Articles Tagged with Georgia personal injury attorney

In many successful personal injury cases, the defendant’s insurance company ends up paying most of the judgment. You might therefore think it would “save a step” just to sue the insurance company directly. In most cases, such “direct action” is not permitted under Georgia law. The legal theory behind this is that an insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured, and the injured person is a third party who is not “privy” to this agreement.

However, Georgia law makes an exception to the prohibition on “direct action” when the insured party is a “motor carrier.” That is to say, if you are injured in an accident caused by a motor carrier, you may file directly sue both the carrier and its insurance company for damages.

Mitchell v. Dixie Transport, Inc.

Tort law is designed to remedy injuries caused by acts of man, as opposed to “acts of God.” Under Georgia law, this means that you cannot hold a defendant liable for “an accident produced by physical causes which are irresistible or inevitable, such as lightning, storms, perils of the sea, earthquakes, inundations, sudden death or illness.” In other words, if there is no “human agency” involved, there is no viable personal injury claim.

Head v. De Souse

But “act of God” does not mean a defendant can escape liability simply by pointing to a natural phenomenon that might have played some role in the accident. A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Head v. De Souse, offers a helpful illustration of this point. In this case, a teenage driver attempted to dismiss a personal injury lawsuit based on the fact there was sun in her eyes at the time of the underlying accident.

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently issued a decision, Handberry v. Manning Forestry Services, LLC, addressing an unusual personal injury claim. This case involved a man who died after falling into an abandoned well. The plaintiff, the victim’s widow, subsequently sued a number of defendants that she alleged were negligent in failing to address the hazard posed by the well prior to her husband’s death.

According to court records, the victim was driving a four-wheeler on private property with the permission of the owner. At some point, one of the four-wheeler’s tires “entered a well that was hidden by vegetation.” The vehicle overturned, throwing the victim into the well, where he sustained fatal injuries.

The defendants in this case included several companies that previously performed work on the property in question. The plaintiff based her claims on a specific Georgia statute, OCGA § 44-1-14, which deals with the “abatement of hazard” from an “abandoned well or hole.” In this context, an abandoned well is “any man-made opening on the surface of the earth which is 10 feet or more in depth and which has not been used for a period of 60 days.”

There is always a risk in personal injury lawsuits that a defendant may file for bankruptcy protection. If successful, a bankruptcy can effectively discharge the defendant from any obligation to pay a monetary judgment owed to the plaintiff. But what about the reverse situation? What happens if the plaintiff files for bankruptcy before the personal injury lawsuit is resolved?

Courtland Properties I, LLC v. Collins

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Courtland Properties I, LLC v. Collins, helps to explain how the law works in this situation. In this case, a man was injured in a slip-and-fall accident at his apartment complex. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the apartment’s owner, alleging its negligence in maintaining the property caused the accident.

When a car accident leads to a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company often plays a critical role. The insurer often takes the lead in providing the defendant with legal advice, and in many cases the insurer will work to try and settle a claim without the need for extensive litigation. On the other hand, if the insurer tries to disclaim coverage, that can lead to additional litigation regarding the insurer’s obligations.

United Specialty Insurance Co. v. Cardona-Rodriguez

Georgia has a state law known as the Declaratory Judgment Act. This law essentially permits an insurance company to file a separate lawsuit that asks a judge to clarify its obligations with respect to an insured defendant in a personal injury case. The declaratory judgment therefore serves to resolve any uncertainty or ambiguity in the interpretation of an insurance policy.

On November 19, 2016, a dock attached to a ferry terminal in Savannah collapsed, sending more than 60 people into the water, according to news reports at the time. A number of these people sustained serious injuries, and a Savannah firefighter died after suffering a dissecting aneurysm while participating in rescue activities.

Chatham Area Transit v. Brantley

As you might expect, there was a substantial legal fallout to the deck collapse. Several victims filed personal injury lawsuits against both the City of Savannah and Chatham Area Transit (CAT), which owned the dock. In early 2018, the City moved to dismiss the lawsuits, arguing it was protected by both sovereign immunity and Georgia’s Recreational Property Act (RPA). CAT subsequently argued it was also protected from suit under the RPA.

In most cases, damages arising from a car accident are covered by the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy. But what if the accident occurred while the car was still in the owner’s driveway? Would homeowner’s insurance actually cover such damages?

Wilkinson v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed these questions in Wilkinson v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. This case began when a man named Buchanan purchased a used Ford F350 truck. One of Buchanan’s co-workers, a man named Wilkinson, asked to take a look at the truck. Wilkinson and his wife subsequently went to Buchanan’s house.

Following a serious auto accident, many victims are surprised to learn their medical providers may place a lien against any potential personal injury lawsuit they might file in connection with their injuries. Such “hospital liens” are permitted under Georgia law. There are limits to how far hospitals can go with such liens, as illustrated by a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Clouthier v. Medical Center of Georgia, Inc.

In Clouthier v. Medical Center of Georgia, Inc., the plaintiff sued the hospital that treated him following an accident for fraud and negligent misrepresentation. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was “injured in a tractor-trailer collision in August 2016.” He was taken by ambulance from the accident scene to the defendant’s hospital.

When you file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driving following an auto accident, in most cases this means you are really seeking compensation from the driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies are quite adept at asserting their own legal rights. This includes taking legal action to void a policy if they believe the policy holder–i.e., the negligent driver–did not strict comply with its terms.

American Family Insurance Company v. Almassud

A recent case before a federal judge in Atlanta, American Family Insurance Company v. Almassud, offers a cautionary example. This case involves a 2012 accident in Cumming, Georgia. The defendant was driving his Jeep. According to court records, the Jeep “veered into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle driven” driven by a woman who sustained serious injuries.

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, many plaintiffs do not only need to contend with the negligent defendant. They also need to deal with the negligent defendant’s insurance company. Even where the insurer has a contractual duty to indemnify and defend a policyholder, you can rest assured that the company will make every legal effort to avoid providing coverage.

ACCC Insurance Company v. Walker

Take this ongoing lawsuit, ACCC Insurance Company of Georgia v. Walker. This case involves a 2015 auto accident. The defendant was one of the parties involved in the accident. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against two men, who were insured by the plaintiff, ACCC Insurance.