Motorists in and around Atlanta are expected to drive carefully on the roads. Like most states, Georgia law requires all drivers to exercise “ordinary care” with respect to other drivers on (or users) of the highway. If a driver fails to exercise such care and causes an accident resulting in injuries and/or other damages, he or she may be liable. There are many elements that must be proven to be successful in a negligence claim against another driver. If you have been hurt in a car accident, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced injury attorney who is fully familiar with the local laws and rules governing personal injury actions.
Hiring an attorney who has the requisite experience to handle a negligence action cannot be overstated. The right attorney will understand how to plead the essential elements in the action, as well as know the kind of evidence that is suitable to support those claims. In the personal injury case, Eatmon v. Weeks, Ga. Ct. of App. (2013), neither party was found to be negligent. Here, Princess Eatmon was driving in the left northbound lane of Dawson Road and Flaval Weeks was driving a pick up truck in the opposite direction as it veered across the turning lane that separated the south- and northbound roads. Weeks’ pick up truck hit Eatmon’s car.
As a result of the crash, Eatmon suffered a broken leg and other injuries, and Weeks sustained a head wound. Weeks was unable to tell the responding officer anything about the car accident. In fact, a doctor diagnosed Weeks as having had a stroke that day, and he died a few weeks later. Eatmon filed a negligence lawsuit against Weeks’ estate, which counterclaimed for the same. The trial court denied both parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, granted both parties’ motions for summary judgment, and found that neither party presented evidence of the other’s negligence.
First, the court found that Weeks’ estate failed to create an issue of fact as to whether Eatmon operated her car in a negligent way. The evidence presented in the case indicated that Eatmon was driving within her lane on the correct side of the highway before she saw — and was unable to avoid being hit by Weeks’ truck. Because there was no evidence that she breached her duty of ordinary care, the trial court should have granted Eatmon’s motion for summary judgment.
As for Weeks, his estate argued that the evidence established that he suffered a stroke before the accident and cannot be held liable for the crash. The law in Georgia supports the contention that a driver with an unforeseeable illness, which causes the person to suddenly lose consciousness and control of a motor vehicle, will not be considered negligent and will not be liable for any damages. The court noted that here, Eatmon has not refuted the estate’s evidence that Weeks suffered such an unforeseeable loss of consciousness just prior to losing control of the car. Therefore, because there was no question of fact as to whether Weeks’ loss of consciousness was foreseeable, the court should have granted summary judgment.
The court of appeals refused to find either driver negligent and reversed the lower court’s decision. As we can see from this case, the facts and circumstances surrounding a car accident are supremely important to the outcome of the case.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, the first thing you should do after seeking medical treatment and contacting law enforcement is to contact an experienced Atlanta injury attorney as soon as possible. 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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