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Vacation rentals through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO promise memorable experiences, but what happens when an injury disrupts your stay? Most people probably aren’t considering the possibility of seeking compensation for an injury while vacation planning, but accidents (and negligence) can happen any time. Both property owners and the platforms have legal protections that could impact your ability to receive compensation.

Property Owner Liability and Insurance Issues

Property owners who use platforms like Airbnb and VRBO to list rentals are required to maintain their properties in safe conditions. This includes conducting necessary repairs and warning guests about any potential dangers. If a property owner fails to perform appropriate duty of care, and a guest is injured, the owner may be held liable for those injuries.

FC1FEC90-C987-46B9-AF18-F38ECE26AA05-300x169When you need legal help, knowing who to turn to can make a big difference. Many people use the terms “attorney” and “litigator” interchangeably, but they refer to different roles in the legal field. After a serious injury, you might get embroiled in a legal battle that could take a significant amount of time. But let’s be honest: time is of the essence, and getting your life back on track as soon as possible is just as important as your right to seek justice. It’s time to clear up the confusion and explain the key differences between an attorney and a litigator.

Attorneys Go to Court, Right?

Most people wish that simply graduating from law school was enough to cover all types of cases, but unfortunately, that’s just not the case. An attorney, or lawyer, is a professional qualified to give legal advice, represent clients in legal matters, and conduct lawsuits. Attorneys can work in many legal areas, from drafting wills and handling estate matters to advising companies on legal transactions. They may negotiate contracts, help with property purchases, counsel businesses, or work in family law, assisting with divorce and custody arrangements.

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Last week, Judge Marc Treadwell, United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, held several officers of the Georgia Department of Corrections in contempt of court for failing to correct numerous violations of the Federal and Constitutional rights of Georgia inmates who are housed in solitary confinement in Georgia Prisons.  In his 100 page Order, Judge Treadwell threatened them with fines and ordered an independent monitor to ensure compliance with a settlement agreement for the Special Management Unit of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, about 50 miles south of Atlanta.  In its Order, the Court found that prison officials  falsified documents and said they routinely placed new arrivals at the facility in “strip cells,” where one inmate said he was not given clothes or a mattress and could not use the toilet because it was broken and filled with human waste.

A psychology professor and prison expert, Craig Haney, Ph.D., J.D.,  told the court back in 2018 he had toured maximum security prisons in roughly two dozen states, and Georgia’s SMU unit was “one of the harshest and most draconian” he had seen.  His report, submitted to the court in 2018 by lawyers for prisoners — included images of prisoners with self-inflicted cuts, blood on the floor of one cell and the window of another, and descriptions of “extraordinarily harsh” living conditions. His conclusion: “The prisoners at this facility face a substantial risk of serious harm, harm that may be long-lasting and even fatal.”  Southern Center for Human Rights attorney Sarah Geraghty, who represented the prisoners, said in a news release back in 2018 when the initial agreement was reached“A civilized society doesn’t lock people in isolation cells for years on end,” she said. “It was past time to move out of the dark ages.”

These solitary confinement cells at the heart of this Contempt Order measure 7 feet X 13.5 feet, and contain a toilet and mattress. Inmates housed in these solitary confinement cells receive their meals through a slit in a solid door that has a small window at the top. You may think the photograph at the top of this blog post is of one of these solitary confinement cells that have been ruled to be inhumane. But you would be wrong. That’s because this photograph is of a shower stall in Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, where my client was held for nearly three days and where, ultimately he hanged himself, resulting in his death. The shower stall measures only 3.75 feet X 6.75 feet, which makes the Georgia solitary confinement cells practically Ritz Carlton luxury in comparison. Also, as you can see, there was certainly no mattress in the shower stall, nor toilet where my client could relieve himself for three days. No ventilation, no heat, no cup of water. Just imagine.  Housing an inmate in a shower violates Georgia Department of Corrections’ Standard Operating Procedures. So does falsifying cell counts so it looks as if an inmate is in his cell when he is actually physically being illegally detained in a shower stall.  https://www.atlantainjurylawyerblog.com/files/2024/04/2024-03-07-13.58.03-300x200.jpg https://www.atlantainjurylawyerblog.com/files/2024/04/2024-03-07-13.58.49-200x300.jpg https://www.atlantainjurylawyerblog.com/files/2024/04/2024-03-07-13.58.10-300x200.jpg

Blog-Images-Robin-Frazer-Clark--300x169When someone suffers an injury due to another’s actions, it’s not just the physical pain that affects them. The ripple effects can touch every aspect of their life, from financial stability to emotional well-being. In such challenging times, understanding how the law works to compensate for these losses can offer a glimmer of hope. The legal system recognizes two main types of damages in personal injury cases: compensatory and punitive damages. These legal mechanisms aim to restore balance, offer relief, and ensure justice for those wronged.

