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In any personal injury case, it is helpful to have as much documentation as possible regarding the actual injury. For example, if you slip and fall in a supermarket, it can help your case for damages if the store maintained video surveillance of the area where your accident took place. In the absence of such firsthand evidence, defendants may attempt to use outside experts to “reconstruct” the accident in a manner that conflicts with your version of events.

O’Neal v. Norfolk Southern Railroad Company

Consider this ongoing federal lawsuit pending before a judge in Macon. This case is not a supermarket slip-and-fall, but rather a workplace accident involving two men who worked for Norfolk Southern Railroad. The employer’s identity is important because there is a special federal law–the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)–which governs personal injury claims involving railroad employees.

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An often under-appreciated category of damages in personal injury cases is the victim’s loss of future earnings. Also referred to as “diminished earning capacity,” this basically covers the amount of money the victim would have earned during the remainder of his or her lifetime but-for the injury caused by the negligent defendant. Obviously, loss of future earnings will vary depending on the victim. In some cases, it may not be possible to calculate these damages without the assistance of expert witnesses.

Lee v. Smith

Consider this recent case from the Georgia Court of Appeals. The underlying lawsuit involves a car accident. The plaintiff alleged the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. The defendant conceded liability but contested the amount of damages.

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Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides you with important financial protections in the event of an accident with a driver who lacks sufficient insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries. What about a situation in which you are driving someone else’s car? Can you claim UM benefits under their policy?

Jones v. Federated Mutual Insurance Company

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue in the context of a somewhat unusual case. The plaintiffs were test-driving a car owned by a dealership. At the time, neither plaintiff had his or her own auto insurance.

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A wrongful death lawsuit is a special kind of personal injury claim. Unlike other torts, however, wrongful death is purely a creation of state law. Historically, if a negligent act killed the victim, the personal injury claim died with them. Under Georgia’s wrongful death statute, however, the victim’s surviving spouse or children may bring their own claim against the negligent parties.

Bibbs v. Toyota Motor Corporation

Generally speaking, you cannot recover twice for the same injury. In other words, if a victim initially survives an accident and successfully pursues a personal injury claim, the family cannot seek additional damages via a wrongful death lawsuit if the victim subsequently dies. The wrongful death statute is only designed to ensure the victim’s family recovers the same damages she could have recovered herself had she survived.

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Guardrail accidents have gained increasing public attention in recent years. A guardrail is supposed to help a vehicle absorb the impact of a collision, but in far too many cases, it is the guardrail that causes serious injury or death. As reported by ABC News in 2014, a University of Alabama study found that “a re-designed version of a widely used guardrail end terminal ‘placed motorists at a higher level of risk of both serious injury and fatality’ than the original version.”

Stopanio v. Leon’s Fence and Guardrail, LLC

More recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed the potential legal liability of the state Department of Transportation and one of its private contractors for an allegedly defective guardrail. This tragic case began with a 2011 accident on I-75. The plaintiff was driving southbound on the highway through Valdosta. Traveling in front of the plaintiff was a second car containing her parents.

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Despite what you might think, most auto accident claims are settled out of court between the injured victim and the negligent driver’s insurance company. Only when settlement negotiations break down will a plaintiff normally resort to litigation, which requires a significant commitment of time and resources. In many cases, it is the defense’s unnecessary delays that cause the settlement talks to fail in the first place.

Stephens v. Castano-Castano

Consider this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals. This case began when a defendant failed to respond in time to a settlement offer. Although the plaintiff proceeded to trial and won a substantial jury verdict, the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial based on an erroneous ruling by the trial judge.

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Georgia law holds manufacturers liable if they fail to exercise “reasonable care” when designing or producing its products. In practical terms, this does not mean the product must be 100% safe. Rather, it must be “reasonably safe for intended or foreseeable uses.”

Woods v. ARE Accessories, LLC

When is a product’s use “foreseeable” to the manufacturer? That is a question the Georgia Court of Appeals recently confronted in a product liability case involving a truck cap. The defendant in this case is a popular manufacturer of truck caps–that is, the shells that fit over the flatbed of a pickup truck.

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Although personal injury and wrongful death claims are often brought up in the context of negligence–i.e., unintentional but reckless acts–there are situations in which the victim is injured or killed through an intentional criminal act. In such situations, the victim or his or her family can definitely seek damages against the criminal.

What about local law enforcement and private entities that were charged with protecting the public from a particular criminal? Can they also be held liable?

SecureAlert, Inc. v. Boggs

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Even in Georgia, the winters are still prone to icy conditions. When walking through public parking lots and shopping centers in such conditions, you need to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you get into a slip and fall accident. If you subsequently attempt to hold the owner of the property liable for your injuries, the question of your “equal” or “superior” knowledge of any hazards may prove critical at trial.

Naval Store Suppliers, Inc. v. Croft

Recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals granted summary judgment to the defendants in a slip and fall case arising from an accident in the winter of 2014. On the day in question, it was approximately 25 degrees outside, and there was a noticeable water spigot located near the entrance of the defendant’s store. The spigot was open and the gushing water had formed a mixture of ice and water that clearly posed a hazard to anyone using the entrance.

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There are often situations in which the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may need to amend his or her complaint. Sometimes an amended pleading is necessary to correct a mistake. In other situations, an amendment may be appropriate to add a new argument or even a new defendant that needs to be brought into the litigation.

Findley v. City of Atlanta

Georgia trial courts are expected to be fairly liberal in granting permission to file amended complaints. Even if a defendant has already filed his or her own responsive pleadings, that does not necessarily prevent the plaintiff from seeking leave to amend. In fact, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently reinstated a personal injury lawsuit that was improperly dismissed by the trial judge before giving proper consideration to the plaintiff’s motion to add a defendant.