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One of the biggest mistakes a person can make following a serious accident is to not contact a lawyer. In some cases, the negligent party who caused the accident will try and convince the victim that it is unnecessary to speak with an attorney. The negligent party may even make promises to “take care of” the victim’s damages without the need for them to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Golden Isles Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Lowie

Unfortunately, such promises may be nothing more than a delaying tactic. The negligent party may simply be trying to keep the victim from filing a claim until it is too late–i.e., after the statute of limitations has expired.

In product liability cases, defendants will often try and shift blame for any injuries onto the plaintiff. For example, a manufacturer of an allegedly defective product will say it was the plaintiff’s carelessness that caused his accident, rather than any negligence on the manufacturer’s part.

Thurmond v. Federal Signal Corporation

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta recently threw out a product liability lawsuit on just that basis. The plaintiff in the case of Thurmond v. Federal Signal Corporation worked for the City of Loganville, Georgia. The plaintiff and one of his coworkers were tasked with repairing a sewer cleaner known as the Vactor 2013, which is manufactured by the defendant.

Insurance companies and corporate defendants often try to deny a legitimate personal injury claim. It is one thing to litigate a case in court. But it is quite another when a defendant raises arguments it knows to be frivolous.

For this reason, Georgia law allows successful personal injury plaintiffs to ask for a determination of whether or not the defense “presented a frivolous claim or defense.” This requires the court to hold a “bifurcated” or two-part hearing. In the first part, the “trier of fact,” which is typically a jury in personal injury lawsuits, decides if the challenged defense was in fact frivolous. If the answer is “yes,” then the trier of fact must then assess an appropriate award of damages to the plaintiff, which may include attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.

Showan v. Pressdee

As every parent of a teenager knows, one of your worst fears is that your child will be involved in an auto accident. What happens if your child is held legally responsible for the accident? As the parent, are you liable for any damages arising from a personal injury lawsuit brought by the other driver?

Yim v. Carr

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Yim v. Carr, offers some useful insight into how the law works in this area. This case began with an April 2016 two-car accident. One driver, the defendant, is a 28-year-old woman who lives with her parents. At the time of the accident, she was driving a car she co-owned with her mother. According to the defendant, her mother co-signed the loan to purchase the car, and the vehicle was listed on her parents’ auto insurance policy. However, she made all of the loan payments and reimbursed her parents for the insurance premiums. She also maintained that the car was solely used by her and never by her parents.

There are many deadlines a person needs to understand and comply with in a personal injury lawsuit. Perhaps the most critical deadline is the statute of limitations. In Georgia, an accident victim has two years from the date of the injury to sue the negligent defendants.

To give a simple illustration, let us say you are injured in a car accident that occurred on May 1, 2017. If you want to sue the other driver for damages, you need to make sure your lawsuit is filed no later than May 1, 2019. After that date, no Georgia judge can hear your case, regardless of its merits.

Herrin v. JC Penny Corporation, Inc.

When someone is injured by a dangerous or defective product, Georgia law permits the victim to bring a personal injury claim against not only the product’s manufacturer, but in some cases against the retailer that sold the product, as well. More precisely, the seller can be held responsible if the evidence shows it had “actual or constructive knowledge that the product was unreasonably dangerous at the time of sale.”

Gomez v. Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc.

To give an illustration of how the law is applied in practice, here is a recent decision from a federal judge in Athens, Georgia, in an ongoing seller liability case. This lawsuit centers on an allegedly defective plastic gas can purchased from a Harbor Freight store in Valdosta in 2012. The plaintiffs are not the original purchaser, but rather her neighbors.

Most personal injury claims arising from an auto accident are paid via a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company. What happens when the insurer refuses to settle and the injured parties successfully sue the negligent driver for damages? In such scenarios, the driver may be able to sue the insurer for its “bad faith” refusal to settle the personal injury claim in the first place.

First Acceptance Insurance Company of Georgia, Inc. v. Hughes

When does an insurance company’s “duty to settle” actually arise? Does the insurer have to wait for the injured victims to file a lawsuit? Or should the insurer reasonably anticipate when such a lawsuit is likely to occur? The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed both of those questions.

Whenever there is an airplane crash, you inevitably hear the media talk about the “black box,” i.e., the data recorders that often provide accident investigators with valuable evidence when trying to piece together what went wrong. These days, many cars contain their own black box-type devices, which can prove equally valuable when preserving evidence for a potential personal injury lawsuit. Of course, this only helps if the vehicle itself is properly preserved and not lost or destroyed following the accident.

French v. Perez

A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, French v. Perez, addressed just such a scenario. This case revolves around a December 2014 auto accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in his sister’s car. It collided with another vehicle operated by the defendant and owned by the defendant’s wife.

In personal injury cases you often hear about damages for “pain and suffering.” This includes mental as well as physical pain. While there is obviously no precise way to quantify such non-economic injuries, there are certain legal guidelines judges and juries must follow when determining such awards.

Warnock v. Sandford

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed this subject. In Warnock v. Sandford, a jury awarded nearly $11 million in damages to an auto accident victim for his physical and mental pain and suffering. The defendant appealed, alleging the judge improperly instructed the jury as to the law.

In a typical personal injury claim arising from a car accident, the plaintiff is free to sue the defendant for damages at any time prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, which is normally two years for personal injury claims. However, when the defendant is a government employee, and the accident occurred while that person was acting in an official role, the plaintiff needs to jump through some additional hoops before a court will even hear the lawsuit.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of a Georgia county employee, state law requires that you present a claim to the county within 12 months. Basically, you need to give the county written notice before you can sue it. If you fail to comply with this notice requirement, a judge will dismiss any subsequent personal injury lawsuit based on that claim.

Moats v. Mendez