Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia workers’ compensation and personal injury case discussing whether the defendant employer could be held liable for failing to provide medical care to the injured employee-plaintiff after he was injured on the job. Ultimately, the court concluded that the “sole remedy” provision of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act precluded the plaintiff’s claim.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a Georgia car accident while he was working for the defendant. The exact details of the crash are not particularly crucial to the case. However, after the accident, the plaintiff claims that his employer denied him access to medical care and insurance, which delayed his treatment. The plaintiff claimed this delay aggravated his injuries, eventually resulting in the plaintiff suffering several strokes. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against his employer.

The employer argued that the sole-remedy provision to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act precluded the plaintiff’s ability to bring the claim. The sole-remedy provision states that “the rights and the remedies granted to an employee by this chapter shall exclude . . . all other rights and remedies . . . and all other civil liabilities whatsoever at common law or otherwise, on account of such injury, loss of service, or death.” Essentially, the sole remedy provision prevents an employee from pursuing a personal injury case against an employer if they can also bring a workers’ compensation claim.

In a recent case, a state appellate court recently decided that a Georgia products liability case could proceed to trial against a store that sold an anchoring tool without providing instructions or a tool necessary for proper installation. According to the court’s opinion, a worker was doing electrical work as part of a construction project and was standing on a ladder when a concrete rod dislodged from the ceiling, causing a heavy piece of equipment to fall. As the equipment fell, some piece of it struck the man in the face, causing him to fall from the ladder. He was seriously injured as a result.

Evidently, the equipment that struck the worker was anchored into the concrete ceiling using a part that had been installed a few days earlier using concrete anchors sold by the defendant store. To install the anchors properly, a person must drill a hole to a specific depth, empty the hole, put in the anchor and setting tool, and hammer in the setting tool, which causes the tip of the anchor to expand. If used correctly with the proper setting tool, there would be an indentation in the flange of the anchor to confirm that the anchor has set properly.

The process is explained in instructions that are supposed to accompany the anchors. The box of anchors used at the construction site did not include those instructions and the workers on the site did not see those instructions prior to using the anchor. The defendant store also did not sell the correct setting tool at the store where the anchors were purchased.

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit discussing the duty that a hotel owes to its guests. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to survive the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court ultimately concluded that the case should proceed to trial, in which a jury could resolve the material issues of fact raised by the plaintiff’s evidence.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and a friend were in Atlanta for a sporting event and stayed at the defendant hotel. As the plaintiff was finishing up in the shower, he slipped and fell. The plaintiff briefly lost consciousness. Once the plaintiff got back home, he experienced blurred vision and nausea.

Two days after the fall, the plaintiff’s wife reported the incident to the hotel. The plaintiff’s wife testified that the general manager told her that the room where her husband stayed should not have been rented because there were no traction strips in the shower and it was under renovation. The manager did not recall telling the plaintiff’s wife that there were no anti-slip strips in the shower.

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia premises liability case discussing the duties a condominium complex owes its residents. Ultimately, the court concluded that the condo complex was not liable for injuries inflicted upon the plaintiff by a third party while the plaintiff was waiting outside the complex’s gates because his key fob had not yet been activated.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff moved into the defendant condo complex in February 2014. The complex had several controlled-access pedestrian and vehicle gates, which required residents to hold a key fob up to a panel to gain access. When the plaintiff purchased his unit, he initially was not provided a key fob. A few weeks after he moved in he was given a fob, but it did not work. The plaintiff contacted management several times without resolution.

During this period, the plaintiff would typically wait at the gate for another resident to enter, at which point he would follow behind them. On one night, about a month after the plaintiff moved in, he was returning home late one night and waited at the gate for 15 to 20 minutes without another resident entering the complex. The plaintiff, who was with his girlfriend, eventually parked on the street. As the plaintiff was walking toward the complex, a man robbed him at knifepoint. A struggle ensued, and the plaintiff was seriously injured as a result.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability case illustrating the limits of a landowner’s liability for injuries that occur on their property. The case required the court to determine under what circumstances a landowner may be liable for the criminal acts of a third party.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff entered a grocery store that was owned by the defendant. After leaving the grocery store, the plaintiff went back to her car, where she was approached by a man who shot and killed her. The plaintiff’s estate filed a premises liability lawsuit against both the defendant, who owned the store, and the operator of the store.

