Articles Tagged with Georgia personal injury attorney

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Back in 2017, we discussed a personal injury lawsuit dismissed by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The case involved a Georgia defendant and Michigan plaintiffs, but the underlying subject of the plaintiffs’ personal claim arose during their vacation in the Dominican Republic. The Court of Appeals determined the Dominican courts were the proper venue to resolve the plaintiffs’ allegations. But the plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Georgia, which reversed the Court of Appeals in a judgment issued on February 4 of this year.

La Fontaine v. Signature Research, Inc.

To briefly review the facts of the case. The plaintiffs are a married couple. During their Dominican vacation, the wife was injured during a fall from a collapsed zip-line operated by a company known as CSA. The plaintiffs’ subsequently filed a personal injury claim in Georgia state court against a second company, Signature Research, that was responsible for inspecting and certifying CSA’s zip lines.

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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.

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In personal injury lawsuits, it is not uncommon for the plaintiff to file one or more amended complaints. Sometimes these amendments add factual or legal allegations. In other cases, the amended complaint actually names additional defendants.

Preferred Women’s Healthcare, LLC v. Sain

A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, however, establishes some limits to how far a plaintiff can go to add a defendant, particularly in situations in which Georgia’s statute of repose comes into play. This particular case, Preferred Women’s Healthcare, LLC v. Sain, is a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff is the widower of a woman who died from complications arising from cancer.

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In common law there is a rule known as res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” This rule basically allows a judge or jury to infer a defendant’s negligence from an event, even when the plaintiff can not provide more direct evidence that the defendant did something wrong. Georgia courts have taken a narrow view of res ipsa loquitur arguments in modern times, with the Georgia Court of Appeals noting it should only “be applied with caution and only in extreme cases.”

Huntoon v. United States

Even in cases in which a court does apply res ipsa loquitur, that is not always a guarantee that a plaintiff will recover actual damages. Consider this recent decision by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Huntoon v. United States. In this case, the plaintiff received surgery at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Florida. According to the plaintiff, when he came out from under anesthesia, he “noticed swelling and severe pain in his right arm.” This was later diagnosed as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

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Following a car accident, you may receive certain benefits from your own insurance company. If you later end up suing a negligent third party for damages related to the accident, your insurer may have the right to recover part of any money you receive from the case. To put it another way, you may not be allowed to recover twice for the same injury–once from your insurance company, and then again from the negligent driver in court.

Appling v. State Farm Fire and Casualty

A recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision, Appling v. State Farm Fire & Casualty, offers a helpful example. In 2013, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident. The other driver’s insurance company agreed to settle with the plaintiff for the limits of the policy, which was $25,000. As this was not enough to compensate the plaintiff for his total injuries, he then filed a claim with his own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) carrier, which was State Farm.

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Georgia law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on most personal injury claims. For example, if you were injured in a car accident on January 1, 2017, you would normally have until January 1, 2019, to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. There is an exception to this rule, known as the renewal statute, that states if you file a lawsuit before the two-year deadline expires, and you later dismiss the case voluntarily, you can still refile within six months of that dismissal.

Now, it is important to emphasize that the renewal statute does not let you extend the statute of limitations itself. In other words, let us say there were two defendants you wanted to sue in connection with your car accident. You filed a lawsuit against Defendant A within the statute of limitations. But after the original two-year deadline expired, you dismiss the lawsuit and file a new complaint naming both Defendant A and Defendant B. The court would dismiss Defendant B from the case because the renewal statute does not permit you to add a defendant who was not named in the original lawsuit filed before the statute of limitations expired.

Aaron v. Jekyll Island State Park Authority

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A common point of contention in slip-and-fall cases is whether or not the business owner had “constructive knowledge” of the hazard that injured the customer. Constructive knowledge is not the same thing as actual knowledge. In other words, let us say a customer slips on a puddle of water in the aisle of a supermarket. It is likely that the store’s management did not actually know there was a spill beforehand. But the store owner may still be legally liable if the customer can prove that management “should have known” there was a spill through the exercise of due diligence.

Put another way, if the store had no policy in place to regularly inspect the aisles for potential hazards–or the employees failed to follow such an inspection policy–that can be sufficient to prove “constructive knowledge” on the part of the owner.

Orr v. Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc.

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With all the discussion of “fake news” in recent years, it is important to remember that a free press is critical not only to the functioning of our government but also in holding businesses and other private entities–such as hospitals–accountable to the public. Indeed, good reporting often exposes private abuses and negligent acts that enable victims to pursue personal injury claims.

Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc.

With that in mind, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta recently issued a major decision in a case involving the use of Georgia law to stop a defamation lawsuit against CNN. The plaintiff in this case previously served as CEO of a hospital in Florida. During his tenure, CNN published a report that claimed the hospital’s mortality rate for pediatric, open-heart surgery was more than three times the national average.

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As we get older, it seems we need to take more and more prescription medications just to get through the day. We trust our doctors and pharmacists to ensure that these drugs are safe–not just on their own, but also when taken in combination with one another. But when this trust fails, and the patient suffers, who can be held legally responsible?

Allen v. The Kroger Company

A case now pending before a federal judge in Macon raises this exact question. The plaintiff is the mother of a woman who died after taking a combination of amitriptyline, a medication used to treat various types of mental illness, and morphine. According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, her daughter had prescriptions for both medications, which were filled at the defendant’s pharmacy six days apart.

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Are you thinking about taking a cruise? Before you buy your tickets, you need to think about the potential legal implications if you are injured while onboard a ship. Do not assume that the normal personal injury laws applicable to businesses and individuals in Georgia are in effect on the “high seas.” Indeed, much of what happens on a cruise ship is governed by maritime law, which is often not as friendly toward injured passengers as you might think.

Caron v. NCL (BAHAMAS), LTD.

A recent decision by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta offers a helpful illustration. Keep in mind, while this case was originally filed in a Florida court, it applies federal law, and the 11th Circuit’s rulings are also considered binding on federal courts here in Georgia.