If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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Are Lost Wages Compensatory Damages? | S. Burke Law
If you miss work and do not get paid because of an injury, the wages you lost can be compensatory damages. It will depend on the facts of your case, but the team at S. Burke Law will sit down with you and review your circumstances to see if you are entitled to recover your lost income. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 if you have any questions about lost wages being compensatory damages.
Georgia Law on Lost Wages as Recoverable Damages
The Georgia Code provides that lost wages in a tort case (in which someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional act harmed you) are “special and consequential damages.” Special damages are losses that the tortious act causes. We must prove special damages for you to recover them. Your employer’s records are a common way to prove your lost income.
Georgia classifies losses in tort cases as either:
- Direct damages, “which follow immediately upon the doing of a tortious act,” or
- Consequential damages, “which are the necessary and connected effect of a tortious act, even though they are to some extent dependent upon other circumstances.”
Lost wages are usually consequential damages, since they depend on other circumstances, such as:
- Whether your employer pays sick leave.
- Whether you had any available sick time or had already used it for other events.
- Whether your recuperation time exceeded your available paid sick leave such that you went without pay during part or all of this period.
Compensatory Damages in Georgia
When someone injures you, Georgia law provides that you can collect damages as compensation for your injury. Compensatory damages are usually things that you can estimate in dollars, for example:
- Lost income, which you can calculate or estimate using your average wages.
- Medical expenses, which you can determine by adding up your medical bills.
Find out more about what types of damages you can recover through a Georgia personal injury claim.
How to Determine the Amount of Lost Wages
The kind of income you earn will control how we calculate the amount of your damages for lost wages. For example:
Hourly workers: We will add up the total number of hours you missed and multiply that by how much you earn per hour. If you work 40 hours a week at $25 an hour, your gross wages are $1,000 a week. Your lost wages are $3,000 if you missed three weeks of work because of your injury.
Salaried employees: We take your regular salary times how long you were out of work. If you earn $4,000 a month and you missed two months of work, your lost wages are $8,000.
Self-employed persons: We have to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis, since taxable income does not always reflect actual income, due to the many business expenses and deductions for the self-employed.
Irregular income: We typically use the average of your earnings if your income varies from one week or month to the next. For fields with a “high season,” however, we have to use a different approach. An accountant who makes much more money during tax season is one example of when we have to apply different formulas.
Learn more about how you calculate lost wages in an injury claim.
Duty to Mitigate Damages
An injured person has a duty under Georgia law to mitigate damages through ordinary care and diligence. The court can reduce your compensation if it feels that your damages were excessive. For example, if a person stayed out of work for 10 years for a sprained wrist, the court will likely award him only the amount of lost wages that it feels is reasonable for that type of injury.
How to Get Help for Your Lost Wages Claim
If you lost wages from an injury and seek compensatory damages and would like to find out how much your case is worth, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Child Injury Case? | S. Burke Law
The statute of limitations controls the amount of time a person must file a lawsuit. If you do not file your case by the deadline, you lose the right to seek damages, no matter how severe your injuries were. When a child is the one injured, the statute of limitations can be different than for an adult. The law often allows children more time than adults to pursue legal action in the interest of fairness. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 so we can answer any questions you may have about the statute of limitations for a child injury case.
The Rule on Tolling (Delaying) the Statute of Limitations for Children
In general, when an injured person is under the age of 18 at the time of the incident that causes the harm, the statute of limitations for a child injury case will not start to run until the person turns 18. In other words, if a person must file a lawsuit within two years of the injury, but that person is a minor, she will have two years from the date she turns 18 to bring the legal action.
The Georgia Code says in Section 9-3-90 (2017) that:
“Individuals who are less than 18 years of age when a cause of action accrues shall be entitled to the same time after he or she reaches the age of 18 years to bring an action as is prescribed for other persons.”
The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Children
The deadline for filing a personal injury case (for people injured when they are adults) is two years from the date of the injury. These specific actions, however, have different timelines:
- Injury to reputation has a filing deadline of one year.
- Personal injury cases that include a claim for loss of consortium (which involves damages to the injured person’s spouse) have a filing deadline of four years.
Applying the tolling of statutes of limitations laid out in Section 9-3-90 would start the clock running for these periods of time once the child turns 18.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations for Children
An adult who is injured or killed by medical malpractice in Georgia has two years to file a lawsuit. Under some circumstances, this deadline can be as long as five years. For children, however, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims can vary from this general rule, depending on how young the child was at the time of injury. Find out if there is a cap on medical malpractice damages in Georgia and if parents can sue for wrongful death.
