Motorcycle Wrecks

motorcycle accident injured attorney

Motorcyclists face unique risks every time they get on the road. Drivers often fail to pay attention to motorcyclists or aren’t aware of safety rules regarding motorcycles on the roads. When motorcycle accidents occur, the consequences are usually most detrimental for the cyclist.

The personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby understand motorcycle accident cases and help accident victims get the personal injury compensation they are owed. If you have been in a motorcycle accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby online or call 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Motorcycle Accident Facts and Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, with motorcycle accidents accounting for 14% of all traffic fatalities. In Georgia, there were 93 fatal motorcycle accidents. Of those 93 killed riders, 16% were not wearing a helmet.

Multiple studies have proven the efficacy of wearing a helmet. The NHTSA has calculated that wearing a helmet can dramatically increase a motorcyclist’s chances of surviving an accident. According to the CDC:

  • Helmets saved approximately 1,859 lives in 2016.
  • Each year, the United States could save more than $1billion in economic costs if all motorcyclists wore helmets.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% for motorcyclists and 41% for their passengers.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 67%.

Georgia Law

All vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders have a duty to use reasonable care when on the road. If a driver or rider fails to meet this standard of care and causes an accident, injured victims are entitled to compensation. Determining whether a party was negligent or in breach of this standard requires a careful analysis of the facts. A presumption of negligence is created in Georgia when a driver or rider commits a traffic violation by violating one of Georgia’s “rules of the road.”

Motorcyclists generally must follow the same rules as all other motor vehicle operators, but there are some special rules that apply specifically to motorcycles. Motorcyclists are permitted to use a full lane of traffic, and two motorcycles are permitted to ride side-by-side in one lane. Motorcyclists are not allowed to pass a vehicle in the same lane of traffic, and riding between lanes of traffic (“lane splitting”) is prohibited in Georgia. Motorcyclists should also remember that Georgia law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Williams Elleby Today.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby are dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, call Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation today.

The Georgia Recreational Property Act

Georgia recreational property act

Fall is the perfect season for spending time outdoors with family, especially in the beautiful state of Georgia. Camping, hiking, fishing and hunting are just a few popular outdoor activities that Georgia residents enjoy doing. However, few people actually own land that can be used for such purposes. Instead, most people use public land or use private land that has been made available to the public.

Great places to spend time outdoors in the North Georgia area include:

Great places to spend time outdoors in the South Georgia area include:

When someone in Georgia suffers an injury on land that has been made available for recreational purposes, however, the Georgia Recreational Property Act (GRPA) bars the injured person from suing the landowner in most cases.

The purpose of this law is to encourage landowners to make their land available for recreational activities. Without the GRPA, many landowners would close off their land to the public to eliminate their risk of liability, and in doing so cut millions of people off from the ability to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities.

Activities Covered by the GRPA

Only land made available for recreational purposes is covered by the law. Several notable activities, such as cycling and running, are not actually covered by the law. The law strictly defines “recreational purposes” as:

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Pleasure driving
  • Nature study
  • Water skiing
  • Winter sports
  • Viewing or enjoying historical, archeological, scenic, or scientific sites

Exceptions to the GRPA

There are two major exceptions to the GRPA that landowners and outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of. The GRPA does not apply when there has been a “willful or malicious failure” of the land owner to guard people against a dangerous condition. Therefore, landowners that make their land available to the public still have a duty to take action to prevent harm when they are aware of a dangerous condition on their property.

The GRPA also does not apply when a landowner charges a fee for the use of the land. Landowners should remember that they forfeit their immunity under the GRPA if they charge any fee in exchange for permission to use their land; but if the fee is collected for some other purpose, the GRPA will still apply. For instance, if a land owner profits by selling goods on the same property, the GRPA will still provide immunity despite the fact that they are making money as long as the purchases are not required in order to use the land.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby

While participating in outdoor activities is a fun way to spend your time, injuries may happen. If you suffer an injury while doing a recreational activity, or if you are a landowner making your property available to others for recreational purposes, it is important to be aware of the Georgia Recreational Property Act and to protect your legal rights accordingly.

The experienced legal team at Williams Elleby has deep knowledge of all aspects of Georgia tort law and represents clients in personal injury cases all throughout the state of Georgia. If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby today at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation.

Georgia Halloween Safety Tips

halloween safety tips law

With Halloween just around the corner, be sure to keep you and your family safe while trick-or-treating or participating in other festive events. This Halloween, the Williams Elleby legal team wishes everyone in Georgia a safe and fun holiday. Below are a few safety tips to consider for parents and property owners.

