Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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smokeAs we have previously discussed on this website, when automobile accidents involve state actors, such as during a police car chase, governmental agencies may be immune from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity.  However, Georgia’s doctrine of sovereign immunity is not absolute. Instead, under Georgia’s Tort Claims Act, state agencies and employees acting within the scope of their official employment may, in limited circumstances, have their sovereign immunity waived. A recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals looks at whether a waiver of sovereign immunity applies to a state response to an out-of-control wildfire.

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police-car-1515955The outcome of virtually every auto accident case depends in large part on the relevancy and reliability of the evidence presented. In many instances, the parties will provide “experts” whose testimony serves to shed light on certain integral aspects of the case. Georgia law sets forth restrictions on the use of expert testimony in a civil proceeding. Parties must adhere to these standards or otherwise run the risk of losing the opportunity to present the testimony. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, it is important to talk with an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area – someone who is fully aware of the laws applicable to negligence cases.

A section of the statute mentioned above governs the admission of scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge. If such knowledge will assist a juror to determine a fact at issue or to understand the evidence, a witness qualified as an expert may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise. Under the statute, the testimony must be based upon sufficient facts or data, it must be the product of reliable principles and methods, and the witness must have applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case that have been or will be admitted into evidence before the trier of fact.

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The details of a personal injury case, including the intricate facts and circumstances surrounding and leading to therailroad-3-655392-m victim’s injuries, can have a profound impact on the extent of any legal recovery. This includes the people or entities involved, the location of the accident or incident, whether a duty of care was owed to the victim, and the extent of the injuries sustained. Additionally, in order to assess one’s claim for damages, it is critically important that the plaintiff have a full understanding of the local state laws affecting the case. In order to protect your rights to a recovery in a car accident or other injury case, you are encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area as soon as possible.

Reaching out to a seasoned lawyer is one of the best ways to ensure that you have addressed every possible avenue of relief, such as workers’ compensation benefits, among other items. In a recent wrongful death case, Bonner-Hill v. Southland Waste Systems, Inc. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), stemming from a car accident, the plaintiff (the wife of the victim) brought a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of herself and her three children. According to the record below, the victim worked for Southland Waste Systems of Georgia, Inc. The only entrance road to the facility is intersected by railroad tracks.

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Car accidents occur all too often on Atlanta roadways. In many cases, victims injured in an accident will be eligible to recover damages for any sign-no-alcohol-1231362-mpain and suffering caused by the negligence of another person. But people who bring personal injury claims must sort through various state laws that often dictate who may or may not be liable under the circumstances of a specific case. The Georgia Code and related case law will also guide the plaintiff in terms of what elements must be proven in order to bring a successful injury claim. While these issues may seem complicated, an experienced, local injury attorney would be able to review the facts of your case and quickly assess the potential extent of a recovery under Georgia law, as well as how to pursue with the claim.

In a recent case stemming from a car accident, Dion v. Y.S.G. Enterprises, Inc. (Ga. Sup. Ct. 2014), the Georgia Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the widow of a man who was killed in a single-car accident could bring a wrongful death claim against a bar at which the deceased was drinking just before he died in the crash. Here, the deceased, Dale Dion (“Dale”), went to Depot Sports Bar and Grill (“Depot”) and drank alcoholic beverages from 2:30 p.m. until closing at 10:45 p.m. At that time, Dale was noticeably intoxicated, and a Depot employee asked him for his car keys, but he refused and left. Dale’s blood alcohol content was .282 at the time of his death.

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empty-highway-1420653-mCar accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries and even fatalities to the people involved. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, there were 1,223 traffic fatalities on state roadways in 2011. The causes of these devastating accidents may include poor weather and roadway conditions, driver negligence, some form of distracted driving, and many other factors. When a driver’s negligence, in whatever form, is the cause of another’s death, the decedent’s family may seek to hold that person responsible by bringing a court action against him or her. An experienced Atlanta injury attorney may be able to help families achieve a sense of justice by holding the responsible party accountable for the wrongful death of a loved one.

