Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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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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There are many different bases for a premises liability claim. Some of the more common trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall cases involve foreign substances (like water or another slippery substance) or static conditions.  But a whole slew of trip/slip-and-fall cases have involved the conduct of customers, or the sudden, intervening act of a third party. Georgia law treats each type of case differently with respect to the proprietor’s knowledge of the alleged hazardous condition. For instance, courts have said that a business owner cannot be liable for “an invitee’s” injuries that were caused by a third party whose conduct was unforeseeable and occurred without warning. Each case is different, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident are critical to any premises liability claim. In order to know whether you are entitled to recover damages for injuries sustained in a trip or slip-and-fall case, you are encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.

In a recent case, Barbour-Amir v. Comcast of Georgia/Virginia, Inc. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), the plaintiff was at a Comcast store, waiting in line to pay her bill. She alleged that after paying the bill at the teller’s window, she turned around to leave and tripped and fell over a young child who was sitting on the floor behind her. The plaintiff brought this premises liability case against Comcast for injuries she sustained to her knees, ankle, and lower back. Comcast moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no evidence that the company had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard presented by the child sitting on the floor.

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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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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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Parties to personal injury cases often attempt to settle the claims without going through a trial. Depending on the circumstances, settling claims may potentially serve to limit costs and shorten the entire process. But it is important to keep in mind that the settlement stage, like most phases of any negligence action, is highly regulated by state law, and parties must adhere to applicable provisions of the Georgia Code. Failing to comply with these requirements could result in the dismissal of any and all claims.  For a proper assessment of your case, and to ensure that applicable legal provisions are complied with, it is important that you contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.

Section 9-11-68 sets forth the requirements for parties to follow when preparing an offer of settlement for the other side.  First, they must identify the claim or claims that the offer is attempting to resolve.  Second, the offer must state with “particularity” any relevant conditions. This law allows a defendant to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses from the date the plaintiff rejects the offer of settlement through the entry of judgment, if the final judgment is one of no liability. According to Georgia case law, the purpose of the statute has been to encourage litigants in negligence cases to prepare and accept “good faith” settlement proposals, in order to avoid unnecessary litigation.

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Car accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries to the parties involved. In some cases, the injured victim must seek treatment at a local area hospital. Sometimes the injuries are extremely serious, requiring the victim to endure a prolonged stay at a hospital. While such continuous care may be necessary, it can also be very costly. Fortunately, many people have health insurance or some other kind of reimbursement plan to help pay for emergency care. But there are some costs that a health plan may not cover. For this reason, hospitals often must file a lien against the patient’s cause of action (essentially, against the “tortfeasor” for causing the patient’s injuries) in order to recover the costs of treating the patient. There are local laws governing this process as well as many others that pertain to personal injury and negligence lawsuits. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to recover for any pain and suffering or other losses. You are encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area as soon as possible.

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In some car accident cases, the injured party may be able to recover punitive damages for their pain and suffering, in addition to compensatory damages. The Georgia Code sets forth the circumstances under which a plaintiff may be entitled to recover such damages in negligence cases.  According to the statute, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions exhibited “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”

Based on this provision, the Georgia Supreme Court has concluded that punitive damages cannot be imposed without also finding culpable conduct based upon either a willful or intentional act, or those that show an entire want of care and indifference to consequences. If you have been injured in a car accident and want to know whether you may be entitled to a financial recovery, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area.

In a recent case, Archer Forestry, LLC et al., v. Dolatowski (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), the plaintiff was injured in a car accident with Steven Ray Archer, who was driving home from work in his employer’s vehicle at the time. The plaintiff brought a negligence action in which she sought punitive damages against the driver and his employer, Archer Forestry, LLC. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support such a recovery. Furthermore, the defendants claimed that the plaintiff was prohibited from achieving a recovery, due to her own alleged negligent driving. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and denied the motion for summary judgment.

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In some personal injury cases, plaintiffs find themselves addressing issues of contract law as well as traditional notions of negligence in order to achieve a recovery of damages. For instance, in a car accident case, once the injured party establishes that another driver was negligent and caused the accident and resulting injuries, the plaintiff will often seek to recover from that driver’s insurance company. This is where principles of contract law may come in. It is important to understand the interplay between these two vastly different legal notions and how invoking certain provisions can affect your claim for damages. An experienced Atlanta injury attorney, who handles car accident cases on a daily basis, would be best situated to assess and prepare your case for the ideal recovery under the circumstances.

Once the injured party establishes liability under negligence principles, his or her attorney may send a letter to the insurance carrier, essentially offering to settle the claim. The letter may outline the plaintiff’s damages as well as other terms necessary to settle the dispute. The insurance company’s response, either accepting or rejecting the offer, could effectuate anything between a full settlement of the case or a complete rejection of the terms. But much is dependent on the language of the respective communications, each party’s intent, and whether the parties reached a “meeting of the minds” under principles of contract law.

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