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Pressure cookers were first developed in the 17th century. They create an airtight environment where steam pressure raises the boiling point of water, allowing food to cook much faster than normal. Of course, the buildup of pressure can lead to an explosion if the cooker itself is somehow defective.

Williams v. Tristar Products, Inc.

In an ongoing federal lawsuit, Williams v. Tristar Products, Inc., a Georgia woman alleges that a defective pressure cooker exploded in her home, causing her severe second-degree burns. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was using a PC-WAL1/TRI-6 pressure cooker, which had been a Christmas gift from her mother. The plaintiff said she had used the pressure cooker on three previous occasions without incident, and that she always followed the manufacturer’s directions.

All Georgia business owners need to take reasonable steps in keeping their premises safe for customers. The key word here is “reasonable.” The law does not require businesses to guarantee safety against all possible or conceivable threats to a customer’s well-being.

Hill v. MM Gas & Food Mart, Inc.

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Hill v. MM Gas & Food Mart, Inc., helps to illustrate this principle. This case involves an October 2013 incident at a Macon convenience store owned by the defendant. The plaintiff and a friend entered the store to purchase lottery tickets. While waiting at the counter, the plaintiff “heard gunshots and the sound of breaking glass.” He then “felt a burning sensation on his head” and fell to the floor.

When a car accident occurs, there may be more than one party who is liable for the victim’s injuries. For example, if the negligent driver was acting on behalf of an employer, the latter can be sued under a number of legal theories. Depending on the specific facts of the case–as well as the defendant employer’s response to the lawsuit–some of these theories may be unavailable to the victim.

Terry v. Old Hat Chimney, LLC

Take this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Terry v. Old Hat Chimney, LLC. This case began with a rear-end auto accident that took place in July 2016. The plaintiff claims the other driver, one of the defendants, was liable for his injuries arising from said accident.

Personal injury lawsuits against the State of Georgia or any state agency must strictly comply with the terms of the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA). The GTCA is a state law that waives Georgia’s normal “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits. Before anyone can file a claim under the GTCA, for instance, the claimant must provide advance notice to the state. This notice must be delivered within one year of the claimant’s injury and needs to include a number of specific items, such as the place where the injury occurred, the “nature of the loss suffered,” and the amount claimed for said injury or loss.

The reasoning behind the notice requirement is to give the state an opportunity to conduct its own investigation into the claimant’s allegations and, where possible, the ability to settle the claim without the need for litigation. This is why it is critical for claimants to provide as much information as required by law.

Bailey v. Georgia World Congress Center

Georgia property owners are required to exercise “ordinary care” in keeping their invited guests and members of the public safe. This does not mean the owner must absolutely guarantee a person’s safety. For example, under most circumstances the owner is not liable for a criminal act committed by a third party on its property. This is considered an “intervening” act that absolves the owner of any liability. However, there is an exception to this general rule when there is evidence that the criminal act itself was “reasonably foreseeable” by the owner.

Rautenberg v. Pope

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Rautenberg v. Pope, offers a useful explanation of when a crime may be considered “foreseeable.” The plaintiff in this case is a semi-truck driver. He rented a parking space for his truck from the defendant. One day, the plaintiff parked his truck in his space and retired to his sleeping cab. Sometime later, the plaintiff awoke to find “an individual at the window with a tool–a long pry bar or screwdriver.” The man quickly left. The plaintiff then exited his cab and found himself on the step of another truck that was parked beside his vehicle. The other man was driving this truck. He started to drive away–with the plaintiff “hanging on the side mirror.” Eventually, the plaintiff fell off the other truck, which proceeded to run him over twice.

When an accident involves a commercial truck, there are usually records available with respect to the vehicle’s safety and maintenance. Such records can be made available to an injured victim during the discovery process of a personal injury lawsuit. If those records are improperly withheld–or even destroyed before they can be disclosed–a trial judge has the authority to impose sanctions on the offending party.

Allen v. Sanchez

It is important to note, however, that a judge will only impose sanctions for “spoliation” of evidence when certain standards are met. An ongoing federal personal injury lawsuit, Allen v. Sanchez, helps illustrate how courts deal with these situations.

Each year, many Georgians celebrate the 4th of July by purchasing and setting off their own fireworks despite the known safety risks. Unfortunately, this can lead to tragic outcomes. Not only is there is the potential for something to go wrong when setting off fireworks in an unsupervised environment–the mere act of transporting them can pose a risk to life and limb as well.

Pisciotti v. Abney

A recent lawsuit filed in Valdosta, Georgia federal court, Pisciotti v. Abney, offers just one example of what can go wrong. This case involves an accident that occurred on the 4th of July in 2017. Four teenagers were traveling in a Jeep through Hamilton County, Florida. The driver is one of the defendants in this case, while the victim was one of his passengers.

When a person is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, the responsible insurance company may face conflicting obligations under Georgia law. On the one hand, the insurer must settle a valid claim in good faith. For example, if an insurer knows its policyholder is responsible for causing an accident, a refusal to settle with the victim can make the insurer liable for any excess personal injury award against the negligent driver.

On the other hand, an insurer may also be responsible to any medical provider that files a lien after providing services to the accident victim. That is to say, if the insurer simply cuts a check to the victim without first checking to see if there are any hospital liens, the hospital could turn around and sue the insurer for the amount owed (plus additional damages).

Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company

Motorcycle accidents often leave the victim with devastating injuries. So, when the accident is even partially the result of a defect in the design or production of the motorcycle itself, the manufacturer may be liable for damages under Georgia law. However, a judge or jury may decide that the motorcyclist was also partially responsible and reduce the manufacturer’s liability accordingly.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns

This is precisely what happened in a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns. A jury determined that the manufacturer of a motorcycle was 51% responsible for an accident that injured the plaintiff. Both sides appealed the verdict for different reasons, but the appeals court declined to second-guess the jury.

When it comes to personal injury claims, you should never make assumptions. For instance, even if you believe an accident was the result of a faulty piece of equipment, you still need to prove it in court. Do not assume the judge (or jury) will just take your word for it that “it must have been broken.”

Lakeshore Contracting, LLC v. Lopez-Hernandez

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Lakeshore Contracting, LLC v. Lopez-Hernandez, offers a useful illustration. This case involves an accident that occurred at a construction site. The defendant is a general contractor. In 2016, a customer hired the defendant to remodel a retail store. The defendant hired two subcontractors to perform the actual remodeling work. One of the subcontractors then hired the plaintiff to assist him.