COVID-19 Update: How We are Serving and Protecting Our Clients.

insung-yoon-w2JtIQQXoRU-unsplash-300x200Just when everyone thought the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind us, the Delta variant swept through the country and became the dominant strain in a matter of weeks. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases who thought they would finally get their proper day in court are now facing the prospects of more delays. 

Our team knows that nobody is more frustrated than personal injury victims and their families. Justice delayed, as it is often said, is justice denied. When you choose Attorney Robin Clark and the team to take your personal injury case to trial, we will fight for you until the end. 

Zoom Mediations—a Worthy Alternative?

bedrail-225x300
I have been enjoying seeing posts on social media of families taking their college-aged kids to their colleges and universities and helping them move in to their dorm rooms. This is a rite-of-passage for many young people as they begin their college careers and are perhaps living away from their home and their parents for the first time in their lives. The personal injury attorney in me can’t help but notice on the many dorm room photos online of how many of the high bunk beds have bedrails installed versus how many don’t. And this is the problem: no high bunk bed in any college dorm room should be without a bedrail installed.  The photograph above makes me happy because it shows a high bunk bed with a bedrail installed. This student will be safe when sleeping in this high bunk bed.

This issue came to light several years ago when Clark Jacobs, then a Georgia Tech student,  fell out of his lofted bed in his fraternity house. He fell 7 feet from his bed to the hard floor of his room. He was diagnosed with a fractured skull and a brain bleed which then led to a stroke. Five years and hundreds of hours of therapy later, including in-patient rehabilitation at Shepherd Center, Clark graduated from Georgia Tech in the summer of 2020.  I blogged about this incident last year and about a similar incident that happened to a young woman who was a student at Valdosta State University. That woman sued the Georgia Board of Regents and lost her case in the Georgia Court of Appeals. Valdosta State Univ. v. Davis, A20A1036, 2020 WL 4745074 (Ga. Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2020). Her attorneys petitioned the Georgia Supreme Court for Certiorari, but the Supreme Court declined to hear this case earlier this year, which means the Georgia Court of Appeals’ opinion stands.

Following my September 2020 blog on college bedrails,  Mariellen Jacobs, Clark Jacobs’s mother, reached out to me to discuss this ongoing problem. Given the fact that she had witnessed her son’s injury and recuperation first hand from an incident that, arguably, never should have happened in the first place, Mariellen Jacobs has become quite an expert on this subject matter. Her son endured a long recovery at Shepherd Center with medical bills totaling over $1 Million dollars. In Georgia, through the work of her foundation, Rail Against the Danger, Ms. Jacobs was able to convince the University System of Georgia (and all 26 state campuses) to become “rails ON” so that at residence hall check-in, every elevated bed has a safety rail in place to prevent injury. You can find information online that indicates that in at least a Georgia dorm room, a bedrail must be installed on the top bunk.  You will find this language in the Georgia Tech Housing and Residence Life webpage:

cytonn-photography-GJao3ZTX9gU-unsplash-1-300x200A personal injury lawsuit is a legal tool that can be used to obtain damages after someone (the plaintiff) is physically, mentally, or emotionally injured due to the intentional acts or negligence of someone else. If, unfortunately, the personal injury victim dies as a result of someone else’s actions, a family member of the deceased may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Someone in Georgia is said to have suffered a wrongful death if he or she died due to a crime, negligence, or “property” that has been “defectively manufactured.” The defective property does not have to have been negligently manufactured in order for a wrongful death claim to be brought.

What Kind of Damages Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Produce?

michael-longmire-lhltMGdohc8-unsplash-300x216After a serious car accident–one that involves damage to your car and the other person’s car, not to mention physical injuries–you’re in a precarious position. Between rental cars, medical bills, and lost wages, finances can quickly become a big problem. Insurance companies understand the situation you’re in, and they generally have no hesitation in using that to their advantage. 

