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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Sorting Out Responsibility for a “He Said/She Said” Accident in Georgia

Sorting Out Responsibility for a “He Said/She Said” Accident in Georgia


Sometimes when there is a car accident, it is immediately apparent to everyone involved who was responsible. But in many cases it is not always clear. In a two-car accident, each driver may think the other was clearly at-fault. it is then up to a judge or jury to sort the matter out.

Drivers Disagree as to Whether Collision Occurred Before or After Lanes Merged

As a general rule, trial judges are not supposed to resolve factual disputes regarding liability for a car or truck accident at the summary judgment stage. Summary judgment is only appropriate where the trial court determines there is “no genuine material issue of fact,” so the judge can resolve the case as a matter of law without the need for a jury. And the judge must draw any inferences from the evidence in favor of the party opposing summary judgment.

Here is a recent example of a case where a trial judge did not follow these rules, at least according to the Georgia Court of Appeals. This case, Barrett v. Farrior, arose from a two-car accident that occurred in Macon in March 2016. The plaintiff was driving her car northbound on Forest Hill Road. At the same time, the defendant was driving his employer’s truck on the same road.

Initially, the vehicles were in different northbound lanes. The defendant was in the left lane, while the plaintiff was in the right lane. After the vehicles crossed an intersection, however, Forest Hill Road merged into a single lane. This is where the trouble began. According to the plaintiff’s account of what happened, after crossing the intersection, she said the defendant’s truck started veering into her lane. She tried to accelerate and get out of the way while remaining in the right lane. But just before the lanes merged, the defendant’s truck struck her vehicle.

The defendant told a different story. He said he never saw the plaintiff’s vehicle prior to the collision. He knew the road was about to merge, which is why he was in the left lane, which had the right of way. He maintained the plaintiff hit his truck on the right side as she tried to cut him off at the end of the merging point.

The trial court accepted the defendant’s account and granted him summary judgment. The Court of Appeals held that was improper. There was clearly “conflicting testimony regarding the location of the collision,” the appellate court noted. Applying the correct standard for summary judgment–i.e., drawing any inferences in favor of the plaintiff as the non-moving party–there was still a “genuine material issue of fact” that a jury would need to decide.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Even when you are sure that the other driver caused your accident, you must still be prepared to prove it in court. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help. Call Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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