Articles Posted in EVIDENCE

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Posted by Layne Zhou

The Georgia Court of Appeals has recently decided that the statements contained within a police report are admissible as a business record, even without the officer’s personal testimony. Maloof v. MARTA, 330 Ga. App. 763 (2015). The facts underlying this case are that an elderly woman, who was riding in a wheelchair in a MARTA para-transit bus, fell out of her wheelchair and fractured her leg when the bus came to a sudden stop. Although she died a few months later, her Estate sued MARTA for negligence. MARTA introduced the police accident report as part of its case. Plaintiff objected on the grounds that the report contained inadmissible hearsay-namely the police officer’s statements.
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Posted by Christina Cribbs
In Georgia, front seat passengers are required to use a seatbelt under most circumstances. O.C.G.A. §§ 40-8-76.1(b) and (c). Even so, under current Georgia law, when an individual is injured during an automobile accident, the fact that he was not wearing a seatbelt is not admissible to show that he caused or contributed to his own injuries. O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1(d). From the defense perspective, the law creates an “unfair” burden on the driver responsible for the accident by not allowing him to show the jury that the plaintiff may have made his injuries worse by choosing not to wear a seatbelt, even though it is required by law.
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Posted by Susan J. Levy

Recently, I have seen a steady flow of preservation letters, demanding our clients preserve everything from the damaged vehicle itself to any scrap of paper ever mentioning anyone or anything even tangentially involved in the alleged tort. While I recognize that prospective plaintiffs have a right to inspect evidence before it is altered or repaired, plaintiffs’ counsel have, in my opinion, gone too far. The rules against spoliation do not require that individuals or businesses retain documents or correspondence in the regular course of business just because someday, someone may file a lawsuit against them. Rather, the rules against spoliation apply only to the destruction or altering of evidence when litigation regarding an event is anticipated.
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Posted by Susan J. Levy

As the world knows by now, the 2010 Olympics began on a tragic note with the death of 21-year- old Nodar Kumaritashvili, from the Republic of Georgia. Recently, the athlete’s father was quoted in The Wall Street Journal (Feb 15, 2010, “Georgia Seeks Return of Luger’s Body”) dismissing the notion of filing a lawsuit: “What lawsuit? What kind of a person would do that?” he asked. “My son is dead and that wouldn’t bring him back.”

As a compassionate human being and avid sports fan, I was horrified by Kumaritashvili’s death, and moved by the fact that his father was grieving, not out looking for a lawyer. However, as a lawyer myself, I, unfortunately, could not help thinking about a lawsuit. And as a defense lawyer, (who knows nothing about Canadian law on immunity or evidence) I imagined the problems the Olympics would face defending a wrongful death lawsuit in my State of Georgia.
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