Keep Your Kids Safe While Trick-or-Treating

Parents and guardians should ensure that their children have a safe trick-or-treating experience. This means making sure that the child’s costume is safe and that the child has age-appropriate supervision. Innovative costumes are integral to Halloween’s fun, but parents should make sure that their child can still see and move safely. If they will be trick-or-treating at night, children’s costumes should also be visible to drivers.

When older children are out trick-or-treating without supervision, it is safest for them to do so in a group and carry a cell phone in case of an emergency. Children should also watch for traffic and follow pedestrian traffic rules, stay in well-lit areas, only go to homes that have a front porch light on, and avoid taking short-cuts through back-yards or alleys that may not be safe.

It is also important for parents to inspect their children’s treats to make sure there is nothing dangerous and that their treats contain no tricks. For candy, this means ensuring that the treat does not present a choking hazard and is still in its factory-sealed condition.

Avoid Premises Liability

If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, you should assume that children will come onto your property. Young children will likely ring your doorbell even when you leave your porch light off. So, make sure you don’t have anything dangerous in your yard or on your front porch and clearly mark any risks. It is also a good idea to make sure there is nothing on your property that could be considered an “Attractive Nuisance” under Georgia law. If you are a homeowner and a child is injured while on your property, you could be considered at-fault under a theory of premises liability.

Drive with Extra Caution

With so many children walking around, it is extremely important to drive more cautiously on Halloween. Not only will many children fail to follow traffic rules, but they may also be dressed in costumes that make them difficult to see. Stay focused behind the wheel, and take extra care when turning or going through intersections.

There will also be more people out on the road on Halloween and over the weekend before Halloween, so it is important to drive defensively to avoid getting in an accident with a Halloween party-goer. And of course, if you are going to a Halloween party yourself, never drink and drive.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby, Today

The experienced GA personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby are dedicated to helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve. Williams Elleby is located in Kennesaw, Georgia, and serves clients throughout the state. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the wrongful actions of someone else, call Williams Elleby to schedule a free consultation today at 833-LEGALGA.

Who are the Players Involved in a Car Wreck Case?

Who are the Players Involved in a Car Wreck Case?

When involved in a car wreck in the state of Georgia, there are at least 30 players that may be involved in your case. Despite the many people you’ll likely encounter throughout your case, your personal injury attorney will assist you through every step. Read more to learn about each party and what they do to make or break your case.

