road at the time of the collision. The defendants’ motion was denied.
On appeal, the defendants argued that the evidence demonstrated they used reasonable care in taking care of their fence and their cows. They also argued that the plaintiffs’ case was based on speculation; admissible evidence hadn’t been presented to counter the defendant’s showing of their ordinary care.