Published on:

Last month, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a written opinion in a dog bite case, explaining which elements a plaintiff must prove in order to be successful. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a trial judge can make a determination, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff’s case is insufficient. Ultimately, in this case, the court held that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to survive the defendants’ summary judgment challenge.

PitbullThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was bitten by a neighbor’s dog while she was visiting the neighbor in their back yard. The defendants had only had the dog for a little over a week at the time of the attack. Prior to the attack, the dog had snapped at humans twice, once at one of the defendants and once at the plaintiff’s husband. On the day of the attack, the plaintiff entered the defendants’ back yard and approached the dog, which was on a leash. The plaintiff extended her hand gently toward the dog, and the dog lunged at her. As the plaintiff tried to get away, the dog latched onto her leg. The plaintiff and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants.

Continue reading

Published on:

In a recent case, a husband and wife brought a Georgia medical malpractice claim, alleging that the man’s doctors and nurses failed to correctly position and reposition him before and during surgery, causing a permanent injury to his arm. However, a Georgia appellate court recently decided that the plaintiffs failed to show that the defendants’ actions or inactions caused the man’s injury.

SurgeonThe plaintiff underwent a robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy surgery, an operation for prostate cancer. The man had to be positioned with his arms tucked to his side, and his body was wrapped with sheets and towel clips. The surgery lasted over nine hours, and his body was never repositioned. After the surgery, the man complained of pain in his shoulders and arms. He underwent a second surgery on the next day to relieve pressure in his right arm, but he lost the complete use of his right arm and hand.

The plaintiffs presented a medical expert, who testified that he was not certain what led to the man’s injury, and it could have been the way he was positioned, the length of the surgery, or both. He also could not say at which point during the surgery the injury developed. He said that they believed the way he was positioned or the failure to reposition him, or a combination of these actions, caused the injury.

Continue reading

Published on:

trawler

In Georgia, and in most other states, generally, when your are injured on the job your only remedy is for benefits under the applicable workers compensation laws.  In Georgia, this is known as the exclusive remedy doctrine.  The benefit of this doctrine to injured workers is that they do not have to prove that a party was negligent in order to be compensated.  Proving negligence can be very difficult in some cases.  Rather, they simply need to prove that they were working and while working, were injured.  The downside to workers compensation’s exclusive remedy is that a workers’ recoverable damages are limited.  For example, an injured worker is not entitled to receive compensation for pain and suffering or punitive damages.    Continue reading

Published on:

train-bus-crashA recent train – tour bus collision in Biloxi, Mississippi, that killed four and left many injured, has been investigated by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board)  for several weeks and their findings will soon be made public.

A crash survivor gave his statement after the incident and stated that the bus got stuck on the crossing which may indicate that the crossing was poorly designed and maintained.  Questions that may arise in this scenario is whether the city properly warned approaching vehicles of low ground clearance.

The City of Biloxi is looking into closing several of its railroad crossings in an effort to improve motorists’ safety but the crossing where this collision occurred is not on the closure list.  It is not clear where liability may lie in this case but several scenarios are possible.  For instance, the train could have been travelling at an unsafe speed, the tour bus driver may have been negligent in not keeping a proper look out and failed to assure that it was safe to cross the tracks.  Alternatively, the state or a governmental unit or even the railway may bear some responsibility for designing and maintaining an unsafe crossing.

Continue reading

Published on:

In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court considered whether a plaintiff was entitled to recover damages after she tripped on a corn hole game at a car dealership. The plaintiff had gone to the car dealership to look at pickup trucks with her boyfriend. While visiting the dealership, the two walked across the sales floor inside the showroom with a salesperson. There were vehicles on display and a “corn hole” game near the offices for customers to play while they were in the process of purchasing a vehicle. The game had two wooden ramps across from each other, and customers would take turns tossing bean bags into a hole in each ramp.

Knee X-RayThe couple spoke to a salesperson in an office, walked across the sales floor and went outside, and then came back inside, walking across the sales floor again and into an office. As the woman was exiting the office, she turned back to answer a question, then turned around again to walk out, and tripped on the corn hole game. She fell and suffered a torn meniscus in her knee. The woman sued the car dealership for negligently maintaining the corn hole game on the sales floor and failing to warn her of its presence.

