Family in Georgia Recovers a Total of $ 2,790,000 for a Slip and Fall at Kroger Grocery Store

picture for blog post march 31 2014The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a Jury verdict for a family for a total of $ 2,790,000 for a Slip and Fall at a Kroger Grocery Store in Georgia.  The woman who fell recovered $ 2,640,000 for injuries she sustained when she fell at a Kroger Grocery Store while she was walking on her way to the check out isle and walking through the floral area, when she fell on a liquid substance on the floor.

The Husband was awarded a total of $ 150,000 for loss of consortium.   The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the finding that the liquid had been on the floor for a long time and, therefore, the store had constructive knowledge of the liquid prior to the slip and fall.  This is similar to the case that I discussed in my last blog post about the woman who was injured in a condominium parking lot in DeKalb County and was a awarded $ 840 in damages.

As I have stated in my website, not all Premises Liability cases are slip and fall cases, but all slip and fall cases are Premises Liability Cases, and a majority of the Premises Liability cases are slip and fall cases according to the Georgia Supreme Court.  The Georgia Supreme Court has clearly stated that in order for a Plaintiff to recover in a Premises Liability Case that the Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury caused by a hazard on an owner or occupier of land’s premises or approaches that the owner or occupier should have removed in the exercise of ordinary care for the safety of the invited public.

The Georgia Supreme Court has further stated that when a premises liability cause of action is based on a trip and fall or slip and fall claim, that the general test comes down to two specific elements that the Plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence: 1.)  The Defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) The Plaintiff, despite exercising ordinary care for his or her own personal safety, lacked knowledge of the hazard due to the defendant’s actions or to conditions under the defendant’s control.

These principles devolve from the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 51-31, which provides in pertinent part that: When an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe (emphasis mine).

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Jury in Georgia awards Plaintiff $ 840K in Premises Liability Case for Parking Lot Injury

parking lot photo for march 27 blogRecently, in DeKalb County, Georgia a Jury awarded a woman $840K for an injury that she suffered after tripping over a parking lot hump in a condominium parking lot.  The woman did not live there and was visiting when she parked in her friend’s spot, tripped over a parking lot pipe hump and injured her left elbow.  She was left handed and never fully recovered.

The Plaintiff offered to settle the case before the Jury verdict for $ 350K and the Defendant countered with $100K.  According the Plaintiff’s Attorney, the Plaintiff was awarded everything she asked for down to the penny and the Jury was very sympathetic to her since she never regained full use of her arm after the injury.

As I have discussed in my prior blog post about Premises Liability Law in Georgia and on my Premises Liability Page on my Website, Premises Liability Cases can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone.  It is the duty of the owner of the property to keep the premises safe for its guests and invitees.

Condominiums and Apartment Buildings alike are responsible to keep the conditions safe.  This verdict does surprise me a little, however, since Georgia tends to be very conservative when it comes to Premises Liability Cases which is most likely why the Defendant offered so little to settle this case.  The Plaintiff’s persistence paid off in this case and the finder of fact, the Jury, was sympathetic to this person who suffered a permanent disability as a result of a dangerous condition.

This case may have been different if the actual tenant of the building slipped and fell since it was her parking spot and the finder of fact may have found that she knew, or should have known, about this dangerous condition, and, therefore, the owner of the parking lot, or the Condominium Association, was not responsible for any injury.  In this case, it was a guest of the actual tenant and the finder of fact must have found that she did not know or had no reason to know of the dangerous condition.

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Arbitration Clause is Held Unenforceable in Case with Rehabilitation Center

picture for march 23 blogI discussed in my prior blog post about Do Not Sign Your Rights Away that Arbitration Clauses can be held enforceable in some agreements involving Nursing Homes.  In a recent case out of Arkansas with a Rehabilitation Center the Rehabilitation Center moved the court to enforce the Arbitration Clause.  The Court of Appeals held, and the Supreme Court affirmed, in this case that the Arbitration Clause was invalid due to a lack of mutual assent since both parties to the agreement had not signed the Arbitration Clause.

In the case I discussed in my prior blog post about Not Signing Your Rights Away the issue in that case was that the Arbitration Clause addressed financial issues and not issues of negligence and since, in that case, the issue was negligence and not a financial issue, the Arbitration Clause was held unenforceable.

I am an Arbitrator, and a Mediator, and I firmly believe that there is a place in our judicial system, and that this place is firmly rooted from the past, for both Arbitration and Mediation.  The point that must be considered in all contracts and in Arbitration provisions is whether or not the party entering into such a contract fully understands the implications of an Arbitration Clause or provision and that if the clause suggests Binding Arbitration that the parties have now waived their rights to a full judicial system for the adjudication of disputes.

