Negligence can arise in a wide variety of situations, whether at home, on the road, or out in public. In all scenarios, however, certain fundamental elements of a negligence claim must be met. A plaintiff must establish that a defendant had a duty to prevent harm to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the injuries that the plaintiff suffered. Without these important elements, a plaintiff cannot hold a defendant liable, no matter how terrible the injuries were that were suffered. While these requirements may seem onerous, they serve an important function of ensuring that defendants are held liable for damages that they definitely caused, or could have prevented, but not for accidents outside their control. In a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, the court took a look at circumstances in which it was less than clear that the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
As an initial phase in any case, plaintiffs must notify defendants that they are being sued in court. This is done by serving them with a copy of the complaint, through what is known as service of process. If service of process is not done properly, a defendant may not even know that litigation is ongoing and may miss opportunities to defend himself, which would prevent a fair litigation process from occurring. To keep this from happening, Georgia rules allow a court to dismiss a lawsuit when service of process has not been correctly followed. In a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Court evaluated whether to uphold a dismissal in a case of questionable service.
While many accidents occur between vehicles owned by individuals, accidents also frequently occur that involve corporate vehicles. When this is the case, plaintiffs may seek to go after the corporate owner because they have deeper pockets for recovering medical and personal expenses. In a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, the court considered whether a corporation could be held responsible for an accident that occurred when the son of the owner was driving a company vehicle.
When a plaintiff sues a defendant about a hazardous condition, he or she must allege that the defendant had knowledge of the condition and failed to address it or failed to warn others. Likewise, the plaintiff must also show that he or she did not have full knowledge of the danger before encountering it. While defendants may be held liable for injuries that occur on their property due to dangers of which they were aware, but a plaintiff was not, they usually cannot be held liable for injuries when a plaintiff knows of a dangerous condition and proceeds anyway. A recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals looks at when a plaintiff has such “superior or equal” knowledge to that of a defendant.
In Travis v. Quiktrip Corporation, Travis was a truck driver employed by Petroleum Transport Company. He delivered gas to gas stations around the country. In 2011, he was delivering gas to QuikTrip Corporation, at a station managed by Lloyd Thompson. While delivering the gas, he was hit by another driver and suffered serious injuries. He sued the driver, Thompson, and QuikTrip for his injuries. Travis quickly settled with the driver but maintained premises liability claims against Thompson and QuikTrip. He argued that the gasoline delivery process at QuikTrip was unnecessarily dangerous, since it often required drivers to kneel down in the middle of traffic at the station in order to measure gas tank levels. Drivers had repeatedly reported these dangers to QuikTrip, but it did nothing to address them.
In order to successfully bring a claim for negligence under Georgia law, the plaintiff must be able to plead and prove the following elements: the existence of a duty of care on the part of the defendant, a breach of that duty, causation linking the breach to the alleged injury, and identifiable damages resulting from that alleged breach. These elements apply to most personal injury cases, including a lawsuit for injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident. In order to maximize your potential recovery for damages from injuries sustained in a car accident, you are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
While each element is an integral and necessary part of a negligence case, the issue of causation is particularly important. Causation or “proximate cause” requires evidence of “a legally attributable causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the alleged injury.”
When a plaintiff initiates a car accident case against an alleged defendant, he or she must be absolutely certain to comply with any applicable legal procedural requirements under Georgia law. For instance, the state code mandates that actions for injuries to a person must be brought within two years after the right of action accrues (or the date of the accident). Furthermore, the plaintiff must file the complaint and “serve” the defendant in accordance with state requirements. Failing to comply with these provisions could easily result in a dismissal of one’s claim, leaving the injured party with no legal recourse for recovery. To help avoid this unfortunate outcome, it is important to consult with a local Atlanta injury attorney who is fully aware of the laws affecting your particular claim.
In a recent car accident case, Covault v. Harris (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the plaintiff filed a complaint against a driver from Kentucky to recover damages for injuries he suffered in a car accident. The parties were both driving northbound on Peachtree Street in Fulton County when they reached an intersection, and the defendant failed to stay in his own lane and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. A police officer arrived at the scene and prepared a report, listing the defendant’s address as 5406 Heafer Farm Lane, Louisville, Kentucky.