The Statute of Limitations for Children Injured by Deficiencies in Improvements to Real Property
If the plaintiff sustained an injury because of negligence in the planning, supervising, or constructing improvements to realty, the timeline for filing a lawsuit is much longer than for a typical personal injury case. The reason for the additional time is that it can take years for defective construction to fail and injure people.
An action for personal injury or wrongful death must start within eight years of the substantial completion of the improvement (construction). If the injury happens during the seventh or eighth year, however, the law allows two additional years, for up to 10 years, to file a lawsuit.
The Section 9-3-33.1 Exception to the General Rule on Child Injury Cases
Section 9-3-90 of the Georgia Code makes an exception to the general rule of tolling (delay or pausing) the statute of limitations for injuries covered by section 9-3-33.1 (2017), which addresses childhood sexual abuse cases. A person who suffered childhood sexual abuse must file a civil action to recover damages either:
- By the victim’s 23rd birthday, or
- Within two years of the date that the plaintiff realized or should have realized the abuse and injury, even if after the age of 23.
Why Children Have a Different Statute of Limitations Than Adults
Children do not have the right to file lawsuits because the law considers people under the age of 18 as lacking legal capacity. If a 16-year-old, for example, files a lawsuit for personal injuries, the court will dismiss the action as soon as the judge realizes that the plaintiff is underage.
Since a child cannot file a lawsuit for himself, he is at the mercy of others, usually his parents, to file an action on his behalf. If the parents do not take legal action, the child would lose his right to compensation if the typical statute of limitations passes before the child turns 18 and can file his lawsuit. This is why children have a different amount of time than adults.
Getting Help for a Child Injury Case in Georgia
We understand that all these statutory rules and exceptions to the rules can be confusing regarding the statute of limitations for a child injury case. You do not have to figure out which rules apply to your or your child’s injury claim.
Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today. We will set up a meeting with you to talk about the injury and the procedural regulations that will control your case. We do not charge you for this service. In fact, we will not charge any legal fees until you get the compensation you deserve.
What is Diminished Earning Capacity?
Diminished earning capacity refers to a decrease in income as a result of an injury that affects your ability to continue doing your current job or robs you of career prospects for the future.
A person who sustains an injury might experience diminished earning capacity, for which he can collect compensation. You might have decreased earning capacity if you:
- Must reduce your hours or work a lower-paying job because of your impairment
- Cannot perform the same type of work that you used to do before the injury
- No longer have the option to do certain types of work because of the injury
Injury That Diminishes the Ability to Earn Money
The injury must impact your ability to earn money for you to get compensation for decreased earning potential. In some cases, the injury directly affects a person’s current job, but you do not have to be already doing the specific type of work to suffer a loss of earning capacity.
Let’s say that a person’s dream was to become a surgeon. He completed medical school and was in the second year of his surgical residency (surgical training program) when a car accident left him without sufficient use of his hands to work as a surgeon.
He has lost that employment option and suffered a significant financial loss as a result, so his diminished earning capacity is compensable.
Ongoing Nature or Permanence of the Impairment
If you break your leg and temporarily cannot stand for long periods of time, the injury could cause you to lose income in the short-term while you recuperate from the fracture and undergo physical therapy to rebuild the strength in your leg. There can be a claim for lost wages for your current time off from work, but if you heal completely without any residual impairment, you probably will not get damages for decreased earning potential.
On the other hand, some injuries can set you up for work-related problems for the rest of your working life. A severe back injury, for example, can leave you unable to lift heavy objects even after the back heals. In situations like this, the impairment eliminates the prospect of many types of work.
Judges often want to hear testimony from experts for claims of diminished earning potential. Some of the experts on this issue can include:
Doctors who can testify about the permanence of the injury. The judge needs to know how long the medical professionals expect the effects of the injury to last.
Vocational experts who can testify about how the injury impairs the plaintiff’s work options. These professionals can explain how particular injuries affect the plaintiff’s current job or limit his future job possibilities.
Economic experts who can testify about the economic impact of the impairment on the plaintiff’s potential future earnings. Often, the vocational expert also serves as the economic expert by calculating or estimating the financial value of the plaintiff’s decreased earning potential.
Getting Help After an Injury
You do not have to sort out what your damages are and how you will prove them. The team at S. Burke Law will take care of the legal process for you. Give us a call today at 404-842-7838, and we will schedule a time to sit down with you and talk about your right to compensation. The consultation is free.
Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win?