Compensatory Damages: Restoring What Was Lost

At the heart of most personal injury claims in Georgia is the concept of compensatory damages. These are the funds awarded to the injured party to cover both the tangible and intangible losses they’ve endured. Economic losses are straightforward and include costs like medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, and any property damage that may have occurred. These are measurable and aim to reimburse for out-of-pocket expenses directly linked to the injury.

What is mifepristone, the abortion pill at center of US Supreme Court argument? | CNN
Today the United States Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Case No. 23-235 FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION V. ALLIANCE FOR HIPPOCRATIC MEDICINE,   a case in which certain physicians have sued the FDA alleging permitting the use of Mifepristone violates their rights. Much of the oral argument focuses on “standing,” i.e., whether these physicians even have the right to bring such a case against the FDA. I am listening right now live to the the SCOTUS oral arguments and even the super Conservative Justices seem extremely skeptical about standing.  Here are the questions presented before the Supreme Court today:

QUESTION PRESENTED:

This case concerns mifepristone, a drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Blog-Images-Robin-Frazer-Clark--300x169When you’re hurt because someone else was negligent, it’s not just about the physical injuries. Personal injury law accounts for the mental toll—what we call emotional distress or mental anguish—is just as real. Whether someone did something wrong on purpose or just wasn’t paying attention, if it left you dealing with psychological pain, that matters.

Although your anguish is quite real, proving it in court is another story. You need solid proof of how deep the hurt goes and how it’s impacted your life. It’s not just about saying you’re stressed or upset; it’s about showing the real impact of what you’ve been through.

Types of Emotional Distress Claims

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By now we have all heard of the Alabama Supreme Court decision holding that frozen embryos are “unborn children” under Alabama State Law. This was the holding in LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine, issued on February 16, 2024. Although much hay was made out of a concurring opinion that quoted the Bible extensively, the primary opinion was based squarely on Alabama State Law only, specifically the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. You can read the full, actual opinion here. 

In LePage, three couples had their frozen embryos destroyed in an incident at a fertility clinic. The plaintiffs in the Alabama case had undergone IVF treatments that led to the creation of several embryos, some of which were implanted and resulted in healthy births. The couples paid to keep other embryos frozen in a storage facility at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center. A patient in 2020 wandered into the area and removed several embryos, dropping them on the floor and “killing them.”

The justices ruled that wrongful death lawsuits by the couples could proceed. Justices, citing anti-abortion language in the Alabama Constitution, ruled that an 1872 state law allowing parents to sue over the death of a minor child “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.””Nothing about the [Wrongful Death] Act narrows that definition to unborn children who are physically “in utero.”

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In a Georgia courtroom, the path to justice in a personal injury case unfolds through a series of critical stages, each carrying profound implications for the case’s outcome. From the meticulous selection of an unbiased jury to the final delivery of the verdict, every step in a jury trial is pivotal. The key to facing this challenge is understanding what happens in a courtroom during a jury trial.

Jury Trial Process

The jury trial process in Georgia follows a structured series of steps, each critical to the case’s outcome. It starts with jury selection, known as “voir dire.” Here, attorneys from both sides question potential jurors to assess their suitability for the case. The objective is to form an unbiased jury, crucial for a fair trial. This selection process can vary in length, depending on the number of jurors required and the case’s intricacies.

Robert Benham and his 1984 appointment with Georgia history
On Thursday, Feb. 8, Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage will be presented to Retired Justice Robert Benham.  There is not a more worthy recipient. I have admired Justice Benham for my entire legal career, spanning 35 years now. I highly recommend you listen to an interview of Justice Benham by University of Georgia Professor Paul Kurtz on Youtube. It is fascinating.

Back in 2013, when I was President of the State Bar of Georgia, I had the distinct honor of giving remarks at the 14th Annual Justice Robert Benham Awards for Community Service.  That’s right. The State Bar of Georgia Community Service Awards are aptly named in honor of Justice Benham. In light of Georgia Tech’s wonderful announcement that he will be receiving its Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage, I wanted to share again my remarks from that special day in 2013.

 Remarks of President Robin Frazer Clark at the 2013 Justice Robert Benham Community Service Awards                                                                                         

Blog-Images-Robin-Frazer-Clark--300x169The perception of bullying has evolved significantly over the years. Once considered a normal part of growing up, it is now recognized as a potential cause of severe and lasting trauma. In the realm of personal injury law, particularly in Georgia, bullying is not just a schoolyard issue but can be a legal matter, especially when it results in intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) or even physical harm.

Understanding IIED in the Context of Bullying

Bullying can sometimes be a basis for an IIED claim under personal injury law. To establish an IIED claim, the victim must demonstrate that the bully’s conduct was intentional or recklessly indifferent, extreme and outrageous, and caused severe emotional distress, often evidenced by physical or psychological symptoms. This legal perspective acknowledges the profound impact bullying can have on an individual’s mental health and overall well-being.

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