  1. The At-Fault Driver: If you suffer injuries in a car wreck that was not your fault, make sure to get the at-fault driver’s contact and insurance information. You will need to know the at-fault driver’s contact and insurance information if you intend to bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
  2. The Injured Party: This might be you! If you are injured in a car wreck, you may be asking for compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company. You must find a diligent lawyer who will take the time to understand your injuries and help you recover what you deserve in your injury claim.
  3. Other Drivers in a Multiple Car Collision: This includes other drivers of vehicles involved in the accident who are not the injured victim or the at-fault driver. It’s important to get the contact and insurance information from these drivers, as they can provide more information throughout the case.
  4. Independent Witnesses: People who witness a wreck or those who stop to help the people involved are called independent witnesses. An independent witness may have seen enough of the accident that they can make or break your case. Be sure to get his or her contact information.
  5. Investigating Police Officer: The investigating police officer is the one filling out the accident report, getting information from both parties, issuing citations and filling out the narrative report.
  6. Ambulance or EMS Crew: An ambulance may arrive at the scene to provide care to any injured victims. If you are injured, be sure to let the EMS crew know of any pre-existing conditions you may have.
  7. 911 Operator: After a wreck, the first phone call you should make is to 911. The operator takes all information provided and transmits it to emergency response officers. Remember to remain calm and speak clearly to the operator so they can understand you and send necessary help.
  8. Emergency Room Personnel: ER personnel includes the doctors, nurses and technicians who assess your injuries and determine the next steps for your healthcare treatment. Let them know your injuries are from the car wreck.
  9. Adjuster for At-Fault Driver’s Insurer: The adjuster of the at-fault driver’s insurance company looks at your claim and offers a settlement for your case. They will try to settle your case for the smallest amount possible since they are not on your side. Be sure to hire a personal injury attorney who will ensure you are compensated fairly.
  10. Uninsured Motorist (UM) Adjuster: This adjuster works for your own insurance company and adjusts your claim in the instance that you are hit by a driver who has insufficient liability coverage to compensate you for your damages. They will also try to settle your claim for as little as possible. Hiring a personal injury attorney will ensure you get the most money out of your claim.
  11. Medical Payments or PIP Insurance Adjuster: This adjuster handles medical payments coverage that you may have under your automobile policy that will cover your bills regardless of whose fault the wreck was. This person is who you will send your bills to, and they will then either pay the bills directly to the provider or to you up to the amount of your insurance policy limits.
  12. Tow Company: If your vehicle sustains disabling damages, it will likely be towed to a salvage yard along with all of your personal belongings. The police officers who attended the scene will be able to give you the name of the tow truck company so you can locate your vehicle and retrieve your belongings. You will also need to let your insurance company know where your vehicle is being stored so they can assess the situation and determine any necessary further steps.
  13. Injured Victim’s Attorney: Also known as the trial lawyer or the plaintiff’s attorney, this attorney is responsible for handling all aspects of the claim for the injured victim, including pre-suit and post-suit aspects.
  14. Injured Victim’s Health Insurance Company: As the injured victim, it is important for you to get medical treatment from a provider that accepts your health insurance whenever possible. This will save you money, which can ease your financial burden.
  15. Medical Funding Company: A medical funding company assists injured victims who may not have medical insurance and cannot pay out-of-pocket but need medical treatment. These companies will pay your medical bills and receive reimbursement from the proceeds of your claim once it is settled.
  16. Lawyer for Hospital for Physician Lien: In Georgia, there is a law that allows a hospital or doctor’s office to file a lien on medical bills. This allows the doctor to collect the full amount of their bills instead of accepting the reduced amount from an insurance company. A lawyer will be able to assist you with the lien.
  17. Subrogation Analyst: A subrogation analyst’s job is to recover as much money as possible from your car wreck settlement to reimburse any relevant health insurance or lien holders for any amounts they paid related to the injured person’s care. It’s important to have a personal injury attorney on your side that can negotiate on your behalf, to save you as much money as possible.
  18. Medical Specialist: Other than your primary physician, a medical specialist includes medical doctors, chiropractors, psychiatrists, and other specialists that may help you after you’ve been involved in a car wreck.
  19. Process Server: This person is hired by your lawyer to make sure the at-fault driver is properly served the lawsuit if filed.
  20. Staff Attorney: This lawyer is employed by the court to work with judges to help them come to the right decision on disputed legal issues in your case. They are also responsible for any additional research about questions of legality to help the judge come to a decision.
  21. Court Reporter: This key player will attend all depositions, motion hearings and trial. The court reporter is responsible for transcribing all words spoken to create a written transcript that will be utilized by all parties involved.
  22. Trial Court Judge: The trial court judge is the overseer of litigation car wreck cases. The trial judge will decide who is right about what law applies to your case and may also issue scheduling orders and deadlines throughout your case.
  23. Insurance Defense Lawyer: Also known as the defense attorney, this person is responsible for defending the case on behalf of the at-fault driver. They will conduct discovery and try the case on behalf of the at-fault driver, if needed.
  24. Expert Witness: This includes accident reconstructionist, biomechanical experts, medical doctors, etc. These people can attend trial and offer an opinion that may be beyond the knowledge of the average juror.
  25. Investigators: In a car wreck case, an investigator may be hired by the at-fault driver’s insurance company to follow the injured party around in an effort to try and catch them doing something that makes it appear as if they are not injured. Investigators are also used by both parties to locate witnesses for more information on the case.
  26. Mediator: A mediator is the middleman of a mediation. His or her primary duty is to meet with both parties involved and help them come to a settlement so a trial is not needed and both parties are satisfied.
  27. Focus Group: To better help your personal injury attorneys prepare for trial, they may hire a focus group that will listen to both sides of the case and provide feedback and/or helpful suggestions that will benefit your case.
  28. Jury: The jury is composed of twelve disassociated citizens that will decide which side wins at trial. The jury will return a verdict in favor of the injured party or the defendant. If the verdict is in favor of the injured party, the jury will normally decide how much should be awarded.
  29. Courtroom Visuals: Visuals, including medical illustrations, PowerPoint presentations, videos, recorded 911 calls, etc., are beneficial to a case in allowing the jury to fully grasp the extent of the car wreck and any sustained injuries.
  30. Appellate Court: The appeals courts in Georgia include The Court of Appeals of Georgia and The Supreme Court of Georgia. After a car wreck trial or motions hearing, The Court of Appeals is usually the first line of appeal for any alleged errors from the trial court. The court will hear the case and decide whether to affirm or reverse the trial court or to remand the case to trial court.

