Should I agree to mediation for my personal injury case?

This blog post by serious personal injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond addresses questions surrounding mediation as a means to resolving personal injury and wrongful death cases. Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center. He handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which opposing parties agree to have a neutral party called a mediator listen to each party’s presentation of the case in attempt to reach an agreement to amicably resolve a case short of going to trial. Mediation, as opposed to arbitration, is non-binding. In other words, if either party in a mediation does not like the end result then they do not have to agree to the proposed resolution and can walk away still retaining the right to pursue claims or defenses in a lawsuit.

How does mediation work?

Mediation is less formal than proceedings in a court of law. Each side will agree to a particular Georgia registered mediator to hear the case between them and will schedule the mediation hearing for a particular date. Prior to that date, either side typically is allowed to present a summary and materials to the mediator in advance of the mediation to give the mediator a synopsis of the case and their position going into the hearing.

On the date of the mediation, each party will typically be assigned to their own room. The parties typically sign an agreement that the discussions which take place cannot be used against either party in any subsequent litigation. This is to encourage open talks in an attempt to settle the case. The parties will then get together briefly in a room so that each side can give an opening statement if they wish. Basically, this allows any party to state with everyone present what they believe the facts of the case are and what the damages are. Then, the parties retreat to their assigned rooms for private meetings with the mediator.

The mediator will often meet with the plaintiff and his or her attorney first to get the exact amount demanded and discuss the case from the plaintiff’s perspective. The mediator will then leave the room to meet with the defendant and his or her attorney. If the defendant has a counteroffer the mediator will then leave their room and present it to the plaintiff. The process can go back and forth a few times or many times. The goal of each side is typically to reach an appropriate resolution of the case.

Sometimes sides are able to resolve a case relatively quickly. More often, a mediation can go on for hours or even a full day. Sometimes it is clear that one side is being unreasonable and because of that the mediation ends quickly. Other times cases can be complex as strengths and weaknesses of cases, both in the facts and the law, are discussed with the mediator and negotiations continue.

If an agreement is reached the mediator will typically complete a brief settlement memorandum that each party signs regarding the terms of the agreement. If either side does not reach the result they wanted they can walk away to continue litigating the case in court. As stated earlier, the process is much less formal than court proceedings as the rules of evidence are not at issue, each side presents their case outside the presence of the other side, and things like presenting information in advance that would not be allowed in a court of law are permissible in mediations.

Is it a good idea to mediate a wrongful death or personal injury case?

That is a question for your attorney who knows the facts and law of your case inside and out. My experience is that mediation can be a very useful tool to get a case resolved appropriately without the risk of a trial. There is minimal downside to a mediation in that if either party does not like where the final settlement offer is at they may get up and leave without any of it effecting their case in court. Mediation in personal injury and wrongful death cases, however, is not free and the expenses to each side can be thousands of dollars. There is also strategy involved and personal opinions vary amongst attorneys as to how to present a case at a mediation. Some lawyers almost never present information in advance and others routinely waive opening statements. It is best to trust and listen to your lawyer during the mediation process.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in Georgia because of the bad act or negligence of another party, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Filing a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Minor Child in Georgia

This blog post by Richard Armond, a personal injury and wrongful death attorney with The Armond Firm, LLC, a Gwinnett County law practice based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, discusses who can file suit when a minor child suffers an injury because the negligence or bad act of another.

