In a recent Georgia personal injury case, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that a woman’s claim could continue against a store after she allegedly stepped on an anti-theft pin in the store.

The Facts of the Case

The woman was shopping with her daughter at a clothing store and stepped on the anti-theft sensor pin on the floor. The pin was about the size of a thumb tack and went through the woman’s sandal, puncturing her foot. She alleged that the pin caused her permanent nerve and tissue damage. The woman claimed that at the time, she was shopping with her daughter and held up a piece of clothing to her daughter, while an employee was unloading new clothing nearby. She explained that three other employees were standing behind the cash registers about four or five feet away. None of the employees or the woman saw the pin before the woman stepped on it, and it was not clear how long the pin had been on the floor.

The woman filed a premises liability claim against the store, alleging that the store breached its duty of care by failing to keep the premises free from hazardous conditions that were present or that the store should have known were present.

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Earlier this month, the state’s court of appeals issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case that required the court to consider whether a tenant’s slip-and-fall accident could properly be brought against the condo association and property management firm responsible for the complex’s maintenance. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiff could not establish that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between herself and the defendants.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented a condo from the condo’s owner; however, the two never executed a formal written lease, relying only on an oral agreement. During her stay at the condo complex, the plaintiff complained to the condo association on several occasions that the stairwell leading to her condo was dark and without a handrail. The association took no action.

One day, the plaintiff slipped and fell when she was walking down the stairs. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the condominium association as well as the property management firm responsible for maintaining the complex.

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In June 2009, a Pennsylvania woman died days after she was struck by a power line that fell into her yard. Carrie Goretzka stepped outside to call 911 about the line and was shocked and burned by a live electrical wire that fell from trees. Rescue workers couldn’t help her until a utility crew came to cut off the power.

Goretzka’s family filed a lawsuit against the utility company, West Penn Power, and its related companies. It contends the companies are liable for Goretzka’s death because utility workers failed to properly maintain the wires that fell near her home.

The family’s attorney, Shanin Specter, says the power line failed at a point where it was spliced. He says workers using a splice device should have used a wire brush to clean oxides from the wires. Otherwise overheating will cause the splice to fail.

In May 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia slip-and-fall case discussing whether the lower court was correct to dismiss the plaintiff’s case against the defendant grocery store. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to survive the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and thus, should have been permitted to proceed to trial.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff finished shopping at the defendant grocery store and was returning the shopping cart to the corral. After leaving the cart, the plaintiff tripped and fell on the crossbar of the corral. Evidently, the crossbar was elevated a little over an inch off the ground because the corral had previously been hit by a delivery truck.

The grocery store acknowledged that it knew of the raised crossbar, and claimed that it had called for it to be fixed. The grocery store argued that the raised crossbar was clearly visible and that the plaintiff should have exercised caution to avoid the hazard. The lower court agreed that the hazard was open and obvious, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia premises liability case. The case stemmed from a tragic accident in which a woman and her sister attended a concert hosted by Mercer University at a city park. According to the court’s opinion, to enter the park, the women chose a stairway with a handrail. When they decided to leave the concert, they used the same set of stairs, but they had to go further down to get to their car. There was no handrail on this part of the stairs, and there was no other available stairway with handrails.

As the women were walking down the stairs, the plaintiff’s sister turned around to check on the plaintiff. When she turned around, she saw the plaintiff lose her balance, fall, and hit her head on the stairs. Sadly, the impact caused intense bleeding, which resulted in the plaintiff ending up in a coma. The woman was eventually taken off of life support and succumbed to her injuries.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University based on the theories of negligence and premises liability. The University moved for summary judgment alleging that they were immune under the Recreational Property Act (RPA) and that the family did not establish that the University knew about the hazard. The trial court denied the University’s motion regarding its immunity claim. The University appealed the finding and argued that the RPA should bar the plaintiff’s claims.

When someone is injured in Georgia as the result of someone else’s negligence, the law allows them to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover for their injuries. However, every personal injury case in the state must be brought within a certain time, which is listed in the relevant statute of limitations. In most Georgia personal injury cases, the plaintiff must file suit within two years of the date of the injury. However, state law allows parties to enter into contracts to limit the time within which a lawsuit may be brought, down to one year, for example.

In some cases, there may be disputes over whether or not this contractual provision applies to a specific suit. Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court considered a case where this issue arose. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was a tenant in the defendant’s apartment complex, located in Morrow, Georgia. The parties entered into a written lease when the plaintiff moved in. The lease included, in part, a provision stating that the plaintiff agreed and understood that “any legal action” against the defendant “must be instituted within one year of the date any claim or cause of action arises.”

About a year after the contract was signed, the plaintiff was walking in a common area of the apartment complex when she tripped on a broken and crumbling portion of the curb. She then brought suit against the apartment complex for being negligent in not repairing the curb. The apartment complex then moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was barred because it was not brought within one year, as stipulated in her signed lease. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Last month the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an opinion addressing the standard of review that courts should use when hearing appeals regarding special and general damages. This Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit arose after a woman claimed she became permanently and totally disabled following the care she received at an emergency room. The woman’s husband took her to the hospital, where she complained of pain associated with a severe headache, dehydration, diarrhea, and nausea. The triage nurse did not note the woman’s initial headache symptoms, but instead chose a charting template for digestive illnesses. The woman was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was told to visit her primary care doctor that week for follow-up. Later that week, the woman suffered an insurgency in her symptoms, and a CT scan showed that she had a blood clot and had suffered several strokes. Despite several surgeries, the woman entered a vegetative state.

