Punitive Damages in a Georgia Personal Injury Case

A view from behind a steering wheel of a car showing a man drinking out of a flask while driving.

A Georgia personal injury lawsuit is a civil case, not criminal, so there is no jail or prison time at stake; however punishment may be available in the form of punitive damages. Sometimes a defendant’s behavior is so shocking and appalling that the law wants to do all that it can to prevent it from happening again. One way the law can do this is by making a defendant pay punitive damages. Punitive damages are also known as exemplary damages — damages meant to make an example out of the defendant so that behavior doesn’t continue.

Punitive Damages vs. Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages in a personal injury case serve to compensate the victim for what they lost or spent, or any expenses accrued due to the accident. Compensatory damages are available to compensate a victim for a loss.

Punitive damages serve an entirely different purpose. Their purpose is not to compensate the plaintiff, although the plaintiff does receive the damage award. Courts and juries award punitive damages when the behavior of the defendant demonstrates an intentional disregard for the rights of another. Miller v. City Views at Rosa Burney Park GP, LLC, 323 Ga. App. 590 (2013). The purpose is to punish and deter the defendant from repeating the same action. As such, courts don’t award punitive damages in every personal injury case. Another important difference is that punitive damages have to be requested when the complaint is filed; otherwise, they cannot be pursued at trial — they are not automatically awarded.

Burden of Proof for Being Awarded Punitive Damages

The victim plaintiff must prove by “clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” Caldwell v. Church, 341 Ga. App. 852 (2017) quoting O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1. A good example of clear and convincing evidence under Georgia law is evidence that an adverse driver was drunk or under the infuence of drugs when he or she caused a car crash. This meets the “clear and convincing evidence” standard required for punitive damages.

Limits to Punitive Damages in Georgia

In most cases where punitive damages are awarded, Georgia has set a maximum limit of $250,000.

This maximum limit does not apply to product liability cases. There is also no maximum limit when a court finds that a defendant “acted or failed to act with the specific intent to cause harm, or that the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol [or] drugs.”

This means that if the defendant intended harm either by deliberately acting or doing nothing at all and allowing harm to come to the victim, the defendant could face punitive damages. If the defendant harmed the victim due to being intoxicated on either drugs or alcohol, punitive damages are likely to be awarded.

Contact Our Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one is a victim of a personal injury, punitive damages can and should be explored. You will need an experienced attorney in Georgia who can help you navigate the complex system. If you have questions about the law and your rights, contact the Williams Elleby Howard & Easter law firm to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

What Is an Attractive Nuisance?

Young Girl Standing Safely Outside Pool Fence Looking In To Pool.

Children are naturally curious about their surroundings and can be harmed by what the law considers to be an “Attractive Nuisance.” Under Georgia law, any feature that could (a) draw the interest of a child and (b) potentially harm them is known as an attractive nuisance. The perfect example is a swimming pool. If a landowner fails to take appropriate steps to protect the public from this hazard, they could be liable for any injuries suffered by a child.

The combination of a child’s natural curiosity and the inability to identify potential hazards can be a recipe for disaster when a child is looking for a place to play and comes across a dangerous feature on another person’s property. If your child is injured due to an attractive nuisance in Georgia, you may be entitled to recover for your child’s medical bills. If your child dies after encountering an attractive nuisance, we can help you understand the challenges that are involved with bringing a wrongful death claim for the loss of a child.

Attractive Nuisance Liability in Georgia

For a landowner to be liable under the Attractive Nuisance theory, a few things must be proven. After all, not every nuisance is attractive and not every injury was feasibly preventable. A landowner is liable under the Attractive Nuisance theory if:

  • There is a dangerous condition on their property;
  • The hazardous condition was likely to attract young children;
  • A child, incapable of understanding the danger due to their age, was injured by the condition;
  • The landowner failed to take steps to guard against the injury; and
  • That preventing access to the condition or rendering it harmless was feasible without obstructing its intended purpose.

See Gregory v. Johnson, 249 Ga. 151, 154-155 (1982). In other words, a landowner owes a duty to any child that might be injured by a condition on their property that is attractive to the child. This is the case as long as it was feasible for the landowner to prevent access to the condition or render it harmless without obstructing the condition’s purpose. For example, an oil pump that might appear to a child as a teeter-totter may not be rendered entirely safe without affecting its ability to pump oil.

