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Are you planning to take a cruise in the near future? If so, make sure to carefully read the back of your ticket and any other documentation the cruise operator sends you. Much of this “fine print” can substantially affect your legal rights in the event something goes wrong and you are injured during your cruise.

Davis v. Valsamis, Inc.

Consider this recent decision by the Atlanta-based U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees federal courts in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. This case involves what the Court described as an “ill-fated sailing of the cruise ship Carnival Triumph” in February 2013. According to a Washington Post at the time, “Midway through a four-day Mexican cruise, the Triumph’s engine room caught fire, the ship lost power, and then suddenly it was just drifting, somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.” Due to the power outage, passengers were stranded for days without working toilets, refrigerators, or air conditioners.

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Georgia law creates a mechanism to settle personal injury claims arising from a motor vehicle accident prior to the filing of a lawsuit. Under this law, a settlement offer made by one party to the other must contain the following terms:

  • a time period to accept the offer, which may not be less than 30 days after it is received by the other party;
  • the amount of money to be paid;
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When you file a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident, you need to be aware of the importance of deadlines. For example, there is a statute of limitations, which is the deadline imposed by Georgia law to file a lawsuit. Even after the lawsuit is filed, the trial court will impose numerous deadlines that must be followed.

Lyons v. O’Quinn

Among the important deadlines are those involving discovery–that is, the pretrial period in which the plaintiff and the defendant exchange documents and conduct depositions of witnesses. If either party fails to meet the stated discovery deadlines, the judge may impose sanctions, which in the case of the plaintiff’s non-compliance may include dismissal of the lawsuit outright.

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Summer is a popular time in Georgia for outdoor events such as weddings, barbecues, and fairs. When attending such events, you need to be aware of food safety. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food-based illnesses are more common in the summertime, and this is largely due to the fact more people are “cooking and eating outside” where “the usual safety controls that a kitchen provides, like monitoring of food temperatures, refrigeration, workers trained in food safety and washing facilities, may not be available.”

Patterson v. Kevon, LLC

The Georgia Supreme Court recently examined a personal injury lawsuit involving an alleged incident of food poisoning that took place at a catered wedding. The plaintiffs alleged they got sick after eating food provided by the defendant, a barbecue company, at a wedding rehearsal dinner. More precisely, the plaintiffs said the defendants’ food “was defective, pathogen-contaminated, undercooked, and negligently prepared.”

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Not all personal injury claims are the result of accidents. There are many situations in which a victim is injured by the deliberate–even criminal–conduct of one or more parties. Victims often face additional legal challenges when seeking compensation for such injuries, in part because many insurance companies will not indemnify the responsible parties against criminal acts.

Capitol Specialty Insurance Corporation v. PTAV, Inc.

A recent decision by a federal judge in Atlanta helps to illustrate this problem. This case involves a Marietta woman–identified in court records only as “P.M.”–who was abducted, robbed, and sexually assaulted multiple times by a group of men. The abduction itself occurred in the parking lot at a commercial center.

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One of the first legal questions you need to answer before filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia is, “What is the proper venue?” Venue refers to the locality where a case is heard and tried. In the State of Georgia, civil cases are tried in a superior court for a particular county.

What happens if you live in one county and want to sue someone who lives in another county? Under the Georgia Constitution, venue is “in the county where the defendant resides.” So let’s say you live in Cobb County and are involved in a car accident with someone who lives in Gwinnett County. According to Georgia law, you would have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant in Gwinnett County Superior Court.

Now, suppose you were involved in a three-car accident and you want to sue both of the other drivers, each of whom lives in a different county. In that scenario you could sue both defendants in either county. So, if one defendant lived in Cobb and the other in Gwinnett, you could select either county’s superior court.

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It is well understood that in Georgia, a store owner is liable for injuries caused by hazardous conditions on store premises. But what exactly do we mean by “premises”? For instance, if you are walking down the aisle of a supermarket and slip on a puddle of water, there is no question that you are on the store owner’s premises. But suppose your slip-and-fall occurred in the parking lot adjacent to the store? Is the store owner still legally responsible?

Boyd v. Big Lots Stores, Inc.

A July 31 decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals helps explain how the law works in this area. This case involved a personal injury claim brought against a well-known national retailer. The plaintiff was shopping at one of the defendant’s stores, which is located in a larger retail shopping center. As the plaintiff exited the store and headed for her car, she slipped and fell in the parking lot. She suffered injuries as a result of the fall and sued the store owner for damages.

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In just about every city there are certain places known to host dangerous (and illegal) activities. City officials are often aware of the threats posed by such places but fail to take appropriate action to protect the public. If someone is injured or killed as the result of these public hazards, however, can the city itself be held legally responsible?

City of Albany v. Stanford

In 2016, a Dougherty County jury answered “yes” to this question. The specific context was the horrific 2010 murder of a 20-year-old man at an illegal nightclub in Albany. The victim, who was from Butts County, was visiting his aunt in Albany at the time. Some friends took him to a local recording studio known as Brick City.

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It is common practice following a Georgia car accident for the victim to negotiate a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Typically, the insurer agrees to settle for the policy limits in exchange for a “release of all claims” arising from the accident. Either party may also impose a deadline for the other to accept the terms of the settlement.

DeMarco v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently examined an unusual case involving the widow of a deceased accident victim who attempted to enforce a settlement agreement three years after the fact. The accident itself occurred 11 years ago, in July of 2007. The victim’s car was knocked by one vehicle into a third vehicle. The victim subsequently sued the owner and driver of the third vehicle for damages.

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A key question in most premises liability cases is, “What constitutes a hazard?” After all, not every object that may obstruct a customer’s path is is necessarily dangerous. It is important to establish why a particular object constitutes a hazard–which leads the follow-up question of whether or not the management of the premises took reasonable steps to identify and correct that hazard.

Powell v. Variety Wholesalers, Inc.

Consider this ongoing federal lawsuit in Statesboro that centers on a clear plastic clothes hanger. One day in 2015, the plaintiff and her granddaughter went shopping at a department store owned by the defendant. The two women used one of the store’s changing rooms to try on clothes. As they exited the changing area, the plaintiff “slipped and fell” on the clear hanger, which according to her was “lying in the middle of the aisle.”