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Georgia Court Ruled In Favor of Truck Driver in Accident Involving Motorcyclist

Accidents involving vehicles such as motorcycles, cars, and trucks occur with great frequency on Atlanta roadways. Unfortunately, vehicle accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries and even death to the people involved. In many cases, injured victims may be entitled to bring a lawsuit to recover compensation for any pain and suffering sustained. One of the fundamental issues to plead and prove in a personal injury case is negligence. Once a case makes it to trial, there are many legal steps to follow in order to successfully “try” the case. If you have been in a car or other vehicle accident, you may be entitled to recover for your losses. The best course of action is to contact an experienced injury attorney who will know the most effective approach and strategy under the circumstances of your case.

In a recent case, Young v. Griffin (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle when he crashed into the defendant, who was driving a truck. The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant for his personal injuries. At trial, the plaintiff testified that he had been riding his motorcycle as he approached a railroad crossing. As he reached the tracks, the lights began flashing, and he crossed the tracks and crashed into the defendant’s truck on the opposite side of the tracks. The defendant testified that as he was heading toward the railroad tracks he saw the lights begin to flash and decided to make a U-turn to avoid waiting for the train to pass. Once he almost completed his turn, almost completely blocking the lane, he felt the impact of the plaintiff’s motorcycle crashing into his truck.

An eyewitness who was behind the truck at the railroad crossing testified that the crossing gate and flashing lights started before the defendant initiated his U-turn. Neither the defendant nor the witness saw the plaintiff crossing the tracks before the defendant started to make the turn. A police officer investigated the accident, saw skid marks left by the motorcycle, and testified that both the defendant and the witness said the plaintiff crossed the tracks as the “arm” was descending. He also determined that both parties were at fault.

During closing arguments, the defendant’s counsel argued that the skid mark evidence contradicted the plaintiff’s testimony regarding when he saw the flashing lights at the railroad crossing. The plaintiff’s counsel objected, but further discussion ensued and counsel failed to assert another objection. The court did not address the matter further. Two of the jury instructions involved state laws concerning speed restrictions and proper vehicle conduct near railroad crossings. The third dealt with public safety and transportation commissioner actions.

A jury concluded that the plaintiff was 51% at fault, and the defendant was 49% at fault. The court ruled in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court did not adequately respond to certain improper remarks during the defendant’s closing arguments and gave three jury charges that were not supported by the evidence.

The court of appeals affirmed the decision, reviewing both the court record and the statutes applicable to the case. The plaintiff had argued that, under § 9-10-185 of the Georgia code, the trial court inadequately addressed certain statements made by the defendant’s counsel. But the court of appeals concluded that it could not say with a reasonable probability that counsel’s arguments changed the trial result. There was a great deal of other evidence to support the ultimate findings. As for the jury instructions, the court found that it was appropriate to charge the jury in accordance with the proceedings at trial, with the exception of the third instruction regarding the commissioner’s actions. While that was error, the court deemed it harmless and therefore upheld the decision.

This case illustrates the complexity of personal injury matters as they arise in a vehicle accident case. Parties are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced injury attorney who has full knowledge of the local laws applicable to car, truck, or motorcycle accident cases.  Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling motorcycle accident 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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