If all of the conditions described above are met, the landowner may be found liable for the injuries of the child. It is important to note that the duty owed to a child in these circumstances is much higher than that owed to an adult trespasser. In many cases, a landowner may be liable to a trespassing child for a dangerous condition but liability would not lie for injuries to a trespassing adult in the same situation. These nuisances can be either privately owned or public property.

Examples of Attractive Nuisances

Every premises liability case is different. However, there are a variety of examples that come up frequently in Attractive Nuisance lawsuits. Here are some of the most common examples of an attractive nuisance:

  • Railroad turntables
  • Empty swimming pools
  • Construction sites
  • Wells
  • Power lines
  • Man-made fountains
  • Abandoned cars
  • Farm equipment

These are only a few of the possible Attractive Nuisances that are common in Georgia. In many of these examples, the circumstances in each case could affect whether Attractive Nuisance liability applies. For example, farm equipment that was storable inside secure fencing might be an attractive nuisance, while equipment at a location where fencing is impossible may not qualify.

Premises Liability Attorney in Georgia

Every Attractive Nuisance case is different and will require extensive research and investigation. If your child or loved one suffered an injury on the property of another, it is possible that the property owner is liable for their damages. To discuss your options with an experienced premises liability attorney, contact us today at 833-LEGALGA.

Rapper TI’s Sister Killed in Georgia Traffic Accident

The inside of a wrecked vehicle with a shattered windshield, crocked rearview mirror and deployed airbag.

Precious Harris, the sister of rapper T.I. that regularly appeared on the reality show T.I.’s Family Hustle, died as a result of a vehicle accident in Atlanta on February 12, 2019. Her granddaughter, a passenger in the vehicle, was treated for chest pain but was ultimately released from the hospital.

The Accident

Harris, 66, was operating a 2013 Dodge Avenger owned by her brother on February 12 when she collided with a telephone pole in Atlanta. Emergency personnel rushed Harris to the hospital where she remained unresponsive in the intensive care unit. On February 22, Harris died from her injuries.

According to later reports, Harris suffered an asthma attack before the collision. According to her granddaughter, the attack was so severe that Harris passed out behind the wheel. After losing consciousness, the car crashed into a nearby pole. No other vehicles were involved in the collision. Although Harris was still breathing when emergency personnel arrived on the scene, she was quickly rushed to the hospital after she began foaming at the mouth.

Medical Emergencies and Traffic Accidents

The accident that cost Harris her life thankfully didn’t involve other drivers. However, if Harris had struck and injured another driver after her sudden asthma attack, Georgia law may have prevented the injured party from recovering damages from Harris.

A genuine medical emergency can render a driver incapable of controlling their vehicle. Because this loss of control is involuntary, a bona fide medical emergency is a complete defense to a negligence case under Georgia law. In other words, if a driver causes an accident that would otherwise constitute negligence, they are not at fault for the damages of anyone they injure if a medical emergency caused the crash. An emergency can be the result of an unknown medical condition or an unexpected reaction to prescribed medication. This is bad news for any injured party hoping to recover their damages from the driver or their insurance company.

While this defense may sound insurmountable, there is an important caveat. If the driver that suffered the medical emergency had notice that the medical condition could cause them to lose control of their vehicle, they are not entitled to use their medical emergency as a defense to avoid liability. That’s because any driver that was aware of the risk of driving with that condition and ignored it is not operating with the necessary ordinary care.

In cases like this, having a strong personal injury attorney can make the difference between recovering the damages you deserve and walking away with nothing. Whether a defendant had notice of their condition is a matter for the court, and it is up to your attorney to prove that the medical emergency defense should not apply in your case.

If You Have Been in a Georgia Traffic Accident, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter Today

Every driver has the duty to remain focused behind the wheel and drive in a safe manner; those who don’t will face liability for any people they injure or property they damage. And while it is a complete defense if an accident occurs due to an unexpected medical emergency, the truth is that some drivers use this excuse to avoid liability. If you suffered an injury in a car accident, you need a zealous advocate who will hold the other party responsible for their actions. If your accident occurred in the Georgia, the attorneys you need are at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter. To discuss your case with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter today at 833-LEGALGA.

What Does It Mean to Mitigate Damages?

A male patient sitting on an exam table while a older male doctor examines his knee.

When a person is injured through the negligence of someone else, the injured person has a duty to mitigate their damages in order to minimize the effects and loss related to any injuries. A personal injury plaintiff will be denied the right to recover any part of damages that the court or a jury finds could reasonably have been avoided.