The defendant landowner filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he was not responsible for the death of the plaintiff. The lower court agreed, and granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appealed.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia medical malpractice case discussing the state’s statute of repose. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s claim against the physician was filed after the five-year statute of repose, and thus, was untimely.

What Is a Statute of Repose?

A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it provides a timeframe in which a case must be brought. However, unlike a statute of limitations, a statute of repose cannot be tolled and is absolute. While a state of limitations focuses on the timeliness of the plaintiff’s complaint, a statute of repose is concerned with providing defendants immunity from long-term liability. Thus, under OCGA § 9-3-71, notwithstanding the two-year statute of limitations, “in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s wife was seen by several doctors at the defendant medical practice while she was pregnant. During a routine prenatal sonogram in April 2012, doctors discovered a mass on the plaintiff’s wife’s right adnexa. However, neither the patient nor his wife was informed of the mass, and the mass was not documented among the issues that needed to be addressed.

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Georgia personal injury plaintiffs have to be very careful to name the correct defendants and file the claim within the applicable statute of limitations. In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court explained why the plaintiff could not refile a claim beyond the statute of limitations after having named the wrong defendant when she first filed case.

According to the court’s opinion, in 2015, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit for injuries she suffered at a water park on Jekyll Island, Georgia in 2013. She filed the lawsuit against the “Georgia Department of Natural Resources d/b/a Summer Waves Water Park.” The first complaint was filed with the two-year statute of limitations under OCGA § 50-21-27 (c). The case was later dismissed in 2015.

Evidently, in 2016, the woman filed a second lawsuit for the same injuries. This time, she filed the suit against “Jekyll Island State Park Authority, a/k/a Jekyll Island Authority, d/b/a/ Sumer Waves Water Park.” She claimed that her claim was a renewal claim and that it related back to the suit filed in 2015. The Jekyll Island State Park Authority argued that the lawsuit was filed too late under the applicable statute of limitations.

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A Georgia appeals court recently considered a case against the manufacturer of a heating pad, in which the plaintiffs alleged that the company’s heating pad caused a mattress to catch on fire and burned down their house.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff used a heating pad to relieve neck pain one evening. After the plaintiff had been sleeping for about an hour, a family member came to check on her and noticed that the heating pad had burned into the mattress, and the mattress and curtains were in flames. Ultimately, the entire house burned down.

The plaintiffs claimed that the company was liable because the heating pad suffered from a defective design. They claimed the heating pad was defective in being able to reach such high temperatures as to light the mattress on fire, and also that it lacked safety mechanisms to adjust the temperature and to cool itself off when it reached dangerously high temperatures.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit discussing a legal doctrine that can be used by some plaintiffs to excuse their failure to notice a hazard on the defendant’s property.

Georgia Premises Liability Law

While landowners owe visitors a duty to maintain a safe location, courts will only impose liability on a landowner when the plaintiff can show that the landowner had superior knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall. The idea is that a landowner cannot be negligent for failing to warn someone of a danger that they did not know existed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a frequent customer at the defendant hardware store. One day, the plaintiff was shopping for a specific item, and approached a sales associate in the garden section for assistance. The floor in the garden area was wet, and there were several “wet floor” signs placed around the area. The sale associate told the plaintiff to follow him, which the plaintiff did. As the plaintiff was following the sales associate, he slipped in a small puddle of water, and was seriously injured as a result.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia hit-and-run car accident discussing whether the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed despite the fact that the defendant denied having been driving the car at the time of the accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the circumstantial evidence presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to call into question the direct evidence presented by the defendant suggesting that he was not driving the vehicle.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when another vehicle rear-ended her car. Evidently, the driver of the other vehicle sped off, and the vehicle was not located until later when police identified the vehicle in a nearby parking lot. The vehicle, which was registered to the defendant, was towed to a wrecking yard.

According to the court’s opinion, an officer went to the defendant’s house but no one answered despite it seeming to the officer as though someone was home. The wrecking service also contacted the defendant, informing him that he would need to contact law enforcement before the vehicle could be released to him. However, the defendant never did so. Ultimately, the police determined that the defendant had likely been driving the car.

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