Articles Tagged with liability

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If a reckless driver injures someone in a car accident, the driver may not be the only person liable for damages. If the driver was operating a vehicle owned by his or her employer, the employer may be vicariously liable for the victim’s injuries. If the employer had the vehicle insured, the insurance company may bear the ultimate financial responsibility.

Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Anderson

Of course, insurance companies often will not pay out without a fight. With respect to automobile insurance, policies often exclude coverage for employer-owned vehicles that are not used with the employer’s permission. What precisely constitutes “permission” can be difficult to determine.

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Expert testimony is often a critical component of a personal injury case. Judges and jurors are not technical experts and often require assistance in understanding evidence. When it comes to “simple negligence,” though, expert testimony is generally unnecessary. A jury does not need help when common sense is sufficient to weigh the evidence and reach a logical conclusion.

Gardner v. Clark

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed a tragic case in which a trial judge improperly demanded expert testimony where none was necessary. The plaintiffs in this case were the children of a woman who died in November 2009. The mother lived in a mobile home that she rented from the defendant.

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There are stricter rules in Georgia for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit versus other types of personal injury claims. Not surprisingly, hospitals often try to classify ordinary negligence cases as malpractice in order to make it more difficult for the plaintiff to pursue his or her claim.

Byrom v. Douglas Hospital, Inc.

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently rejected just such an attempt. The plaintiff in this case had gone to a local hospital to undergo tests for a surgical procedure. A nurse transported the plaintiff, who normally walks with a cane, by wheelchair from the exam room to the waiting room.

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Insurance policies frequently cover any damages incurred due to a car accident. But it is not unusual in Georgia for insurance companies to disclaim or otherwise reject coverage if the insured does not strictly comply with all terms of the policy. In some cases, insurance companies may end up fighting among themselves over who is liable for any damages arising from a personal injury claim.

Selective Insurance Company of America v. Russell

A federal judge in Gainesville recently addressed such a case. This is one of two lawsuits arising from a 2011 car accident. Two vehicles collided, resulting in the death of a passenger in one of the cars. The driver of Car A and the estate of the deceased passenger sued the driver of Car B in Georgia state court.

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Although we charge police and fire departments with protecting lives and property, as a matter of law it is difficult to actually sue these agencies if they fail in their duties. Georgia law extends sovereign immunity to absolve state agencies of any liability arising from a “failure to provide, or the method of providing, law enforcement, police, or fire protection.” But there are cases in which a victim may sue the state for negligent application of existing police or fire protection policies, at least according to one recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Grant v. Georgia Forestry Commission

In March 2011 the Georgia Forestry Commission issued a burn permit to a landowner in Bulloch County. Such permits are required before anyone can burn “natural vegetation that is hand piled” such as leaf piles. Unfortunately in this case, the landowner’s fire burned out of control. A fire protection ranger employed by the Commission arrived at the scene to assume responsibility for managing the situation.

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Uninsured motorist coverage extends the protection of your own automobile insurance to accidents caused by another party who lacks sufficient insurance to compensate you for any injuries. For example, let’s say a drunk driver hits you. You subsequently sue the driver and win $1,000,000 in damages from the jury. But the driver only has $25,000 in insurance and lacks any other assets to pay the remainder of the judgment. In this situation you could seek compensation under your own policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.

Coker v. American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company

The above example seems relatively straightforward. But what happens when there are multiple insurers who may be liable for the same accident? A federal appeals court in Atlanta recently addressed such a case.

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Many Georgia car accidents involve motorists from other states. If you are injured by a nonresident driver’s negligence, you can still seek to recover damages through the Georgia courts. It is important to understand that there are special conditions imposed by Georgia law in such cases. You must make every effort to locate the out-of-state defendant and ensure he or she is properly served with a copy of your lawsuit. As a recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision illustrates, these requirements are not optional.

Covault v. Harris

The plaintiff in this case was involved in a two-car accident in Fulton County, Georgia. The plaintiff and the defendant were traveling towards the same intersection when, according to the plaintiff, the defendant “failed to maintain his lane and struck [the plaintiff’s] vehicle.” According to a police report taken at the scene of the accident, the defendant was a resident of Kentucky driving a rental car. The plaintiff subsequently learned the defendant’s home address by reviewing Kentucky’s voter registration records.

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In May 2011, a bus traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York City swerved off Interstate 85 approximately 30 miles north of Richmond, Virginia. The bus hit an embankment and overturned. Consequently, four passengers died and several dozen more were hospitalized with injuries.

The bus company was a discount operator with a long history of accidents due to unsafe driver behavior. According to news reports at the time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cited the operator “for 17 unsafe-driving violations” in the two years prior to the fatal Virginia accident. The FMCSA shut down the operator immediately after the accident.

Chhetri v. United States

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In any type of personal injury lawsuit, it is important for the parties to the case to preserve all evidence that may assist the court in determining the facts. Under no circumstances should a party ever intentionally withhold or destroy evidence. Even in cases where evidence may have been lost by accident, a judge may still interpret that as an intentional act and impose sanctions against the offending party.

O’Berry v. Turner

For example, a federal judge in Valdosta, Georgia, recently imposed sanctions against a pair of corporate defendants in an ongoing truck accident lawsuit. The underlying case involves a June 2013 incident. A man was driving his car when a tractor trailer allegedly swerved into his lane. The impact sent the car off the road and into a light pole. The driver and his passenger were injured and subsequently sued multiple parties, including the driver and owners of the tractor trailer.

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In Georgia, the family of a deceased person may file a wrongful death lawsuit if there is evidence that someone else’s negligent or criminal acts were the cause of death. A common example would be a person killed in a drunk driving accident. In such circumstances, the family of the victim might pursue a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver.

Mayor and City of Richmond Hill v. Maia

What about a case in which a negligent act leads the victim to commit suicide? Can the family still bring a wrongful death claim? The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed this question.