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Georgia Court Rules in Favor of City of Atlanta in Tort Action

The facts and circumstances surrounding any car accident will play an integral part of a claim for damages. Knowing and understanding how those facts are relevant to a case is of supreme importance. Furthermore, a plaintiff in a personal injury action arising from a car accident must plead and prove certain fundamental items in order to successfully assert a claim under state law. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to a compensation award for your pain and suffering. The best course of action is to contact an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area who can easily evaluate your case with the goal of achieving the best possible recovery under the circumstances.

In a recent tort action arising from a deadly car accident, City of Atlanta v. McCrary, et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court of appeals overturned the lower court and ruled in favor of the City of Atlanta, granting its motion for summary judgment. Here, two officers with the Atlanta Police Department’s Auto Theft Task Force were out on patrol when they saw a car with an improperly completed “drive-out” tag. They put on their sirens and lights and followed the car. That driver accelerated, and the officers sped up to chase the vehicle. The police officer who was driving testified that he quickly realized that he did not have a legal basis for conducting a high-speed chase, and he then turned off his sirens and lights and terminated the chase.

The police car continued driving and about a mile after terminating the chase, the officers came upon a two-car accident, involving the vehicle they had been chasing earlier. Two people were killed in the head-on crash. The administrators of the deceased’s estates brought an action against the City of Atlanta and the officer who was driving, alleging that both were negligent. The City and the officer moved for summary judgment. The City attempted to limit its liability to $700,000 under Section 36-92-2 of the state code. The trial court granted the officer summary judgment, finding that he was immune from liability, but refused to limit the City’s liability, ruling that there was a question of fact as to whether the City maintained a “nuisance” that endangered the public by failing to enforce its pursuit policy and failing to train and supervise officers under that policy.

The City appealed. Under Georgia law, a nuisance cause of action must include three elements:  the degree of malfeasance exceeds mere negligence, the act is of some duration and continuous or regularly repetitious, and the municipality fails to act within a reasonable time after knowledge of the dangerous condition. Here, the court of appeals refused to find the City chargeable with a dangerous condition within the meaning of the “nuisance” statute. There was no repeated or continuous condition of failure to enforce, supervise, and train that was related to the pursuit policy that caused the injury.

This case illustrates the complexity of a personal injury action and the need to appropriately plead and prove specific aspects of a claim. The best way to achieve these results is to contact an experienced injury attorney who has extensive knowledge of the local laws and procedures applicable to your case. 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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Georgia Court Upholds Default Judgment in Personal Injury Action

Court Grants Defendants Summary Judgment in Negligence Action Arising from Two-Car Accident

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