Articles Tagged with Georgia personal injury attorney

Georgia law requires insurance companies to act in good faith when resolving auto accident claims. For example, if you are injured in an accident caused by another driver’s clear negligence, the other driver’s insurance company is expected to make a good-faith effort to negotiate a settlement, especially when your damages meets or exceeds the limits of the actual policy. Conversely, if the insurer acts in bad faith, you can file a lawsuit and seek additional damages.

Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company

For example, a federal appeals court recently revived a bad-faith lawsuit brought against an insurance company by the victim of a motorcycle accident. The plaintiff in this case, Kemper v. Equity Insurance Company, was driving her bike down a road in Coweta County, Georgia. Another driver, who it turned out was intoxicated, crossed the centerline of the road and crashed into the plaintiff, causing her serious injuries.

A jury verdict in favor of the victim is often not the “last word” in a personal injury case. Aside from any appeal the defense might bring, the trial judge can also issue what is known as a “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” (j.n.o.v.) This basically means the judge finds that, based on the evidence presented during the trial, there can only be “one reasonable conclusion as to the proper judgment.” Put another way, j.n.o.v. is only appropriate when it is not a “close case” and the evidence–including any reasonable inferences someone could make from such evidence–inevitably leads to a conclusion that differed from that of the jury.

Gary v. Brown

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Gary v. Brown, illustrates the type of case in which a court may grant a j.n.o.v. This personal injury lawsuit involved a 2014 auto accident. The defendant rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff did not initially seek medical treatment following the collision.

In general, monetary damages in a personal injury case are meant to compensate the victims for their losses. But there are cases in which a jury may award what are known as “punitive damages.” These damages are not meant to compensate, but rather to punish. Put another way, punitive damages are designed to “send a message” that certain types of outrageous or egregious misconduct will not be tolerated in a civilized society.

Punitive damages are considered an extraordinary remedy under Georgia law. This means that it is not enough for a plaintiff to show they were injured by the defendant’s negligence. Rather, state law requires proof by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant engaged in “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”

Ferguson v. Garkuhsa

In September 2002, Yahazia Odelia purchased two side-by-side plots from a cemetery in DeKalb, Georgia. The plots were known as Space 15 and Space 16, respectively. Odelia buried her sister in pace 16 and reserved Space 15 for her mother when her time came.

When Odelia’s mother passed away in 2016, Odelia was shocked to learn that the cemetery had re-sold Space 15 to another family in April 2005, who buried one of their loved ones in the plot previously reserved for Odelia’s mother. As you might expect, Odelia was not happy about this and took legal action.

In April 2016, a Georgia judge ordered the cemetery to disinter the remains of the person buried in Space 15 and to make that space available for the burial of Odelia’s mother, as they were contractually obligated to do in the first place. Odelia was finally able to bury her mother next to her sister in June 2017.

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.

In any personal injury case, there is always a risk that the defendant has insufficient assets to pay any judgment or settlement and will therefore seek bankruptcy protection. In many cases, this means the plaintiff–the victim–is out of luck. What happens if there is a co-defendant who is not bankrupt? Can they be held solely responsible for the plaintiff’s damages?

Meeks v. Newcomb

The Atlanta-based U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed such a case. In Meeks v. Newcomb, a man was killed after his vehicle crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. The victim’s widow subsequently sued both the company that owned the truck as well as the individual driver.

Most personal injury lawsuits involve accidents, i.e. unintentional but negligent conduct, but sometimes a personal injury arises from criminal activity. When this is the case, the criminal party can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit–but their insurance company probably will not cover any award of damages. That is because insurers typically include criminal activity from the scope of their policy coverage.

Marcus v. Country Mutual DO-013 Insurance Company

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Marcus v. Country Mutual DO-013 Insurance Company, provides a helpful illustration of this principle. This case unfortunately began with a scenario that has become all too common in Georgia — a white person reporting “suspicious” African-Americans to the police. According to court records, the woman repeatedly complained to law enforcement in Macon about several African-American youths. When questioned, the juveniles explained that the woman had repeatedly shouted racial epithets at them. The police advised the youths to “stay on the other side of the street when passing by her house, knowing that [she] was upset and hostile.”

In personal injury law, you often come across the phrase “actual or constructive notice.” This refers to a property owner’s knowledge with respect to a given hazard. Actual notice means the owner knew the hazard existed. Constructive notice, on the other hand, means the owner “should have known” there was a hazard based on the exercise of reasonable care.

Lebron v. Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD

It is critical for a plaintiff in any personal injury case to establish the existence of either actual or constructive notice. Without such proof, a court will dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. At the same time, judges need to be careful to not dismiss a valid lawsuit based on an incorrect interpretation of the evidence.

Workers’ compensation requires Georgia employers to pay medical and wage replacement benefits to employees injured “in the course of” employment. This includes not only injuries that occur while actively working, but also during times “incidental” to a job, such as entering or exiting the employer’s premises. However, employers are not liable for injuries that occur when an employee is engaged in an “individual pursuit.”

Frett v. State Farm Employee Workers’ Compensation

In 2018, we discussed a decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Frett v. State Farm Employee Workers’ Compensation, where an employee was injured during a scheduled lunch break. To briefly recap, the employee was a claims adjuster at State Farm. The employer required her to take an unpaid 45-minute lunch break each day. On the day in question, the employee clocked out for lunch, went to the break room to prepare some food, and slipped and fell as she exited the room.

If you are injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another person, your typical remedy is to file a personal injury lawsuit in state court. Depending on certain factors, the defense may have the right to transfer the case to federal court. This is known as “removal.”

Removal is permitted under federal law when two specific conditions are met: First, the “amount in controversy” must be more than $75,000; and second, there must be “complete diversity” between the parties. This means that if you are a Georgia resident, all of the defendants named in your lawsuit must be non-Georgia residents. If even one defendant is from the same state as you, you can have your lawsuit returned to state court.

Hickerson v. Enterprise Leasing Company of Georgia, LLC

Contact Information