Under Georgia law, a person who has been injured in a car accident may be entitled to collect compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory relief covers an injured party’s pain, suffering, and losses. By contrast, punitive damages are typically awarded under “aggravating circumstances” and are intended to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant. But not every personal injury case warrants an award of punitive damages. If you have been injured in a car accident, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced Atlanta injury attorney who will work to maximize your opportunity for relief.
In order to recover punitive damages, a plaintiff is required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, or oppression, among other things. It is important to understand which conduct justifies an award of punitive damages and which doesn’t. Courts are typically called upon to interpret the “proven” circumstances of a car accident case in light of the local law. In a recent Georgia case, Dagne v. Schroeder (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the court upheld a jury verdict and judgment awarding a plaintiff compensatory and punitive damages following a car accident involving the parties.
Some form of negligent conduct on behalf of one or more parties is the cause of most car accidents. A person who has been injured in such an accident may be able to recover damages from the negligent party. But in order to do that, one must be able to “plead” and “prove” the essential elements of negligence as required by Georgia case law: 1) a legal duty to behave in a manner that conforms to a standard created by the law for the protection of others against the unreasonable risk of harm; 2) a breach of this standard of care; 3) a legally based causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and 4) loss or damage suffered as a result of the alleged breach of duty. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to compensation for injuries related to a car accident, you are strongly encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
In a recent car accident lawsuit, Newsome v. LinkAmerica Express, Inc., et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2016), the court reviewed whether a jury should determine the issue of “ordinary negligence.” According to the facts, Eric Rivers worked for a truck company, LinkAmerica, which required him to have access to his tractor-trailer at all times. For this reason, Rivers kept the tractor parked in the street, next to the curb in front of his home. On a morning in 2011, the plaintiff was driving on that street when the bright sunshine affected his ability to see for a brief moment. He slowed down but struck the back of Rivers’ tractor parked in the road.
Car accidents on Georgia roadways are often the result of negligence on behalf of at least one driver. And unfortunately, these accidents tend to cause injuries to innocent drivers and their passengers in increasing numbers. At the very least, however, injured victims and their families may be entitled to legal recourse to recover for their suffering and losses. In order to successfully bring a personal injury claim to recover damages for injuries from a car accident, the plaintiff must plead and prove negligence, which includes several elements. Identifying the essential elements and the proof needed to sustain an action is a complicated process. If you have been the victim of a car accident, you are encouraged to consult with an experienced Atlanta injury attorney as soon as possible.
It is important to be aware of the myriad defenses an allegedly negligent driver may be able to assert in a personal injury case. For instance, whenever a car or other vehicle accident involves a government entity, there is a possibility that the “defendant” (municipality) may be entitled to assert an immunity defense from liability, or being sued generally. Specifically, under Georgia law, states are not liable for losses resulting from the failure to provide, or the method of providing, law enforcement, police, or fire protection. This statute was interpreted in a recent Georgia case, Loehle et al. v. Georgia Department of Public Safety et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015).
Under established Georgia case law, a personal injury action alleging negligence requires proof of the following elements: 1) a legal duty, 2) a breach of that duty, 3) an injury, and 4) a causal connection between the breach and the injury. Proof or evidence of these essential elements may be gleaned from a variety of sources, such as eyewitness testimony, an expert’s opinion regarding the case, or the testimony of the parties involved. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for any suffering and losses attributable to another’s negligence. It is extremely important to sort through the facts of your case and present appropriate evidence to support your claim for damages. The best course of action is to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.
There are many state laws governing the sufficiency and admissibility of evidence. For example, the Georgia State Code provides generally that the testimony of a single witness is sufficient to establish a fact, with certain exceptions. As far as admissibility, there are many rules governing what may and may not be introduced as evidence at trial. For one, evidence considered “hearsay” would not be admissible under the law, also with certain identified exceptions. However, if a party does not object to hearsay, the objection would be deemed waived and the evidence admissible.