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In a recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Richards v. Robinson, a school bus driver was sued for negligence after a school bus and a car were involved in an accident. The car’s driver was approaching an intersection and began a left turn when the school bus came over a hill toward him. The school bus was driving toward him in a right-turn lane with his blinker on. The car’s driver believed the bus was turning right at the intersection, but the bus driver intended to turn right after the intersection and drove straight through the intersection. The two cars collided.

School BusThe bus driver moved for summary judgment in his favor. He claimed the car’s driver failed to present evidence that he acted negligently. The court granted the motion, finding the bus driver demonstrated that there was no issue of material fact as to any essential element of the claim and that he was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. However, a Georgia appeals court reversed the decision, finding there was a dispute of material fact.

One of the disputes in the case was whether drivers in the right turn lane were required to turn right at the intersection, or whether they could continue and turn at an upcoming right turn that was after the intersection. The court noted that the road sign before the first right turn indicated that vehicles in the right turn lane must turn right. This meant that it may have been negligent for him to drive in that lane when he was not turning until the second turn. The bus driver presented contradictory evidence, but this meant only that it was an issue for a jury. The evidence was sufficient for the car driver to prove the bus driver may have been negligent. As a result, the bus driver was not entitled to summary judgment.

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In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court reversed a decision in favor of a mobile home owner after a tenant was killed in a fire in her mobile home. The tenant, who was an elderly woman, had recently entered into a lease and moved into a mobile home. Some of the woman’s family members had started a fire in her fireplace, which then caught on fire. The mobile home was engulfed in flames, and the woman died in the fire. The woman’s family brought a lawsuit against the mobile home owner for wrongful death, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and punitive damages.

Mobile HomeAt trial, the owner of the mobile home agreed the woman had died as a result of the fire. He also stated that it was his responsibility to check mobile homes to make sure they were compliant with housing codes, and tenants relied on him to do so. He also agreed it was important to have smoke detectors in homes.

An arson expert also testified that he investigated the fire and did not find evidence of a smoke detector in the woman’s home or a hearth, which is a safety barrier for fires. The expert also testified that he read the woman’s autopsy report and found she had died as a result of the fire. He also explained that based on the location where the woman was found, it appeared she had been trying to escape.

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In a recent case, Yugueros v. Robles, Georgia’s Supreme Court decided whether a party’s admission could be admitted even though it did not meet the requirements for an expert opinion.

Case BooksFacts of the Case

A woman received liposuction, buttock augmentation, and abdominoplasty surgery from a plastic surgeon in 2009. Shortly afterward, she experienced abdominal pain and went to an emergency room. The hospital did not figure out the cause of her pain and released her. The woman’s pain increased, and her husband contacted the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon examined her and ordered tests, one of which showed air in her abdomen. The woman died several hours later. The woman’s husband sued the plastic surgeon, the medical practice where she had the surgery done, and others for malpractice.

The man served a notice of deposition to the medical practice, requesting to depose, or question, its representative. Under Georgia statute OCGA 9-11-30(b)(6), an organization can designate a representative to answer questions for the organization in a deposition. The practice designated its founder and owner, who was a doctor herself. In the deposition, the attorney asked the owner if ordering a CT scan would have been part of the standard of care, given her understanding of the case. The owner answered that it would have been and explained some details concerning the appropriate care in the plaintiff’s case.

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Procedural rules can make a huge difference in any case. Even the strongest case can fail due to a failure to follow the rules. A recent case showed how even though the plaintiff failed to follow the rules, the case was able to proceed because the defendant failed to follow the rules as well.

Doctor's ToolsIn this case, a man’s family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the man’s treating doctor and medical provider, Mission Health of Georgia, after the man died. The family claimed the doctor and Mission Health were negligent in treating him. Mission Health responded to the complaint and stated the family failed to file an expert affidavit, as required under Georgia law. The doctor similarly argued the family failed to file the expert affidavit, and the doctor also filed a motion to dismiss the case due to that failure. The woman withdrew the complaint and refiled the claim about six months later.

In the new complaint, the family attached an expert affidavit as required. The doctor re-filed his motion to dismiss, based on the family’s original failure to file the expert affidavit. The court granted the motion to dismiss as to the doctor, due to the failure to attach the expert affidavit in the original complaint.

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In a recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals, a woman sued a Georgia grocery store after she slipped and fell on a puddle of water in the store. The woman claimed that the store negligently maintained the premises.

Water on FloorIt was unclear how the water got on the floor. Around the time the woman slipped and fell, another customer told an employee about the water on the floor. The employee told another employee, who then went to get a bucket and a mop and a wet floor sign. The employee then went to clean up the spill. Around this time, the woman slipped on the water, although it was unclear whether she fell before or after the other customer notified the employee about the spill.