O.C.G.A. § 9-11-17

A minor, for the purposes of Georgia's Civil Practice Act, is anyone under the age of 18 years. If a minor suffers a personal injury because of another's negligence or bad act the law provides the method for the minor to pursue a lawsuit. O.C.G.A. § 9-11-17(c) states:

"(c) Infants or incompetent persons. Whenever an infant or incompetent person has a representative, such as a general guardian, committee, conservator, or other like fiduciary, the representative may bring or defend an action on behalf of the infant or incompetent person. If an infant or incompetent person does not have a duly appointed representative, he may bring an action by his next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for an infant or incompetent person not otherwise represented in an action or shall make such other order as it deems proper for the protection of the infant or incompetent person. No next friend shall be permitted to receive the proceeds of any personal action, in the name and on behalf of an infant, or incompetent person, until such next friend shall have entered into a sufficient bond to the Governor, for the use of the infant and the infant's representatives, conditioned well and fully to account for and concerning such trust, which bond may be sued on by order of the court in the name of the Governor and for the use of the infant. Such bond shall be approved by the court in which the action is commenced and such approval shall be filed in such clerk's office."

The typical way a lawsuit for personal injury to a minor child gets filed in Georgia is by having one of the parents or guardians of the child bring the complaint for damages (lawsuit) on behalf of the minor as "next friend." As you can see from the statute, any guardian, conservator, or similar type representative can bring suit on behalf of the minor. Let's say John Doe Jr. is injured in a car wreck by another driver. His father John Doe Sr. could bring suit. The complaint could be styled as John Doe Jr., a Minor, By Parent and Guardian, John Doe Sr., Plaintiff v. Bad Driver, Defendant. Many times a parent will also be named as a plaintiff individually as well, as parents can sometimes be compensated for "loss of services" of the child or for medical bills and other expenses the parents have incurred. 

Other times a guardian ad litem or other representative is needed to file suit on behalf of the minor. This is generally the case when a parent or parents may be liable for the injuries to the child. An example in a car wreck case would be when both a parent and the other driver were negligent in their driving. Some other person besides that parent is generally best for filing suit to protect the minor's rights. 

As you can also see from the statute above, the funds from any recovery in the lawsuit are for the minor child and not the parent (unless the parent has also sued individually). It is very important to take note that in any recovery of a gross amount greater than $15,000, court approval is required pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 29-3-2 and 29-3-3.

Lawsuits on behalf of minor children can be complex to navigate and you should always strongly consider retaining a Georgia personal injury attorney to handle the case properly.

If your child has been injured by the negligence or bad act of another in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Dogs Attack Three People in Gwinnett County

According to this story from Gwinnett County in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two dogs on the loose in Lawrenceville, Georgia, yesterday attacked three different people, leaving an elderly man severely injured from head to toe. As a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer in Lawrenceville, I have seen way too many of these dog bite cases recently. According to the story the owner received six citations and the dogs were euthanized.

It is important to remember that the victims, especially the elderly man who was mauled, may have a long road to recovery with substantial medical bills and pain and suffering. According the news story, the elderly man was crossing the street when the dogs attacked. This should make liability against the owner clear.

Elements of a Georgia Dog Bite Claim

I have written before on the legal elements of a dog bite lawsuit in Georgia (click here for that blog post). Those elements, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 are:

  1. A person owns OR keeps,
  2. A vicious or dangerous animal,
  3. Which the person carelessly manages OR allows the animal to go at liberty,
  4. Injury is caused by the careless management or letting the animal go at liberty, and
  5. The injured person does not provoke the injury

As explained in my earlier blog post cited above, the second element involves a plaintiff showing a vicious propensity of the animal which attacks. However the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 contains and exception to this requirement by stating, "[in] proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash."

In other words, if the dogs were running loose in violation of a local ordinance, as the AJC story seems to indicate, the vicious propensity element will be met. 

Gwinnett County's Dog Bite / Animal Running at Large Ordinance

Gwinnett county has such an ordinance. Gwinnett County code section 10-71 states:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any owner or possessor of any dog to fail to keep the dog under restraint or control as provided for in this section.

(b) A dog is considered not under restraint or control when it is running at large, whether wearing a collar and tag or not . . .

Are the Funds to Pay for a Dog Bite Victim's Recovery?