What Is Mitigating Damages?

Even a person who suffers personal injury through no fault of his or her own has an obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid further loss and minimize the consequences of the injury.

In Georgia, under the mitigation of damages doctrine — where to mitigate means to reduce or lessen — a person who has suffered an injury or loss should take reasonable action to avoid additional injury or loss.

What Steps Should I Take to Mitigate My Damages?

You do not have to act above and beyond what would be reasonable. Georgia law only requires you to reduce your damages by using ordinary care and diligence. If you take the steps that a reasonable person would take under the circumstances, you have exercised ordinary care and diligence. In personal injury cases, the duty to mitigate damages arises most often in relation to medical treatment. Any delay in seeking medical treatment, unreasonably refusing medical treatment, disregarding the medical advice of healthcare providers, and refusing recommended surgery may all be deemed a failure to mitigate damages.

What Are Reasonable Examples of Mitigating Damages?

  • An injured person who chooses not to have surgery when a doctor recommends surgery will not recover damages for injuries that could have been reduced or avoided had they had the recommended surgery.
  • An injured person who chooses to use alternative treatments such as holistic and homeopathic treatments instead of seeking traditional medical treatment may lead to a reduction of damages that can be recovered.
  • An accident victim has a duty to mitigate damages by seeking medical treatment for any injuries. If medical treatment would help a victim recover or reduce the severity of symptoms, a jury will understandably expect the victim to seek treatment as part of their efforts to get better.

What Happens if I Don’t Mitigate My Damages?

The failure of a plaintiff to take reasonable steps after suffering an injury or loss can result in a reduced damages award. The purpose of the duty to mitigate is to deny the recovery of damages that could have been reasonably avoided had the plaintiff taken reasonable action. The person at fault in your accident or injury should only be responsible for the damages they caused.  Georgia law does not require a negligent party to pay for damages they didn’t cause.  If your case goes to trial, most trial court judges will utilize Georgia’s Pattern Jury Instructions and instruct the jury as follows:

“When a person is injured by the negligence of another, he or she must mitigate his or her damages as much as is practicable by the use of ordinary care and diligence.  If you believe that a party has suffered damages as alleged, under the law, that party is bound to reduce those damages, as much as practicable, by the use of ordinary care.  If you believe that by the use of such care, that party could have reduced the damages, you would determine to what extent and reduce damages to that extent.”

This is why it is so important to never miss medical appointments and to do everything medical professionals recommend after a personal injury.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter

The duty to mitigate will almost always come up either during settlement negotiations or court deliberations. If you have questions about the law and your case, contact  Williams Elleby Howard & Easter to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Georgia Auto Insurance Laws

A man wearing a suit in the background with the words ARE YOU INSURED in the foreground.

In Georgia, car insurance is required. It is there to protect both drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.

Minimum Requirements

If you drive a car in Georgia, you must have automobile liability insurance for the minimum limits required by law to drive on public roads and highways. Liability coverage pays for any damages you may cause to another driver or their property while on the road.

The minimum limits of liability required under Georgia law are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person in an accident;
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of multiple people in an accident; and
  • $25,000 for property destruction of others in an accident.

Acceptable proof of Georgia liability insurance coverage:

  • Proof of insurance, filed by your insurance company, in the Department of Revenue’s database.
  • Rental agreement for a vehicle that is being rented.
  • Bill of Sale dated within 30 days of the date the vehicle was purchased and a valid insurance binder page.
  • A valid Self-Insured Insurance Card and a Certificate of Self-Insurance.
  • Valid Insurance policy information card for Georgia International Registration Plan.

Optional Coverage

If you can afford it, it is recommended that you also purchase additional coverage beyond the liability insurance. While additional coverage is not required by state law, it may be  required by the bank or finance company if there is a loan on the vehicle or if the vehicle is being leased. Additional coverage provides you with extra protection in the event of not only a collision but other non-accident related damages to your car.

Here are the most common types of optional kinds of insurance:

  • Collision Insurance: This covers you in the case of collision with other vehicles.
  • Comprehensive Insurance: This covers your car for non-accident related damages such as theft, vandalism, and fire damage.
  • Uninsured Driver InsuranceThis covers you if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Showing Proof of Auto Insurance

You should keep a copy of your insurance policy card and registration in your vehicle. You must also be registered in the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System (GEICS). This is used by law enforcement during traffic stops. Your insurance provider is responsible for registering you with GEICS.

