Articles Tagged with wrongful death

Many elderly Georgia residents are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. In order to avoid potential personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits from injured patients, many nursing homes insist their residents sign “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) agreements that require any negligence or malpractice claims be submitted to binding arbitration. While arbitration can be beneficial in certain cases, it still requires a potentially vulnerable nursing home resident to forfeit access to the courts and other important legal rights.

Kindred Nursing Centers LP v. Chrzanowski

Georgia courts tend to enforce ADR agreements even where there is evidence that a nursing home resident was not necessarily in their right mind when they purportedly agreed to arbitration. A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals illustrates the uphill climb victims of nursing home abuse—or in the case, their families—face in seeking their day in court.

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.

If you are driving and there is a sudden emergency—for example, an accident takes place in front of you and you instinctively swerve to avoid the collision—can you be held liable for your own actions? In many cases, the answer is no. Georgia law recognizes a “sudden emergency” defense. This applies when a person faces a “sudden peril” and, lacking adequate time to assess the situation, takes immediate action that may result in injury to another. Keep in mind, this defense is only available when the person asserting it did not actually cause the emergency.

Smith v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed the application of the emergency defense doctrine to a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a series of accidents that took place on and around a railroad crossing located in Gwinnett County. A pickup truck was traveling southbound towards the crossing. The driver of the truck sped towards a yellow light. The light turned red as the truck entered the intersection. At this point, the truck collided with a van that was attempting to make a left-hand turn into the intersection.

The family of a person who dies due to medical malpractice may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent health care providers. Doctors and hospitals are often resistant to admitting any liability in the death of a patient, and they may attempt to use the discovery process to obtain embarrassing information about the deceased—or a family member—that is not relevant to the underlying case. The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed such a case.

Gwinnett Hospital System, Inc. v. Hoover

The plaintiff in this case is a widow who died while under the medical care of the defendant hospital. She subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant. The case has not yet proceeded to trial. During pretrial discovery, a dispute arose over a journal kept by the plaintiff.

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.

Employers are normally liable for the acts of their employees. In tort law this is known as vicarious liability. In Georgia, vicarious liability applies whenever an employee acts “by [the employer’s] command or in the prosecution and within the scope of [the employer’s] business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” In other words, if you direct your employee to complete a particular task, and in doing so he injured another, the victim can sue you for damages.

Jefferson v. Houston Hospitals, Inc.

But what about a case where the employee ignores your instructions? A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals illustrates how employers may be able to get off the hook even in cases of egregious employee misconduct. The case arises from a 2014 incident that made national headlines. In April 2014, a former technician at a hospital in Perry, Georgia, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of reckless conduct and one count of felony computer forgery.

Under Georgia law, the estate and surviving family members of a deceased individual may file a wrongful death lawsuit against any party whose negligence contributed to the death. Wrongful death cases are rarely simple matters. They often raise complex legal questions that can delay a final adjudication.

Sturgess v. OA Logistics Services, Inc.

For example, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed the question of whether a mother could sue her deceased son’s employer for wrongful death. The son drove a forklift at a warehouse owned by one of the defendants. The warehouse owner contracted with another defendant, a staffing company, to hire temporary workers for the facility.

We often hear about cases in which a person is injured in an accident due to a defect in the manufacturing of a car. But there are also cases in which someone may be injured due to an improper repair made to a car. As with manufacturing and design defects, a bad repair may not be immediately obvious to the driver, yet still produce catastrophic effects months, even years, later.

Lee v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Company

In 2005, a well-known auto manufacturer issued a recall for one of its 2000 model-year vehicles. An owner of one such vehicle brought his car to a Georgia dealership to receive the appropriate repairs. Unfortunately, the dealership’s service technician did not perform the repair correctly, causing damage to the vehicle’s cruise-control cable.

A wrongful death lawsuit is designed to compensate the surviving family members of a homicide victim. Under Georgia law, a spouse may file a wrongful death claim, and if the victim had no spouse, that right falls to the victim’s children. A wrongful death claim exists separate and apart from any lawsuit that may be filed by the victim’s estate—that is, on behalf of the victim.

Felio v. Hyatt

Wrongful death cases are often difficult to bring against government employees, who enjoy a broad degree of immunity for their official acts. But such claims are not impossible. A recent decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta offers a useful illustration.

According to statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration, there are more than 2,000 vehicle-train collisions at railroad crossings every year. When such accidents result in serious injury or death to innocent motorists, it is only logical the victims would want to hold the railroad responsible. But in some cases Georgia law may frustrate these efforts, as illustrated by a recent federal appeals court decision.

Long v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

This case involves a fatal accident that occurred at the Emory Street Crossing in Covington, Georgia. In 1974, the Georgia Department of Transportation contracted with a private railroad to install new gates and crossing signals at the Emory Street Crossing. Some years later, the railroad made some changes to the design, which resulted in a 36-foot gap between the installed protective devices and the main railroad line.