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Parents of Teen Killed in Drunk Driving Crash Win $ 2 Million Dollar Judgement

drinking and driving march 20 blog postTo reiterate prior blog posts about both the dram shop rule as it applies in Georgia and who can later be held responsible for serving alcohol when someone is later injured or killed, and the dangers of drinking and driving, a Judge in Boston, Massachusetts recently ordered the payment of a total of two million dollars ($ 2,000,000.00/and No 00ths) to each of the parents of a teenager who was killed in a drunk driving crash.

The teenager was at a party who was hosted by a 23 year old by the name of Craig Snow, and the Judge ordered Snow to pay each of the parents one million dollars ($ 1,000,000.00 and No/00ths) as the host of the party.  In Georgia, the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) Section 51-4-4 governs the Parent’s Rights to Recover for the Wrongful Death of a Child.  The Judge in this case stated that the judgement was based on the concept of reasonableness stating that homeowners are left with little protection for serving people at their homes, getting them drunk, and then letting them drive.

The Judge further reiterated that this case should serve as a wake up call to anyone hosting a party where alcohol is present.  Most homeowners policies in Georgia will not protect the homeowner from liability if the homeowner was serving alcohol in the home.

Furthermore, the person who was driving the car who was drunk who caused the accident that killed the daughter was charged with, and pled guilty to, motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk.  Georgia has similar laws that hold person’s criminally responsible for driving drunk and causing the death of another under Article I. Homicide, Title 16, Chapter 5, Article 1.

These are accidents and tragic deaths that could have been avoided.  It can not be reiterated enough how drinking and driving is not worth it and can cost the life of another human being.  Again, in these situations, nobody wins.  A life is lost and the person loses the right to enjoy life, the parents lose a nineteen year old daughter, two young men must live with this the rest of their lives, and money will never fully compensate anyone for this loss.

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Important Rules to Follow if you Want to Win your Injury Case in Georgia ~ part two.

what to do in your injury case part twoThis is a follow up from my prior blog post about Important Rules to Follow if you Want to Win your Injury Case in Georgia.

Third, during your case, be sure that you keep good records such as a copy of the police report, a diary of how you feel each day and what activities you were not able to enjoy that you were able to enjoy prior to the injury, all correspondence with the insurance company and the other party, contact information for your doctors and potential witnesses, receipts for medical treatment, records of lost time from work, photographs or videos of your injuries, a copy of insurance policies, car repair information, and receipts from anything involving the accident or injury.

The more documentation that you have, the better.  Be as meticulous and organized with this information as you can be as you gather this information.  You may think that you will remember every detail but memories do fade over time so the more documentation and record keeping, the better for your case.

Do not share this information, however, with anyone except your legal counsel.  This is not the time to post messages on social media as these things may very well end up hurting your case.  Insurance companies have investigators and they will follow you and watch your every move so keep your notes and documentation private.

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Important Rules to Follow if you Want to Win your Injury Case in Georgia ~ part one.

seeking medical treatment part one for blogIn order to win your injury case in Georgia you must show that there was a duty owed to you by another person or entity, that the duty was breached, and that the breach of the duty caused your injury.  If you end up in a court of law in your injury case, then the burden of proof is on the injured party (i.e. the Plaintiff) to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it was more likely than not that the actions of the Defendant caused the Injury to the Plaintiff.

Of course, Injury cases are much more complicated than this as each case has its own facts and circumstances and there are multiple variations that will effect the outcome of any one particular case.  There are, however, some Important Rules to Follow if you want to Win Your Injury Case in Georgia.

First, one of the most common mistakes that people make is that they don’t seek proper and immediate medical treatment.  It is imperative that when you are injured that you do not delay medical treatment and that you seek the proper treatment.  There may be legitimate reasons that a person does not seek medical treatment such as lack of knowledge of where to get proper treatment, lack of insurance or other resources to seek treatment, the assumption that you aren’t hurt very badly or that you will get better, not worse, without medical treatment.

Regardless of the reasons for not seeking medical treatment, not seeking medical treatment immediately following an accident or injury will diminish the value of your case.  Therefore, it is imperative that you seek medical treatment by a qualified physician immediately following an accident or injury, and follow up with any and all treatments that are recommended by the doctor.

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In Georgia, what is the Standard of Care in Emergency Room Cases regarding the Premature Removal of the Backboard and Neck Brace ~ part two?

emergency room for blog post two march 12This is a continuation of my prior blog post pertaining to the Questions to be Asked and the Importance of Said Questions in determining the Standard of Care, or breach thereof, in the Emergency Room for the Premature Removal of the Backboard and the Neck Brace.

The fifth question to ask is whether or not a cervical spine radiograph (CSR) was or was not performed?  This is important since a cervical spine radiograph is necessary for a comprehensive evaluation of the cervical spine (2009) 40 ESINJR 8 795-800.