Whether a slip and fall case will be hard to win depends on the facts of the case and the available evidence. Since every situation is unique, it is impossible to say whether your slip and fall case will be easy or hard to win until we talk with you about the circumstances. Call our firm of personal injury lawyers today at S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for assistance.
Sustaining an injury from slipping and falling does not guarantee that someone else will have to pay money, and without proof a judge will not award compensation. Winning a slip and fall case is a two-step process:
- The facts must reveal that the person or company is legally responsible for your injuries, and
- The evidence we have in hand must prove your claim for compensation.
Elements of Slip and Fall Liability in Georgia
State law requires that all three of these factors exist before someone has to pay compensation for a slip and fall injury:
- The landowner owed you a duty of care. For instance, you went to a movie theatre to watch a film with friends. The property owner owed you a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises and approaches (such as parking lot and sidewalks) safe.
- The landowner failed to satisfy its duty toward you (negligence). It was autumn, and there were many leaves on the sidewalk from a maple tree in front of the theatre. It rained the night before, and the leaves were slippery. Leaving glossy leaves on the sidewalk was negligence on the part of the movie theatre.
- You suffered measurable harm as a result of the landowner’s negligence (causation). Your feet went out from under you as you walked on the leaves to get to the ticket window, and when you landed hard on the concrete sidewalk, you broke your tailbone. You went to the emergency room, where the doctor took x-rays and prescribed painkillers and rest. Your recuperation was within the standard eight to 12 weeks for this type of injury, so you missed work and lost wages. Your medical expenses and lost wages were measurable harm that you experienced because of the landowner’s negligence. Since you sustained physical injuries, the movie theatre will also have to pay your non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
Evidence We Use to Build Your Slip and Fall Case
Merely notifying the movie theatre of your injury is seldom enough for you to receive compensation. We must compile the evidence to prove to them what happened. With the right evidence, slip and fall cases are winnable.
The negligent condition on the property. If possible, take a photo of the place where you fell right away, before the theatre has time to clean up the situation – in this case, the wet leaves. Today’s cell phones take high-quality photos. Getting a lawyer on board as soon as possible can also help, as the lawyer can preserve and document evidence.
Your injuries. We will use your medical records to show the harm you suffered and to link your injuries to the date of your visit to the movie theatre. Make sure that you tell the doctor where you were when you fell.
Your lost wages. Your employer’s records will establish the amount of income you missed because of the injury . If you are self-employed, we can use other available records.
We put all of the evidence together and add up your economic damages, which are the “out-of-pocket” items like medical bills and lost wages. We then calculate the fair amount for your non-economic damages, which can include things like pain and suffering, inconvenience, and your spouse’s loss of consortium.
What Happens if You Were Also Negligent
Do not despair if you were partly at fault in your slip and fall accident. Perhaps you were distracted or tired, and not as cautious as usual. Everyone is human. Georgia law allows you to recover compensation – albeit a reduced amount – for your injuries under the rule of comparative negligence.
The law will subtract from your damages award an amount that is in proportion to your percentage of the total negligence. For example, if you were 10 percent at fault and you had $80,000 in damages, you will get $72,000 in compensation after the $8,000 reduction for your 10 percent fault.
How to Get Legal Help for Your Slip and Fall Case in Georgia.
Help for your slip and fall case and finding out if it’s difficult to win is but a phone call away. The team at S. Burke Law is waiting to hear from you and set up your free consultation. If you call us today at 404-842-7838, we will schedule a meeting with you so that we can evaluate your case and advise you on your legal rights. There is no obligation, and we do not charge for the consultation.
Can You Sue a Restaurant for Slip and Fall?
You can sue a restaurant for slip and fall if their negligence caused your injury. The restaurant is not automatically responsible for your damages just because you fell on their premises. Restaurants must, however, pay the damages of people who suffer harm due to the company’s carelessness. Call the team of personal injury lawyers at S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to discuss your legal options if you are thinking about suing a restaurant for slip and fall.
The Restaurant’s Duty of Care Under Premises Liability
The restaurant’s legal duty of care will depend on why the injured person came onto the property. For example:
Invitee. An invitee is someone the landowner or tenant invited onto the property, expressly or by implication, for any lawful purpose. For instance, if you went to the restaurant to have a drink or eat a meal, you are an invitee.
Georgia law requires that the landowner or tenant exercise ordinary care to keep the property and approaches (like sidewalks) safe for invitees.
