Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits: The Importance of Third Party Liability


June 08, 2011

Many serious auto accident victims in Georgia consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit but are not certain of all available potential defendants.

When you have an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer on your side, the attorney will be able to help you investigate the circumstances of your case and determine who may or may not be at fault. Sometimes there are additional parties, including insurance companies, who may be liable that are not apparent to someone who is not trained in the law.  The personal injury lawyers can then structure your claim or lawsuit to name all viable defendants.

Sometimes the most obvious responsible party in a personal injury case is not a viable defendant (they may not have the financial means to pay a settlement or judgment).  In such a situation, a Georgia personal injury attorney may be able to identify other liable parties and be able to pursue a viable action for negligence against a third party.

Here are some examples:

  • Minor Causes Injury: A viable action for negligent supervision or entrustment may be brought against the minor's parents or custodians.
  • Employee without Resources Causes Injury to Co-Worker: The victim may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for negligent hiring or negligent retention.
  • Drunk Driver without Insurance: The owner of a bar may face "dram shop" liability if they knowingly served an obviously intoxicated patron.
  • Hit and Run Victim: If the liable driver flees the accident scene, you may be able to proceed against a third party, perhaps a public entity if the roadway contributed to your auto accident or bring a claim against your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage.

Any attorney who files a lawsuit against multiple parties should have a legal theory of liability in place against each defendant. Each theory should be pleaded with as much factual evidence as can be developed. One defense strategy that is often used by the defendant's attorney is the “empty chair defense.” If multiple parties were involved in an auto accident but only one of these parties is named as a defendant, then the defendant will often point the finger at the missing third party. The defendant’s attorney will have experts to support this defense and explain why the missing third party is at fault for the accident. Then the attorney will make a big closing argument to the jury essentially saying how sorry they are that you are injured but that the attorney’s client is not responsible for your injuries. Then the attorney will point to an empty chair and say that the responsible party should be sitting in the empty seat. This defense can be very effective as it leaves questions in the jury's mind regarding who really caused your injuries.

As you can see, it is critical to identify all viable defendants for your personal injury case, which is not always as straight forward as it seems. An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney will consider all possible viable defendants and develop the best strategy for seeking the maximum compensation for your injuries. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our practice has been devoted to assisting Georgia residents who are seriously injured or killed by the intentional or careless acts of others for over 27 years. Our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web www.montlick.com. No matter where you are, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Montlick & Associates: Compassion, Dedication, Experience and Results!

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.