Lexis Nexis - Case Brief

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Law School Case Brief

Hanson v. Waller - 888 F.2d 806 (11th Cir. 1989)

Rule:

The defense of accident in Georgia is to be confined to its strict sense as an occurrence which takes place in the absence of negligence and for which no one would be liable. Unless there is evidence authorizing a finding that the occurrence was an "accident" as thus defined, a charge on that defense is error. A jury charge on accident is proper if there is evidence to support the conclusion that the event in question was an accident.

Facts:

Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action on behalf of decedent against defendants, truck driver and rental company. Decedent was struck and killed by the defendant truck driver.  The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants and the plaintiff sought review. On appeal, the court affirmed and found that the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on accident where evidence in the record supported the instruction.

Issue:

Is the jury charge on accident proper if there is evidence to support the conclusion that the event in question was an accident?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the ruling of the trial court, holding that it did not err by instructing the jury on accident where the record supported the instruction. The court also affirmed because an expert was allowed to give his opinion on the ultimate issue of negligence and the judge was allowed to question the witness to clarify the evidence, as long as he did not assume the role of advocate.

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