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Court Reviews Uninsured Motorist Claim for Injury From a One-Car Accident

Car accidents can occur under any number of circumstances, from multi-vehicle collisions to a single car crash.  No matter what the case, victims injured by another person’s negligent driving may be entitled to recover damages for their pain, suffering and other losses.  There are various state laws and court procedures that apply to car accident claims, depending on the facts of the case. To protect your rights to a recovery, it is critical that you contact an experienced Atlanta injury attorney who is fully familiar with the local laws and procedures that are applicable to all types of car accident claims.

There are many instances where provisions of the state’s uninsured motorist (“UM”) statute could affect a victim’s potential recovery amount. For instance, if an insured driver is injured in an accident with a person who has no automobile insurance, the UM statute could serve to increase the victim’s coverage.  The Georgia code also allows drivers in one-car accidents to obtain UM coverage, under certain specified circumstances. Under the law, a motor vehicle will be deemed to be uninsured if the owner or operator of the motor vehicle is unknown.

Drivers seeking such recovery are expected to show some evidence of physical contact between the insured’s vehicle and the unknown vehicle, or present eyewitness testimony corroborating the insured’s description of how the accident occurred.  In a recent case, Leslie v. Doe, Ga. Ct. of App. (2014), plaintiff claimed that he lost control of his vehicle when he swerved to avoid a car that had just pulled out in front of him.  As part of his case, plaintiff submitted an eyewitness affidavit corroborating his description of the accident: that an unknown driver and vehicle caused the one-car accident.  The defendant moved for summary judgment.

The trial court granted the motion, concluding that because the affidavit was a photocopy and not the original, it was not sufficient to constitute evidence in a summary judgment motion.  The court of appeals reversed the decision, noting that the trial court erred in disregarding the corroborating statements made in the eyewitness affidavit.  The court pointed out that the defense failed to object to something called the “best evidence rule.”  Under Georgia law, if the opposing party fails to assert a best evidence objection, then it is deemed waived, and secondary evidence (such as the copy of the affidavit) is considered to be acceptable. Therefore, the court concluded that the trial court erred in disregarding the affidavit where it had been made part of the record, had evidentiary value concerning corroboration, and the opposing party failed to object to it on best evidence grounds.  The court pointed out that any questions as to the credibility of the eyewitness testimony are for the jury to decide.

There are many intricate legal issues that can arise in car accident cases.  Raising or failing to object to any number of these matters can significantly impact the victim’s ultimate recovery.  As we can see from this case, the importance of consulting and hiring a highly experienced injury attorney, who is well versed in the local laws and procedures, cannot be overstated.

If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to a recovery for your suffering and losses.  Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases, representing individuals who have been injured as a result of another’s negligent driving in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Call us today at (404)-370-1000 to schedule your free initial consultation, or you can reach us through our website.

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