Legal News & Updates

What does a pretrial order look like for an automobile accident case in Georgia?

We take pride in preparing all of our cases for trial, and a number of those cases are automobile accidents. Once we finish up a process called discovery, which basically means that we exchange information with the other side through written questions, documents, and depositions (pretty much interviews), we will stipulate to a trial calendar, i.e. we’re ready for the jury! The court will then set us down for a pretrial conference. It’s an opportunity for the judge and both sides to talk about the issues in the case and get things ready from a procedural prospective too.

Prior to the conference, the parties need to prepare what is called a pretrial order. Each case is certainly unique, but there is a standard form for the order. We thought it would be useful to share it with you, but a word of caution — Still hire a lawyer — Pretrial conferences are complicated proceedings.

Well, with that word of caution, here you go…

FYI — We’ve added a few of our thoughts/comments in bold. Hope it helps!

CONSOLIDATED PRE-TRIAL ORDER

1.
The name, address and phone number of the attorneys who will conduct the trial are as follows:
Attorney(s) for Plaintiff:

Attorneys for Defendant:

2.
The estimated time required for trial is ______ days.

Most cases can be tried in less than a week. For basic car accident cases, we try to have them tried in three days. Be efficient! It’s good for everyone!

3.
There are no motions or other matters pending for consideration by the court except as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

Always try to resolve issues with the opposing attorney/side and try not to spend too much time simply arguing for the sake of arguing. 
4.
The jury will be qualified as to relationship with the following:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

The reason for this part is to avoid having a relative on the jury — It simply wouldn’t be fair. We need an impartial jury!

5.
(a) All discovery has been completed, except as otherwise noted, and the court will not consider any further motions to compel discovery except for good cause shown. The parties, however, shall be permitted to take depositions of any person(s) for the preservation of evidence for use at trial.
(b) The names of the parties as shown in the caption to this order are correct and complete and there is no question by any party as to the misjoinder or non joinder of any parties.

Here, the Court wants to make sure that everything is wrapped up and that you got the right parties. 

6.
The following is the plaintiff’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:
7.
The following is the defendant’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:

Keep them short and simple!

8.
The issues for determination by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

What is the issue, i.e. who is at fault, did the car accident cause the injury, what are the damages?

9.
Specifications of negligence including applicable code sections are as follows:

Pretty simple here too — Was the other person following too closely, made a illegal turn…

10.
If the case is based on a contract, either oral or written, the terms of the contract are as follows:

Not applicable in automobile cases.

11.
The types of damages and the applicable measure of those damages are stated as follows:

Usually in automobile accidents its medical bills and lost income, i.e. special damages, and general damages, i.e. pain and suffering. 

12.
If the case involves divorce, each party shall present to the court at the pre-trial conference the affidavits required by Rule 24.2.

13.
The following facts are stipulated:

It means that sometimes the parties can agree on things so there is no need to let a jury decide it. 

14.
The following is a list of all documentary and physical evidence that may be tendered at the trial by the parties. Unless noted, the parties have stipulated as to the authenticity of the documents listed, and the exhibits listed may be admitted without further proof of authenticity. All exhibits shall be marked by counsel prior to trial so as not to delay the trial before the jury.
(a) By the plaintiff:

(b) By the defendant:

Yep, it’s what is means — A list of the documents and other things a party will use at trial.

15.
Special authorities relied upon by the plaintiff relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

16.
Special authorities relied upon by the defendant relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

If there are complex issues, this part gives the information to the Court. 

17.
All requests to charge anticipated at the time of trial will be filed in accordance with Rule 10.3.

We’ll explain this another day. 😉

18.
The testimony of the following person(s) may be introduced by depositions:
(a) By the plaintiff:
(b) By the defendant:
Any objection to the depositions or questions or arguments in the depositions shall be called to the attention of the court prior to trial.

Sometimes people aren’t able to attend so there are ways to make sure the jury still gets to hear what they have to say.

19.
The following are lists of witnesses who will or may be called to testify at trial:
(a) The plaintiff will have present at trial:
(b) The plaintiff may have present at trial:
(c) The defendant will have present at trial:
(d) The defendant may have present at trial:
Opposing counsel may rely on representation by the other party that he or she will have a witness present unless notice to the contrary is given in sufficient time prior to trial to allow the other party to subpoena the witness or obtain his/her testimony by other means.

Just like the documents, you’ll list out the people who will show up for your case. 

20.
The forms of all possible verdicts to be considered by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:
 This is for another day too. 😉

21.
(a) The possibilities of settling the case are ____.
(b) The parties do/do not want the case reported.
(c) The cost of takedown will be shared equally between the parties.
(d) Other matters:

We hope our blog was helpful, but do feel free to reach out to us if you have any specific questions about pretrial orders in Georgia. You can reach us at (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com. Hope to hear from you!

Where can I bring a lawsuit if there is a Georgia resident and non-resident involved in the car accident?