Licensee. A licensee comes onto the property strictly for his own benefit, and not to transact business with the landowner or tenant. For example, if you went into a fast food restaurant to use the toilet but did not buy any food or beverages, you are a licensee.
Under Georgia law, the restaurant does not have to keep the premises safe for invitees. The landowner or tenant simply must not cause willful or wanton injury.
Trespasser. A trespasser enters the property without the invitation or consent of the landowner or tenant. Someone who is on the premises illegally is a trespasser.
The landowner or tenant has no duty of care toward the trespasser. Georgia law does not, however, allow the owner or tenant to cause intentional harm to the trespasser. In addition, the owner and tenant are not permitted to “booby trap” the premises. For example, if you are trespassing on property and you slip and fall, sustaining injury because the owner or tenant poured a slick substance on the ground to make trespassers fall, they are liable for your injuries.
The Three Elements of Negligence for a Slip and Fall in a Restaurant
We must prove three things to hold the restaurant liable for negligence when suing a restaurant for a slip and fall accident:
- The restaurant must have owed you a duty of care. The level of care the company owed you depends on why you were on the property (invitee, licensee, or trespasser).
- The restaurant failed to meet the duty of care appropriate for your status on the property (negligence).
- You suffered measurable harm because of the restaurant’s negligence.
In restaurants, the most common restaurant scenario that gives rise to a slip and fall claim is when:
- There was a dangerous condition (slippery or slick walking surface) in the restaurant or on the approaches (sidewalks).
- The restaurant knew or should have known about the hazard.
- The restaurant did not take action to repair or post sufficient warnings about the situation before someone got hurt.
Who Can You Sue If You Slip and Fall at a Restaurant
Sometimes the same person or corporation that operates the restaurant also owns the property, but that is not always the case. For example, if the restaurant is in a shopping center or other multi-unit commercial development, the restaurant business might lease the premises from the landowner.
Depending on the facts of your case, both the restaurant operator and the property owner might have legal liability for your injuries. You do not have to investigate this issue, however. We explore the possibility of multiple defendants for our clients.
What Happens If You Were Also Negligent
Georgia follows the rule of comparative fault when the injured person was partly at fault. The law will apportion fault among all the negligent parties, then subtract money from the plaintiff’s damages award in proportion to his amount of fault. Let’s say that a server spilled some liquid on the floor after clearing a table and went to get a mop, but did not block off the area. Before she got back with the mop, a customer who was a little tipsy from too many glasses of wine slipped and fell on the spill.
The judge might find the restaurant 80 percent at fault and the injured person 20 percent negligent. If the injury damages were $50,000, the plaintiff could receive $40,000 after the deduction for his negligence.
How to Get Legal Help for Your Slip and Fall in a Restaurant
You do not have to sort out whether you were an invitee, licensee, or trespasser, or what duty of care the landowner or restaurant owed you. Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 and set up a free consultation with us about whether you have a valid case if you want to sue a restaurant for slip and fall.
We will discuss your injury claim with you. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you receive compensation.
What Is Accident Reconstruction?
Accident reconstruction is method used to prove the cause of an accident. Lawyers use accident reconstruction in car accident cases to resolve disputed facts about how fast a vehicle traveled, the point of impact, the sequence of events, and whether a witness’ account is accurate. We also use accident reconstruction in workplace and industrial accident cases.
Top Three Reasons We Use Accident Reconstruction
Accident reconstruction helps us sort out and prove to the court what actually happened when:
- The other party denies fault.
- Someone cannot remember what happened because of head injuries or other medical issues.
- One of the parties died and cannot tell their story.
Types of Vehicles Accident Reconstruction Can Analyze
Many people think of car accidents cases when they hear the term “accident reconstruction,” but these experts also investigate wrecks involving:
- Farm equipment
- Construction equipment
- Boats, ships, and personal watercraft
- All sizes of trucks, from light-duty pickup trucks to tractor-trailers
- All sizes of passenger cars, SUVs, and limousines
- Smaller vehicles like bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and ATVs
Techniques That Accident Reconstruction Uses
Accident reconstruction experts have multiple methods for explaining to a judge and jury what happened. The facts of the individual case will determine which type they use. Some of the most common techniques are:
- Simulating the accident. They can do a mock-up to show the court the location of each vehicle before, during, and after the crash, and the speeds at which they traveled.
- Analyzing video. Video provides an incredible amount of information experts can analyze to build your case.
- Making calculations. An accident reconstruction expert can show through physics and math that the accident could not have happened the way the other side claims. They can also calculate that the driver was speeding, did not hit the brakes, or blew through the traffic light.
