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Venue in Georgia Trucking Accident Cases is Crucial to Getting Justice for the Injured Victim

Atlanta truck accidents can result in complex litigation, including claims against not only careless truckers but also the companies for which they work. In a truck accident lawsuit, a trucking company may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee, and it may also be found directly liable for its own negligence.

This is a good thing, since large trucking companies typically have higher liability insurance limits than might an owner-operator, thus increasing the likelihood that a seriously injured person or the family of someone killed in a fatal truck accident may be fully compensated.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case, the plaintiff was a mother whose daughter died in a motor vehicle accident allegedly caused by a negligent tractor-trailer driver. The plaintiff’s wrongful death action named the driver, his employer, and his employer’s liability insurance company as defendants. The lawsuit was originally filed in state court in Bibb County, Georgia.

The employer filed a notice of removal of the plaintiff’s action to Jeff Davis County, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510(b)(4), on the ground that its principal place of business was in that county. The plaintiff sought to have the case remanded back to Bibb County, but the Jeff Davis County trial court denied her motion.

The court of appeals granted the plaintiff’s application for an interlocutory appeal.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the lower court’s decision. Phrasing the issue as whether a domestic motor carrier retained the right to remove a case under § 14-2-510(b)(4) by virtue of its status as a corporation or other business entity when venue was also predicated upon O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b), the court concluded that it did not.

Instead, under the plain language of § 14-2-510(b)(4), a corporation could remove a civil action to the county of its principal place of business only in situations in which venue was based solely on this section. If there was any basis for venue other than this section, removal was improper. In so holding, the court found “no tension” between § 14-2-510(b)(4) and § 40-1-117(b) pertaining to motor carriers.

Since the plaintiff’s complaint had alleged facts to support venue under § 40-1-117(b) distinct from those pertaining to § 14-2-510(b)(4), venue was not to be based solely upon § 14-2-510(b)(4). Thus, the employer had no right of removal, and the trial court erred in denying the plaintiff’s motion to remand her civil action back to Bibb County.

Speak to an Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured or a lost a loved one in a semi-truck or 18-wheeler accident, you need to talk to an attorney about seeking compensation for what you have been through. At the Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, we handle Atlanta truck accident cases, holding negligent truckers and trucking outfits accountable for the medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other harm they cause.