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Georgia Court Overturns Summary Judgment in Car Accident Case

Personal injury cases are integrally connected to the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident in question. Accordingly, plaintiffs who have been injured in a car collision or other vehicle accident must plead and prove a variety of elements in order to successfully bring a case for damages. Court are required to review the evidence, including affidavit testimony and other information, in deciding whether a plaintiff has successfully stated a cause of action for a jury to consider. Preparing the complaint and compiling the supporting evidence are complicated tasks requiring the assistance of an experienced injury attorney. In order to protect your right to a recovery, the best course of action is to contact a personal injury lawyer who is fully familiar with the laws and procedures affecting cases in and around the Atlanta area.

As we see from a recent case, Hall et al. v. Massally (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), courts have the authority to decide whether a plaintiff’s case for damages can survive a defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Here, three members of the Hall family were in an automobile accident with the defendant, Rachel Massally. Plaintiffs sued the defendant to recover for their personal injuries. As part of most injury cases, each side conducts “depositions” in order to gather information and evidence to support its position. Based on deposition testimony, Massally moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to submit evidence that she (the defendant) did anything wrong to cause the collision.

The plaintiffs filed a response to the motion a week after the papers were due, since their attorney had withdrawn from the case. Plaintiffs presented an affidavit by a witness to the accident, who claimed that he saw the defendant driving about 90 M.P.H. just before the accident, witnessed the defendant’s car go over the median and skid into a parking lot, and that he saw the plaintiffs’ car go over the curb into the grass. Despite the untimeliness of the plaintiffs’ response, the trial court scheduled a hearing to determine the merits of the motion for summary judgment.

The court granted the defendant’s motion, pointing out that the plaintiffs “presented nothing for consideration by the Court.” The court concluded that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, for there existed no genuine issue of material fact for a jury to consider. Plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the court discussed the Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.2, noting that a party that opposes a motion must file a response within the time period after service of the motion. But the court pointed out that failure to file responsive material does not automatically entitle the moving party to summary judgment.

Here, the court noted that the plaintiffs in fact provided sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment motion. The testimony regarding the events leading up to the collision created a jury question as to whether the defendant caused the crash by speeding. In this case, each party presented its version of what occurred to cause the accident. The court concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to have a jury hear both sides of the case. As we can see here, it is extremely important to plead and prove the elements of your claim. An experienced injury lawyer can help you do that.

Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling car accident cases, representing individuals who have been injured as a result of another person’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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