- Photogrammetry. Experts use photographs to determine the precise place where the impact happened, the height of a person in the picture, and many other details.
- Testing impact. An accident reconstruction expert can look at the wrecked vehicles, determine the place on each car where they collided and the direction each vehicle was traveling at the time of impact. This information can be essential in disproving the claims of the other side about which party’s negligence caused the crash.
How We Can Prove Your Case Using Accident Reconstruction
Accident reconstruction experts use scientific data to answer questions for the judge and jury about disputed facts. Here are some examples of issues an accident reconstruction expert can testify about:
- What happened before the crash
- The order in which events occurred, such as which vehicle struck the other first, and everything that happened afterward
- What caused the crash
- The precise point at which a driver applied the brakes
- If a crash was survivable
- Whether an eyewitness could have seen what they claim to have witnessed from their location
- Environmental factors like weather, darkness, road conditions, and whether the angle of the sunlight affected visibility
How Accident Reconstruction Experts Work Their Magic
An accident reconstruction expert analyzes evidence, applies scientific principles and logarithms, and creates a wealth of information about your wreck. Here are some of the ways they perform these functions:
- Police report. The accident reconstruction expert will read the report of the law enforcement officer who came to the scene, but will not accept it as being 100 percent accurate. Accident reconstruction experts often discover mistakes in police reports. If the police report in your case is wrong and it hurts your case, an accident reconstruction expert can prove what actually happened.
- Vehicles. Crashed vehicles contain valuable information about the wreck and what caused it. An accident reconstruction expert can examine a wrecked car and establish that the other driver must have driven faster than they admitted. The point of impact can also tell the expert that your vehicle did not drift into the other person’s lane as claimed.
- Video footage. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video must be worth far more. Even footage from nearby properties can be of value. For example, a hit and run driver turns himself in three days after the wreck. He denies that he was impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident. Video footage from nearby properties that showed him driving erratically in a manner consistent with alcohol impairment can be critical evidence.
- Witness statements. An accident reconstruction expert can calculate whether a party or eyewitness is telling the truth about what happened before, during, or after the crash.
- Measurements. The accident reconstruction expert can go to the scene, take precise measurements, and evaluate photographs. They will apply formulas to analyze the facts of the case and determine who is telling the truth about what occurred.
How to Get Help for Your Accident
If you suffered harm in a car crash or other accident, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.
Can I Sue a School for Negligent Security?
Yes, in some cases you can sue a school for negligent security if they failed to provide a safe environment which resulted in the injury of you or a loved one.
Georgia schools must follow federal rules for providing a safe environment for our students and teachers. If a school fails to meet the standards for school safety or its negligence causes someone to suffer an injury, the injured person may be able to sue for damages.
What Constitutes Negligent Security at a School
We must prove all four elements to make a successful case for negligent security at a school. These elements are:
1. The school (defendant) had a legal duty toward the injured person (plaintiff).
Schools have a legal duty to protect students, teachers, parents, volunteers, and authorized visitors. The school campus, parking lots, and entryways must be reasonably safe.
2. The defendant breached its duty toward the plaintiff and failed to maintain safety on school premises.
Failure to provide and maintain adequate security is a breach of duty. Thus, behavior that fails to live up to the legal standard of care is negligence.
3. The school’s negligence caused the harm that the plaintiff suffered.
The school’s negligent security must be at least part of the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Mere negligence without injury falls under the “no harm, no foul” rule.
Negligent security claims must involve physical injuries. If someone threatens you with imminent bodily harm, but you manage to escape without physical injuries, you do not have a negligent security claim.
4. Adequate security would have prevented the crime.
Schools are not legally responsible for every crime that takes place on their premises. For example, the school is not liable if providing appropriate security would not have prevented the crime.
New Legislation About School Safety in Georgia
Georgia lawmakers passed tougher security requirements after the school shootings in Florida and other states. These new rules became effective for the 2018-19 school year.
Some school districts previously had some of these measures in place. However, the new law ensures more uniformity in school security measures across the state. The updated requirements require:
- The local emergency management agency to approve every school district’s safety plan.
- School staff to receive training in violence prevention and mental health issues.
- Schools to install and utilize high-tech security devices.
How New Legislation Affects Liability of Schools
If someone sustains an injury at a school that failed to implement the recently-mandated security measures and its compliance would have prevented the injury, the injured person has a strong negligent security case. In this situation, the plaintiff can sue the school for flouting the traditional negligence and negligent security provisions of the law.