Continue reading

Published on:

Plaintiffs in personal injury cases, including premises liability cases, must present evidence proving each of the elements of the claim. In Georgia, for a premises liability case to be successful, there must normally be proof that the property owner knew or should have known there was a hazardous condition on their land, that the property owner failed to remedy the hazardous condition, and that the plaintiff was injured due to the presence of the hazardous condition.

FriesIf a plaintiff is unable to provide a court with proof of each of these elements, then the court will dismiss the plaintiff’s case upon motion from the defendant. A recent case highlights how the inability of a plaintiff to remember exactly how she fell prevented her from recovering for her injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a fast-food restaurant on a rainy day. The entrance to the restaurant consisted of two different sets of glass double-doors. The plaintiff made it through the first set of double-doors without issue, but couldn’t open the second set of doors.

Continue reading

Published on:

In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court determined a gas company was not responsible for a home explosion after the company’s employee left a warning card about a leak for the homeowner, and the homeowner disregarded the instructions on the note, causing an explosion. In November 2010, an explosion occurred in a detached apartment on the homeowner’s property. The owner had turned off the natural gas to the apartment and to his house because no one was living in the apartment and because he was not using it in the house. The owner then rented the apartment to a co-worker and asked the natural gas company to turn the gas back on.

ExplosionAn employee from the gas company came over, unlocked the meter, and turned the gas on. When he did so, he saw that the meter showed there was a leak in the fuel line or an open line, so he turned the gas back off. He did not lock the meter. He did not know at the time there was an apartment behind the house. He left a warning card at the house that explained the meter could not be turned on until a leak had been fixed. The employee noted on the card that the meter was off but was unlocked for a plumber.

The owner’s stepson’s girlfriend was home at the time and signed the warning card. The employee also said he left a card on the meter, although the owner said he did not see a card when he returned home. The owner explained that he saw the warning card but did not understand that he had a leak. The owner then asked a friend, who had done odd jobs for him in the past, to come turn his gas on. A couple of days later, the coworker moved into the apartment along with a friend. He ignited a lighter to light an incense, and there was an explosion that set the apartment on fire. The coworker and his friend were hospitalized for burns.

Continue reading

Published on:

Accidents happen all the time, can happen to anyone, and in many cases, more than one person or entity is at fault. In some cases, the injured party themselves may share in the fault for the accident. However, even when the injured party is partly at fault, they can often still recover compensation as long as the negligence of another party is greater than their own.

Operating RoomContributory and Comparative Negligence

Comparative fault generally considers the fault of the plaintiff in determining if the plaintiff can recover and how much is recoverable. The rules on contributory and comparative negligence are set forth in O.C.G.A. § 51-11-7 and § 51-12-33.

Under Georgia law, if a plaintiff could have avoided the resulting injury by exercising ordinary care, a plaintiff cannot recover.  This particular defense is very difficult for a defendant to prove and, in my practice, I have yet to see it succeed for a defendant.  In addition, a plaintiff who is more than 50 percent liable for his or her injury cannot recover. However, if a plaintiff is 50 percent or less at fault, the plaintiff can still recover for their injuries, and the damages are reduced by the percentage of their fault.

Continue reading

Published on:

A delivery driver brought a claim against a gas station after he was hit by another car while he was at the gas station. The driver had come to the station to deliver gasoline and was measuring the station’s gas levels when a customer’s car backed into him. He then brought a premises liability claim against the station.

Fueling UpIn the recent case, a Georgia appeals court considered whether the station could be held liable for having created a hazard that increased the driver’s risk of injury. The delivery driver had come to the station to deliver gasoline, and after filling out forms and making the delivery, he went to measure the station’s gasoline tank levels. He was required to do this both before and after delivering the gas. When he went to measure the tank levels after the delivery, he brought an orange traffic cone with him and placed it in the tank area. The tank area was located in the parking spaces near the front of the store. The driver was measuring the tank level when he dropped a tank cap into the tank well. As he got onto his hands and knees to retrieve it, another car backed into him, injuring him.

Continue reading