Georgia law sets forth one’s eligibility to bring a wrongful death action. Under the statute (OCGA § 51-4-1), a person may recover the “full value” of damages related to the decedent’s life. Eligible wrongful death claimants may include living spouses, adopted children, biological children, minors (legal guardian), custodial parent or relative, and the administrator/executor of estate. In a recent wrongful death case, CGL Management, LLC v. Wiley, Keiana Wiley was killed when another driver, Michael Thad Clay, crossed over the highway’s center line and collided with her head-on. Clay had been driving his employer’s pick-up truck at the time of the accident. The decedent’s spouse, Bryant Wiley, brought an action against Clay for wrongful death, and an action against his employer, CGL Management (“CGL”), under several tort grounds, such as respondeat superior and negligent hiring, retention, entrustment, and maintenance.

After the discovery phase of the proceedings, CGL moved for summary judgment, asserting that Clay was not “on the job” when the accident took place and that the evidence did not support the plaintiff’s claims. The trial court denied the motion. CGL appealed. The court of appeals reversed parts of the trial court’s decision. According to the facts, at the time of the accident, Clay had been demoted from a management position with CGL, but he was permitted to continue driving a company truck during his commute to and from work. Evidence also revealed several driving infractions committed by Clay in the past. Continue reading

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driver-901196-mNo two-car accident cases are alike. The facts and circumstances can vary on many different levels, including the types of injuries sustained, the number of vehicles involved, insurance coverage, whether there are other causes for the accident aside from driver negligence, and many other factors. Add to these variables any applicable laws, and it is easy to see why negligence claims arising from car accidents can become complicated fairly quickly. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering and losses. To pursue recovery, it is important that you contact an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area as soon as possible.

In a recent case, Morrow et al., v. Angkawijana, LLC et al., (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), Brandon Morrow was killed when Martin Williams, the driver of the car he was a passenger in, turned left into an intersection and collided with another vehicle. After the accident, Williams reported a blind spot when making the left turn just prior to the collision. He later mentioned that the way the road curved and shrubbery at the intersection blocked his view.

Plaintiffs Laura Morrow, the surviving spouse of the deceased Brandon Morrow, and Richard B. Russell, Jr., administrator of the estate, brought an action in 2009 alleging negligence claims against the two drivers and against two companies, Angkawijana, LLC and IMAEX, owner and lessee (respectively) of the property at the intersection where the accident occurred. They later added a third defendant, Russell Corporate Groups, Inc., the landscaping company. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that defendants negligently installed and maintained certain shrubbery, which they alleged blocked the view of motorists in violation of Georgia law. Continue reading

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balance-875413-mGeorgia law governs personal injury lawsuits arising from any number of tort claims, including injuries arising from car accidents.  It is important to understand what laws apply to your particular claims and how you may properly comply with those requirements.  The significance of following the applicable local procedure cannot be overstated.  In Driscoll et al. v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for personal injuries arising from a car accident, for failure to provide the defendant with adequate notice of the claim.  This unfortunate result could have easily been avoided with the help of an experienced injury attorney who is fully familiar with the local laws and procedures applicable to cases in and around the Atlanta area.

In the Driscoll case, the plaintiff brought an action individually and as the administrator of his wife, Deborah Driscoll’s, estate.  According to the uncontested record, the decedent was killed on Interstate 285 when a wheel from an oncoming vehicle came off, crossed over the median, and struck her vehicle.  She died at the scene.  The van belonged to Georgia State University.  Almost a year after the accident, counsel for the decedent’s estate sent an “ante litem notice” (in accordance with the pertinent state statute) to the Risk Management Division of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (the “DOAS”).  The notice included important items such as the date of the incident, location, injury and entities involved, as well as a brief description of the accident.  The notice failed, however, to provide “the amount of loss claimed.”