There are many moving parts involved with a car accident case, and it can become confusing and overwhelming to face alone. Trustworthy personal injury attorneys like those in our office are here to help. Have you recently been involved in a car accident in the state of Georgia? Call Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Georgia 

fatal accident rise Georgia
Fatal Vehicle Accidents Are On the Rise in Georgia 

Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most of us, and often feels like a mundane task. However, it is important to remember that driving is an inherently dangerous activity that causes millions of injuries and thousands of deaths each year in the United States. This is especially true for those of us in Georgia, where there has unfortunately been an increase in fatal accidents in recent years. 

In 2019 there were about 1,500 fatal crashes; In 2020 there were about 1,700 fatal crashes. So far in 2021 there have already been 733 fatal crashes. This number has already surpassed the 600 fatalities from last June, and is expected to continue rising.

Common Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents in Georgia 

The three major causes of fatal accidents include distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding.

Distracted Driving

The main cause of distracted driving is cell phone use, which can include texting, using GPS, checking email, social media scrolling, taking photos and more. Texting while driving, or otherwise using a handheld device, is extremely dangerous because it creates both a visual and a cognitive distraction for the driver. It has been reported that drivers who text are eight times more likely to be in an accident, and that any distracted driver is four times more likely to be in an accident. Georgia drivers should also remember that it is illegal to text and drive at the same time. 

Impaired Driving

When most of us think of impaired driving, we think of driving under the influence, or DUI. And indeed, DUI creates an unacceptable risk that should not be tolerated. However, another form of impairment that causes a substantial number of accidents each year is sleepy or drowsy driving. There are few things more dangerous than falling asleep at the wheel, but even when drowsy drivers manage to stay awake, an accident is more likely to occur because fatigue significantly hinders reaction time. 

Speeding

Speeding also presents a major risk to others on the road. Many accidents are caused because drivers are traveling too fast to make a turn or to change lanes when necessary. In other cases, drivers have been traveling at the speed limit, but were going too fast for the weather or traffic conditions. Less frequent, but still sometimes a problem, are drivers that go too slow on highways. Under Georgia’s “slow poke” law, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” 

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 74% of roadway fatalities can be attributed to distracted driving, impaired driving or driving too fast for conditions. Other causes of fatal accidents include violating rules of the road, pedestrian or cyclist negligence, unsafe road conditions, and vehicle malfunctions. 

In more than half of fatal accidents in Georgia in 2019, the victims were not wearing their seatbelts. This is a striking statistic when considering that seat belt usage hovers around 90%. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, seat belts save roughly 14,000 lives every year. 

Drive Alert, Arrive Alive 

In response to the alarming increase in traffic fatalities, the Georgia Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, launched the “DriveAlert ArriveAlive” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce accidents “by educating drivers about simple changes they can make in their driving behavior to prevent crashes, improve safety and save lives.” The campaign has three core messages for drivers: 

  1. Buckle up; 
  2. Stay off the phone and mobile devices; and 
  3. Drive alert. 
Who is the Best Attorney for Fatal Car Accidents in Georgia? 

Choosing an attorney after a fatal Georgia car wreck can be difficult. You want someone who has the experience required to handle a complicated case and you need to make sure the attorney you hire is not overworked and can devote him or herself to your case. Consider interviewing several firms or lawyers before making your decision so you can feel confident that you are hiring the best lawyer for your case. 

Williams Elleby Helps Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve 

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and follow the rules of the road. This duty is extremely important because serious traffic accidents can place an enormous burden on personal injury victims and family members. The experienced legal team at Williams Elleby is dedicated to ensuring that accident victims get the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. 

Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to auto accident liability. This means if a party is responsible for causing an accident, they have an obligation to compensate any victims of harm. The attorneys at Williams Elleby work hard to provide knowledgeable, accessible and effective service to each of their personal injury clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation. If you would like to consult with one of the attorneys at Williams Elleby, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule a free meeting.

Hotel Premises Liability Cases

hotel liability case

Understanding Hotel Premises Liability Cases

Georgia is a unique state in terms of its geography, history and culture. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, our state welcomed a record 111.7 million visitors in 2018. Millions of these people stayed in our hotels, and Georgia tourism has become a $68.96 billion industry.