It’s certainly not fair, but it’s the reality for victims of car accidents who need compensation. Being prepared for various stunts occasionally attempted by auto insurance companies can help you prepare for the upcoming process and protect your claim. 

  1. Offering a lowball figure to make the claim go away. 

NewlawsMGN2020-300x169Georgia-Seal
July 1 always welcomes in the new laws passed by the Legislature in the last Legislative session. Tomorrow Georgia will have several new laws that go into effect, many of which you may not be aware.

The first you should know about is “Joshua’s Law,” codified at O.C.G.A. § 40-5-10.  The genesis of this law is the untimely and unnecessary death of Joshua Brown, son of LuGina and Alan Brown back on July 1, 2003. It is ironic that the law in his name goes into effect on the 18th anniversary of Joshua’s death.  I had the distinct honor of representing LuGina and Alan in a successful wrongful death lawsuit in Fulton County against the Georgia Department of Transportation.  We tried that case to a jury and settled it on the last day of trial. Joshua then was 18 years old at the time of his death. He had been admitted to the Berklee School of Music and wanted to be a musician. I can remember when LuGina testified she talked about visiting Berklee with Joshua and when she saw the campus and all the students walking around she saw “a hundred little Joshuas.” I have never forgotten that moment in trial. It was so moving. Our lawsuit involved the negligent maintenance of the road Joshua was on when he lost control of his truck due to hydroplaning, ran off a steep, unprotected hillside and crashed into a tree. The Browns immediately threw their grief into action by creating “Joshua’s Law” and began lobbying the Georgia General Assembly for passage of the law that would mandate driver education in every high school in Georgia.  The Browns were the recipients of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s Courageous Pursuit of Justice Award for their relentless pursuit of justice against the Georgia Department of Transportation and for the creation of the new law “Joshua’s Law.”  The substance of the new law is as follows:

Effective: July 1, 2021

joe-caione-qO-PIF84Vxg-unsplash-300x200Despite the enormous popularity of dogs—nearly two-thirds of Americans live in a household with one or more domesticated canines—these animals are still capable of inflicting serious injuries. And, unfortunately, dog bites are more common than many people think, as 800,000 people receive medical attention for dog bites each year in the U.S. In addition to bites, dogs can sometimes bump into people and cause falls, which often result in injuries. If you are wondering about the process in Georgia for recovering money after a dog bite or attack, please keep reading to gain some important information.  

Three Elements to Prove

Victims of a dog bite or attack in Georgia have to satisfy all three elements of the state’s dog bite statute in order to collect damages. Victims, or a victim’s family, must show that: 

ATTArbitrationIMG_4760-1-225x300
Have you received something like this lately from any corporation?  It is a “forced arbitration” clause in which a corporation unilaterally revokes your right to a jury trial should it cause you harm or damages in any way. This forced arbitration clause is AT & T’s version. Rather than telling you “Hey, Customer, we have taken away your right to trial without your consent,” they say “We have updated your contract terms.”  Further, rather than simply telling you that AT & T is taking away your right to a jury trial regarding any dispute you may have with it, AT & T ridiculously states “We have simplified and updated the contract terms….”  Then the unilateral notice says:

                                                                        “we will resolve any disputes by individual arbitration and not by jury trial or class action. 

                                                                        Your continued use of AT & T service tells us you accept and agree to be bound by the Consumer

insurance-1991214_1280-300x211
In exchange for being a licensed driver in Georgia, you agree to certain obligations. One of these is to carry a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. Like the majority of states, Georgia is an at-fault state when it comes to paying out after a car accident or covered loss. This means that the driver responsible for the accident is responsible for paying the expenses arising from the collisions. 