Here are some common instances where you might need to show proof of auto insurance:

  • At the DMV when renewing, reinstating, and changing license plates.
  • At the request of a police officer during a traffic stop.
  • After an accident.

The Penalty for Driving Without Insurance

Driving a vehicle while the registration is suspended, revoked, or canceled is a criminal offense.

By law, the Georgia Department of Revenue must:

  • Suspend or revoke the registration of any vehicle that does not have continuous Georgia Liability insurance coverage.
  • Fine the vehicle owner/lessee $25 for any lapse of coverage while the vehicle is actively registered.
  • Fine the vehicle owner/lessee up to $160 in addition to the $25 fine if the lapse of coverage fine is not paid within 30 days and
  • Refuse to renew or reinstate vehicle registration for any of the following:
    • Fines have not been paid
    • An unresolved lapse of coverage
    • The vehicle is not insured

For More Information, Contact Our Georgia Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been in a car accident and you feel like you are owed compensation from an insurance company, contact  Williams Elleby Howard & Easter to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Personal Injury Settlement?

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When it comes to settlements for personal injury lawsuits, one topic that is rarely discussed is the tax implications of that settlement. Many personal injury settlements involve a large lump sum payment; failure to pay the required taxes on an amount that large could land you with a significant penalty with the IRS. But are personal injury settlements even taxable? According to the IRS, it depends on the circumstances surrounding your settlement. In fact, it is possible that part of your settlement is taxable while other parts are not. Typically, your settlement can be itemized into different sections including medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and even interest. Ultimately, it depends on what the purpose of that part of your settlement is.

Repayment for Medical Bills 

Fortunately, any part of your settlement that is earmarked for claims regarding your personal physical injuries or illnesses is not taxable. If your entire settlement is entirely related to your injuries, you may not have to pay taxes on any of it. However, there is an exception. Any money that is for medical bills that you deducted from your taxes in previous years must be counted as income on your current year’s taxes.

Emotional Distress

For settlement money intended to address emotional distress or mental anguish, it depends entirely on the cause of your distress. If your emotional distress stems from physical injuries or illnesses, you will not be taxed on that settlement. If your emotional distress were related to any other factor, you would likely need to pay taxes on that amount.

Lost Wages

Your tax responsibility on lost wages can be a complicated issue. While lost wages are taxed, the actual taxes due can vary depending on your circumstances. If the lost wages you were awarded were related to your employment for another business, your lost wages recovery would be subject to social security and Medicare taxes just like your paycheck would be.

If your lost wages are related to lost profits for a trade or business, you must report any lost wages as net earnings are subject to self-employment taxes.

Interest

You are required to pay taxes on all interest payments. In fact, IRS Form 1040 provides for a section titled “Interest Income,” which is designed for this exact purpose.

Punitive Damages

Just like interest payments, any punitive damages must be reported as income on your tax return. You must report any punitive damage payments as income on the “Other Income” section of IRS Form 1040. This is the case whether the source of your claim was from personal injuries or otherwise.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter

Regardless of the outcome of your personal injury case, the proceeds of your case will be taxed the same. If you are concerned about the possible tax implications of a personal injury settlement, your best course of action is to discuss your case with a professional. Joel Williams is an experienced personal injury attorney that can guide you through the process from beginning to end. To discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, online or at 833-LEGALGA to set up your free consultation today.

100,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Recalled for E. Coli Contamination

Letter blocks on a wood table spelling out the word RECALL.

Swift Beef Company has recently recalled nearly 100,000 pounds of ground beef due to E. coli contamination. The beef was mostly shipped to distributors to be sold in grocery stores and restaurants. The recall went into effect on November 16, 2018. Labels for the recalled beef can be viewed here. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service, government inspectors confirmed that ground beef produced by the company contained E. coli on November 15 and moved quickly to put the recall in place. The inspectors confirmed that Swift Beef Company was the sole source supplier of the beef in question. Thankfully, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone getting sick due to consuming the affected beef. 

Symptoms of E. coli Poisoning 

The primary symptoms of E. coli poisoning are dehydration, diarrhea, and stomach pains. Most people recover within a few days; however, more serious long-term complications can arise. Especially true for young children, elderly adults, or anyone with a compromised immune system. Anyone concerned that they may have E. coli poisoning should contact a healthcare provider. 