The hotel industry profits enormously from tourism and travel in Georgia. In return, hotels that do business in Georgia have a duty to keep their hotels safe for visitors. Despite this duty, thousands of personal injuries occur each year in Georgia hotels. Some of these accidents are unavoidable, and other times hotel patrons irresponsibly cause harm to themselves in ways the hotel can’t control. But in a majority of cases, a hotel is at fault for failing to maintain the safety of the hotel premise.

Georgia Premises Liability Claims Against Hotels

Premises liability claims in Georgia derive from Title 51 Chapter 3 Section 1 of the Official Code of Georgia. This law holds that when landowners invite others onto their property, including when hotels invite people to stay in the hotel, they must “exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” This duty of ordinary care means hotel rooms and other hotel spaces must be free from conditions that could cause harm. It also means hotels must take reasonable precautions to maintain hotel security and ensure areas like workout rooms and swimming pools are safe for guests.

When is a Hotel Liable for Injuries?

There are many instances in which a hotel may be liable, and there are a few cases that have taken place in our area. If you’ve been harmed because of an unsafe condition that existed in a hotel, you may be entitled to compensation. The key to determining if a hotel is liable for the harm depends on whether the hotel failed to “exercise ordinary care.” There are several important factors that go into this determination, including:

  1. The condition that caused the harm must be dangerous or unreasonable
  2. The hotel must have failed to remedy the condition and/or failed to warn hotel patrons about the risk, even though it had the opportunity to do so
  3. The dangerous condition must have caused the harm

What is Involved in a Hotel Premises Liability Case?

These elements may seem simple, but hotel premises liability cases are often highly complex and hotly contested. Hotels will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability in court. Hotels that are a part of a larger chain may put up a particularly tough fight. Proving that a condition was dangerous and that it was the cause of the harm often requires expert witnesses and eyewitness testimony. In some cases, a medical expert may also be necessary to explain to the court exactly how the hotel defect caused the harm.

However, it is not enough to prove that a dangerous condition existed and caused the harm. A hotel must have negligently failed to fix the problem. This means it must be proved that a hotel knew or should have known about the condition and failed to fix the problem or warn patrons about it.

Georgia courts follow the “superior knowledge” doctrine, which holds that a hotel must have had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition when compared to the plaintiff. Therefore, if a plaintiff was aware of the danger but ignored the risk, the business may not be liable, even if they knew or should have known about the risk. Proving that a hotel could have or should have remedied the problem can also require large amounts of evidence, such as hotel records or surveillance footage.

If You’ve Been Injured While Staying at a Georgia Hotel, Call Williams Elleby Today to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia hotel, the legal team at Williams Elleby can help you get the compensation you deserve. Williams Elleby offers free consultations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams Elleby represents clients in all areas of Georgia. To discuss your case, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).

 

Georgia Open Carry Laws Addressed by Supreme Court of Georgia

Openly Carry a Firearm in Georgia

For the second time, the Supreme Court of Georgia took up a case involving the right to openly carry a firearm at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (“The Garden”). Again, the case has been returned to the lower court.

This recent decision in Georgiacarry.org., Inc., et al. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc. results from a lawsuit first filed in 2014. The lawsuit, brought by gun rights advocates GeorgiaCarry.Org, alleges that The Garden’s ban on firearms is unconstitutional. While The Garden cites O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, a law that gun bans are lawful on private property, the suit argues that the Botanical Garden is public property leased to a private entity.

The case went to the Supreme Court of Georgia the first time after the trial court initially dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed, and the Supreme Court agreed that the case was improperly dismissed. Therefore, the Supreme Court of Georgia remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

After the first remand, the trial court ruled against the plaintiff by deciding that The Garden has the right to prohibit firearms on its own premises. However, on appeal, Georgia’s highest court again sided with the gun group. According to a decision issued in October of 2019, the Court agreed the trial court should have heard the case instead of disposing of it through a summary judgment motion. The ruling was based in part on the fact that the lease between the City of Atlanta and The Garden was not in evidence. According to the opinion, the terms of the lease should be considered in determining whether The Garden may ban firearms. The Court specifically held,

“In this case, because the City is a public entity, if it is the holder of the present estate, then the leased premises is not private property within the meaning of the statute because property owned by a municipality is not “private property.” If the City thus owns the property, then the Garden has no right to exclude the carrying of firearms on the leased premises because it is not ‘in legal control of private property through a lease.’ If, on the other hand, by the terms of the 50-year lease with the City, the Garden holds the present estate in the property, then the property is ‘private property,’ the Garden is a ‘private owner,’ and it had the right to exclude Evans from carrying a firearm on the premises.”