One question for the victims of yesterday's dog bite attacks will be the source of recovery. Does the dog's owner have homeowners liability insurance and/or an umbrella policy to cover the damages to these innocent victims? Dog bites are actually the number one source of homeowners insurance liability claims

Let's all hope that the victims in these Gwinnett County dog bite attacks yesterday in Lawrenceville, Georgia, are able to recover to good health. 

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog bite, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Indictment

Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Case

Personal injury attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the Gwinnett County courthouse. He handles personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. This post involves recent news as reported in the AJC regarding an indictment of three staff members of a DeKalb County, Georgia, nursing home. As the baby boomer generation ages, nursing home abuse will unfortunately likely become more prevalent in the news.

Richard Armond was an experienced prosecutor who handled elder abuse prosecutions before leaving the Gwinnett District Attorney's Office to start his own firm. He uses that knowledge to protect the rights of elder persons and their families in the event a nursing home abuse lawsuit needs to be considered.

A brief summary of the news report on the incident

Three nursing home employees were indicted in DeKalb County, Georgia earlier this week according to the AJC. One of the employees was charged with felony murder and neglect of an elder person. The other two employees were charged with offenses relating to neglect of an elder person. It must be stressed at this time that those charged have a presumption of innocence. The victim was an 89 year-old World War II veteran who, according to the report, was captured on surveillance video in respiratory distress and calling for help. This case has been in the news previously for the wrongful death civil lawsuit aspect of the incident. 

Georgia criminal law on protection of elder persons

Georgia law has two main code sections dealing with crimes involving neglect and exploitation of elder persons. Both code sections outlined here involve criminal punishments of one (1) up to twenty (20) years in prison. 

  • O.C.G.A. § 16-5-101. Neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident. Subsection (a) of this code section states:  "[a] guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized."

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-101 is what appears to be the underlying basis for all of the charges in the indictment. It criminalizes (a) willful (b) deprivation (c) of an elder person (or disabled adult or resident) (d) of health care or shelter or sustenance (e) to the extent health or well-being is jeopardized. It appears from the story that the allegation involves willful deprivation of health care to the 89 year-old World War II veteran. The essence of this statute is deprivation.

  • O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102. Exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder persons, and residents; obstruction of investigation. This statute primarily addresses knowing and willful bad acts done towards elder persons (and disabled adults and residents), though it also criminalizes deprivation of essential services (and also has subsections addressing threats, intimidation, and obstruction). Subsection (a) of this code section states: "Any person who knowingly and willfully exploits a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, willfully inflicts physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement upon a disabled adult, elder person, or resident, or willfully deprives of essential services a disabled adult, elder person, or resident shall be guilty of a felony. . ."  

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-102 is often used by prosecutors when a person financially exploits an elder person or when a person does some bad act such as a physical or sexual assault on an elder person. 

Both of these code sections have additional provisions including exceptions to liability, but the intent here is to provide a brief summary and comparison of the two statutes.

The felony murder aspect of the indictment

Georgia law at O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 involves the crime of murder. "Malice murder" involves either an express deliberate intention to take a life or it can be implied when there is no provocation and circumstances show an abandoned and malignant heart. Again, this post is a brief summary on the law relating to the AJC news story. Malice murder is not the type of murder that will be at issue in this particular nursing home incident. 

Also in O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 is the crime of "felony murder." Felony murder is basically where a person, while in the commission of a felony, causes the death of another person. This appears to be the basis of the nursing home neglect indictment in DeKalb County, Georgia. Essentially, the argument by prosecutors will be that while committing the felony crime of neglect of an elder person the alleged perpetrator caused the death of the World War II veteran. 

This Georgia case in DeKalb County while likely continue to receive media coverage for both the civil lawsuit and the criminal prosecution. Georgia nursing homes should be places of care and not abuse. Our elderly loved ones should live their last days with grace and dignity. 

