Articles Posted in Negligence

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Under Georgia law, an owner or occupier of land owes a duty to “invitees” to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe. An invitee is someone who is on the property, by express or implied invitation, for a lawful purpose. Courts have reviewed what it means to exercise “ordinary care” under the statute and have determined that the standard varies depending on the circumstances. Each case is different. One court has determined, however, that in order for one’s conduct to be deemed negligent, it must be unreasonable in light of the recognizable risk of harm. Since each case is unique, it is important to discuss the particular facts and circumstances of your claim with an experienced Atlanta injury attorney – someone who is fully familiar with the local laws applicable to the case.

In a recent premises liability case, McDonald v. West Point Food Mart, Inc. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), the plaintiff brought an action against the defendant-convenient store for injuries she suffered after tripping over a case of beer on the floor behind her at the check out counter. According to the facts, the store was crowded when the plaintiff made a purchase at the store counter. As she turned away from the counter to exit the store, she stepped back and fell. A witness provided affidavit testimony that the customer behind the plaintiff in the line placed a case of beer on the floor while waiting in line to pay. The witness noticed the plaintiff trip over the case of beer and fall.

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Under Georgia law, a violation of the Uniform Rules of the Road (the “Uniform Rules”) is deemed sufficient to establish “negligence per se.” This means that a defendant who violates the statute and causes an injury to someone else is automatically deemed to be negligent. At this point in a personal injury case, the burden would then shift to the defendant to show that the violation was not intentional and in the exercise of ordinary care. In order to understand how these laws and procedures could affect your right to a recovery in a car accident claim, it is essential that you contact an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area.

According to Section 40-6-48 of the Uniform Rules, a vehicle must be operated as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane on a roadway. Furthermore, the law states that a vehicle may not move from the lane until the driver has first determined that such movement can be safely made. A driver who fails to adhere to this provision may be deemed negligent per se, should an accident and injury result.

In a recent car accident case, Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., et al. v. Shepard (Ga, Ct. of App. 2015), a Whole Foods employee, Kevin Hulsey, hit a car that was driven by Richard Shepard as Hulsey allegedly attempted to change lanes. The evidence indicated that both drivers were heading south on Interstate 75 when the right front wheel of Hulsey’s truck hit the left rear wheel of Shepard’s vehicle, causing it to spin out of control and hit the truck two more times. Shepard testified that he was driving in his own lane and had no intention of changing lanes immediately before the accident. Hulsey, on the other hand, stated that he had just started to change lanes when he felt the cars collide. He also testified that he checked his mirrors to look for other vehicles before attempting to change lanes.

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In a negligence action, where the plaintiff is seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, the notion of who was at “fault” can dramatically affect the ability to recover damages. The highest court in the state recently agreed to hear an appeal in a case concerning Georgia’s “apportionment statute” – which requires the jury to divide responsibility for an injury among those who “contributed to” it, including non-parties, based on their respective percentage of the fault that caused the injury. In any auto accident case, it is extremely important to understand the applicable laws and how they relate to the specific circumstances of your claim. For this reason, anyone who has been hurt in a car accident is encouraged to reach out to an experienced Atlanta injury attorney as soon as possible.

In an earlier blog post, we reported on the appellate court’s decision in the above-referenced case, Zaldivar v. Prickett (Ga. Sup. Ct. 2015). Here, the plaintiff brought an action to recover damages for injuries he allegedly sustained in a car accident with the defendant. While each party blames the other for the accident, the defendant also argued that the plaintiff’s employer, Overhead Door Company – which is not a party to this action – was negligent to have “entrusted” the plaintiff with a company truck and therefore should bear some responsibility for any resulting injuries.

