In most Georgia personal injury lawsuits, a party is asked for their version of the events several times before the case proceeds to trial. This may be through police investigations, pre-trial interrogatories, or depositions, or even through casual conversations with bystanders. Given the effect that time has on one’s memory, it is not uncommon for a party’s version of events to change slightly over time.
When a party’s story changes, however, courts can be presented with a difficult situation. For example, sometimes under one set of facts, a plaintiff has a strong case, but under another set of facts, the plaintiff’s case is much weaker. This puts the court in the position of determining which version of the events to credit. A recent Georgia premises liability decision issued by the Court of Appeals of Georgia sheds some light on how courts handle these conflicts.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was an office manager at a business that was located in a building owned by the defendant. One day, the plaintiff, who was the first to arrive at the office, slipped on a puddle that had formed near the rear office. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries to her back and wrist. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the property was negligently maintained.
At some point prior to trial, the plaintiff explained that she had seen a puddle of water in a similar location other times. Usually, this was during a rainstorm or shortly after a rainstorm. The plaintiff also explained that on the day of her accident, it was raining and had rained the day before as well. In fact, the plaintiff testified that another employee had slipped the night before after stepping in a puddle in the same spot. At a later time, however, the plaintiff testified that it was not raining on the day of her accident, but it looked “like it could rain.”
The defendant moved for summary judgment, asking the court to credit the plaintiff’s testimony that it was raining on the day of her accident and arguing that she should have been on notice that a puddle may have been present. The court agreed with the defendant, noting that the plaintiff offered two conflicting versions of the weather on the day of her accident.
The court explained that when it comes to deciding which version of a party’s testimony to credit, courts should resolve conflicts against the party making the statement unless that party provides a good explanation for the conflict. In this case, the court noted that the plaintiff did not provide any explanation for the difference in her testimony, and therefore the lower court was within its discretion to credit the plaintiff’s statement that it had been raining on the day of her accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Christopher M. Simon and his team of Atlanta personal injury attorneys represent victims in a wide range of Georgia personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more, call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.
Spoliation of Evidence by the Plaintiff in Georgia, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published April 17, 2018
Court Discusses the Availability of Punitive Damages in Recent Georgia Dog Bite Case, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published April 4, 2018