Good Georgia truck accident lawyers are essential to protecting your rights in a trucking accident where someone has been seriously injured or killed. In most personal injury trials in Georgia, mentioning the word “insurance” is the quickest way to a mistrial. This is unfortunate, because sometimes the jury doesn’t realize that the injured party is going after a big insurance company that is refusing to pay them and not really going after the negligent driver who may or may not have a lot of money in his bank account. Sadly, this can prejudice the jury into not awarding the injured party the real value of the case.
However, in trucking injury cases this rule changes. The beauty about trucking cases is that it is the one area of law where an injured party is able to not only mention the insurance company but actually sue the insurance company. The Georgia Supreme Court in the case of Grissom v Gleason, 262 Ga. 374 375 (1992), ruled that this Direct Action Statute does not unfairly prejudice the defendants by notifying the jury that insurance is available.
Thus, the Direct Action Statute, which falls under O.C.G.A. §46-7-12, allows injured parties in an accident with a motor carrier (such as a tractor trailer truck carrying passengers or loads) to not only mention the word “insurance” but to actually sue the insurance company as a party to the lawsuit.
This is beneficial because the jury then understands that you are not really going after the pockets of some truck driver who was negligent, but the insurance company who will be held liable for payment of his wrongful acts.
Moreover, the statute not only covers tractor trailers but also any vehicle, tractor, machine, semitrailer or trailer drawn or propelled by mechanical power that transports goods for hire on the roads in Georgia. Thus, the statute generally applies to vehicles hired to carry passengers and property on public highways of Georgia, although there are exceptions which we will cover in another post.
To conclude, although mentioning insurance is generally not allowed in most injury cases, the Direct Action Statute allows the plaintiff to go after the insurance company directly by joining the insurer as a named defendant to the lawsuit. In order to do this, the defendant truck driver must meet the definition of a motor carrier and cannot fall within the statute’s narrow exceptions. The Direct Action statute is one of the few times insurance is allowed to be mentioned in a civil case, and it is one of the best ways that the Georgia lawmakers saw fit to protect innocent drivers from drivers who operate dangerous vehicles or drive negligently on Georgia roads.