Articles Posted in Third Party Liability

Earlier this month, the state’s supreme court issued a written opinion in a Georgia dog bite case discussing if a landlord could be liable for injuries that were caused by a tenant’s dog. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to show that any potential negligence on the landlord’s part was the cause of her injuries.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was walking her dogs when she was attacked by several dogs that had escaped from a fenced yard a few blocks away. Evidently, the dogs belonged to a family who rented a home that was owned by the defendant. The plaintiff first filed a claim against the dogs’ owners, but later joined the landlord as a defendant. This case involves only the landlord’s potential liability.

The plaintiff’s claimed that the dogs were able to escape from the fenced yard because the landlord failed to repair a broken gate latch. Apparently, shortly after moving in, the gate latch broke. To keep their dogs in the backyard, the tenants came up with a temporary solution involving tying a leash to the fence and using cement blocks to prevent the gate from opening. On the day of the attack, the dogs broke free. It was assumed that the landlord knew the latch was broken and that the tenants kept dogs on the property.

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Although many people can safely drive a car year after year without an issue, driving a car is actually a complex activity that requires a significant amount of coordination, judgment, and skill. Like other technical skills, driving is something that takes practice to master. Thus, young and inexperienced drivers are those most likely to cause Georgia car accidents. Indeed, according to government statistics, there are over 180 fatal Georgia car accidents involving motorists aged under 21 years of age. Of course, this does not consider the number of accidents caused by inexperienced drivers as well as those resulting only in injury.

Regardless of a driver’s experience, they owe the motorists with whom they share the road a duty of care to safely operate their vehicle and to follow all posted traffic signs and traffic laws. When a youthful or inexperienced driver causes an accident, they may be held liable for any injuries that are caused as a result.

One issue that may arise in a Georgia car accident involving a young driver is whether that driver’s parents can be held responsible. This is important because most young drivers have few assets with which to compensate an accident victim. However, under the family purpose doctrine, parents may be liable for a child’s negligence in some circumstances.

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In a recent Georgia slip-and-fall opinion, a state appellate court discussed whether a plaintiff’s case should proceed to trial against a defendant maintenance company. The case affirms the importance of conducting a thorough investigation before filing any Georgia personal injury lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts leading up to the accident, the plaintiff was working at a restaurant when he was asked to empty a grease trap into a dumpster that was located in the rear parking lot of the restaurant. The plaintiff was in the process of walking to the dumpster when he stepped into an uncovered water meter. The plaintiff could not see the hole because he was carrying the grease trap. After tripping over the hole, the plaintiff spilled the hot grease on his face and body. He suffered serious injuries as a result.

Initially, the plaintiff filed a claim against his employer and several other parties. However, later the plaintiff named the defendant maintenance company after learning about a contract that the defendant maintenance company had with the plaintiff’s employer. (Note: this case only deals with the maintenance company; the plaintiff’s other claims were handled in separate cases.)

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In a recent case, a plaintiff brought a wrongful death claim against the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and construction contractors on behalf of her parents who died in a car accident. According to the court’s written opinion, in October 2011, the plaintiff was driving behind her parents’ car on a Georgia interstate when a vehicle hit the side of her parents’ car, which then veered off the road, hit the guardrails and a concrete bridge piling and burst into flames.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury case, claiming that the construction contractors who did construction work were liable for her parents’ deaths. The trial court dismissed the case, but the plaintiff appealed. She argued in part that the construction contractors were liable because the GDOT had not accepted the contractors’ work and reassumed control of the site before the accident occurred.

In 2010, the GDOT had entered into a contract with two construction companies to resurface the asphalt along a portion of the highway. A fence and guardrail company was supposed to complete improvements to the guardrails as well. The construction contractors completed the work, and the GDOT inspected the project and issued a maintenance acceptance letter with regard to the project. The final inspection was completed in November 2010. Then GDOT issued a maintenance acceptance letter in December 2011, and in the letter, reassumed control of the highway portion on January 4, 2011.

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Vacation season is coming up, which means many will soon be getting a much-needed escape from the winter blues! But vacation time also presents plenty of opportunities for motor vehicle accidents, break-ins, identity theft, and assault. To avoid falling victim to any vehicular injuries or crimes this vacation season, read our four foolproof tips for staying safe while vacationing.

Drive safely

If you’re going on a road trip with family or friends, take precautions to ensure a safe drive to your destination. This includes sleeping well the night before, avoiding distractions on the road, and always keeping your seat belt buckled. In the event of an accident, remain calm and contact the local authorities to file a report. Read our blog post on safe travels for more cautionary tips.

Last week, in Charleston, West Virginia, thousands of gallons of a chemical used to clean coal leaked into a river that provides water to more than 300,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of Charleston residents were without water for more than four days, leading to a shortage in bottled water, as people flocked to the stores for water to drink, cook with, and brush their teeth with. Many people’s daily routines were disrupted, as schools and businesses were forced to close for several days.

The leak was first reported Thursday morning, and was caused by the chemical MCHM leaking through a 1-inch hole in a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries, Inc., a company that supplies products to the coal mining industry. Already, 18 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Co., a water processing plant, which failed to deal with the contamination promptly and had no established procedures to prevent chemicals from getting into the water system.

PRWeb reports that West Virginia residents filed a proposed class-action suit against Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Company, alleging that they endured damage to property, personal injuries, loss of income, and a nuisance because of the water contamination. Restaurants and other businesses whose operations rely on running water are also suing to recover lost income, after the contamination caused them to close for several days. A dialysis patient whose kidney transplant was delayed due to a lack of clean water has filed a lawsuit, as well. The suits are diverse in nature, but almost all name Freedom Industries as the main defendant, accusing the company of negligence and causing a public nuisance.

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 were unable to administer treatment 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 know to use a wire brush to clean oxides from the wires, otherwise overheating will cause the splice to fail.

The case involving the 2004 explosion of a water heater in Indiana has been settled for $27 million.

The explosion leveled an apartment that was attached to a Morgan County barn, killing one man and critically burning six of his family members.

A year after the incident, the family filed a products liability suit against the water heater company. The jury decided South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corp., RushShelby Energy Rural Electric Cooperative and SCI Propane LLC were 65 percent liable for the accident.

In 2008, a five-year-old girl drowned in a pool at her after-school program, Little Bridges. The little girl was autistic and blind, and although Little Bridges was fully aware of this, they failed to provide the proper supervision for her.

The father of the California five-year-old filed a wrongful death suit against everyone connected to his little girl’s death, including the local school district. In March he was awarded $400k.

If you or someone you know has experienced suffering from the loss of a loved one please contact McAleer Law today.

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