Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia premises liability case. The case stemmed from a tragic accident in which a woman and her sister attended a concert hosted by Mercer University at a city park. According to the court’s opinion, to enter the park, the women chose a stairway with a handrail. When they decided to leave the concert, they used the same set of stairs, but they had to go further down to get to their car. There was no handrail on this part of the stairs, and there was no other available stairway with handrails.

As the women were walking down the stairs, the plaintiff’s sister turned around to check on the plaintiff. When she turned around, she saw the plaintiff lose her balance, fall, and hit her head on the stairs. Sadly, the impact caused intense bleeding, which resulted in the plaintiff ending up in a coma. The woman was eventually taken off of life support and succumbed to her injuries.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University based on the theories of negligence and premises liability. The University moved for summary judgment alleging that they were immune under the Recreational Property Act (RPA) and that the family did not establish that the University knew about the hazard. The trial court denied the University’s motion regarding its immunity claim. The University appealed the finding and argued that the RPA should bar the plaintiff’s claims.

Most people know that when they are injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, Georgia law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to recover. When people picture this process, they likely picture lawyers in a courtroom, having heated arguments in front of a judge and a jury. While some cases reach this stage, what many people do not know or fully understand is how important the initial stage is — the pleadings stage.

A pleading is a formal written statement of a party’s claims against the other party. The first pleading in a lawsuit is called a complaint — this is the very first document that the plaintiff files in court. While this document is the very beginning of what is often a long process , it may also be the most important. If mistakes are made in the initial pleading, the entire suit could be dismissed altogether.

A recent Georgia appellate case highlights the importance of a pleading. According to the court’s written opinion, the victim in the case was receiving dialysis on a weekly basis. In the summer of 2014, he began to bleed from the area where he received the treatment, and was admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died three days later.

In a recent Georgia appellate case, a plaintiff appealed a trial court’s summary judgment motion in favor of Atlanta Gas Light Company (AGL). Following a natural gas explosion, the plaintiff filed a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against AGL. The record shows that a woman owed a rental home and in preparation for new tenants, she called the company to set up gas service at the residence. Before turning on gas service, the company sent a field specialist to conduct a safety check on the residence’s fuel line and appliances. During the inspection, he noticed that the supply line improperly led to the furnace, the gas line lacked a sediment trap, and the thermostat was inoperable. Based on his inspections, he turned off the supply valve and posted a warning that explained that the owner should not connect or use the appliance until it underwent repairs.

Shortly afterward, the owner’s step-son went to the property to prepare for new tenants when he noticed the warning and that the property did not have hot water. The owner contacted a repair service to fix the furnace. The technician noticed the warning, inspected the appliances, and returned to perform the work. However, the technician improperly completed the job, and the house experienced a gas explosion about nine months after AGL turned the gas on. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries, and two of her family members died in the blast.

The woman filed a lawsuit against the repair company and AGL. The repair company settled its case with the woman, and AGL moved for summary judgment, arguing that they did not breach their duty to the woman.

Georgia is home to many popular companies that offer individuals the opportunity to participate in exciting recreational activities. These activities include rock climbing, rafting, bungee jumping, and sky diving, among many others. However, although these companies typically employ trained and experienced instructors, accidents happen. Given the nature of these activities, accidents often result in serious injuries and even death. When someone suffers injuries while participating in a recreational activity in Georgia, the company or its employees may be liable for the victim’s injuries and damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

However, the majority of these companies require participants or their guardians to sign a liability waiver. Although many of these forms contain similar terms, they are generally tailored to the services the company provides, as well as the company’s policies and procedures. However, the underlying goal is to protect the company from financial responsibility if the participant suffers injuries.

Despite waivers of liability, there are some situations where the court will void the waiver and allow a lawsuit to proceed. These companies may still be held liable for their actions, even if the participant signed a waiver. Courts may find the waiver void and not binding in cases where the company or its agents engaged in gross negligence, when then contract’s language was vague, if there were hidden terms in the agreement, or if the company was violating state law.

Experiencing the loss of a loved one may be one of the most difficult things anyone has to navigate in their lives. Occasionally, when someone passes, it is the result of negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of another party. When this is the case, the deceased’s family and loved ones may potentially have the ability to file a Georgia wrongful death claim. Although wrongful death cases are common across the United States, state rules often differ based on unique statutes, and Georgia is no exception.

In a recent news report, a major car accident left at least four dead in its wake. Just after midnight, the driver of a pickup truck slid into an oncoming lane of traffic and was hit by another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle and his passenger were killed, while his other passenger was in serious condition. The pickup truck’s two passengers were declared dead on the scene, while the driver was airlifted to a local hospital.