The court found there was insufficient evidence the grocery store was at fault. There was evidence that the store regularly inspected for spills and that the area where the spill occurred had been inspected about 20 minutes before the woman fell. In addition, there was no evidence the employees delayed going to clean up the spill. The court explained that since there was no evidence that the store should have known about the spill before the woman fell, and there was no evidence that the store failed to exercise reasonable care in cleaning up the spill when employees were notified, she could not show the store was at fault.

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Hydroplaning occurs when a thin layer of water builds up between a car’s tires and the road. Since the tires lose contact with the road during a hydroplane, the car can skid, lose control, or crash. A car can become unpredictable when it begins to hydroplane, making it difficult for a driver to control the vehicle.

Wet RoadWet pavement contributes to almost 1.2 million crashes each year. Some drivers fail to adequately account for bad weather by failing to properly maintain lights, failing to drive at a safe speed, or failing to leave a safe distance between cars.

Drivers can take precautions to prevent hydroplaning accidents by properly inflating their tires, replacing old tires, driving at a safe speed during bad weather, maintaining a safe distance, driving in a lower gear, and avoiding cruise control in bad weather. But even with all these precautions, the roads themselves can make conditions dangerous for drivers.

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The transportation of hazardous materials is highly regulated, and those who violate those regulations are subject to large fines. The federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act requires all transporters to follow the regulations outlined in the Act.

Hazmat SuitIn addition, if a truck is carrying chemicals or explosives that qualify as an “abnormally dangerous activity” and is involved in an accident, the truck owner will generally be subject to strict liability in any subsequent personal injury claim. Strict liability means that the person responsible is liable for the harm caused, even if that person acted with the utmost care in trying to prevent the harm. However, if hazardous materials do not qualify as abnormally dangerous, or if strict liability does not apply, injured parties have to prove negligence in order to recover compensation for their injuries.

When a hazardous spill occurs, there is a safety risk not just to the people who were transporting the materials but also to other drivers, homes, community members, and the environment. And even in a highly regulated industry, some transporters still manage to slip through the cracks.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion discussing the authentication requirement embodied in OCGA § 24-9-901(a). The rule requires that a party seeking to admit a piece of evidence provide sufficient evidence “to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” In the case of Hungry Wolf v. Langdeau, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court admitted evidence that was not properly authenticated and remanded the case so that the trial judge could determine whether a sufficient basis existed to authenticate the evidence.

DocumentsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured outside the defendant’s bar when he was hit by a ricocheting bullet. According to a summary of the facts, the man who fired the weapon, Colbert, was working at the bar on the night in question. The plaintiffs claimed that Colbert was a bouncer, but the defendant claimed that he was working as a cook and DJ on the night in question. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the bar owner under the theory of respondeat superior. The plaintiff argued that the bar owner should be responsible for the negligent actions of Colbert because the conduct at issue was within the scope of Colbert’s employment.

The bar owner filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that Colbert was not an employee who was engaged in any security work and that Colbert was actually hired and trained by the people performing that night at the bar.

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As family members get older and require more professional medical care, many families are in a position where they cannot provide the level of care that their loved one requires. Over the past few decades, nursing homes have become an increasingly popular option for families when looking for a place for their elderly loved one. In theory, nursing homes are a great idea. However, the reality is that nursing homes and their employees sometimes fail to live up to the duty placed upon them.

Signing a ContractGenerally speaking, nursing homes have a duty to each of their residents to provide a safe place to live, to provide a certain level of care, and to ensure that residents are free from abuse at the hands of staff members or other residents. If a nursing home is found to have violated this duty to its residents, it may be held financially liable for any injuries that result from the abuse or neglect.

One problem that many families face when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a Georgia nursing home is compelled arbitration. Arbitration is a proceeding that results in a non-judicial yet binding ruling made by a third party. Many times, nursing homes will include arbitration clauses in the initial care contract, compelling residents or their families to pursue any causes of action against the nursing home through arbitration, rather than through the court system. The problem with this is that the arbitration panels are selected by the nursing homes, and the arbitration results tend to favor nursing homes. A recent case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals shows the difficulties families may face when trying to file a personal injury or wrongful death case against a nursing home when an arbitration clause was included in an initial care contract.

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Car Accidents After Cars Run off the Road

Highway shoulders are a place where hidden dangers lurk for unsuspecting drivers.  The drop-off angle and drop off height of the pavement relative to the shoulder can lead to a car loosing control when attempting to re-enter the roadway.  There are national, state and local ordinances that regulate pavement drop-offs between the edge of the pavement and the road’s shoulder.  Unfortunately, and often, these regulations are ignored by contractors and in other instances erosion and wear and tear of the shoulder can lead to unsafe drop-offs.   Continue reading