Food Recalls 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces safety standards for all foods sold in the United States. Despite this, food recalls happen frequently. There were nearly 40 food recalls in the United States in the month of November 2018 alone, and this number is typical. The good news is that food recalls create bad press for companies and are expensive for them to deal with, so they are usually very quick to act in fixing the problem. 

Product Liability Claims Involving Defective Food Products 

Companies that produce or sell food in the state of Georgia have a duty to ensure that what they are selling is safe for consumers. Not only do these companies have to follow state and federal regulations for food safety, but they can also be liable under Georgia’s product liability laws if they sell or distribute food products that are unsafe. 

Georgia’s product liability law is centered on O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11, which holds that any company that sells any product “as new property directly or through a dealer or any other person” is liable for any harm that occurs as a result of product defects. This law applies to producers and sellers of food. 

When companies negligently or intentionally sell unsafe food, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people may be affected. For this reason, product liability claims are often carried out through class action lawsuits or multi-district litigation. However, individual claims are also sometimes possible. A personal injury lawyer familiar with product liability claims can help you understand your legal rights and options. 

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, Today 

Product liability claims are complicated, and large companies pay heaps of money to avoid liability. For them, defending against product liability claims are simply a cost of business. For victims of defective products, claims for compensation mean much more. If you have been harmed by any type of defective or dangerous product, the experienced product liability attorneys can help you understand your case and work to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, we serve clients throughout the state in both state and federal court. If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, by calling 833-LEGALGA. 

Tips to Help Parents Recover for Medical Bills Incurred on Behalf of Their Minor Child

emergency center sign for children's hospital

There are few things parents fear more than their children suffering serious injuries. But as much as parents try to keep their children safe, accidents are bound to occur from time to time. Under Georgia law, parents have a right to seek compensation for medical expenses if their child is injured due to the negligence of someone else. Parents can also seek compensation on behalf of their child for pain and suffering. To recover compensation for medical bills incurred on behalf of a minor child, parents should ensure that they understand their rights, plead their case properly, and adhere to the statute of limitations for tort claims.

Parents Have a Right to Recover for Medical Bills

As mentioned, parents have a legal right to recover for medical bills if their child is injured due to someone else’s negligence. Other parties may also have a right to recover if they paid the medical bills in question and were acting as a guardian over the child. Parents should know that they have “standing,” or legal authority, to bring claims of their own for medical bills, as well as on behalf of their child for harms the child suffered.

Legal Standards Are Different for Children

Many children are injured because they are doing something unsafe, like wandering onto a neighbor’s property without invitation and getting hurt playing with a dangerous object. If an adult did something like this, they would likely not be entitled to compensation because they would be deemed at-fault in causing their own harm. But the legal standards governing the conduct of children are relaxed and there is a higher standard of care owed to children. For instance, a neighbor may not have any duty to prevent you from falling into their pool, but they do have a duty to keep a fence around their yard to prevent a toddler from doing the same. Similarly, companies have no duty to make products free of risks that are open and obvious to consumers, but they do have a duty to make products free of any obvious risks if they are marketing products to children.

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

If your child has been injured due to a wrongful act, it is crucial to remember that under the Georgia statute of limitations a tort claim brought to recover for medical bills must generally be brought within two years of the date of the accident. Once the statute of limitations period has run, a parent’s claim for compensation for medical bills will be barred completely. However, a child’s own claim for pain and suffering damages can be made either by the parents or when the child turns 18 years old.

Distinguishing Medical Bills From Other Damages

It is important for parents or guardians bringing a claim on behalf of a minor to recognize that although they are entitled to compensation for medical bills, damages awarded for things like pain and suffering are solely the property of the child. Parents receiving money from a settlement or award on behalf of their child have a duty to only use that money if it is for the benefit of the child.

Georgia also has laws in place to ensure that the proceeds from these settlements or awards are safeguarded properly and go toward the benefit of the child. Under the Official Code of Georgia Title 29 Chapter 3 Section 3, settlements of more than $15,000 must be approved by the court. When a child receives an award of more than $15,000 from a personal injury claim, the parents must also be bonded as conservators to safeguard the money until the child turns 18. If an award is less than $15,000, the law simply states that parents “shall thereafter hold and use all or part of the personal property for the benefit of the minor and shall be accountable for the personal property.”

If Your Child Has Suffered an Injury, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, to Schedule a Free Consultation

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, are dedicated to getting justice for injury victims throughout the state of Georgia. If you would like to discuss your case or would like more information, contact Joel Williams today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Marital Property in Georgia? 

frustrated couple looking at personal injury settlement

It is common for married personal injury victims that have accepted a settlement or won a judgment to wonder whether that money is their own separate property or is marital property. Even if you aren’t getting or thinking about divorce, it is good information to know. 

