Articles Posted in Personal Injury

In a recent case, after a 19-year-old was injured while riding a horse at a summer camp, he brought a lawsuit against the individual who provided the horses. The boy had been riding the horse at the camp where he worked as a camp counselor in the equine activities program. He had been out on a trail ride with the horse when the horse jumped over a small stream. The boy lost his balance and fell off the horse, and the horse landed on top of him. The defendant had contracted with the summer camp to provide the horses.The boy sued, alleging negligence and willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons riding the horse. The defendant moved for summary judgment, based on the immunity granted by Georgia’s Equine Act. The Equine Act limits the liability of those involved in equine activities but provides for some exceptions. The boy argued that two exceptions applied in his case.

First, he claimed the defendant was liable because he provided an animal but failed to make reasonable efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the activity and to safely manage the animal. The court found that in this case, the defendant provided the horse to the camp, and the camp supervisor assigned the particular horse to the boy. Thus, since the defendant did not assign the horse to the boy himself, the exception did not apply. Another exception exists when a person willfully or wantonly disregards the safety of the participant. Here, this horse had been provided to the camp for two previous summers, and there was no evidence of previous incidents with this horse. As a result, the second exception also did not apply. The court noted that the boy’s injuries resulted from the inherent risks of equine activities, which is the type of injury the Act was meant to protect. Accordingly, the boy could not recover from the defendant under the Act.

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The details are important in personal injury lawsuits. A recent case demonstrated how a lawyer’s small misstep caused one family to be stuck with inconsistent jury awards. In Small v. Sayre, the state’s supreme court ruled that since the lawyer for the plaintiffs failed to raise a challenge to the damages awards before the trial court, the issue was waived on appeal.The family brought a claim against a driver after they were injured in a car accident. The husband was driving when he was rear-ended, and he, his wife, and his daughter were injured. They sued the other driver for their injuries, and the case proceeded to trial. After the trial, the jury found the other driver was negligent and awarded each person compensation for their injuries. The jury awarded the wife damages for past medical expenses and pain and suffering, but it did not award her any future economic or non-economic damages. The jury also awarded damages to the husband but awarded him damages for past pain and suffering without an award for any past economic damages or any future damages.

After the verdict, the family appealed the decision. They argued that the damages awards were inconsistent and that they were not supported by the evidence. However, the lawyer failed to challenge the potentially inconsistent verdicts in the trial court. The lawyer failed to make a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or ask for a new trial. Because of the misstep, the family’s arguments were waived on appeal. As a result, the Supreme Court affirmed the verdicts as the jury decided them.

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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.At 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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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.

The 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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Georgia’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that will pave the way for a jury trial over a man who was tased to death by DeKalb County police officers.   The appeal to the Supreme Court was triggered by a ruling by DeKalb County State Court Judge Wayne Purdom, who denied the police officers’ motion for summary judgment based on claims of immunity. Continue reading ›

The Georgia Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s decision that wrongful death beneficiaries are bound to arbitrate claims against a nursing home when the decedent’s power of attorney holder signed an arbitration agreement when the decedent was admitted to a nursing home.  The Appeals court reasoned that while the power of attorney did bind the estate to arbitrate five other claims (e.g., medical malpractice, negligence, fraud, etc.) the power of attorney did not bind the wrongful death beneficiaries to the arbitration agreement.   Continue reading ›

In a Georgia personal injury case, the “impact rule” applies.  What this means is that in order to recover for purely emotional damages caused by another person or corporation, the person bringing the claim, the plaintiff, must first prove that there was an impact to his or her body.   Continue reading ›

The skin is the largest organ of the body. With it providing numerous health benefits in terms of heat regulation and physical, mechanical and microbial protection, it is no surprise that that severe burn injuries can have very serious effects on a person’s health and well-being.  In fact, in some cases, burns may even be life-threatening. It has been reported that in the U.S. alone, about half a million people suffer from burn injuries each year, although this number only includes those who actually seek treatment.  While minor burns will usually heal with some basic first aid and conservative treatment, more severe burns can result in long-term problems, including pain, scarring and disability.   Continue reading ›

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you probably have several questions about what your options are and what your next steps should be. At McAleer Law, our experienced DUI injury attorneys handle cases like this all the time, and are ready to answer any of your questions. First, check out this guide to the types of compensation you may be eligible to collect. Call us today at 404.MCALEER if you have more questions or to schedule a free review of your case.

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