If you or a loved one have been injured or lost because of neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility in metro Atlanta or anywhere in the State of Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based nursing home abuse lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

DeKalb County, Georgia School Bus Pedestrian Fatality Accident

This blog post addresses an incredibly sad story in the Atlanta news today. It involves a wrongful death of a child in an auto accident/pedestrian accident case and personal injury to the child's mother. This incident happened in DeKalb County, next door to Gwinnett County where my practice is located. I handled personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. This post addresses some of the legal issues in a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death case such as the tragic one today.  

Today the AJC is reporting heartbreaking news from DeKalb County, Georgia, where an eight year-old girl and her mother were struck by a car. The girl has died and her mother has moderate injuries. Reportedly the girl and her mother were in a marked crosswalk and crossing the street for her school bus, which was stopped with its lights flashing and stop sign out. The driver of the car, whose name has not been released, has allegedly been arrested and charges are allegedly pending.

First and foremost thoughts and prayers should be with the mother of the child and her family.

Potential Liability in this Georgia Pedestrian Fatality and Injury Accident

I have written before about Georgia's rules of the road applicable to school buses (click here for that post). From a legal perspective this case would, after full investigation to determine if the driver was at fault, involve potential claims by child's parents for wrongful death and a personal injury action for the mother based on her injuries. 

In addition to evaluating negligence of the driver of the car, the early reports from the AJC seem to indicate the potential of violations involving O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 for unlawfully meeting a school bus and O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91 for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. 

Investigation in a Georgia Pedestrian Fatality or Injury Case

Typically in fatality accidents such as this one the accident investigation unit of the DeKalb Police Department will complete a full investigation including an accident reconstruction report. They will typically download any data from the onboard computer of the offending vehicle to determine potential negligence based on speed or lack of braking. They will also typically do a full analysis of the vehicle to determine if there were any defects with the vehicle and to determine if it was properly maintained in areas such as the braking system and tire tread. Sometimes they will also look at cell phone records of the driver to see if phone usage at the time is an issue (distracted driving or texting and driving). 

Sources of Recovery in a Georgia Pedestrian Fatality or Injury Case

If it can be shown that the driver of the car in this Georgia pedestrian accident is liable through negligence and/or other violations of the rules of the road, the amount of automobile liability insurance she carried will be the first source of recovery of damages. Hopefully, this is more than the Georgia minimums of $25,000 per person and $50,000 total in any one incident. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for motorists in Georgia to have bare minimum coverage.

A second source of potential recovery, and a major reason why a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death lawyer should be retained promptly, is uninsured motorist coverage on any auto policy in the household of the mother or child. It is important to protect your household to have this coverage on all of your auto policies. The reason is because this coverage can be a source of recovery in any accident involving a motor vehicle, including when a member of your household is struck as a pedestrian. This coverage can cover any loss should the driver of the car not have insurance or any amount of loss that can be proven as greater than the other driver's policy limit. Uninsured motorist coverage typically has strict time limitations and requirements for how your insurance company must be notified in the event of an injury. Failure to comply with your policy can result in a denial of coverage and a personal injury lawyer can ensure this is done correctly. 

Again, car accidents and pedestrian accidents such as the one today are tragic and heartbreaking. One family will never be the same. Our thoughts in prayers are with the girl and her family. 

If a loved one of yours has been injured lost in a car accident, pedestrian accident, or any other type of personal injury or wrongful death incident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Who May Bring a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As a wrongful death attorney in Gwinnett County (Lawrenceville, GA) who takes cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, a question that comes up from time to time is regarding who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. This blog post will review Georgia law on the correct person who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one is lost because of the negligence or bad act of another.

Georgia wrongful death statutes:

I will list in this post, in order of the right, who may bring a Georgia wrongful death action. The first applicable statute is O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2. This statute, in laymen's terms, states that the person who may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit is:

1.  The surviving spouse.

If person dies and another individual, company, etc. is liable, and the deceased person was married, Georgia law says the surviving spouse may bring the wrongful death lawsuit. 

Who may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased person was not married?

