Articles Posted in Georgia Accident Law

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case that was brought against several doctors who performed a surgery on the plaintiff that resulted in the plaintiff permanently losing the use of his right arm. The issue that the court had to decide was whether the expert testimony presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to establish the causation element of a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit. Ultimately, the court determined that the experts’ testimony did not establish the necessary causation because it failed to provide more than a “medical possibility” that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had a surgery performed by the defendant doctors. Prior to the surgery, the doctors positioned the plaintiff in a manner they believed necessary, with both his hands placed behind his back. During the surgery, which lasted approximately 9.5 hours, the plaintiff was not repositioned. The surgery was successful, and the plaintiff was taken to a recovery room. However, upon waking up from the anesthesia, the plaintiff began to complain about pain in his shoulders and arms.

The plaintiff was later diagnosed with compartment syndrome in his right arm, and a subsequent surgery was necessary to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately, the plaintiff never fully regained the use of his arm. He filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors who performed the surgery, claiming that the initial placement of his body during the surgery and the doctor’s failure to reposition him during the surgery caused his injuries.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a slip-and-fall case that occurred when a customer at a car dealership tripped on a wooden game board that dealership staff had placed there as a promotion. Ultimately, the court determined that because the hazard was open and obvious, and because the plaintiff had already successfully negotiated her way around it several times earlier that day, the case should be dismissed.

Watch Out!Case Facts

The plaintiff decided she was in the market for a new truck, and went to the defendant’s dealership to check out their stock. When she got to the showroom she noticed a sales associate was sitting in an office across the room, and she approached. In so doing, the plaintiff had to make her way around the four-foot-long wooden board that was placed there as part of a promotional game.

Once in the associate’s office, she had a brief conversation and then left to go see the inventory, again passing the wooden board. A few moments later the plaintiff returned to the showroom, passing the wooden board, and initiated another conversation with the associate. Once finished, she started to leave, but was stopped when the associate asked her a final question. After she answered, she turned around and left his office, tripping on the wooden board.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court decided that it would hear an appeal from the family of a man who was killed in a workplace accident over 11 years ago. According to one local news source, the accident occurred back in 2005, when the deceased accident victim was working for a company that was contracted to widen an intersection in Macon.

road-work-ahead-2-1225792Evidently, a passing car struck the man and knocked him over. Once he fell onto the roadway, another motorist passing the scene of the accident ran over the construction worker, killing him instantly. The driver of the car that struck the victim was interviewed, and he explained that he was proceeding through a green light at the time, and it was dark. It was dark enough, in fact, that he could not see any of the signs indicating that the area was a construction zone.

The man’s mother filed suit against the Georgia Department of Transportation two years after the fatal accident. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the Department of Transportation failed to provide adequate signage and lighting for passing motorists, failed to inspect the safety features in place at the time of the accident, and failed to ensure that a traffic-control plan had been reached and followed by the sub-contractors at the construction site.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court decided a case arising out of a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a hospital. The case required the court to determine if the heightened requirements of a medical malpractice lawsuit applied to the plaintiff’s premises liability case. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s case need not comply with the medical malpractice requirements because there was no connection between the alleged negligence and the hospital’s provision of medical services.

attention-1315471In the case, Reddic v. East Texas Medical Center Regional Health Care System, the plaintiff slipped and fell a few feet after entering the hospital. The plaintiff filed suit under a premises liability theory. In a pre-trial motion, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the case against them because the plaintiff did not comply with the medical malpractice procedural requirements. Specifically, the plaintiff did not file an expert report supporting her position.

The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed to the appellate court. The appellate court, finding a connection between the condition of the floor and the hospital’s business as a health care provider, reversed the trial court and granted the defendant’s motion.

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It has been described as having “a boa constrictor tightening around your foot while it is being stabbed with a knife from the inside and simultaneously set on fire.”  The pain is so great that those suffering from it often commit suicide to avoid further agony.  This disease is called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or more commonly called CRPS.   It is sometimes also referred to as RSD.  November is CRPS awareness month.

While the exact number of people suffering from CRPS is unknown, the estimate is that anywhere frKcnoB7rKiom 20,000 to 200,000 people suffer.  The scary thing is this is not a hereditary disease.  Instead, contracting CRPS can occur from something as simple as a motor vehicle collision which causes nerve injury.  CRPS is very difficult to treat, with some doctors treating it the same way they would treat a recent amputation.

Due to the severity of the injury, and the complexity of treating CRPS, juries typically return verdicts in the seven figures due to the immense pain and suffering the individual has to go through.  Despite this, CRPS remains somewhat of a medical mystery, due to its difficulty in diagnosing.  While most reputable medical groups such as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke acknowledge the reality that is CRPS, insurance companies are hesitant to settle claims based on CRPS diagnosis.  Instead, many insurance companies will hire “experts” from thousands of miles away to testify that CRPS is not a real disease, and is instead a manifestation of the mind of the person suffering from it.  Fortunately, these experts are few and far between, and juries often come to the conclusion that the expert is wrong.