Georgia wrongful death lawsuits can be complex. State law only allows specific parties to bring wrongful death claims. Additionally, regardless of how many children are present in the family, the spouse is automatically entitled to receive nothing less than one-third of the total amount of damages in Georgia. If the deceased person is unmarried, wrongful death claims can be brought by surviving parents or the designated representative of the deceased’s estate.

Georgia negligence claims involving loss of life can become more complicated than accident lawsuits with only injuries. When a victim of negligence dies as a result of a car accident or other mistake, there may be separate lawsuits filed on behalf of multiple parties who could be entitled to compensation from the negligent party. The Court of Appeals of Georgia recently released a decision that addressed a dispute between the heirs to an accident victims estate and the beneficiaries of his wrongful death claim. As a result of the recent decision, the case will be remanded to a lower court for further proceedings.

The recently decided case involved claims which were initiated as a result of a man being killed in a Georgia motorcycle accident. The man was killed when he swerved to avoid a trash receptacle that a jury found was negligently left in the road by the defendant at trial. As a result of a settlement agreement made before trial, at trial, the plaintiffs accepted a judgment amount of $1,000,000, which was less than the $4,000,000 that the jury awarded. The settlement was to be divided between two separate claims against the defendant, the “wrongful death claim,” and the “estate claim.”

Because the decedent had executed a will that excluded his children before he died, any proceeds of the estate claim would be given exclusively to his surviving spouse. However, under the wrongful death claim, his four children would be entitled to some of the settlement proceeds. The settlement agreement itself did not state what portion of the $1,000,000 awarded would go to each claim, although the trial court entered a ruling that applied the entire settlement amount to the estate claim, therefore excluding the man’s children from any of the settlement proceeds. The children then filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, seeking a ruling that they were entitled to some of the settlement.

Recently, an appeals court issued an opinion addressing governmental immunity in Georgia personal injury lawsuits. The lawsuit stems from the tragic death of a five-year-old boy who died after being struck and killed when exiting a school bus.

According to the opinion, the bus driver stopped the bus near the child’s home, and then activated the vehicle’s flashing lights, stop sign, and crossing gate. The child was previously instructed to look back at the bus driver before crossing the double-yellow line. However, the boy stepped off the bus, saw his mother, and started to cross the road without looking back. As the boy stepped off the bus, the bus driver saw an oncoming truck, at which point she honked the horn and waved to the child. Unfortunately, it was too late and the boy was struck and killed by the oncoming vehicle.

The family filed a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit against the bus driver, claiming that she was negligent in allowing the child off the bus without assuring that there was no traffic. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the bus driver based on governmental immunity. The plaintiffs argued that governmental immunity should not bar their case because the driver had a duty to keep students on the bus until all of the traffic stopped. The plaintiffs claimed that this duty was “ministerial” and “absolute”; therefore, governmental immunity should not apply.

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 a recent case, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided that a wrongful death lawsuit can be limited by a previous personal injury settlement. The case is an important decision for Georgia personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs.

The Facts of the Case

A woman was in a car accident that left her in a permanent coma. Her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit on her behalf against Toyota, alleging that her Toyota vehicle had a defective seatbelt latch and door-locking mechanism. The case went to trial, but before the jury returned a verdict, the plaintiff and Toyota entered into a “high-low” settlement agreement.

The agreement provided that if the jury found in favor of Toyota, the plaintiff would still recover a certain amount of money. However, if the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, Toyota would only be liable up to a certain amount of money. Thus, the agreement guaranteed the plaintiff a recovery, but a limited one.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit filed by the surviving spouse of a man who was killed in a farm accident. The case required the court to determine whether the defendant farm owner could be held liable for the death of the plaintiff’s husband. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s husband assumed the risks involved with the work he was doing at the time he died, and therefore his wife was not entitled to pursue a claim against the farm owner.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband was a long-time employee of the defendant farm owner. The defendant and his son trained the plaintiff’s husband on the various tasks that he was to perform around the farm, and they made all necessary tools available for use.

One day, the defendant asked the plaintiff’s husband to remove two large tires from a tractor. The defendant told the plaintiff, however, not to remove the wheels by himself and to get assistance from someone else around the farm. Later that day, the defendant’s father-in-law was playing with his granddaughter when he saw the plaintiff’s husband removing the wheels of the tractor by himself. One of the wheels was easily removed without incident, but the plaintiff’s husband was having difficulty removing the second wheel.

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