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If you are in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist (“UM”), you may still be able to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of that driver’s negligence. For instance, if the at-fault driver’s insurer’s policy limits do not provide full compensation for the injuries suffered, you may be entitled to UM benefits under one or more insurance policies. Pursuant to Georgia law, insurers are required to offer motorists two different types of UM coverage:  “added on” (excess coverage) or “reduced by,” under which the UM limits of liability coverage are reduced by the amount an insured receives from the at-fault driver’s insurer. In any car accident case, it is important to determine the extent of the negligent driver’s insurance coverage. While these issues may seem complicated, an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area would be able to guide you through the process with the goal of achieving the best recovery under the circumstances of your case.

In a recent case, Allstate Fire and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Rothman (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), Charles Rothman suffered injuries as a result of an automobile accident with Duc Nyguen. At the time of the accident, Rothman was driving his employer’s truck. Rothman brought an action against Nyguen to recover lost wages and medical costs. In connection with this case, Rothman served the complaint on his own personal insurer (Allstate) and his employer’s insurer (Westfield Ins. Co.), as uninsured motorist carriers. Nyguen’s insurer, Travelers Ins. Co., paid Rothman $100,000, the maximum amount available under the policy.

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Under Georgia law, it is well established that a plaintiff is not entitled to recover damages for injuries sustained simply because an accident occurred. Put another way, the injured party must plead and present evidence showing that the accident was caused by another’s negligence. While this may seem logical, there are many legal requirements that parties must be aware of and comply with in order to present a successful claim for recovery. Each case presents unique facts and circumstances that can play a huge role in whether and to what extent someone is entitled to compensation for suffering costs and losses.  In any car accident case, injured victims are encouraged to reach out to an experienced injury lawyer who handles these matters on a routine basis in and around the Atlanta area.

In a very recent case, Brown v. DeKalb County et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), the plaintiffs were in a car accident with a DeKalb County fire truck.  Brown was driving a car with her four minor children as passengers when it collided with a fire truck at an intersection. The plaintiffs brought this personal injury action seeking damages for injuries sustained in the collision. There was conflicting testimony as to many aspects of the moments leading up to the crash.  For example, it is not clear from the testimony whether Brown’s car struck the fire truck upon entering the intersection with a green light, or whether the truck struck Brown’s car as it entered the intersection against a red light. Furthermore, the parties do not agree as to the weather conditions at the time of the collision. The plaintiff said it was raining heavily, while the defendants claimed it was drizzling.  Also, the parties dispute the speed of the truck as it entered the intersection.

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According to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Takata Corp. recently declared 34 million air bags defective in what has been described as the nation’s largest auto recall to date. The seriousness of a defective product as it relates to the automobile industry cannot be overstated. Many car accident injuries can be attributed to defective or unsafe automotive parts or products. In this particular instance, it has been reported that the defective air bags have been linked to at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries. A person who sustains injuries in a car accident due to another’s negligence – including the manufacturing and use of defective parts – may be entitled to recover damages for any resulting pain, suffering, and losses. An injured victim is encouraged to reach out to an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area, who can assess yout case to determine your right to compensation.

News reports suggest that the Takata air bag recall has been connected to more than 10 different automakers.  An article in the Associated Press reports that “the chemical that inflates the air bags can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal inflator and sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment.” According to an official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), “this is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.” There are various ways car owners can find out if their automobile is equipped with this defective part:  by contacting a special hotline provided by the NHTSA, or visiting a website where you can enter your specific vehicle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Officials urge any car owner who receives notice of the recall to address the matter as soon as possible.

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In any personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident, the parties will each be expected to plead and present evidence that supports their relative legal positions. Depending on the facts and the procedural phase of the case, the burden of proof often shifts from one party to another as evidence is presented. Since each car accident case is unique, courts sometimes must step in to resolve questions concerning which party is obligated to prove certain elements of a claim. To ensure that your car accident case moves along efficiently and with the best possible strategy for a recovery, it is important that you contact a local Atlanta injury attorney who is fully familiar with the court’s procedural requirements applicable to such claims.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed a dispute between an insured plaintiff and his uninsured motorist (“UM”) carrier over which party had the burden to prove that the “at-fault” driver was not insured within the meaning of the UM policy. In this case, Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company v. Castellanos (Ga. Sup. Ct. 2015), the plaintiff was injured in a car accident in 2009. He brought a negligence suit against Jose Santiago, the alleged “at-fault” driver. The plaintiff received a judgment against Santiago for damages, both punitive and compensatory. During the trial, Santiago’s insurer, United Automobile Insurance Company (“United”), defended the case, but Santiago did not attend the proceedings.