Georgia law requires drivers to carry: 

  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 of bodily injury liability insurance per crash. This means that your insurance will pay up to $50,000 of expenses for bodily injury if multiple people are injured or killed in an accident. 

jesus-rodriguez-NcWNzEAD7Fs-unsplash-300x200
Although fewer teens are actually getting their driver’s licenses these days, a majority of 16- and 17-year-olds are still on the road. This age cohort is responsible for a larger percentage of car accidents than other groups as well, due to inexperience and the proliferation of smartphone applications that lead to distracted driving temptations. As a result, many people injured in car accidents are put in awkward situations when a minor is the at-fault driver and they are forced to file a lawsuit against the driver. What happens then?

Georgia Has Parental Responsibility Laws

The Georgia Code places liability on the parents or guardians of a minor who commits a tort against another person. A car accident that results in injury typically qualifies as a tort, which is the violation of a private legal right (other than breach of contract). 

2stateofgeorgiaseal
You may remember I wrote recently about the Georgia Supreme Court’s opinion in Nuckles v. State, 853 S.E.2d 81 (December 2020) in which the Supreme Court made it crystal clear that a loved one has the absolute right to place a hidden camera in a loved one’s room in an assisted living facility or long-term care home and that video from such a camera is admissible in court. And, of course, it should be. The resident or patient is considered an “occupier” of that property, i.e., his or her room, and may videotape what occurs on his “property.” Nuckles is a well-reasoned, common sense opinion authored by Judge Carla Wong McMillian and concurred in by all the other members of the Georgia Supreme Court, except Justice Warren who simply didn’t participate in the opinion for some reason.

That you should be able to videotape what treatment your loved one is getting in a long-term care home, and then when that videotape shows abuse by a caregiver, that you should be able to admit such videotape into evidence at trial does not seem to be a partisan or political position at all, does it?  Don’t both Republicans and Democrats alike want the very best care for their aging loved ones and don’t Republicans and Democrats alike want to hold someone who would abuse their loved one accountable? That only makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, not so fast. Enter the Republican-controlled Georgia House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Georgia Senate with the help of the nursing home lobby. The Georgia Legislature decides it’s not such a good idea to be able to hold abusers accountable through hidden camera videotape, taken in the resident’s own room (their “castle” so to speak) and file a bill to undo Nuckles.  This march to overturn Nuckles legislatively only two months later  started with HB 605.  This bill actually provided for criminal prosecution of anyone who set up a “nanny cam” in their loved one’s long-term care room. So imagine this:  your parent suffers from dementia and lives in an assisted living home. You suspect he is being abused both physically and emotionally by the staff, so you set up a hidden camera to see how they treat him while you are not present. Sure enough, your “nannycam” video shows a staff member slapping your parent. You want to bring criminal charges against the person for abusing your parent.  But HB 605 would have actually authorized criminal charges against you! That bill passed the House. So on to the Senate. It was placed on the calendar to be voted on on the last night of the General Assembly session. There, Senator Jen Jordan, and several other open-minded Senators, successfully amended the bill to eliminate the criminal prosecution provision in the scenario I laid out above. So the Senate passed that bill as amended. Now back to the House, during the final hours on the final day of the 2021 session.  But once the piece in the bill making it illegal to have hidden cameras was no longer in the bill, the bill lost its only reason to exist in the first place! No need to pass a bill that essentially says nothing. The folks behind this bill wanted a law against hidden cameras because they can be used to hold these homes and “caregivers” liable for harming their residents.  The House refuses to agree (by the narrowest of margins) to the Senate Substitute and so no law passes. The vote on this was 88 against and 77 in favor, so only an 11 vote margin. This law now is still out there to be picked up again by the Legislature when they begin their 2022 General Assembly Session.

Awards
American Association for Justice Badge
Georgia Trend Legal Elite Badge
State Bar of Georgia Badge
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Badge
ABOTA Badge
LCA Badge
Top 50 Women attorneys in Georgia Badge
Super Lawyers Badge
Civil Justice Badge
International Society of Barristers Badge
Top 25 National Women Trial Lawyers Badge
Contact Information