The sixth question to ask is what were the results of the cervical spine radiography (CSR)?  This is important since in all cases of suspected spinal column injury, immobilization of the spine needs to be maintained until an unstable injury is ruled out.  If this is not done then there is a question of whether or not the standard of care was breached  (2011) 91 ESRCNA 1 209.

The seventh question to ask is whether or not the consciousness of the patient was or was not assessed using the Glasgow coma scale?  This is important since low-risk patients consist of awake, alert, cooperative and non-intoxicated patients without any distracting injury. These patients are given a 15 on the Glascow coma scale. With a detailed history and physical examination the cervical spine of patients in the “low-risk” group can be “cleared” without further radiographic examinations.  Patients who are not low-risk, on the other hand, may not necessarily be cleared without further examinations and if a higher-risk patient was prematurely removed from the neck or back brace, then there is an indication of a breach of the standard of care (2009) 40 ESINJR 8 795-800.

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In Georgia, what is the Standard of Care in Emergency Room Cases regarding the Premature Removal of the Backboard and Neck Brace ~ part one?

emergency room for march 12 blog post oneUnlike the case in point in my prior blog post where the man lost his finger, one of the most common ER medical malpractice claims in Georgia is the Deviation of the Standard of Emergency Care for the Premature Removal of the Backboard and Neck Brace.  In these cases, the questions that are typically asked when determining what the Standard of Care is in these situations and whether or not there has been a Breach of said Standard of Care are as follows along with an explanation of why these questions are important questions to ask when evaluating an ER Medical Malpractice case involving the type of deviation listed herein above.   The answers to these, and other, questions will determine in part if the Standard of Care has been breached and, therefore, whether or not there is a potential Medical Malpractice Case to further pursue.

The first four questions will be addressed in this blog post part one, and the remaining questions will be addressed in blog post part two.

The first question to ask is whether or not the patient was conscious or unconscious when the brace was removed?  This is important since the most controversial area in the evaluation for cervical spine injury is the issue of how to manage the unconscious patient since the unconscious patient can not respond and the physician must make decisions based on observations without patient feedback.

The second question to ask is whether or not alertness, neck pain and spine tenderness were assessed in the patient.  This is important since asymptomatic patients must be assessed for alertness, neck pain and spinal tenderness before removal of the collar.  If there is any neck pain, spinal tenderness, or the patient is still unconscious, then the collar should not be removed  (2009) 40 ESINJR 8 795-800.

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Cherokee County Groom Charged with DUI and other Crimes in Wedding Day Crash that Killed his Bride

stop-driving-1437890-mThis is another strong reminder never to get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or any machine if you have been drinking or are under the influence of any drugs or mind altering medications or the like.  In one of my previous blog posts I wrote about a groom who allegedly swerved to avoid hitting a dog on the eve of his wedding day when the car he was driving went off of the road and crushed the bride underneath the car killing her at the scene of the accident.

It has since been reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the groom was driving under the influence of alcohol and has since been charged with first degree vehicular homicide, laying drag, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane.

This is another example of a senseless tragedy that could have been avoided had the groom not been drinking and driving.  If you plan on drinking, then the lesson is simple; do not drink and drive.  It might be inconvenient to call a cab, have a sober friend drive you home, or make other provisions in these situations.  It is not worth the consequences, however, as this story clearly proves. Nobody wins in these situations.

A life that was worth living is now lost, and another human being will also have to live for the rest of his life with the fact that he senselessly took someone else’s life. No amount of jail time, sorrow, forgiveness or anything else will erase the memory that such irresponsibility took the life of another human being that can never be replaced.

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Georgia Supreme Court will let a jury decide if the Standard of Care was breached in the Emergency Room causing the loss of man’s finger

emergency-room-65898-mThe State Supreme Court of Georgia has ruled that a jury can decide if the Standard of Care was breached in Medical Malpractice cases involving Emergency Rooms.  A recent case was reported by the Fulton County Daily Report where a man was arguably not transferred in a timely fashion to another hospital from the Emergency Room (ER) and, therefore, subsequently lost his finger.

Traditionally, the Standard of Care in Emergency Room Medical Malpractice Cases in Canton, GA, Atlanta, GA, and the Entire State of Georgia has been that it has to be shown that the hospital committed gross negligence to be liable in these types of cases and a jury did not decide these questions of fact.  Recently, however, the tide is turning and the Court is ruling that a jury should, in fact, determine whether or not an Emergency Room committed gross negligence by not transferring a patient to another hospital in a timely manner.

In the case in point, a man lost his finger and it was argued that he should have been transferred from the ER to a traditional hospital setting, and that this was not done in a timely fashion causing the loss of his finger.  The Court ruled that a jury will decide whether or not there was a deviation from the Standard of Care in the ER that would permit a jury to find by clear and convincing evidence that the ER doctors caused harm to the Plaintiff by Grossly Deviating from the Applicable Medical Standard of Care.

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