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Accidents involving large trucks or tractor-trailers often cause serious damages and injuries due to the sheer size of the vehicles. Victims of these accidents may sustain cuts and bruises, broken bones, head trauma, and other life-altering or threatening injuries. In many cases, the victim may be entitled to recover compensation for any suffering and losses attributable to the negligence of another driver. Some of the complicated parts of a personal injury action are determining who is responsible for the accident, preparing the appropriate pleadings and evidence, and ensuring that all local rules and laws are followed. In order to accomplish these legal tasks and others required to file a suit, it is important that you consult with an experienced Atlanta injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

According to a recent news article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, there were two separate deadly tractor-trailer accidents on I-16 in less than a month’s time. These devastating accidents caused multiple fatalities and other serious injuries. In a later article, the most recent accident was described as “almost a re-enactment” of the earlier crash. These two horrific accidents, just weeks apart, have added to the already intense debate over trucking safety regulations. While it is not clear what caused either accident, the article suggests that there are certain safety measures that could be instituted to improve tractor-trailer safety.

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A person who is injured in a car or truck accident, due to the negligence of another, may file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party or parties to recover damages for their suffering and losses. In many of these cases, the plaintiff must be sure to serve the automobile insurance carriers in order to fully recover under the applicable policies.  Determining one’s eligibility to recover under Georgia law, to what extent, and under which insurance policies are all complicated and case-specific questions. The answers are not necessarily easy to predict and often require thoughtful analysis by an experienced Atlanta injury law attorney who handles car accident claims, and who can assess your case and prepare a solid strategy for recovery.

In a recent case arising from a car accident between a truck and a County school bus, FCCI Insurance Company v. McLendon Enterprises, Inc., et al. (Sup. Ct. of Ga. 2015), the highest court in the state agreed to resolve an issue regarding an injured party’s eligibility to recover uninsured motorist benefits. According to facts revealed in the District Court, Brooks Lamar Mitchell was an employee of McLendon when he was driving a truck with two passengers and collided with a County bus.  Mitchell and his two passengers allegedly sustained various injuries as a result of the accident.  In 2013, Mitchell sued the driver of the bus and the County Board of Education in order to recover damages for his injuries.  Mitchell also served FCCI, his employer’s uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurer.

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Depending on the specific circumstances, a person injured in a car or truck accident may be entitled to recover damages under a variety of legal principles. Ordinarily, an accident victim will bring a negligence lawsuit against the potentially responsible parties, seeking compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering. There are many different issues that can affect the victim’s eligibility to recover damages, such as the nature and extent of one’s injuries and whether another person’s negligence caused the damages.  Of course, there are plenty of legal steps to follow and satisfy in order to successfully bring a negligence case. If you have been hurt in an accident, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area, someone fully familiar with the local laws applicable to such cases.

In some cases, courts must get involved to determine whether a plaintiff has successfully stated a negligence claim for which relief may be sought. In a recent case, Oliver et al. v. McDade et al. (Ga. Sup. Ct. 2015), the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the court of appeals’ decision to allow a plaintiff to pursue a claim for emotional distress under the pecuniary loss rule.  In an earlier blog post, we reported on the lower court’s decision, outlining the facts of the case. To summarize, the plaintiff, John McDade, was a passenger in his own truck that was being driven by his friend Matthew Wood. The truck was towing a trailer at the time of the accident. Wood pulled over to the side of the road in order to check on and secure part of the truck’s trailer. After exiting the truck and walking toward the trailer, a tractor-trailer driven by Jerome Oliver struck the truck and Wood, killing him instantly.

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