On July 17, 2013, at approximately 8 p.m., the Plaintiff, Mr. Frank Day, then age 65, was in Gwinnett County, Georgia when he attempted to cross seven lanes of traffic for a newspaper and was hit while in the cross walk by the Defendant, Mr. Gregory McLaughlin. The Plaintiff suffered injuries and incurred $ 140,000 in medical bills of which $ 100,000 he tried to collect from the Defendant’s insurance company, Geico, but was offered only $ 25,000.
The Plaintiff, therefore, filed a lawsuit whereby there was a jury trial in Hall County, Georgia. The case is Day v. McLaughlin, No. 2013 CV 2407-A.
In the consolidated pre-trial order there was no argument between the Plaintiff and Defendant that the Plaintiff was in the final lane of seven lanes in the cross walk when he was hit by the Defendant. What was at issue at trial, however, was whether it was the Plaintiff’s fault or the Defendant’s fault for the accident.
The jury, after a three (3) day trial, found that the Plaintiff was fifty percent (50%) at fault for the accident and the injuries that he sustained as a result thereof. Under Georgia Law, as I have discussed in prior blog posts, this is called Comparative Negligence, and, as set forth under O.C.G.A. Section 51-12-33(g), if it is shown that the Plaintiff is fifty percent (50%) or more responsible for the injury or damages claimed, then the Plaintiff shall not be entitled to receive any amount of damages.
What is interesting in this case is the evidence presented at trial that appeared to show that the Plaintiff in this case was half (50%) at fault for the accident, and the Plaintiff’s approach in failing to educate the jury about the theory of comparative negligence that ended up barring him from any recovery.
At trial, the Defendant showed that the green light for the pedestrian to cross at the cross-walk lasted thirty (30) seconds, and the Plaintiff took approximately one minute (60 seconds) to cross the street. The Plaintiff was wearing black, it was not dark out but it was foggy and raining and, according to the Defendant and witnesses that corroborated his testimony, the Defendant did not see the Plaintiff and when he did he did everything he could to stop, but could not.
The Defendant’s counsel even acknowledged that this was a tough case for the defense since the Plaintiff was in the cross walk and that Pedestrian Injury Cases in which the Plaintiff is in the cross walk tend to be easier for Plaintiff’s to win. The Plaintiff’s counsel, however, did not emphasize to the jury that if the jury found the Plaintiff half (50%) responsible, or more, that the Plaintiff could not recover anything under Georgia Law even though it was outlined in the jury verdict form.
As a result, although the Plaintiff asked or nearly $ 200 K for his injuries, he was awarded nothing since the jury found him half (50%) responsible for the accident.
The Plaintiff’s legal counsel stated that he will not appeal as there was no error in the trial and the Judge was fair to both sides during the trial as well.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates we completely understand the theory of comparative negligence, and other important legal theories under Georgia Law, and the consequences of these theories and laws in cases involving negligence, and we have successfully represented Plaintiffs in Pedestrian Injury cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Pedestrian incident, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation. As was shown in the case discussed herein, it is vital to your case and your recovery that you have legal counsel on your side who throughly understands Georgia Law and its implications when involved in any type of negligence action in Georgia or you might be so unfortunate as to recover nothing.