Georgia Appeals Court Rules Expert Witness Not Necessary to Prove Causation in Car Accident Lawsuit
A ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals in Safeway Insurance Co. v. Hanks recently headed off the attempt of insurance companies to impose an additional obligation on injury victims in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. The case involved a plaintiff who pursued an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against his insurance carrier after suffering a back injury in a hit-and-run crash. The court's decision reaffirmed the principle that juries rather than experts should decide critical factual issues in personal injury lawsuits.
The insurance carrier defended the case by contending that the herniated disk suffered by its insured was not caused by the car accident. The strategy of claiming that an injury was a pre-existing condition rather than the result of a motor vehicle accident is a common tactic used by insurance carriers trying to avoid paying claims filed by injury victims. The insurance company contended that the plaintiff could not prevail because the plaintiff did not provide expert testimony supporting the conclusion that the collision caused the back injury.
The court rejected the insurance company contention that the question of whether the rear end collision caused the herniated disk posed a medical question that required testimony from a medical expert. The court reaffirmed the principle that the jury is the trier of fact regarding the factual issue of the cause of the injury because the issue did not fall outside the experience and common knowledge of jurors.
When fault is fairly straightforward in a Georgia car accident claim, insurance companies often use litigation tactics that focus on disputing the severity or cause of injury. If the insurance company had prevailed in its argument, it might have resulted in erecting another obstacle for plaintiffs pursuing auto accident claims. While our experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers may elect to use an accident reconstruction expert or medical expert to testify on the issue of causation, the court's ruling prevents the creation of a standard obstacle making such expert testimony on causation in car accident injury cases a standard requirement. This permits personal injury attorneys to make a strategic decision about whether expert testimony is necessary to clarify causation issues or the issue can simply be left to the jury based on the evidence presented.
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If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident in Georgia with an uninsured motorist (UM), our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.