2. The deceased person's children (including adopted and out-of-wedlock children).

Any child of the deceased person, regardless of age, adoption, or having been born out-of wedlock may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if there is no surviving spouse. This is also pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2.

Who may bring a Georgia wrongful death action if the deceased person was not married and never had children?

3.  The parents of the deceased person.

O.C.G.A. § 51-4-4 directs us to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1 which states that the parents of a deceased (whether their deceased child is a minor or adult, when their child was not married and never had children) may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. If the parents live together and are not divorced they jointly have the right to file a Georgia wrongful death suit for their minor or adult child who was not married and never had children. If only one parent is alive then the right is with that parent. If the parents are divorced, separated, or live apart, then both parents have the right.  However, if one parent refuses to file suit or cannot be located, then the other parent may contract (hire a Georgia wrongful death attorney) to file suit on behalf of both of them.

Who can file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased person was not married, never had children, and has no surviving parents?

4. The administrator or executor of the deceased's estate.

O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5 allows for the administrator or executor of the deceased's estate to file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. The recovery in any such lawsuit must be held for the benefit of the next of kin (for example: if there is no spouse, no child, no parent of the deceased, but three cousins are equally of kin to the deceased and the closest kin to the deceased, they would share equally in any recovery of a Georgia wrongful death suit, which has to be brought by the estate's administrator or executor). 

Hopefully this post gives a basic understanding of who may file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. These cases can be complex just getting to the point of the correct person to bring suit. They should be handled by a Georgia wrongful death lawyer only. 

If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence or bad act of another, please contact Gwinnett County based wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Personal Injury Settlement Calculator

In personal injury cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, everyone wants to know how much a case is worth. This post by Richard Armond, a personal injury and wrongful death attorney based in Gwinnett County, dispels the idea that a "personal injury settlement calculator" can tell you how much a case is worth. Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is available for free consultations regarding personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

The Georgia Personal Injury Settlement Calculator

Why is there no such thing in as a personal injury settlement calculator for cases in Georgia or anywhere? The simple answer is that many variables come into play. Any personal injury lawyer or website claiming to have such a calculator likely does not know what he or she is doing. Let's take a look at some of the variables which determine the value of a personal injury claim, whether it is in Gwinnett County, some other metro Atlanta county, or anywhere in the State of Georgia.

What should you beware of when asking a Georgia personal injury attorney how much your case is worth?

  1. Any Georgia lawyer or firm that claims to have a "personal injury settlement calculator." It does not exist. This is because there are too many variables and there is very much a human element to this area of the law. Ultimately, if a case does not settle, it is the conscience of a jury of twelve strangers who decide, and two different juries can reach much different results with the same set of facts.
  2. Most Georgia personal injury attorneys cannot give a close guess based on a simple phone call with five minutes of information. To get a general idea a Georgia personal injury attorney must examine all of the factors, and even then it is simply an educated guess.
  3. No magic formula exists in these cases to multiply an actual out-of-pocket loss for things like medical bills and lost wages to, for example, multiply by a certain number to get the dollar sum total of things like pain and suffering. No two insurance companies are the same nor are any two juries, any two venues, any two judges, etc.

What are some of the many variables that go into determining how much a Georgia personal injury case is worth?

  • DAMAGES

Damages include things like:

1. Past Medical Expenses

2. Future Medical Expenses -- it is unlikely you will know this number when consulting with a personal injury attorney (another example of why the mythical "personal injury settlement calculator" does not exist.

3. Past Lost Wages

4. Future Lost Wages--again, it is unlikely in many cases that this will be known early on

5. Pain and Suffering Already Experienced

6. Future Pain and Suffering--yet again, this will often be unknown

7. Costs to maintain quality of life (things in addition to future medical care such as adaptations to one's home, automobile, etc.)

