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.
The case proceeded to trial, but before the jury could make a decision, the court entered a directed verdict in favor of the defendant. When the court granted the directed verdict, it stated there was no evidence as to the woman’s cause of death, since no medical examiner or doctor testified about her cause of death.
The woman’s family appealed the decision, and the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision. The court explained that expert testimony was not required for a jury to determine that a fire caused the woman’s death when a fire engulfed her mobile home. It also pointed out that there was expert testimony about the cause of the woman’s death here. The expert found the location indicated the woman had been alive and trying to escape the fire, and he said the autopsy report stated she died as a result of the fire. As a result, the decision was reversed, and the case was able to proceed.
A directed verdict is a decision by a judge in a jury trial as to the verdict in the case. Essentially, a directed verdict takes the decision away from jurors and allows the judge to decide the case. A directed verdict is allowed only when there is no conflicting evidence on a material issue, and based on the evidence, only one verdict can be reached.
Since directed verdicts are based on the idea that all of the evidence points to one verdict only, directed verdicts are subject to the scrutiny of appellate courts. If an appeals court finds evidence to support a contrary verdict, the decision should be reversed.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia
Personal injury claims can involve anything from a broken bone or whiplash to more serious conditions like paralysis or even a wrongful death. In a wrongful death case, no amount of money can ever replace a parent, spouse, or child lost in a fatal accident. However, surviving family members have the right to be compensated for the full value of their loved one’s life. In any case, it is very important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to figure out when you need to file your claim and how to proceed. The attorneys at McAleer Law Firm are experienced in personal injury and wrongful death claims, and we are ready to help. Contact us at 404-622-5337 or through our online form.
See More Posts:
Government’s Failure to Modify Roads to Prevent Hydroplaning Can Pose Increased Risk for Drivers, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 8, 2016.
Woman Fails to File Expert Affidavit in Medical Malpractice Claim but Able To Proceed Regardless, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 17, 2016.