Last month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case, highlighting the importance of a thorough pre-trial investigation. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff should have been permitted to amend her complaint to add the name of the owner of the vehicle that struck her in a hit-and-run accident. Ultimately, the court did permit the plaintiff to amend the complaint because the court determined that the vehicle owner was a “necessary party.”
The plaintiff was driving in the car with her two daughters when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver. While the driver did not stop after the accident, the plaintiff was able to see that the driver was a male and was able to get the license plate of the vehicle.
The responding police officer ran the license plate number and determined that the vehicle was registered to a female owner. However, the owner could not have been the driver, since the owner was female, and the hit-and-run driver was male. The plaintiff initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the woman whom she believed to be the owner of the vehicle. The plaintiff later requested insurance information for the vehicle, and another woman’s name was provided as the insured. The two women were mother and daughter. Later, the plaintiff attempted to add the daughter to the lawsuit; however, the trial court prevented the plaintiff from amending the lawsuit.
Later, the only named defendant – the mother – asked the court to dismiss the case because the car was not registered to her. She explained that it was registered to her daughter. The court then dismissed the case, finding that there was no viable theory of liability against the mother. The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s decision to prevent her from adding the daughter to the lawsuit.
On appeal, the court held that the plaintiff should have been permitted to add the daughter’s name to her claim. The court explained that the daughter may have loaned the car to a friend or family member, which could result in her being liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. As a result, the daughter was a necessary party under the law and should have been added when the plaintiff made the request.
While the appellate court’s decision will permit the plaintiff’s case to proceed against the rightful owner of the vehicle, the failure to properly name the owner initially likely resulted in months of wasted time and significant expense.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The importance of retaining an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in your case cannot be overstated. Whether it be determining all potentially liable parties, dealing with difficult insurance companies, or making persuasive arguments in favor of their clients’ positions, the skilled Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC know what it takes to be successful on behalf of their clients. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Appellate Court Rejects City’s Assertion of Immunity in Recent Personal Injury Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2017
Court Rejects Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case for Lack of Evidence, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2017