Articles Posted in Negligence

The typical premises liability claim involves a customer who is injured slipping and falling in the aisle of a store. In such cases, the legal question is whether or not the store owner breached its legal duty to keep its premises “in a reasonably safe condition” for invited members of the public. The owner is not, however, required to absolutely guarantee a patron’s safety.

ABH Corporation v. Montgomery

In some cases, a store owner’s duty may extend possible criminal acts that occur on its premises. But this can be much trickier to prove than a simple slip and fall. This is because the victim must prove that the store owner had “reason to anticipate” the criminal act and failed to exercise “ordinary care” to protect the public. The mere fact that a crime occurred, or even that the neighborhood may be considered more prone to criminal activity, is not enough to establish the store owner’s legal liability.

If you are involved in a car accident, you should always promptly notify your auto insurance carrier. Failure to do so may lead the insurer to deny coverage. This is a basic rule of Georgia insurance law that applies equally to large companies. At the end of the day, an insurance policy is a contract, and you are expected to strictly adhere to its terms, including any notice requirements.

Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Company v. Renaissance Bliss, LLC

Indeed, a failure to notify can affect the rights of third-party victims who may end up suing an insured entity. A recent decision from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Company v. Renaissance Bliss, LLC, provides an illustration of this principle. This particular case began with the rape of a property manager at a Georgia condominium complex. The sexual assault occurred in the property’s parking lot. When police later arrived at the scene, they learned that the parking lot’s security cameras, which might have captured footage of the assault, were not operational.

Causation is a key element of any personal injury claim. What do we mean by that? Basically, if you are in a car accident and later sue the other driver for damages, it is not enough to show that person’s negligence led to the accident. You also need to show that the accident was the “proximate cause” of any physical, mental, or monetary loss that you suffered. Absent such proof causation, there is no viable personal injury claim.

Coleman v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

As a general rule, you do not need expert evidence, such as testimony from your doctor, to prove causation. As with every rule, there are exceptions. For instance, if your personal injury claim involves a “medical question” that requires specialized medical knowledge–i.e., something the average juror could not understand without some sort of guidance from a trained professional in that specialty–then the court will require such evidence before allowing a case to proceed.

Many auto accidents are caused by drivers operating vehicles on behalf of their employers. When this happens, the employer is typically liable for the employee’s negligence under a legal principle known as “respondeat superior.” If the employer admits respondeat superior applies, then the injured victims are normally barred from bringing separate claims against the employer for “negligent hiring, hiring, retention, supervision, training, and entrustment.”

There is an exception to this rule, however, if the plaintiff seeks punitive damages arising from the accident. Again, punitive damages are not typically awarded in personal injury cases. In this context, punitive damages are only available if the plaintiff can prove the defendant employer itself was negligent to the point where it engaged in “willful misconduct, malice, [or] fraud.”

Kraese v. Jialiang

Parents entrust their children to a number of responsible adults every day, including teachers and bus drivers. When something goes wrong and the child is injured–or even killed–while under another person’s care, the parents understandably want to hold that person responsible. Unfortunately, the law does not always help parents in this regard, particularly when the responsible person happens to be a public employee.

Odum v. Harn

A recent ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Odum v. Harn, typifies the uphill battle parents face when seeking accountability. This case involves a 2013 accident that resulted in the death of a 5-year-old child. The victim was riding on a Bryan County school bus operated by the defendant.

You probably know that if you are injured on the job, workers’ compensation covers your employer’s liability for the accident. Workers’ compensation does not apply to third-party liability, however. In other words, if your work-related accident was caused by someone other than your employer (or someone working for your employer), you can still file a separate personal injury lawsuit against that party.

Newcomb v. Spring Creek Cooler, Inc.

Of course, unlike “no-fault” workers’ compensation benefits, you still have to prove that the third party did something wrong. The third party may turn around and argue you were either at-fault for the accident, or you should have been aware of the dangerous condition that caused your injuries.

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.

Car accidents often leave victims with lifelong injuries that never fully heal. When these accidents are the result of negligence, the victim has every right to pursue a personal injury claim in court. But what happens when the negligent party is an employee of the federal government?

Rodriguez-Densley v. United States

This was precisely the scenario confronted by a federal judge in Macon during a recent case, Rodriguez-Densley v. United States. The underlying facts of this case are fairly straightforward. The plaintiff was returning home in her car. She approached a U-shaped residential driveway. At that same time, a United States Postal Service delivery truck was in the driveway.

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.

Georgia law draws a sharp distinction between ordinary negligence and medical malpractice. The former does not necessarily require an expert’s opinion to prove liability, but the latter does. Specifically, the Georgia Supreme Court has said that medical malpractice victims must present evidence from at least one expert witness in order to “overcome the presumption that the [defendant] acted with due care and establish the [defendant]’s negligence.”

Southeastern Pain Specialists, PC v. Brown

Even in cases of egregious medical malpractice in which you would think common sense would tell you there was negligence, Georgia courts still demand expert testimony. To drive this point home, the Georgia Supreme Court recently threw out a $22 million verdict against an Atlanta doctor and his clinic. The justices felt the trial judge failed to properly instruct the jury on the differences between ordinary and medical negligence.

Contact Information