The trial court will have a chance to determine the outcome of this case in the future. It is safe to assume the Georgia Supreme Court could have another say, as well.

Open Carry and Shooting Injuries

While the right to openly carry a firearm is a hot-button political topic, there is no debating the devastation that can occur from a gunshot wound. Firearms have the potential to lead to a large number of fatal injuries in a small amount of time. However, they also commonly result in serious but non-fatal injuries. While the amount of research around open carry and its impact on gun violence has only just begun, many anti-gun groups suggest loosening gun laws correlate to more shooting injuries. Other groups such as The Heritage Foundation dispute that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher rates of violent crime.

Shooting Injuries and Civil Lawsuits

If you have suffered injuries following a shooting, you could have a viable injury claim against several parties. First, the person responsible for shooting could face civil liability in addition to criminal charges. Whether the shooting was intentional or an act of negligence, you could have legal recourse against that person.

In addition to the shooter, Georgia law allows civil claims against property owners and occupiers when the shooting is the result of inadequate security measures. If you suffered shooting injuries on the property of another person, there is a chance you could have a negligent security claim against the property owner or manager. If the owner or occupier was aware of the increased risk of violent crime on the property and did not take steps to stop it, you could have a claim against them for failing to adequately protect you.

How a Gun Injury Lawyer Could Help a Shooting Victim

Williams Elleby attorneys have developed a reputation for defending the legal rights of shooting victims throughout Georgia. Regardless of whether the shooter or a careless property owner was at fault, our team can help you determine whether you have a viable case. To learn more, give us a call at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule your free consultation.

Allstate and Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Georgia

Personal Injury and Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Georgia
Many insurance companies have a well-earned reputation for being difficult to deal with. In our experience, Allstate is among the worst because it often drags out even the simplest of claims for months or even years longer than necessary. Serious negotiations are part of the claims process; however, there is an important line between negotiating in good faith versus bad faith. While many insurance companies walk a fine line between good and bad faith, Allstate has developed a reputation among Georgia lawyers for pushing those boundaries. This is especially true when Allstate’s insured causes a crash.

Duties of Automobile Insurers under Georgia Law

Georgia law imposes important duties on car insurance companies. If a claim is brought against you, most injured claimants will give your insurance company an opportunity to settle the claim within your policy limits. If the injured party has a lawyer, the claim will usually be sent to your insurance company in compliance with the terms of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. This statute lays out the basic requirements of a pre-suit settlement demand where the injured person’s attorney will give your insurer an opportunity to settle the claim and protect your personal assets. When your insurance company receives an offer of settlement, it must put your interests ahead of its own. “[W]here a person injured by the insured offers to settle for a sum within the policy limits, and the insurer refuses the offer of settlement, the insurer may be liable to the insured to pay the verdict rendered against the insured even though the verdict exceeds the policy limits. The reason for this rule is that the insurer may not gamble with the funds of its insured by refusing to settle within the policy limits.” McCall v. Allstate Ins. Co., 251 Ga. 869, 870 (1984). If an insurance company receives a legitimate settlement offer pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 and refuses to pay, you will likely get sued. When the lawsuit results in a verdict and judgment that exceeds your policy limits, you are legally responsible for paying the amount that exceeds your policy limits. Your insurance company will be responsible for paying any amount within the liability limits of your policy. In situations like this, all may not be lost. After a judgment in excess of your policy limits is entered against you, you may be able to bring a claim against your insurance company for the excess amount if your insurer refused to settle for an amount within your policy limits.

