brick wallThere’s an expression, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” that implies that the finer details of a situation often do not really matter. While this may be true for some things, it is definitely not true in a Georgia premises liability case.

The details matter, and they matter very much. The “small stuff,” like who exactly paid an injured child’s medical expenses, can make a big difference in the outcome of a lawsuit. In a recent case, overlooking such an issue cost the parents more than $35,000.

Facts of the Case

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Generally in the law, a defendant “takes the plaintiff as he finds him,” even if the plaintiff had some pre-existing malady that made him or her more susceptible to injury. This is usually true in workers’ compensation as well, in which the law holds an employer liable for work-related incidents or injuries that aggravate a pre-existing condition.

Of course, employers frequently question whether an injury truly “aggravated” the condition or whether the pre-existing condition itself is the sole cause of the employee’s current complaint. Unless there is some connection between the disabling condition and the on-the-job accident, the employer is not responsible for paying benefits to the claimant. The same is true in situations in which the worker’s ailment reverts back to the baseline condition.

Facts of the Case

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Those who are hurt on the job may not be able to return to their regular duties, either temporarily or permanently. This can affect the amount of benefits to which an injured employee in an Atlanta workers’ compensation case is entitled, so it is an important distinction.

From a monetary standpoint, the employer (or its insurance company) typically pays out a much smaller amount in benefits when an employee is able to go back to his or her regular job following a work injury. Thus, there is a substantial financial incentive to try to get an injured employee back on the job as soon as possible.

However, the employee may or may not be physically capable of performing the tasks that he or she did prior to the accident. Each situation is unique, and the issue of whether the employee made a meaningful return to pre-injury employment must be decided on the specific facts of each case. In addition, there is a specific process that must be followed when an employer wants to bring an injured employee back to modified duty work.

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construction workerIn handling a wide variety of Atlanta workers’ compensation cases, we hear many of the same questions over and over. One of those questions is, “Will I be fired if I report a work injury?”

The answer can be complicated. In Georgia, employees can be terminated legally for virtually any reason. Can you be fired for reporting a work injury? Yes, it happens all the time. Will you be fired if you report an on the job injury? Well, it depends. Different employers and managers have different policies on this issue that may or may not comply with State and Federal law. The better question is….what can be done to enforce the terminated employee’s rights given the circumstances of the firing?

Can I Be Legally Fired?

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Atlanta wrongful death lawsuits can be very difficult, not only emotionally but also procedurally. Often times a family must relive the accident as they seek to prove the elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages), in addition to dealing with the inherent difficulties of placing a “value” on the loss of their loved one.

It might seem that such a case would be easier when it is against one’s own insurance company in an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, but this is not necessarily the case. More often than not, even these types of claims are met with just as much contention as when a case proceeds directly against a negligent motorist.

In most cases, the parties can at least agree on the maximum possible payout of the UM/UIM claim, even if they do not agree on the exact amount due to the claimants. In a recent case, however, a dispute arose as to whether the claimants were entitled to payment under a single policy or under two separate policies. It was an important distinction, since each policy had a limit of $500,000.

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In an Atlanta personal injury lawsuit filed against a municipal corporation (such as a city government), the injured person must give written notice of his or her claim prior to filing suit, or else he or she will not be allowed to maintain a negligence case seeking compensation for his or her injuries.

This claim must be made within six months of the event giving rise to the plaintiff’s claim, and it must be made in writing to the governing authority of the municipal corporation.

Additionally, the notice must state the time and place of the accident, the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the manner in which the defendant’s negligence is alleged to have caused the injuries in question. Continue reading

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Since we represent so many injured employees in Atlanta workers’ compensation cases, we are used to answering certain questions like, “Who will pay my medical bills? How much temporary disability can I draw? What will happen if I can’t go back to work due to my injury?”

Another question that we hear a lot is, “Is it legal for me to say my injury was not work-related? My boss told me to say this, and I don’t know what to do.” The answer to this question is a very resounding, “NO!” Not only do you compromise your right to receive the compensation to which you are entitled, but also you could be implicated for criminal fraud.

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law Requires That a Report Be Made

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If you take a cursory look at the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website, you might believe that filing a claim for workers’ compensation is a relatively pain-free process that involves only the completion of a simple form.

While it is true that an employee must complete and file a WC-14 form with the Board (with copies to the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier), this is only the beginning of what can be a very long and often highly contentious process.

Unfortunately, obtaining the workers’ compensation benefits one is due can be a difficult endeavor, so much so that the nonprofit organization Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) conducted an investigation into the problems many, including Georgians, have getting the help they need after a work injury. The recent study found that nearly one out of five Georgians injured at work who experienced more than seven days lost time reported “‘big problems’ getting services they or their primary provider wanted.” Among those, more than half of the responses gave the reason as “employer or insurer did not want the care provided” as the reason. The research also concluded that Georgia had one of the lowest return to work rates in the country.

man holding gunLaw students are taught that there are four basic components to a negligence lawsuit:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Theoretically, an Atlanta personal injury claimant who can prove each of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence should be able to recover fair compensation for injuries suffered due to another party’s negligence.

That’s the theory. In reality, however, unless the defendant has liability insurance – and in an amount sufficient to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses – it can be difficult or impossible to recover fair compensation even if all of the traditional elements of negligence are present.

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man on motorcycleWhen the cause of an Atlanta motorcycle accident is disputed, one or both parties may seek to introduce the testimony of an accident reconstructionist. Such testimony is not automatically heard by the trier of fact at trial, however, since the burden of proving the admissibility of the witness’ testimony is on the party seeking to introduce it. Unless the proposed expert is properly qualified to testify as to the issues at hand, the trial court judge will not allow the testimony.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case under consideration by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in a motor vehicle collision in August 2014. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle. He filed suit against the defendants, the driver of the truck that allegedly struck the plaintiff’s motorcycle and the driver’s employer. Two insurance companies were also named as defendants.