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Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court heard a case requiring the court to determine who has the burden to prove coverage existed at the time of the accident in cases involving uninsured motorist protection. In the case of Castellanos v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company, the plaintiff was involved in an accident with another driver, and Travelers was the plaintiff’s own insurance carrier.

car-crash-1432754-mThe case arose when the plaintiff was involved in an accident with another party, Santiago. After a jury trial, the plaintiff received a favorable verdict. However, Santiago’s insurance carrier only offered to pay part of the total verdict, explaining that his policy did not include the payment of punitive damages.

The plaintiff rejected Santiago’s insurance company’s offer. Afterwards, that same insurance company completely denied coverage on the basis that Santiago did not assist in his own defense. The evidence suggested that he may have returned to Mexico.

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Late last week, a traffic accident occurred in Lumpkin County around Azalea Ridge. According to a local news report, a man was driving north when he was unable to navigate a curve. He swerved out of his lane and crossed through the center median and hit another car. The driver of the vehicle was not wearing a seatbelt during the accident.

bar-1217438-mUnfortunately, the car that was hit was carrying three young adults. The driver of the vehicle was flown to a hospital, and the other two individuals were driven to another nearby hospital. Only one of the passengers was wearing a seatbelt, but no one was thrown from either of the cars.

Georgia State Police explained that the driver of the vehicle that crossed the median will likely be charged with various crimes. One Trooper explained that the driver will be charged with “failure to maintain lane, driving on the wrong side of the roadway, DUI, two counts of felony serious injury by vehicle, and seatbelt violation.”

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Over the course of the last year, GM has recalled approximately 2.6 million vehicles, mostly Cobalts and Ions, due to various dangerous manufacturing defects. Chief among these defects was a faulty ignition switch that caused the vehicles to stall while in operation, drastically increasing the chance of an accident. In addition, the faulty ignition switch interfered with the proper deployment of the airbag, meaning that in many of the crashes caused by the faulty switch, the airbag should have but didn’t deploy. In total, there have been 13 deaths attributed to the various GM recalls as well as over 55 accidents resulting in injury.

mountain-drive-1442174-m (1)Not surprisingly, the myriad of accidents caused by the defective autos have spurred a number of lawsuits, many of which have settled out of court for a significant amount of money. In one Georgia case, GM provided a settlement of $5 million to the family of a woman who was killed in an accident involving one of the defective vehicles.

However, to further complicate matters, a report recently came out indicating that GM knew about the defect when it settled the case. In response to this report, the family of the victim has refiled the suit, alleging that GM hid its knowledge of the defect when it settled the case.

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In Georgia, almost all personal injury claims against the government or the state government must follow certain procedures to be properly heard by a court of law. One such requirement is that the injured party provide notice to the government. This notice must include certain pieces of information, including:

  • The name of the government entity being sued and the alleged acts of negligence;
  • The time of the accident;
  • The location of the accident;
  • The nature of the loss suffered (financial, personal injury, etc.);
  • The amount of loss claimed; and
  • The specific acts that caused the loss or injury.

manhole-cover-1335904-mIf a plaintiff fails to provide the government with this notice, Georgia courts will not be able to entertain the plaintiff’s action against the government. However, as the Georgia Supreme Court has routinely held, the information does not need to be perfect, but only accurate to the best of the plaintiff’s knowledge.

Georgia Department of Transportation v. Griggs

In a recent case out of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Department of Transportation v. Griggs, the plaintiff was injured on the side of a highway when her car broke down. According to court documents, she got out of her car, walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle, and stepped on a piece of plywood that was covering a manhole cover. The plywood broke, and the plaintiff fell, fracturing her elbow and knee.

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In a run-of-the-mill negligence case, a defendant may be liable to a plaintiff when he or she creates a dangerous situation and a plaintiff is injured. However, what happens when a defendant creates a dangerous situation, places a person in danger, and someone else is injured while trying to rescue the endangered person? In a recent Florida court of appeals case, the court addressed this exact question. passage-748553-m

Menendez v. Wet Gables Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC

In the case, Menendez v. West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC, a court of appeals had the opportunity to discuss what has come to be known as the “Rescue Doctrine,” that allows those who are injured while trying to help another in danger recover for their injuries. In Menendez, the plaintiff was injured while she was in a facility operated by West Gables.

Evidently, Menendez was in the hall while a patient was undergoing physical therapy, and that patient fell, taking Menendez down with her. Menendez sued, alleging two potential theories of negligence: first that the premises was unsafe and second that the malpractice of the physical therapist caused the patient to fall, ultimately caused Menendez’s injuries. Finding no merit to either of her claims, the trial judge dismissed her case. Continue reading →