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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s recovery amount should be reduced by the amount of money that the insurance company paid the plaintiff before the case was resolved. Ultimately, after closely reading the language in the insurance contract, the court concluded that such an offset was appropriate, reducing the plaintiff’s recovery amount by over $22,000.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff had an insurance policy with the defendant insurance company. The case arose when the plaintiff was injured in a Georgia car accident with an uninsured driver. Evidently, the uninsured driver failed to yield at an intersection, striking the plaintiff’s vehicle. The matter of whom was at fault was not important to the court’s opinion; it was assumed that the other driver was responsible for the accident.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver, and a jury returned a general verdict in the plaintiff’s favor for $157,400. The plaintiff’s insurance company paid the judgment, but requested that the total amount be reduced by the amount of money it paid to the plaintiff during the pendency of the lawsuit.

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Parties in a personal injury case have to take great care in maintaining evidence that may be relevant to the case, even if litigation has not yet begun. In one recent case before Georgia’s Supreme Court, the Court considered whether the defendant was properly sanctioned for failing to preserve evidence. The case may not seem as though it pertains to Georgia personal injury cases, however, the court’s decision applies equally to personal injury cases in which one of the parties is alleged to have destroyed, altered, or failed to preserve necessary evidence.

The Facts of the Case

A woman took photos of what she claimed was a bug in her food while she was eating at a work cafeteria. She emailed photos to the building superintendent, and also sent the photos to Walgreens to be printed before delivering them to her superintendent the following day. The food vendor was removed from the list of qualified vendors and later filed a claim as a result of the incident. Almost ten years later, the vendor became aware that there were printed photos in addition to the emailed photos. The superintendent did not provide the photos to the food vendor and admitted that he lost the printed photos at some point. The digital versions were still available, and the superintendent and the employee testified that the photos were identical, although the defendants disputed that fact.

The plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions for spoliation of evidence due to the defendant’s failure to preserve the printed photos. The trial court found that the superintendent had been aware of the claim but still failed to preserve the printed photos or provide them to his employer’s lawyers. As a result, the trial court imposed a sanction for failing to preserve the printed photos. It decided it would provide a jury instruction stating that “spoliation of evidence creates a rebuttable presumption that the evidence would have been harmful to the spoliator.”

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Last month, a Georgia truck accident resulted in a University of Georgia student losing his life. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred in the evening hours on Interstate 20, when an eastbound trucker lost control of his rig. Evidently, the truck flipped over onto its side before colliding with two vehicles and then a barrier wall. After the truck smashed into the wall, debris was thrown across the highway.

Apparently, the student was traveling in the westbound lanes on I-20 when debris from the truck struck his vehicle. The student died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. Police arrested the truck’s driver, charging him with several serious crimes, including second-degree homicide by vehicle.

Georgia Wrongful Death Cases Following Fatal Truck Accidents

In Georgia, family members who have lost a loved one due to another motorist’s negligence can pursue a claim for compensation through a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. Under Georgia law, a wrongful death claim can be brought by a surviving spouse, child or, if the accident victim as a minor, a parent.

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In February 2015 in Phenix City, Alabama, our client was making a left turn on green at a 3-way intersection when, suddenly, a tractor trailer ran the red light, causing our client to strike the 18-wheeler.  From the beginning the defense tried to get out of compensating our client, putting up a hard fight at every chance and forcing McAleer Law to file a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company.  In the lawsuit, we brought not only claims against the driver for his negligence, but also a claim against his employer for negligent retention.

The driver of the tractor-trailer denied any wrong-doing, even denying running the red light.  In spite of his denials, multiple scene witnesses contradicted the truck driver and testified that the tractor trailer appeared to slow down then accelerated through the red light.  Through documents produced in discovery, McAleer Law’s attorneys found that this truck driver had actually caused previous accidents within his first few weeks at work for the trucking company and the trucking company had decided to retain him as a driver.

Our client suffered from severe spinal injuries and had to undergo 3 surgeries along with months of physical therapy and pain management, which the trucking company clearly did not want to pay for.  Despite providing no evidence to support their arguments, the defense asserted that our client’s injuries were pre-existing to the collision due to our client’s blue-collar work history and even asserted that his surgeries were not necessary.  Such defenses are typical and predictable in automobile or trucking collision cases such as this.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case that arose after an accident that occurred in the Dominican Republic. The case required the court to determine if the lower court correctly held that the case should be transferred from Georgia, where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit, to the Dominican Republic. Finding that Georgia’s out-of-state venue statute only applied to cases that were being transferred to other states, the court denied the defendant’s request to transfer the case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was vacationing in the Dominican Republic when she was injured while on a zip-line course. Evidently, one of the zip-lines collapsed while the plaintiff was on the course.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of the course. Because the defendant corporation was based out of Georgia, the plaintiff – who was from Michigan – filed the case in Georgia. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the “balance of private and public factors” weighed in favor of transferring the case to the Dominican Republic. Relying on OCGA § 9-10-31.1, the trial court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case so that it could be refiled in the Dominican Republic. The plaintiff appealed.

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In 2017, our client was travelling down a 4-lane divided highway when a truck driver, driving only his tractor, pulled out of a parking lot and into the path of his motorcycle. Our client had no chance to avoid the collision and died almost immediately upon impact.

Initially, the trucking company denied responsibility for our client’s death.  However, our thorough investigation and accident reconstruction work ultimately convinced the trucking company to abandon this defense.  One of the key reasons the trucking company initially denied fault for our client’s death in this trucking accident case was because Continue reading

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In a recent case before a Georgia appeals court, the court considered whether children’s exposure to a traumatic boating accident was sufficient to recover emotional damages.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a family rented a boat while they were vacationing at Lake Burton in Rabun County, Georgia. They took the boat out on the lake, and when the uncle made a turn, the boat hit its own wake and water spilled into the bow of the boat, where the children were seated. One of the children, who was seven years old, either jumped from the boat or was washed from the boat. The uncle put the boat in reverse, and after he stopped the engine, realized that the seven-year-old was missing, and found him entangled in the propeller. The child died as a result of his injuries. The boy’s parents, as well as the children in the boat, filed a claim against the boat manufacturer and others for negligence.

The court considered the plaintiffs’ claims as claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The boat manufacturer moved to dismiss the claims, and after its motion was denied, appealed to the Georgia court of appeals. The issue before the court of appeals was whether water swamping a boat may constitute a sufficient physical impact under Georgia’s impact rule.

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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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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit discussing whether a maintenance worker’s claim against an apartment complex could proceed under a premises liability theory. The court concluded that the worker did not assume the risk of injury because the nature of the work he was hired to complete did not put him on notice regarding the risk that ultimately led to his death.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was employed as a maintenance worker and was hired by the defendant apartment complex for occasional odd-jobs. Apparently, among the jobs the defendant asked the plaintiff to complete was to change the lightbulbs atop four light posts surrounding the complex’s tennis courts.

Evidently, the plaintiff changed the light bulbs once in the past by affixing two ladders together to reach the top of the light posts. When the defendant asked the plaintiff to replace the bulbs a second time, the plaintiff requested that the defendant rent a scissor lift because the poles were so high. The defendant rejected the plaintiff’s request, and the plaintiff agreed to change the light bulbs using the two-ladder system he had previously used. As the plaintiff was replacing one of the bulbs, the base of the pole snapped. The plaintiff fell to his death.

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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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