People come to visit Georgia from all parts of the county, especially the south-east, so there are many non-residents traveling on Georgia roads. Car accidents inevitably occur between Georgia residents and people visiting out of town. So the question arises: “Where can I bring a lawsuit if I am involved in a car accident with both a Georgia resident and an out-of-state driver?”

It’s a great question, and there’s a relatively simple answer…., but first things first, we need to explain the concept of venue. Venue basically means the specific circuit, i.e. county or counties,  or if we are talking about federal court the judicial district, where a person can file a lawsuit. From a practical perspective, venue is one of the most important considerations in a case. Some places in Georgia are very conservative, which is good if you are a defendant, and other parts are much more liberal and tend to award larger amounts in personal injury cases.

For people that have been involved in a car accident with a driver from Georgia and a driver from another state, Georgia law has a specific statute on the books to deal with this situation. It’s O.C.G.A. 9-10-93 — PERSONAL JURISDICTION OVER NON-RESIDENTS (Venue). The statute itself is rather long and a bit wordy, but we should be able to boil it down to its component parts. Let’s give it a try:

Venue […] shall lie in any county wherein […]  the tortious act, omission, or injury occurred […]. Where an action is brought against a resident of this state, any nonresident of this state who is involved in the same […] occurrence […] may be joined as a defendant in the county where a resident defendant is suable.

So at the very core, this statute means that a non-resident can be sued in the same county as the Georgia resident. Take this example:

Driver 1 is from Georgia and lives in Fulton County. Driver 2 is from Minnesota. Driver 1 and Driver 2 are both careless and run into Driver 3 in Gwinnett County. Driver 3 can sue Driver 2 in Fulton County.

Keep in mind too, a Georgia resident can be sued in the county where the car accident took place, but that person has a right to transfer it to the county of their residence within 45 days of service. That’s a topic for another day though!

One other quick thing to point out about this statute. If the case against the Georgia defendant resolves, and the out-of-state driver’s case is still pending then the venue can change. Let’s look back at our example:

Driver 3 settles with Driver 1. The case can then be transferred from Fulton to Gwinnett County.

While this change may not seem all that important from a technical perspective, it has a very real impact on cases and should always be considered if the other venue is more favorable to your client.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read our blog, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about automobile accidents in Georgia. My direct number is (404) 566-8964 or you can always send an e-mail to me at kevin@patricktriallaw.com.

Did you know: Georgia law allows for a lawsuit directly against an insurance company after a trucking accident?

Georgia law generally bars a jury hearing about the presence of, or lack of insurance in automobile accidents cases. It’s grounds for a mistrial, which means that the parties have to start the trial all over again with a new jury. The reason: An automobile accident (or just about any other case) should be tried on the merits as opposed insurance coverage, etc. As a practical matter, we all realize that insurance does play a role in cases, but still be very careful about mentioning it…EXCEPT in truck wreck cases:

The statute is O.C.G.A. § 40-1-112, and it’s referred to as “The Direct Action Statute.” We’ll save you from having to parse though all of it because it’s very long, but here is the basic parts:

(c)  It shall be permissible under this part for any person having a cause of action arising under this part to join in the same action the motor carrier and the insurance carrier, whether arising in tort or contract.

FYI — We’ve put it in bold to make it a bit easier to read and, hopefully, understand for everyone.

Remember though, there are some exceptions for accidents in Georgia so let’s briefly touch on a few of them (and they may seem pretty obvious too):

  • School busses; Taxi cabs; Hotel shuttles; Non-Profit vans with a capacity of 15 or less; and, Government vans/trucks.

“So what does this mean from a practical perspective if you’ve been injured in a trucking accident here in Georgia?” That’s a common question we get — This answer could go on for ever, but let’s consider one really important point: A jury hearing about an insurance company along with the trucking company and probably the driver too helps them to understand truly the seriousness of the accident and the heightened duties for commercial carriers. It’s a lot different than a typical automobile accident case that just involves another individual. As a practical perspective, again, the insurance company and the commercial truck company is less sympathetic of a defendant(s), especially when juxtaposed to a real person that has been hurt because of their collective negligence.

A quick little legal pointer too: A jury will not get to hear about the excess carriers, i.e. if there are several levels of insurance. This situation is pretty common in truck accidents because the trucking companies will have several lawyers of insurance coverage. For example, the mandatory minimum insurance a commercial truck must carry is $750,000 (everyday drivers just have keep $25,000 in at-fault insurance). Oftentimes, we will see one or even two umbrella insurance policies with a range of several million dollars. If you want to read the actual case, it’s Werner Enterprises, Inc. v. Stanton, et al. 302 Ga. App. 25 (2010).

We hope you found this blog post useful, and as always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about truck accidents in Georgia, but we sure hope you don’t need to because that means you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck. Tucking accidents are complicated cases so make sure you are not alone. We’ve handled numerous truck wreck cases throughout Georgia and can be reached at kevin@patricktriallaw.com or directly at (404) 566-8964.