Bad Faith Automobile Insurance Claims in Georgia

Georgia allows for bad faith claims with multiple types of insurance policies. The most common type of “bad faith” claim is one that is brought after an insurer rejects a time limited offer of settlement that an attorney sends in compliance with O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. O.C.G.A § 9-11-67.1 settlement offers are sent to the insurer of a driver that caused a wreck. When an insurance company fails to use good faith in negotiating car accident claims, it can leave its insured open to substantial financial exposure and mental anguish.  The insurer also exposes its insured to protracted litigation, the time and expense of attending depositions, participating in discovery and attending trial, the emotional anguish of reliving the collision and harm caused, and other financial loss such diminished credit ratings. Therefore, Georgia allows an insured to sue his or her own insurance company when it acts in bad faith during settlement negotiations. In order to succeed in a bad faith lawsuit against a liability insurance carrier, the insured will need to prove:
  1. The insurer failed to give equal consideration to the interests of its insured,
  2. The insurer failed to accord its insured the same faithful consideration it accords its own interest,
  3. The insurer refused to settle because of an arbitrary belief that the insured was not liable, or
  4. The insurer refused to entertain a settlement offer with no regard given the position of its insured.
See Southern General Ins. Co. v. Holt, 262 Ga. 267 (1992) and O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. If an insured is successful in his or her bad faith claim, special damages, general damages, punitive damages, and legal fees may be available. There are also laws discouraging bad faith negotiations with uninsured motorist claims. Uninsured motorist policies protect you when the person that causes an accident lacks enough liability insurance to cover your damages. Under current Georgia law, bad faith penalties for claims against an uninsured motorist insurance carrier are not as severe as those available for liability claims. Yet, if the insurance company makes a frivolous or unfounded denial, they could open themselves up to penalties. If litigation is required to recover on a bad faith claim, the plaintiff could also recover the cost of their attorney fees. You should always seek the advice of a reputable Georgia lawyer if you are considering bringing any type of bad faith claim.

Allstate and Their Approach to Settlement

Allstate’s aggressive approach to avoiding responsibility on liability claims has come back to haunt them more than once. Few of these instances are as memorable as a 2017 decision in Madrigal v. Allstate. In that case, there was substantial evidence that Allstate’s insured was responsible for an accident. When the third party sought the full policy limits of $100,000, Allstate rejected it outright. In the days that followed, Allstate developed additional information that pointed to their insured as responsible for the claim. This included an independent witness that contradicted their insured’s account of what happened. Ultimately, a jury found Allstate’s actions to be in bad faith and returned a verdict for more than $14 million.

Duty of an Insured Cooperate with the Insurance Company

Although automobile insurers must work to protect their insureds, their insureds also have a duty to cooperate with their insurer. Most automobile insurance policies contain what is commonly referred to as a “cooperation clause.” The “cooperation clause” requires an insured to cooperate with his or her insurance company anytime the insurer investigates or defends any claim brought against its insured. Quite simply, you have a contractual duty to cooperate with your automobile insurance company after you cause a wreck. In this context, cooperation means that you must timely report any accident, give your insurer a recorded statement, and attend any necessary legal proceedings like a deposition or a trial. If you willfully and intentionally refuse to cooperate with your insurer, the insurer may deny coverage for any civil claim brought against you.

How an Attorney Could Help

One important thing to consider in these cases is that insurance companies like Allstate treat their policyholders differently if they have competent legal representation. While an insurer might be willing to string you along, they are more likely to deal fairly if they know your attorney is ready to take action against a bad faith settlement offer. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the Georgia trial lawyers at Williams Elleby by calling 833-LEGALGA or (833-534-2542).

Don’t Believe the Lies about Runaway Jury Verdicts

Lies about Runaway Jury Verdicts

When there is a big jury verdict in a personal injury case, you hear about it in the news. But what you don’t hear about are the thousands of other cases where victims receive little to no compensation. A $10,000 jury verdict doesn’t have the shock appeal that the news today often seeks. 

Due to this disparity in reporting, it can feel like juries in Georgia personal injury cases are out of control, regularly awarding multi-million dollar verdicts in personal injury cases. This simply isn’t true. In fact, juries sometimes award those injured in personal injury cases far less than they deserve.  Rockdale Hospital v. Evans, a case that was recently decided by the Supreme Court of Georgia, is an example of such a case.

Victim Suffers Catastrophic Injuries After Hospital Discharge

In 2012, Janice Evans awoke in the middle of the night with the worst headache of her life. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed. Shaun Evans, her husband, initially believed she was suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning; when the symptoms didn’t subside in almost two days, he took her to the emergency room at Rockdale Hospital.

Mrs. Evans complained of a headache that she rated as an 8 out of 10 on the pain scale. During her entire stay, her systolic blood pressure was over 200. While high blood pressure and headaches can be signs of brain bleeding, no one focused on the root cause of her pain.

After being discharged, Mrs. Evans continued to suffer from nausea, vomiting, and headaches. On January 22, 2012, Mr. Evans called 911 when Mrs. Evans was unable to get up from the couch. It was eventually determined that she had a blood clot in her brain and had suffered several strokes caused by a ruptured aneurysm. She underwent multiple surgeries in subsequent months. 

