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On a dark country highway, a man begins to walk across the road outside of the crosswalk because there isn’t one for over a mile in either direction. Then, “Bammm”, he is violently struck by a car and later dies of his injuries. The widow files a lawsuit against the driver of the car for failing to stop and failing to pay attention. There are no eyewitnesses and the driver says he wasn’t speeding, was paying attention and that the pedestrian just stepped out in front of him and there was nothing he could do.

Does this get to a jury? What evidence does the plaintiff have to show that the Defendant did something wrong? The Court of Appeal in Ireland v. Williams (2019) took up these facts in a recent case that is physical precedent only (meaning it was not a unanimous decision so it is not controlling, only persuasive authority).

When the plaintiff survives, there is often conflicting testimony about speed and the ability to change direction or brake. When the plaintiff dies from being hit by the car though, the situation is very different. There is only one witness left to the incident, the defendant. It is a well known rule in the law that in order for the case to go to a jury (survive summary judgment) there must be some evidence that the Defendant did something wrong, not just the fact of the crash. Oftentimes, the Plaintiff’s attorney will hire an expert collision reconstructionist who can analyze roadway skid marks, physical evidence, black box data from the vehicle and determine speed and the distance at which the pedestrian would have been visible.

In a car accident case where no one agrees who caused the crash, one key piece of evidence is the “black box” in the car that can contain, speed, braking and steering data. In a new appellate decision, the issue of when the duty to preserve the data and who is responsible to do so was discussed.

The case of French v. Perez, 824 S.E.2d 796 (Ga. App., 2019) addressed a case where French was hurt when the car he was in was hit by Perez’s vehicle. The car was signed over to State Farm by Perez when it was totaled and French’s lawyer sent a letter to State Farm insisting they preserve the car and its black box. One month later the car was destroyed in the crusher.

French ask the Judge to sanction Perez for failing to preserve the evidence in the case, and the Court refused to do so, ultimately leading the case to the Court of Appeals. The Court had to decide; 1) was the letter to State Farm notice to Perez and 2)could Perez do anything about it since they turned it over to State Farm by the time the letter went out.

The insurance adjuster called and asked for a recorded statement; should you give it?

When it comes to car accidents, there are two kinds of insurance adjusters that you will deal with. The insurance adjuster for the car that caused the accident and your insurance adjuster. They each have distinct roles and you have different obligations to each of them. Let’s break it down further.

The Other Guys Insurance Adjuster

“Someone hit my car and their insurance company says they are still investigating even though it has been several weeks!”  It’s is a pretty common call we get and there are a couple of approaches.

  1. Remember that contingency fee (no win no pay) lawyers only work on cases with physical injuries involved. There is no way to get paid on property damage only, so if it is only repairs etc. any lawyer will be out of pocket for you.
  2. If it is property damage only, go through your own collision coverage as it will be much easier and then your company will get your deductible back in a behind the scenes process called inter-company arbitration.

There are a number of reasons why you might decide to fire your injury lawyer and either go it alone or interview a new lawyer.  The good news is, it is easy and painless to fire an injury lawyer so long as there are no offers on the case yet. These are the common questions;

  • I signed a contract, am I stuck?
  • If I fire the attorney, am I breaking the contract?

Many of you are trying out the convenience of the car rental-ish entity, Turo, which allows you to rent people’s private vehicles much in the same way that Airbnb does for houses. One of the key questions is, what if you rent a Turo car and get into a car accident and damage another car or hurt someone?

I scheduled a trip for Labor Day to San Francisco and one of my all time goals was to rent a hot car and drive the Pacific Coast Highway and the Napa and Sonomo Valleys. I got on Turo and found a perfect 2018 Black Jag F-Type convertible for a reasonable $200 a day. Throw in a few taxes etc and then you come to a buy insurance screen. Turo pretty much tells you they have no idea if your car insurance will cover you and suggests you buy a “spot” policy that covers you while driving. This policy is written by Liberty Mutual and comes in either $30,000 in liability coverage or $1,000,000 of liability coverage. The larger policy costs $81 dollars a day! Once you factor this in, the rental rate looks a lot less attractive.

I started poking around. First I checked with American Express, which normally provides coverage for property damage done to rental cars so you don’t have to buy that from Enterprise or Hertz or whatever. Nope, Amex says right on their website “we do not consider Turo to be a car rental company” and therefore their coverage does not apply.

Dr. Dao should not have been asked to leave the United flight he paid for, but he was a fool to behave like he did once he realized leaving was inevitable. Were I the Judge on this case, I would look long and hard at the contract for carriage and what Dr. Dao said on tape before I allowed certain issues to make it to the jury. In this era of fake news I read articles suspiciously and look only for hard facts, so let’s look at this case together.

If you read the passenger accounts and listen to the audio tapes, it all boils down like this; Dao was seated when United asked for four volunteers to give up their seats so a flight crew could make it to their next flight. He initially volunteered, but changed his mind when told about how long it would be till the next flight.

United supervisors then asked him to leave his seat and he would not. At that point, airport security officers got involved. Dr. Dao made his critical mistake when he refused the lawful request of the officers to leave after being told he would be removed. He had every right to be outraged at being asked to leave. He had every right to be furious with the airline, but when a law enforcement officer makes it clear that they are going to forcibly remove you, do not act like a child and scream and throw your body about. His injures were the result of his foolish decision on how to react to an outrageous situation. “You can drag me out, but I’m not going. I’m staying right here,” is not a wise reaction. “I make a lawsuit against United Airlines” is indicative of a lot of what is wrong with the world.   I will give him a hall pass on lying about having to be at work when you are no longer a doctor, but the rest of his decisions from then on were poor.

In a story made for Hollywood, it was recently revealed that billionaire Peter Thiel was quietly funding Hulk Hogan’s litigation against Gawker.com. We have previously discussed the silent emergence of hedge funds investing in high stakes divorce and business litigation for a cut of the winnings. What we are seeing here is a long term revenge play straight out of The Count of Monte Cristo.

The story goes like this:

  1. Hulk Hogan had intercourse with a Tampa area woman and he claims he did not know it was recorded. The tape circulated for a while and was then posted on Gawker.com.

Our injury lawyers are representing the family of one of the victim in the Greatime Getaways tour bus that collided with a tractor trailer owned by Polcon Tile & Terrazo on October 13, 2016 in Gilmer County, Georgia.  We are looking to talk to any witnesses or other individuals with information about the accident to assist in our investigation.
The accident occurred on Georgia Highway 515  and preliminary reports suggest that the tractor trailer driver was at fault.  We understand the tractor trailer was traveling on Whitestone Road and attempted to take a left onto 515 southbound.  In doing so, the tractor trailer cut across the 515 northbound lanes and blocked the lane in which the tour bus was traveling, which caused the tour bus to collide with the back end of the tractor trailer.  The collision killed the tour bus driver and injuring 43 passengers.
Left turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers a tractor trailer can make.  This is even more true when the left turn is made across multiple lane highways.  Both federal and state laws, as well as numerous training manuals and industry policies, govern the process by which left turns are safely made.  One of the hazardous conditions involved in a tractor trailer left turn is the obvious fact that it takes a lot more time to clear a tractor trailer through an intersection than it does the average vehicle.  This is a combination of the added time it takes a heavy tractor trailer to start moving from a complete stop as well as the added time it takes for the lengthy trailer to pass through the intersection. Tractor trailer driver must undergo extensive training and remain highly alert to properly gauge whether the entire tractor trailer will be able to clear the roadway safely and timely without impeding oncoming traffic.