Appeals Court Says Jury to Decide About Injury

In August, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued an interesting decision on a very relevant issue for Georgia car accident cases.  The case is Safeway Insurance Co. v. Hanks and it may have a significant impact on the future of car accident cases in Georgia.

The case comes from a car accident in February 2002.  Jimmy Lee Hanks was rear-ended at an intersection by an unknown car.  After Mr. Hanks went over to talk to the other driver, who apologized but left the scene before Mr. Hanks could record the license plate number.  As a result of this car accident, Mr. Hanks sustained injuries to his head, neck, back, and legs.  The controversy started when he started getting tests and treatment for a herniated disk in his lower back.  Mr. Hanks wanted compensation for this injury and as it was a hit and run, he claimed under his uninsured motorist section.  However, his insurance company, Safeway, didn’t want to pay because they claimed this injury did not occur because of the accident.  The trial court allowed Mr. Hanks to present a radiology expert from his MRI on the herniated disk.  Safeway objected and said Mr. Hanks had to provide a separate expert to prove a link between the injury and the accident.  That objection was unsuccessful and the jury in the trial court awarded Mr. Hanks $13,000.  Safeway appealed.

The Court of Appeals in its August decision also disagreed with Safeway’s contention that Mr. Hanks needed an expert to testify that the injury came from the accident.  The Court said it was a question of fact for the jury, not a purely medical question, as to whether the herniated disk came from the car accident or not.

Old Car Credit

This decision will likely be a useful tool for car accident attorneys trying to get compensation from insurance companies for their clients’ injuries.  It is a common practice for insurance companies to play games and try to get out of paying claims, often like in Mr. Hanks case by claiming the injury was pre-existing.  This case clarifies that the injured plaintiff does not have to provide an expert witness on this linking to the accident issue.  Expert witnesses can be expensive and can lengthen the trial, so this is one less hoop a plaintiff has to go through, which is a positive development.

Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

Our lawyers keep up with the relevant new cases, like this Safeway case above, and know how to apply Georgia’s cases and statutes to help victims recover for their injuries.  If you or a family member has been injured in an accident with a negligent driver, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help get the compensation needed and deserved.  To discuss what is happening and your potential case, contact the attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8949, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via Compfight cc

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