8. Other damages such as permanent scarring or burns, loss of a quality of life, etc.

  • VENUE

Where a personal injury lawsuit can be brought can make a big difference. Historically, certain Georgia counties are known to have juries award larger verdicts than others. Insurance companies know this and take it into account when determining a settlement amount. 

  • WHETHER THE DEFENDANT HAS ASSETS THAT CAN BE COLLECTED

Typically, we are talking about how much insurance coverage is in place. Sometimes, with corporate defendants insurance is not as much of an issue. However, it is not uncommon for there to be a wrongful death car accident case against a driver with next to no assets and the Georgia state law minimum of $25,000 in automobile liability coverage. If the victim was not covered under an uninsured motorist policy, a case that otherwise may have been worth over a million dollars is sadly only a $25,000 case. At an initial consultation most of the time the insurance coverage information is unknown because the lawyer must send a demand to the defendant's insurer making an officer of the insurer certify under oath, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-3-28, the policy limits of coverage and information regarding any other known insurance coverage. 

CONCLUSION:

Each case is different. The purpose of Georgia torts laws is not for someone to hit the jackpot and get rich. The law is meant to balance the scales of justice to make someone whole again by the award of compensation for an injury. When you see large jury awards on the news it is because a personal injury victim lost his life or because a personal injury victim suffered a catastrophic injury which altered her life. At the onset of a case any experienced attorney will have to qualify answers because he or she is not going to have full information to let you know the full value. It is only after gathering medical records, gathering insurance coverage information, and investigating a case that any attorney knows how much should be demanded from the other party. Hopefully, this information gives you some idea of the many variables which go into determining the value of a personal injury case.

If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury or wrongful death in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Georgia Opioid Lawsuit and Legislation Update

This post by Richard Armond of the Armond Firm, LLC, a personal injury and wrongful death plaintiff's attorney based in Gwinnett County, Georgia, is an update on some recently proposed legislation as well as recent lawsuits aimed at addressing matters involving the opioid addiction crisis in Georgia. 

State Senator Renee Unterman of Gwinnett County's 45th District has sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 352, designed to fight Georgia's opioid crisis, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. According to the story, the bill involves an educational component for students in the K-12 grades, is designed to allow communities and treatment centers to work together to expand access for treatment, and has insurance reforms to protect patients receiving treatment. The AJC also reports that rural Georgia counties are suing drug makers and distributors over misrepresenting the risks of prescription opioids and and falsely marketing the drugs.

Spend a day in any superior court courtroom in Georgia handling a miscellaneous felony court calendar and you will likely see the effects of opioids on your community. It is not uncommon to see people who started off using prescription opioid drugs who are in trouble with the law and have turned to heroin because it is less expensive to obtain than prescription pills.

If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury or loss because of opioids, please contact Gwinnett County based injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Recent Georgia case on the proper county in which to file a Trucking Accident Lawsuit

As a plaintiff's trucking accident attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia who handles cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, a recent Georgia Court of Appeals opinion on venue in motor carrier (trucking accident) is of interest. The case, Blakemore v. Dirt Movers, Inc., A17A1540, decided January 11, 2018, involves a lawsuit against a Georgia based trucking company for wrongful death. Georgia trucking accident lawsuits can be complex and this case is an example of some of the litigation involved.

Summary of the court procedure of this Georgia Trucking Accident Lawsuit

According to the opinion, the wrongful death trucking lawsuit was filed in the State Court of Bibb County, Georgia, against the trucking company and its insurer. Bibb County is where the deadly trucking accident occurred. The trucking company then had the case removed to Jeff Davis County, its principal place of business, under O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510(b)(4), which allows Georgia corporations to defend lawsuits in their home counties, when, specifically under the subsection used, "venue is based solely on" that particular code section. The plaintiff then filed a motion to remand the case back to Bibb County, which the Jeff Davis State Court denied. An appeal followed and the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed, holding that this trucking accident lawsuit must go back to Bibb County. 

What Georgia law controlled in determining where the lawsuit should be heard?

