Articles Posted in Georgia Supreme Court

When someone is killed due to the negligence of another, their representatives may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the tortfeasor(s) that caused their death. If someone is injured but does not die, they may still be able to collect damages for things like lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages, but a wrongful death suit cannot be brought until after someone dies. If you think that your loved one may have died due to the fault of another, you should contact a skilled Georgia wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death in Georgia

In most cases, damages for wrongful death amount to the full value of the person’s life. Georgia statute and case law states that the value of the life of the deceased will be shown by the evidence. A wrongful death claim only awards damages for the losses suffered by the deceased person. So even though a representative – such as a child of the deceased – brings the suit, it cannot consider the pain and loss suffered by the child.

In the case at issue, a woman was injured in a car accident resulting in a coma. After the accident, her legal guardian filed a personal injury lawsuit against the car manufacturer, alleging faulty seatbelt and door locking mechanisms. The car manufacturer settled with plaintiff, and in exchange for the settlement the plaintiff’s representative released the company from any claims and damages, including a claim for wrongful death “inasmuch as [plaintiff] has not died…”

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Unfortunately, sometimes after a car accident one of the drivers involved will leave the scene of the accident. That can cause some issues and complications for any court cases that follow from the accident. If you are in a car accident, you should contact a skilled Gwinnett County car accident attorney as soon as possible. As this case illustrates, you still may be able to recover damages under Georgia’s uninsured motorist statute. 

Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Georgia

Under Georgia law, it is a crime to leave the scene of a car accident. Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident differ depending on how serious the damage is and whether there was solely property damage or anyone was injured or killed. If you are caught leaving the scene of an accident, the penalty can often be worse than anything that would have arisen from the accident itself. If you are involved in a car accident, a knowledgeable Georgia personal injury attorney can help inform you of your options.

“John Doe” and Venue 

If you are in a car accident and the other party leaves the scene of the accident, you still may be able to hold them accountable for damages under the Georgia uninsured motorist statute. This happened in a recent case heard by the Georgia Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were driving on the highway when a car swerved into their lane and they had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting it. As the car behind them was following too closely, it collided with the plaintiffs’ car which caused injury.

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1330873_27868463-300x182At Scholle Law we keep apprised of all new developments in Georgia law and our highest court’s cases and decisions. Because we are metro Atlanta injury lawyers, we pay particular attention to those cases that might impact access to healthcare services after an injury or accident. From time to time, we like to bring our readers information about the decisions of our courts.

The Georgia Supreme Court has recently issued its opinion in a case involving a Georgia health facilities law. Some have said this law limits free markets, but others see it as an important regulation of health care facilities planning. In the case, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the law which was challenged by a Cartersville, Georgia surgical center that sought to add an operating room. The surgical center intended to add the operating room to expand their contracts with physicians who might use the center in conjunction with their own medical practices.

Official Code of Georgia section 31-6-40 (a) (7) (C) provides that new health services facilities (those less than one year old) must apply for, and obtain, a Certificate of Need (CON) before moving forward with expansion of their facilities. The facility that brought the lawsuit did not believe it was governed by this law and also sought to have it declared unconstitutional. They argued that the law violates the constitution violating two basic areas of Georgia’s Constitution. First, a clause of the Georgia Constitution that prohibits what are called “Anti-Competitive Contracts;” and second, the due process clause of United States Constitution. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the Certificate of Need provision and declared that it is constitutional.

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1330873_27868463The chances of getting a case heard in the highest court in the land are not very high. So when a case is accepted for hearing by the United States Supreme Court, the justices have a very good reason for doing so. Most people might not realize that although our high court has some of the hardest working judges in the country, the number of cases accepted is relatively small. Most cases are quite complex and require significant briefing and hearing prior to the Court’s ruling. In general, the Court is not required to hear most cases it is presented for review. There are few exceptions to this. Those seeking the Court’s review file what is called a petition for a writ of certiorari in which a party may ask the Court to hear a case. Of the 7,000 such petitions presented to the Court, only about 100-150 are accepted for review each year. Although personal injury, rather than criminal law is our area of law practice, we keep up generally on other areas of the law and particularly cases that are before the United States Supreme Court.

That is why it is significant that the Supreme Court has accepted a Georgia death penalty case for review. In the case, Mr. Timothy Foster was convicted of assaulting and then murdering an elderly woman in her home in Rome, Georgia in 1986. Foster, who later confessed to the murders after items belonging to the victim were found in his home, was sentenced to death in 1987. However, his lawyers petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a hearing on the issue of racial bias in the selection of the jury as every potential black juror was eliminated from the jury of this defendant who also is black.

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