Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

In October 2014, a man from McDonough, Georgia, died after his Suzuki motorcycle collided with a Toyota Prius. According to a report from the Henry Herald at the time, the man “was traveling east on Campground Road and the Prius was traveling north on Palmer Road.” The Prius then pulled out onto Campground Road and was “hit by the Suzuki.” At the time, police attributed the accident to “speed and reckless driving” on the part of the motorcyclist.

Clack v. Hasnat

The family of the motorcyclist subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and owners of the Prius. The case was tried before a jury, which returned a verdict for the defense. The family then unsuccessfully moved for a new trial.

If a reckless driver injures someone in a car accident, the driver may not be the only person liable for damages. If the driver was operating a vehicle owned by his or her employer, the employer may be vicariously liable for the victim’s injuries. If the employer had the vehicle insured, the insurance company may bear the ultimate financial responsibility.

Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Anderson

Of course, insurance companies often will not pay out without a fight. With respect to automobile insurance, policies often exclude coverage for employer-owned vehicles that are not used with the employer’s permission. What precisely constitutes “permission” can be difficult to determine.

While many personal injury lawsuits settle without the need for a trial, plenty of cases still go before a jury. Jurors are supposed to be fair and impartial. Attorneys for both sides question prospective jurors to screen them for possible biases. But the system is not perfect. The United States Supreme Court recently dealt with a case where there was evidence of juror bias that may have unduly affected the verdict in favor of a defendant.

Warger v. Shauers

Personal injury cases, such as those arising from an automobile accident, are almost always tried under the law of the state where the accident took place. But when the parties are from different states—say, the plaintiff lives in Georgia and the defendant is an insurance company based in Delaware—the case is tried in a federal court. This means that, while the underlying negligence claim is decided according to the forum state’s laws, the rules governing the trial itself are determined by Congress and the Supreme Court.

An attorney’s opening and closing arguments during trial should not be confused for evidence. The attorney may attempt to persuade the jury on how to best interpret the evidence introduced at trial. But a jury is not supposed to substitute rhetoric for evidence.

Recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether the content of an attorney’s closing statements could justify overturning the jury’s verdict. The underlying case was a personal injury lawsuit where the jury had to determine the relative fault of two drivers. The jury ruled for the defendant, prompting the plaintiff to argue defense counsel’s closing arguments improperly affected the decision.

Young v. Griffin

An “uninsured motorist” policy provides coverage to the insured when he or she is the victim of an accident caused by another party that has insufficient resources to pay the full amount of any legal damages. In this context, “uninsured” also means under-insured. Thus, for example, if Driver A is in an accident caused by Driver B, and Driver B’s insurance only covers half of the damages awarded in a subsequent lawsuit, Driver A’s uninsured motorist carrier would pay the remaining half.

But what if Driver B is an agent of the State of Georgia? Normally, state agencies (and their employees) enjoy “sovereign immunity” from most civil lawsuits. The idea is that a state cannot be sued in its own courts without its consent, which is normally granted through legislation. However, when a local government in Georgia purchases liability insurance, sovereign immunity is waived up to the limit of said policy. What does this mean for accident victims with uninsured motorist coverage? A federal judge in Savannah recently attempted to answer this very question.

FCCI Insurance Company v. McLendon Enterprises, Inc.

Although it’s commonly said that police “protect and serve,” a local government is not necessarily liable when its sworn officers fail to protect the general public from harm. In a 1993 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court adopted what became known as a “public duty doctrine.” This doctrine holds that a municipality can only be liable for nonfeasance–a police officer’s failure to act–if there’s a “special relationship” between the individual alleging negligence and the local government. As defined by the Georgia Supreme Court, this means the police must give the person “an explicit assurance” of protection or assistance that the person then relies upon to his or her detriment.