As Blakemore v. Dirt Movers, Inc., is a Georgia trucking accident lawsuit, and the defendant corporation is a motor carrier, a different code section, O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b) controlled. It provides:

"Except in those cases where the Constitution requires otherwise, any action against any resident or nonresident motor carrier for damages by reason of any breach of duty, whether contractual or otherwise, or for any violation of this article or of any order, decision, rule, regulation, direction, demand, or other requirement established by the state revenue commissioner may be brought in the county where the cause of action or some part thereof arose; and if the motor carrier or its agent shall not be found for service in the county where the action is instituted, a second original may be issued and service be made in any other county where the service can be made upon the motor carrier or its agent. The venue prescribed by this Code section shall be cumulative of any other venue provided by law."

In other words, O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510(b)(4), was not solely the basis for venue being in the trucking company's principal place of business of Jeff Davis County. O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117(b) allowed for the plaintiff to file suit in the county where the cause of action arose (where the trucking accident happened) in Bibb County. 

Why does it matter which Georgia county a trucking lawsuit is filed in?

  1. It is fairer to the plaintiff to not have to pursue a lawsuit in the trucking company's backyard where prospective jurors may work for or have friends or family who work for or view the hometown trucking company favorably to the outsider plaintiff.
  2. Witnesses such as police and other motorists will often be closer (and more available to subpoena to court) in the county where an incident such as this trucking accident wrongful death case happened.
  3. As a practical matter, certain counties have a strategic advantage over others based on their histories of verdicts either for or against plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Each of these factors is something a Georgia trucking accident attorney considers when looking at the appropriate venue, or county, to file suit.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in a a Georgia trucking accident, please contact Gwinnett County based injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Dangers of Being a Pedestrian in Metro Atlanta

As an Atlanta personal injury attorney, sometimes I do not think about the dangers of being a pedestrian. Things like taking my dogs for a walk or crossing the street when going to lunch in downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia, seem normal and insignificant. When I get in my car to back out of a driveway or parking spot, I almost subconsciously go through a routine of safety checks:  putting my foot on the brake, buckling my seat belt, making sure passengers are buckled, checking the rearview mirror, etc.

We all recognize the need for safe operation of our vehicles and the potential dangers of driving a vehicle unsafely. Many people like me do not, however, think about the risks of being a pedestrian. According to the CDC, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash on each trip. The CDC numbers are staggering. In 2015 there were:

  • 5,376 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States (one death every 1.6 hours)
  • Almost 129,000 non-fatal pedestrian emergency room visits for traffic crashes

Pedestrians lack the protection of steel, airbags, and safety belts that a car offers. And frankly, many pedestrians do not think as much about safety as they do when driving a car.

Please remember the following safety tips when walking near roadways:

  • Always use sidewalks if they are available
  • If walking at night, wear brightly colored, reflective clothing and carry a flashlight
  • Always cross at crosswalks if they are available
  • Always follow the instructions of crosswalk signals (do not dart into the road when the hand starts flashing the stop signal even when it gives a countdown of the seconds available until the hand stops flashing)
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk as far from vehicular travel as possible on the left side of the road (facing oncoming traffic instead of with your back towards oncoming traffic)

A recent case in Gwinnett County handled by an attorney from Macon was lost when a jury assigned a deceased pedestrian 50% liability for a traffic crash when he started to cross the street at a crosswalk when the signal had changed from the walk signal to the flashing hand (not even the solid stop hand). The law of Georgia requires pedestrians to obey traffic control signals (see O.C.G.A. § 40-6-90) and the jury found both the driver and pedestrian equally at fault. Thus, there was no recovery in that case. 

As areas around metro Atlanta become much more walkable and pedestrian friendly, keep in mind to exercise common sense safety tips to protect yourself and your family while out for a walk or a run.

If you or a loved one have been struck while a pedestrian, please contact injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.