The woman’s husband filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital, alleging that they negligently failed to diagnose her with a ruptured aneurysm. The husband argued that the woman would have had a more promising outcome if they had adequately diagnosed and treated her for her blood clot. The jury apportioned fault amongst the parties and awarded the plaintiffs with their requested damages for past medical expenses but awarded zero damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and future expenses. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial arguing that the zero-sum award was inadequate and against the preponderance of the evidence. The defendants countered that the award should not face modification, and it was inappropriate to limit a new trial to only the issue of damages. The appeals court reversed the court’s denial of the motion and ordered a retrial, finding that the jury’s award was inadequate under the preponderance of the evidence. The defendants appealed, arguing that the preponderance of evidence standard was erroneous.

Under Georgia law, damages are divided into three distinct categories, special, general, and punitive damages. Special damages are losses that are easily quantifiable and flow from the tortious act. Special damages include things such as hospital bills, property damage, and lost wages. General damages are more difficult to quantify and cover losses related to permanent changes and human suffering. These include damages related to mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of companionship. Unlike special and general damages, punitive damages are designed solely to punish the defendant and deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia truck accident lawsuit, addressing the state’s vicarious liability law. The case arose after the plaintiff appealed a trial court’s ruling in favor of an employer who owned the truck that was involved in an accident that killed one of his daughters and injured the other. The driver of the truck worked for the defendant’s company, and on the day of the accident, he and a co-worker were making a stop before traveling to their next job site. When they were leaving the job site, another vehicle suddenly changed lanes and swerved in front of the truck. The truck driver quickly changed lanes to avoid a collision, but in doing so, his driver’s side tire flew off his vehicle and struck the plaintiff’s daughter’s car.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the truck driver’s employer based on Georgia’s vicarious liability laws. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the driver did not properly maintain his truck, and the driver’s actions were attributed to his employer.

Under Georgia law, employers may be subject to vicarious liability laws if their employee’s negligence results in a car accident and injuries to another person. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior employers may be liable in these cases if their employee’s negligent acts occurred while the employee was engaged in the “course and scope” of their employment. However, this theory does not apply if the employee is on a personal errand which does not provide any benefit to the employer. Issues often arise when determining whether an employee was within the “course and scope” of employment, especially in instances where the employee is taking a brief detour during work. In most situations, employers are not liable when the accident takes place on the way to or from work or if the employee was on a lunch break. However, exceptions exist when the employee is on a “special mission” for the benefit of the employer, or if they are in an employee-owned vehicle. In these cases, employers possess the burden to overcome the presumption of liability.

Most people know that when they are injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, Georgia law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to recover. When people picture this process, they likely picture lawyers in a courtroom, having heated arguments in front of a judge and a jury. While some cases reach this stage, what many people do not know or fully understand is how important the initial stage is — the pleadings stage.

A pleading is a formal written statement of a party’s claims against the other party. The first pleading in a lawsuit is called a complaint — this is the very first document that the plaintiff files in court. While this document is the very beginning of what is often a long process , it may also be the most important. If mistakes are made in the initial pleading, the entire suit could be dismissed altogether.

A recent Georgia appellate case highlights the importance of a pleading. According to the court’s written opinion, the victim in the case was receiving dialysis on a weekly basis. In the summer of 2014, he began to bleed from the area where he received the treatment, and was admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died three days later.

Workplace accidents and injuries are common. From tripping over a cord left on the floor to injuring your back while doing heavy lifting, most Georgia employees are vulnerable to at least some type of injury at their place of work. When accidents occur and Georgia residents are injured while on the job, they may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits to help them out financially while they recover. Administered through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, the benefits can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and even temporary or permanent injuries or disabilities.

However, like any insurance policy, actually recovering under the scheme can sometimes be difficult, as there are many complicated rules and regulations governing worker’s compensation. Although disputes are initially handled in administrative agencies, sometimes injured accident victims may have to bring their case all the way to court to settle disputes over the appropriate amount of compensation.

For example, the Court of Appeals of Georgia recently considered the case of a Georgia woman who was injured while at work when she tripped over an open drawer and fell onto the floor. She suffered severe pain and injuries in her shoulders and arms, limiting her ability to work. After many visits to several doctors and continuing pain in her shoulders and arms, she eventually filed for workers’ compensation. She was awarded benefits, but only for a limited period of time. Because one of the doctors she visited had said that he thought she was able to return to work, even though the plaintiff herself did not feel as though she could, she was only awarded benefits to cover up to that point. The Court of Appeals upheld this decision, finding that it was based upon evidence in the record and that the doctor’s opinion could be relied upon to limit her benefits in this way.

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