Unfortunately, Mrs. Evans never recovered. She is now permanently disabled and requires 24-hour care. She utilizes a feeding tube, cannot speak, and has severe cognitive and physical impairments.

Jury Awards $0 For Pain and Suffering

Mr. Evans brought suit against Rockdale Hospital for medical malpractice and loss of consortium. The Hospital defended itself by pointing the finger at the victim for not seeking care early enough and claiming that pre-existing conditions were to blame.

Following trial, the jury awarded $1.2 million for Mrs. Evans’ past medical expenses. However, the jury found that Mrs. Evans was not entitled to any compensation for future medical expenses, future lost wages, or for past or future pain and suffering. The trial court upheld the verdict.

Appellate Court’s Attempt to Do Justice is Thwarted

The jury’s decision to find the hospital liable for Mrs. Evans’ medical expenses, but award no compensation for pain and suffering, makes no sense, particularly given how catastrophic her injuries were. The Evans’ attorneys agreed and appealed the decision. The appellate court also agreed, holding that the award of $0 for pain and suffering was “clearly inadequate.”

Rockdale Hospital appealed the appellate court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the Court of Appeals. Relying largely on the text of Georgia Code OCGA § 51-12-12, the Court held that approving the jury verdict was not an abuse of the trial court’s discretion and should be upheld.

The fact that Mrs. Evans will receive no compensation for her pain and suffering is a miscarriage of justice, but her case underscores the importance of bringing a strong medical malpractice case at the trial level. It also serves as a reminder of the people who suffer when juries return unreasonably low verdicts. To learn more about medical malpractice cases in Georgia, you can view this video by attorney Joel Williams, founder of Williams Elleby.

If you have been injured in an accident and think someone else is at fault, the Georgia trial attorneys at Williams Elleby would like to help you understand your situation and options. Call us at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation.

Post Accident PTSD: What to Look For After a Georgia Car Accident

man suffering from PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health disorder that is triggered by a dangerous or shocking event, including Georgia car accidents.  PTSD is commonly associated with military veterans returning from war, but military members are not the only ones who can suffer from PTSD. Anyone can experience PTSD after a traumatic event.

About 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD at least once during their lives. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of PTSD in the general population but any traumatic accident can cause PTSD. Those directly involved in the accident and those who witnessed the accident can develop PTSD.

If you or a loved one has experienced or witnessed an accident, you should be aware of the signs of PTSD and know what to do if they develop.

Signs of Post-Accident PTSD

It could be days, weeks, or even months after an accident before symptoms of PTSD become apparent. The following are some of the common signs and symptoms of PTSD following an accident:

  • Unexpected or recurring flashbacks of the accident.
  • No memory of certain parts of the accident.
  • Nightmares or other sleeping difficulties.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Avoidance of reminders of the event, for example, avoiding driving after a car accident.
  • Avoidance of feelings related to the accident.
  • Negative mood changes such as decreased interest in hobbies and leisure activities, as well as overly negative thoughts about self and others.
  • Persistent feeling of being on edge.
  • Emotional outbursts.
  • Being easily startled, e.g., jumping when a loud noise is heard.
  • Physical manifestations of stress such as hair loss, fragile nails, headaches, weight loss, and neck and should aches.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Physical of arousal such as higher heart rate, sweating, and shortness of breath when at rest.
  • Substance abuse.

PTSD does not require all of these signs and symptoms to be present and can manifest in other ways as well. PTSD shows up differently in different people.

What to Do for Post-Accident PTSD

If you or a loved one are experiencing any signs of PTSD, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Contact a mental health professional directly or make an appointment with your primary care physician who can refer you to the appropriate mental health care professional. If immediate help is needed, call the 24/7 Georgia Crisis Hotline at (800) 715-4225. Whomever you reach out to, do it as soon as possible. PTSD is a very treatable disorder but can have devastating consequences if left untreated.

You should also tell your Georgia accident attorney if your PTSD symptoms are present or if there has been a PTSD diagnosis. The cost of PTSD care and treatment may be recoverable as part of damages in your personal injury case, but your attorney has to know about it to help you receive the compensation you are entitled too.

At Williams | Elleby, we understand that the mental suffering caused by traumatic accidents can continue long after the accident itself is over.  Georgia law allows PTSD victims to recover for their pain and suffering and Williams Elleby works hart to ensure that those impacted by accidents are fully compensated. If you or a loved one has been in an accident in Georgia, call (833) LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation with our team.