For years car insurance companies have decried the "greed" and audacity of personal injury plaintiffs and their lawyers for bringing lawsuits over injuries in car accidents. Now, irony of ironies, these same insurance companies are launching a tidal wave of lawsuits as they go after the uninsured and underinsured. Let me be clear; there is nothing wrong or immoral about an insurance comoany seeking subrogation. The concept is sound. What is disguising is their willingness to sue the uninsured into a lifetime of debt. It is a fact that trial lawyers do not personally sue uninsured individuals unless there are substantial assets. Why not? It only is it unproductive because liquidating meager assets yields little cash but there is a fairness problem. No right minded lawyer wants to sue an average person into the poorhouse over a negligent act.
A fellow lawyer won an important victory at the Court of Appeals last Spring (The Bethany Group LLC v. Grobman 315 Ga.App. 298 (2012) which resulted in a $1.2 million dollar settlement for the family of a taxi driver who was murdered at an apartment complex. What is noteworthy about the development is the difficult facts they had to work with. The victim was a cab driver summoned to the property by a disposable phone. No evidence of at request from a tenant and that is a tough case.
In a rare and tragic instant Aila Masud was struck and killed by a flying tire while driving on I-85 in Atlanta. Eyewitness accounts agree that the wheel came from a passenger vehicle driving the opposite direction although there is mixed information about the driver trying to avoid something in the road.
My wife read the article and being married to a car accident lawyer, she naturally asked "who is legally responsible for the tire killing the woman?" The sad thing is that our law firm has been through this exact situation before. We recently settled a case in Maryland with co-counsel involving a man struck in the chest while driving by a runaway wheel from traffic going the other direction.
I wrote over a year ago about the tragic death of a woman on the way to the Peach Bowl in 2011 at the hands of a habitually reckless Georgia State Patrol Officer. The AJC reports today that he has plead guilty to vehicular homicide and will serve 2 years in jail and 8 years on probation. There is some justice in the result but what really bothers me is the lack of punishment for his superiors and their decision making.
So some bright star decided that after umpteen years of predictability, the guiding lights of hearsay and probative value should be dimmed and we ended up with a new evidence code in Georgia that tracks the Federal Rules of Evidence in many regards. One of the critical issues for good Atlanta car accident lawyers like me is whether the police report of the car accident is now admissible evidence.
So you may have read our previous post about the Beneke v. Parker decision that confirmed that the 2 year statute of limitations on car accident claims in Georgia is extended for the number of days after the crash that it takes to resolve the traffic ticket. One of the other lawyers came to me with a new client the other day and even though the crash is four years old he claimed that the police records showed that the defendant had not shown up for the hearing and therefore a FTA (failure to appear) warrant had issued.
In an earlier post about Mercury Insurance's Motion for Summary Judgment claiming that their insured had failed to give timely notice within 60 days of a catastrophic crash, I promised I would post the briefs and so here they are. Hope they are helpful. The names have been altered for privacy reasons.
Its been a mixed bag the last two weeks for dealing with accident insurance companies in Georgia. Friends and potential clients alike often wonder what their options are with injury claims. The best way to answer that is through a number of examples that illustrate what we do week to week.
Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Your Georgia Uninsured Motorist Insurance Company Has Counsel, Do You?
We have previously warned about the hidden traps that exist when you try to do it yourself on a significant case and in this post we will examine the battle over an existing case. A client came to the firm more than 60 days after his car accident and it does not appear that he ever told his own car insurance company about the crash. In this particular case, the client has substantial injuries including a fractured pelvis with surgery and over $400,000 in medical bills. The at fault driver only has $50,000 dollars in insurance, so the clients $25,000 in underinsured motorist insurance is important for the client's recovery.
The coming of the New Year brings hope for millions and in Georgia it also brought along a seismic shift in the evidence code that means that the plaintiff's prior and post accident medical records are now coming into evidence and going out with the jury. For the uninitiated, laws come from two places; 1) the code (voted on laws) and 2) case law (the accreted body of decisions about the law from the appellate courts).
As a law firm that handles numerous pedestrian wrongful death and injury cases, we see the issue of a lack of pedestrian rights over and over again. The tragic case of the death of AJ Nelson and the prosecution of his mother bring these issues to the forefront, where they belong.
One of the trickier parts of practicing car accident insurance law comes when the lawyer has to analyze "choice of law" issues, that is lawyer speak for how do you decide which State's law applies when a case involves multiple states. So how do analyze a situation?
First, the Georgia Ground Rules for Contracts:
The remedies laid out by the contract are controlled by the law of the forum ("lex fori") which is the place where the lawsuit is filed. Race to the Court for this one people.