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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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiffs were covered under a policy underwritten by the defendant insurance company. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiffs were not among those named in the policy for whom underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage was provided, and the plaintiffs’ argument that the policy was invalid was without merit. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ case.The Facts

The defendant insurance company wrote a policy for a car dealership. The policy provided both liability and UIM coverage. However, the UIM coverage was only extended to “directors, officers, partners or owners of the named insured and family members who qualify as an insured.” In fact, the policy specifically stated that “any other person who qualifies as an
Insured” was not afforded UIM coverage.

The plaintiffs decided to test-drive a car from the dealership. While out on the test-drive, the plaintiffs were rear-ended by another motorist. The at-fault motorist had liability insurance coverage, but the policy limits were such that the plaintiffs were not fully compensated for their injuries, even after settling and obtaining the maximum benefit amount under that policy. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a claim with the dealership’s insurance policy, under the UIM coverage.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia slip-and-fall case dismissing a plaintiff’s case based on her knowledge of the ice that she slipped on. The court had to determine if the plaintiff’s decision to exit out of the same door she entered through was fatal to her claim, when she knew that there was ice on the ground. Ultimately, the court concluded that it was and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was picking up an order for her employer at the defendant’s millwork studio. At the time, it was below freezing, and when the plaintiff entered through the front door she noticed that a water spigot had been left open and water was dripping out onto the ground. The water was not quite frozen, but it had formed a mixture of water and ice.

The plaintiff navigated the entrance to the studio without a problem, and when she got inside she told an employee about the hazard. The employee told her to leave out of another rolling door so as to not risk slipping on the ice. The employee explained not to tell anyone that he told her to use that door, because he could get fired for permitting her to use the rolling door.

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Earlier last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case brought against the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) by a man who was injured in a single-car accident due to what he claimed was an improperly maintained roadway. The court ultimately rejected the plaintiff’s claim because he failed to follow the procedural requirements stated in the Georgia Tort Claims Act (GTCA) precisely.The case illustrates the importance of having a dedicated and knowledgeable Georgia personal injury attorney that is experienced in pursing compensation from government defendants.

Ante-Litem Notice

Under the GTCA, any plaintiff who plans on bringing a lawsuit against a government entity must follow certain procedural guidelines in order to establish the court’s jurisdiction. Essentially, the government is presumed to be immune from all tort liability. However, the GTCA waives this immunity in certain circumstances if, and only if, the plaintiff complies with the GTCA requirements. If the plaintiff fails to comply with the requirements of the GTCA, then the court will not have power to hear the plaintiff’s case because the government will be immune from liability.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit brought by an office manager who slipped and fell after stepping in a puddle of water. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against the owner of the building was legally sufficient despite the plaintiff’s own conflicting testimony as to whether it was raining on the day of the accident.Ultimately, the court resolved the conflict in the plaintiff’s testimony against her, and it found that there was no issue of fact that needed to be resolved by a jury. Thus, the court entered judgment in the defendant’s favor.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an office manager at a tax preparation company that was located in a building owned by the defendant. One day, the plaintiff was the first to enter the office, and as she did so, she slipped on a puddle of water that had gathered near the back office.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit requiring the court to interpret and discuss the state’s recreational use immunity statute. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the defendant landowner, basing its decision on the fact that the accident victim did not pay a fee to enter the stadium.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs took their daughter to a youth football game at the defendant stadium. The admission fee was $2 for adults and children over six years old. However, children under six were free. The plaintiffs paid $2 each for their own admission, and their young daughter was admitted for free.

During the game, the plaintiff’s daughter slipped through a gap in the bleachers and fell approximately 30 feet. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff’s daughter was seriously injured, and the plaintiffs filed a personal injury case against the stadium. The plaintiffs alleged that the stadium was negligent in the construction of the bleachers, allowing for a gap where a small child could slip through.

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