Stevenson v. City of Doraville

Recently, the Supreme Court considered the application of the public duty doctrine to a negligence lawsuit arising from a multi-car traffic accident in DeKalb County. During a rainstorm one evening, a driver on Interstate 285 experienced car trouble. The driver was in the lane nearest the median. He attempted to cross six lanes and bring his car onto the shoulder, but the car stalled in the middle of the road.

Following an automobile accident, it’s common for injured parties to seek compensation, either from the person who caused the accident or their insurance company. It’s usually in an insurance company’s interest to settle accident claims without litigation. But a settlement is predicated on both sides coming to a mutual agreement. The insurance company shouldn’t be allowed to pull a “bait-and-switch” and change the terms of a settlement unilaterally.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened in a March decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals. A sharply divided seven-judge panel upheld a “settlement” between an accident victim and an insurance company where the latter never actually agreed to the proposed terms. Nonetheless, a majority of the appeals court declared there was a binding contract.

Attorney vs. Insurance Company

NAIC.jpgThe National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ eighteen month investigation of Allstate’s claims handling practices ended this month with Allstate agreeing to pay a $10 million dollar settlement. The primary focus of the investigation and settlement relates to Allstate’s use of a claims handling software called Colossus. Allstate has agreed to make several changes to it’s claims handling policies. However as a injury claim lawyer, I still advise caution when dealing with giant insurance companies like Allstate.

Their are many types of insurance claims where hiring a lawyer is typically not necessary, such as clear liability property damage claims. When dealing with a company like Allstate, whether you hire a lawyer or not, it’s always a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer. Most personal injury lawyers provide free consultations and information gathered from a lawyer consultation can be an invaluable resource for determining whether you are being treated fairly by an insurance company.

I just finished up a case where a violent head on collision was caused by a texting teen. In my case, luckily no one was killed, but texting and driving is a huge problem that is killing American teens. Do’s Thumb Wars is a national campaign to help educate drivers on the dangers of texting and driving. Check out the site, they have free thumb socks! What are thumb socks you ask? Watch the video.

In the video above Ken Jeong (Community, The Hangover) and Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) share the sobering fact that car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S., while demonstrating how difficult it is to text when your thumbs are wearing socks.

In an attempt to fix this huge problem, the State of Georgia recently passed a law banning texting while driving. So who knows, if fear of a big traffic ticket doesn’t stop the problem, maybe thumb socks will.

carcrash.jpgMost people know how collision and liability property damage claims work following a car accident. However, from my experience as a Car Accident Lawyer, most people are confused when it comes to diminished value claims. Over the years, I’ve been asked so many questions about diminished value, I thought it would be helpful to put together this brief guide.

1. What is diminished value?

Simply put, it is the value a vehicle loses as a result of being in a collision. No matter how good the repairs, a wrecked car is never going to be worth as much as a similar car that has never been in an accident. Think about it this way, you are looking for a used car, and the dealership shows you two gorgeous identical cars listed at the same price. The only difference, the Carfax reports show one of the two cars was once involved in a car accident at some point. Which car would you buy?

A recent consumer survey indicated 55% of potential buyers would never buy a vehicle with a prior accident history. Additionally, those surveyed that indicated they would buy a wrecked vehicle said they would have to be given a large discount to make the purchase. In many instances, not only should the insurance company pay to repair your vehicle but they should also pay you for your vehicle’s diminished value. Valid claims should always be pursued. In many cases, I’ve seen diminished value claims worth several thousand dollars.

2. Has my vehicle suffered diminished value?

The short answer is that depends. If before the accident your vehicle was relatively new, in good condition, with no significant prior accident history, with significant current property damage then you certainly have a diminished value claim. The value of the claim will vary based on numerous factors. For example, $5,000 in repairs for collision damage will have a larger impact on the value of your car than $5,000 in repairs to paint over cosmetic damage. Along those same lines, if your vehicle already had a significant accident history, suffered minimal accident damage, then your claim will probably have little or no value. Most lawyers offer free consultations. If the insurance company is making you a diminished value offer that seems too low, it might be a good idea to contact a lawyer for a free consultation.

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