Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Each year, many Georgians celebrate the 4th of July by purchasing and setting off their own fireworks despite the known safety risks. Unfortunately, this can lead to tragic outcomes. Not only is there is the potential for something to go wrong when setting off fireworks in an unsupervised environment–the mere act of transporting them can pose a risk to life and limb as well.

Pisciotti v. Abney

A recent lawsuit filed in Valdosta, Georgia federal court, Pisciotti v. Abney, offers just one example of what can go wrong. This case involves an accident that occurred on the 4th of July in 2017. Four teenagers were traveling in a Jeep through Hamilton County, Florida. The driver is one of the defendants in this case, while the victim was one of his passengers.

When a person is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, the responsible insurance company may face conflicting obligations under Georgia law. On the one hand, the insurer must settle a valid claim in good faith. For example, if an insurer knows its policyholder is responsible for causing an accident, a refusal to settle with the victim can make the insurer liable for any excess personal injury award against the negligent driver.

On the other hand, an insurer may also be responsible to any medical provider that files a lien after providing services to the accident victim. That is to say, if the insurer simply cuts a check to the victim without first checking to see if there are any hospital liens, the hospital could turn around and sue the insurer for the amount owed (plus additional damages).

Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company

Motorcycle accidents often leave the victim with devastating injuries. So, when the accident is even partially the result of a defect in the design or production of the motorcycle itself, the manufacturer may be liable for damages under Georgia law. However, a judge or jury may decide that the motorcyclist was also partially responsible and reduce the manufacturer’s liability accordingly.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns

This is precisely what happened in a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns. A jury determined that the manufacturer of a motorcycle was 51% responsible for an accident that injured the plaintiff. Both sides appealed the verdict for different reasons, but the appeals court declined to second-guess the jury.

When it comes to personal injury claims, you should never make assumptions. For instance, even if you believe an accident was the result of a faulty piece of equipment, you still need to prove it in court. Do not assume the judge (or jury) will just take your word for it that “it must have been broken.”

Lakeshore Contracting, LLC v. Lopez-Hernandez

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Lakeshore Contracting, LLC v. Lopez-Hernandez, offers a useful illustration. This case involves an accident that occurred at a construction site. The defendant is a general contractor. In 2016, a customer hired the defendant to remodel a retail store. The defendant hired two subcontractors to perform the actual remodeling work. One of the subcontractors then hired the plaintiff to assist him.

You probably have heard the term “wrongful death” in the context of personal injury law. Basically, this is a lawsuit that alleges a defendant’s negligence led to the death of the victim. The victim’s estate or heirs then have the legal right to seek damages from the responsible parties.

Some states also recognize a lesser-known type of claim referred to as “wrongful birth.” For example, if a doctor commits malpractice by failing to inform expectant parents of a serious genetic defect in their unborn child, the parents could bring a lawsuit arguing they would have aborted the fetus but-for the doctor’s negligence. The parents could then seek compensation to offset the additional costs of caring for their child.

Norman v. Xytex Corporation

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.

Workers’ compensation is normally the “exclusive remedy” for Georgia workers seeking benefits from their employer as the result of a work-related accident. By “work-related,” we mean that the employee’s injuries “arose out of and in the course of his employment.” In most cases, it is clear whether or not a worker’s injury was related to his employment. There are other cases where employers–and occasionally courts–may disagree as to the employee’s exact status at the time of their injury.

Kil v. Legend Brothers, LLC

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Kil v. Legend Brothers, LLC, offered just such a scenario. This case involved a restaurant employee who was shot during an armed robbery attempt. His employer subsequently denied his claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

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.

In some personal injury cases, expert testimony is necessary to help establish causation. For example, if you sue your doctor for medical malpractice, you will need to present testimony from another qualified physician who can explain exactly what your doctor did wrong and how that “caused” your alleged injury. Other cases do not typically require such testimony. If you slip and fall on a puddle of water in the middle of a grocery store, you do not need an expert to explain what caused you to fall.

Wilson v. Kroger Co.

What if the defendant alleges another potential cause of a plaintiff’s injuries? Does the plaintiff need to call on an expert witness to rebut this alternate explanation? A federal judge in Atlanta recently addressed such a situation.

Workers’ compensation represents a legislatively imposed bargain between employees and employers. The bargain works like this: If the employee is injured in the course of employment, the employer agrees to pay certain medical and wage-replacement benefits. The employer is not required to admit fault for the accident, and the employee is not allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages outside of the workers’ compensation system.

Savannah Hospitality Services, LLC v. Scriven

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Savannah Hospitality Services, LLC v. Scriven, clarifies the “exclusive remedy” nature of workers’ compensation. This case involves a 2016 auto accident. The plaintiff was driving a vehicle owned by his employer at the time. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and owner of the other vehicle. (Such third-party claims are not covered by workers’ compensation.)