Some months later, plaintiff’s attorney sent a demand letter to the DOAS, and the following year, he filed a lawsuit seeking damages for injuries associated with the car accident.  The defendant claimed sovereign immunity and moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to follow the statutory requirements for the ante litem notice.  Under the state statute, a party who is injured by the State (in this case, the State’s vehicle’s tire caused the accident) may avoid the State’s defense of immunity as long as the plaintiff properly files a notice of claim.  Georgia law requires “strict” compliance with the statutory requirements, rather than “substantial” compliance.  Here, the plaintiff failed to include one element: the amount of loss claimed. Continue reading

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to-sign-a-contract-2-1221951-mGeorgia courts have been called upon to interpret any number of insurance policy claims arising from car accidents.  All of the facts and circumstances of each case are integral to the determination of whether the plaintiff is entitled to a recovery, and if so, to what extent.  Whether the claim is asserted under the allegedly negligent party’s automobile insurance policy or homeowner’s policy, the language of those agreements can be fairly tedious and complicated.  And the proper reading and interpretation of those provisions can impact the ultimate damages award.  Anyone who has been injured in a car accident is encouraged to contact an injury attorney from the Atlanta area who is highly experienced in handling car accident claims.

In a recent case, Sauls et al. v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co., (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court addressed whether a homeowner’s insurance policy provided coverage for wrongful death and personal injury claims arising from a car accident.  Here, plaintiffs Debbie and Eric Sauls (the “plaintiffs”) brought an action against Todd and Justin McAllister, among others, for the wrongful death and personal injuries of their daughter, Cheyenne, who died in a car accident after leaving the McAllister’s home. Plaintiffs allege that the McAllisters furnished alcoholic beverages at their home to the driver of the car involved in the accident, as well as to their daughter, both minors.

Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”) filed a declaratory judgment action for a determination of its liability under a homeowner’s insurance policy.  Allstate argued that the policy excludes coverage for bodily injury claims arising out of the use of any motor vehicle. Both Todd McAllister and his son Justin were named insureds under the policy. But the specific language of the Family Liability Protection section and the Guest Medical Protection section excludes coverage for bodily injury “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, occupancy, renting, loaning, entrusting, loading or unloading of any motor vehicle or trailer.”  The trial court ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims for injuries arose out of the use of a motor vehicle and therefore, were excluded from coverage under the policy. Continue reading

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per-cent-1-1110305-mA victim of a car accident may be able to bring a variety of claims against a negligent driver.  But Georgia law – like many states – sets forth certain limitations to recovery depending on the relative responsibility of the parties involved in the accident.  For example, under a Georgia statute, which applies to actions arising in Atlanta and throughout the state, a plaintiff in a “tort” action is not entitled to receive damages if he or she is found to be 50 percent or more responsible for the injury or damages alleged.  This issue and many others relating to car accidents involving negligent driving can be difficult to understand, especially with respect to how it applies to your particular case.  If you have been injured in a car accident it is important to contact an experienced Atlanta injury attorney who understands the local laws and procedures and can help to protect your rights to a recovery.

In a recent case, Reed et al. v. Carolina Casualty Insurance Co. et al., (Ga. Ct. App. 2014), plaintiff brought a wrongful death action on behalf of his son who died in a car crash on Interstate 285.  Plaintiff sought to recover damages for his son’s injuries and death.  According to the facts revealed at trial, at about 2:00 a.m. back in August 2008, Rimantas Labeika improperly parked a tractor-trailer in a prohibited area – the emergency lane on the right side of the highway, just past the entrance ramp. He parked there to rest after driving the maximum number of hours regulated by law.

About an hour later, Thomas Reed, II, was approaching the intersection of Interstate 285 in rainy conditions.  He had been drinking and had a blood alcohol level of .095.  As he entered the Interstate, taking the curve too fast for the weather conditions and his rate of speed, he lost control of the car. He struck the guardrail and ultimately crashed into the rear of tractor-trailer parked at the side of the road.  The impact caused the gas tank to rupture, resulting in a fire. The driver’s cause of death was blunt force trauma and thermal injuries. Continue reading

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACobb County police have arrested a Florida woman for her role in an early morning fatal crash. The crash happened earlier this month on I-75 south, just south of the Hickory Grove Road overpass.

Police said the Florida woman failed to stay in her lane, which resulted in her sideswiping a truck, causing it to veer off of the road and then overturn. The driver of the truck was transported by helicopter to a local hospital in critical condition. Sadly, the man’s wife, a passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene.

The Florida woman was reportedly arrested at the scene and taken to the local detention center, where she was charged with second degree vehicular homicide and failure to maintain lane.

The charges in this case stem from the driver’s reported failure to stay within her own lane, which led to her collision with the victims’ vehicle. Continue reading