Articles Posted in Uncategorized

We had a good friend try a jury trial in Fulton County the first week of November and he ran into a tough reality with some Fulton County juries. The plaintiff was in a car accident andRotator_cuff_high-225x300 underwent an arthroscopic shoulder surgery and had a manipulation of frozen shoulder under anesthesia some months later. The medical bills totaled $55,000. The Plaintiff’s lawyer took the policy limits of the at fault driver of $100,000 in a partial settlement well before trial, a fact not known to the jury. They tried the case as the next layer of insurance with the uninsured motorist insurer would not offer anything. They asked the jury to award $550,000.

So, what is an arthroscopic shoulder surgery worth in Fulton County in 2022 with $55,000 in bills? When you get a majority North Fulton jury from Buckhead, Alpharetta etc., not as much as one would think. The jury returned a verdict for only $85,000, meaning the Plaintiff did not receive more than the $100,000 in settlement from the tortfeasor. Fulton can be very conservative when a Northern pool of jurors shows up.

What are the lessons from a result like that? You can try a technically sound case and still not get a conservative group of jurors interested in a substantial verdict for this type of an injury. The surgery is outpatient, it’s not gory and most people know someone who has undergone the procedure without complication. Be careful when overestimating value in a simple non-commercial accident case where there is nothing for the jury to get invested in.

 

Well this is complete garbage. I received a citation by mail the other day with a picture of my truck stating that I had been speeding in a school zone in Tallulah Falls, Georgia on September 14, 2022. Now this is odd as I don’t usually speed, but that is a picture of my truck. So I go look it up on Google Maps and guess what. That’s State Road 441 through Tallulah Falls with a 55 mph speed limit and they clocked me at 57. Now here is the trick. Because there is a Middle School adjacent to a high speed road, they just slapped the camera system on there as a speed trap. I have no problem with school speed zones and I have zero issue if there are busses coming and going and the flashing lights are activated, but this is a pure, old-fashio4412-300x189ned speed trap designed for revenue. Here is how you know. If I am in a school zone, the lights ought to be flashing to put me on notice that a 55 mph state road is all of a sudden dropping to 45. If I still speed, that’s on me. There were no flashing lights that day at 2:37 in the afternoon.441-1-210x300

Now read what the police chief said to the Clayton Tribune;

“Elrod said that if for some reason the lights are not flashing during the designated hours, it might mean they need to be repaired or replaced. However, the camera will still issue citations if motorists are speeding through the designated area during the specified times. Elrod clarified the speed limit is set by the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We here at Tallulah Falls don’t set the speed limit, we just enforce it to the best of our ability,” Elrod said.” Clayton Tribune September 15

  1. Minimum Insurance Limits: This is the bare minimum in each state that you must have to operate a vehicle. Georgia: $25,000  South Carolina $25,000.
  2. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance: This protects with hit and runs, low insurance crashes and no insurance crashes. Georgia: Both UM coverages are the same. South Carolina: Different policy for Under and Un Insured. They can exist one without the other and in different amounts.
  3. Stacking of UM policies is allowed in both States.

In a June 2022 decision the Georgia Court of Appeals, “A22A0361” Bennett v. Novas, No. A22A0361, (Ga. Ct. App. Jun. 17, 2022), has again states that even asking permission as an insurer to add the named insured is a rejection of a time limited demand to settle a case within policy limits. The surprising thing is this is even true in the post July 2021 era of the new Georgia Bad Faith Statute.

The general concept is that if a Plaintiff gives the insurer the chance to settle for the policy limits, they can ask a specific number of things from the Defendant and under the new statute, if a release is sent along with the paperwork, then you cannot ask about even the possibility of adding a party. If you don’t send your own release, there is a possibility that the insurer could seek clarification as to whether all insureds are to be released.

The Appellate Court noted

As many folks know, the Georgia Supreme Court entered an Order tolling (freezing) the running of the statute of limitations in the early months of Covid because the clerks and courts were simply closed and nothing could be done. While the statute of limitations in personal injury cases typically runs after two years, this placed a 122 day freeze period in place when the calendar would not run out for cases with statutes stopwatch-300x297that included those dates. That would include any crash occurring before March 14, 2020 that had a 2 year statute set to expire before July 14, 2020.

For example:

If a crash occurred on April 15, 2020, then the plaintiff would have until July 13, 2022 to file their lawsuit. They get the two years and it is as though the dates from April 15-July 13 never happened.

We have now had two clients tell us that they were called by someone offering to set them up with a chiropractor and an attorney. The worst part is the phone number they are using is spoofing the phone of a well respected real estate closing firm in Atlanta, Campbell and Brannon. Spoofing is where you make your phone number look like the number of another law firm. That law firm has nothing to do with these phone calls and yet this is how the scam is running. This illegal practice of reaching out to accident victims after a crash to cajole them into signing up as injury clients is disgusting and dragging the good name of a law firm along with it is even worse.

The law on the subject can be found below.

Title 33. Insurance § 33-24-53

Georgia Slip and Fall Law on Open and Obvious

Georgia slip and fall or trip and fall case liability, that is the responsibility of a landowner or occupier to people that legally come onto their property, is based on one simple concept; legal responsibility for an injury only lies on the landowner if the danger that caused the harm was or should have been known to the owner and not to the visitor. That is why slip and fall cases rarely settle without litigation and often get thrown out by the trial judge when it can be shown that either the defendant lacked knowledge of the hazard or the plaintiff would or should have known about it. The common statement amongst Plaintiff’s attorneys, the lawyers that represent the injured, is that if the case can get past summary judgment, it has a chance of resolving.raindrops-1524306-e1512845356531-300x225

In a recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision, Coral Hospitality-GA, LLC v. Givens et al. (March 2022), it was clear that the injured plaintiff admitted the truth, that she could have seen the hazard herself and therefore had her case thrown out. The Court noted that Plaintiff admitted that had she looked down she easily could have seen the hazard and under the long established doctrine in Georgia, if some is obvious, you can’t trip over it and file a lawsuit. “Watch where you are going” is as true for children as it is in the courts. What is surprising is the fact that the sitting trial judge denied the defenses attempt to throw the case out on summary judgment an the defense had to take it up on appeal to win. This should have been a no brainer.

A decision that caught a lot of injury attorneys off guard in 2021 said what a lot of us had speculated; the language in the apportionment statute is really messy and doesn’t say what it was supposed to. In  ALSTON & BIRD, LLP v. HATCHER MANAGEMENT

HOLDINGS, LLC , says that OCGA § 51-12-33 is badly written and that where a Plaintiff sues ONLY one Defendant and that Defendant seeks to apportion fault to another non party person or company, that the Judge cannot follow the intent of the statute and reduce the amount of damages by the proportion of the non party’s blame.

Boiling it down; in the old days of joint and several liability, if you sued driver 1 and driver 2 for injuring someone and the jury awarded $1,000,000 then the Plaintiff could collect the full amount of the judgment from either defendant. It meant that if a well insured defendant had only 1 percent of blame and the uninsured defendant had 99% of the blame, the Plaintiff could still collect the whole judgment from the 1 percent at fault party. OCGA § 51-12-33 was designed to fix that unfairness. The drafters in the legislature failed miserably.

Contact Information