Marital property is generally any property that is acquired during a marriage. This means that income and all of the things that married couples pay for with their income are generally considered marital property. Property brought into a marriage, and things like gifts and inheritance, are usually considered separate property. In most cases, a personal injury settlement is considered a mixture of both separate and marital property. To determine what portion of a settlement is marital property, Georgia courts do something known as equitable division. 

Equitable Division 

Equitable is just the legal term for fair. Personal injury settlements are separated by equitable division, which basically means that the judge will divide the settlement in as fair a way as is possible. There are, however, certain principles that judges will follow. 

As a general rule, compensation for medical expenses and lost wages that occurred during a marriage is considered marital property. This is because, in most cases, lost wages during a marriage are considered lost marital property, and a personal injury victim uses marital property to pay for medical expenses that are incurred during the marriage. It is fair for a spouse to share in this compensation. 

However, Georgia law considers compensation for future medical expenses, future lost wages, or pain and suffering to be personal property. A spouse cannot claim any of this compensation as their own. As the Georgia Supreme Court has explained: 

A personal injury claim settlement, to the extent that it represents compensation for pain and suffering and loss of capacity is peculiarly personal to the party who receives it. For the other party to benefit from the misfortune of the injured party would be unfair. 

Considering the above, if you are negotiating a personal injury settlement and are also going through a divorce, it is important to make sure that the divorce settlement specifies exactly what portions of the settlement compensates different types of damages. Like any other assets, it is also possible for spouses to agree in writing that a settlement or specific portion of a settlement is separate property. If you have already accepted a settlement for a personal injury, the amount that is personal versus marital property will depend heavily on the language of the settlement and what the purpose of the compensation was for. 

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter 

If you have suffered a personal injury during the divorce process, it is important to understand your legal rights to any settlement or judgment you receive. Williams Elleby Howard & Easter helps clients understand these and other related issues. This is also an issue you should discuss with your divorce attorney. If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, to schedule a free case evaluation by calling 833-LEGALGA today.

Negligent Supervision of Children

negligent supervision of children

Parents and caregivers of children have a legal duty to supervise children under their care. Negligent supervision of children can create a legal issue when a child hurts him or herself or when a child causes harm to someone else because no adult was watching them. In these cases, the adult that was supposed to be watching them can be held liable. 

Negligent Caregivers and Harm to Children 

When a parent leaves their child in another person’s care, they are placing a huge amount of trust in that person to keep their child safe. Caregivers — like daycare attendants, babysitters, nannies, teachers, coaches, and camp counselors — have a responsibility to safeguard children under their care. When caregivers fail to take reasonable steps to keep a child under their care safe, they have breached a legal duty and are liable for whatever harm is caused to the child as a result. Whether a caregiver acted unreasonably is a question of fact that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Georgia Parental Liability Laws 

The other category of cases involving negligent supervision of children occurs when a child causes an injury to someone else. If a child was under the care of a daycare provider, teacher, guardian, or any other person with a legal duty to watch over the child at the time of the injury, then that party may be found liable to the person that was harmed. In all other instances, Georgia law holds parents vicariously liable for the wrongful acts of their children. This type of liability is not tied to a parent’s negligent supervision, but rather to the child’s actions. However, negligent supervision and parental vicarious liability are issues that are often closely tied together. 

Under Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 2, parents are liable for negligent and intentional torts committed by their children. Unsupervised children can cause harm in myriad ways because they lack mental and emotional maturity. Georgia courts have determined that liability under that § 51-2-2 extends to auto accidents caused by children under the “family purpose doctrine.” This means that, generally, whenever a minor causes an accident while driving the family vehicle, the parents can be held liable. 

The Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 3 additionally holds that parents are liable for the “willful and malicious” conduct of their children “in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 plus court costs.” Because damages are capped at $10,000 for willful and malicious conduct, but not for negligent acts, it is important to have cases carefully evaluated to ensure that the proper statute applies. It is also important to note that § 51-2-3 states that it is not intended to provide a restrictive remedy, meaning that parents can be liable for the willful and malicious conduct of their children beyond the $10,000 limit if other theories of liability also apply. 

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter 

If you would like more information about this issue, or if you would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter, to schedule a free consultation today by calling 833-LEGALGA.