Specific Threats That Schools Must Address
Georgia law requires schools to create and implement safety plans that protect students, teachers, and authorized visitors from:
- Potential terrorist activities
- Transportation risks
- Hazardous materials
- Natural disasters
Victims can bring negligent security claims against schools that fail to take reasonable and required steps to protect them.
Persistently Dangerous Schools
Georgia’s Department of Education identifies schools that have ongoing safety issues and offers them professional and technical help to ensure compliance with safety laws. A student who is the victim of a violent crime or who attends a school labeled as “persistently dangerous” can exercise the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) and attend a different public school.
You can access the USCO reports to find out about reported criminal activity at your child’s school. Once a school knows about an unsafe condition, it must take reasonable measures to prevent harm to students, teachers, and authorized visitors. Failure to do so can be construed as negligence.
Georgia School Safety Laws
Georgia has many laws that prohibit certain acts on or near school campuses. If a school does not address and enforce these regulations, it can be guilty of negligent security. Some of the prohibited activities include:
- Possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school
- The manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana or other controlled substances within a school safety zone
- Possession of alcoholic beverages on school premises
- Cell phones and other electronic communication devices (at the discretion of each school)
- Loitering on or near the school premises (designed to prevent gang and drug activity)
- Disrupting a school, especially in a bomb threat scenario
The law requires that students attend school. Georgia law also orders schools to protect their students and teachers from harm. Victims can sue a school for negligent security if it fails to implement adequate measures to guarantee their safety.
If you need help to decide if you can sue a school for negligent security, call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838. We will set up your free consultation to discuss whether you might be eligible for compensation for negligent security at a school.
Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages in Georgia?
The State of Georgia statutes still have a limit on how much money you can recover for your non-economic damages in a successful medical malpractice case, even though the Georgia Supreme Court declared this cap unconstitutional nearly a decade ago.
There is no legislative cap, however, on the amount you can win for your economic losses in medical malpractice cases. Experts disagree on whether the law limiting non-economic damages is enforceable.
What the Unconstitutional Statute Says About Recovering Non-Economic Damages
The statute in question places a limit on the amount of money a successful medical malpractice plaintiff can recover, no matter how devasting the harm he suffered or if the medical malpractice resulted in wrongful death. These limits are outlined as follows:
- No more than $350,000 total from all the doctors and other healthcare providers in the lawsuit – whether there is only one defendant or a dozen;
- No more than $350,000 total from a medical facility and everyone who might have vicarious liability, with a cap of $700,000 total from all the medical facilities – whether there was only one defendant or a dozen;
- No more than $1,050,000 total from all defendants in the lawsuit – including all medical facilities, doctors, healthcare providers, and persons who may have harmed or killed the plaintiff.
The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Since the Georgia statutes do not place a limit on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff can get in a successful medical malpractice action, you need to know the difference between economic and non-economic damages.
These include medical bills, lost income, ongoing medical care and assistance, decreased earning capacity, home and vehicle modifications, long-term care, equipment, supplies, and other financial losses you sustained as a result of the medical malpractice.
Georgia law does not limit the amount you can recover for these damages, but they must be reasonable and related to the harm.
These types of damages include the harm you experience because of the medical malpractice, but that did not cost you out-of-pocket. For example, the mental anguish, distress, physical pain, and suffering you endured are non-economic damages.
Other examples include disfigurement, disability, physical impairment, inconvenience, hardship, and loss of enjoyment of life. Your loved ones might have claims for non-economic damages like loss of consortium, companionship, and society.
If you have questions about your medical malpractice case, our dedicated legal team can help. Contact us today at 404-842-7838.
Georgia Law Does Not Limit Non-Economic Damages in Other Personal Injury Lawsuits
One of the reasons the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is that there is not a similar limit on non-economic damages in other types of personal injury suits. In all other negligence actions, the defendant must pay the amount of non-economic damages that the jury feels is appropriate.
The Court also said that the legislature does not have the authority to tell juries how much money they can award to successful plaintiffs. The statute is unconstitutional because it usurps the jury’s right to award the amount of damages it sees fit, and thus the law illegally blocks plaintiffs from their right to a trial by jury.
The facts in every case are different, so S. Burke Law can explain your economic and non-economic damages. Give us a call at 404-842-7838 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.
Electrical Shock Injury at Work
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), electrical current injury is a widespread workspace hazard. Workers face many electrical shock dangers. The four main types of on-the-job electrical injuries are:
- Electrocution (which is fatal)
- Electric shock
- Falls that result from electrical injuries
Electrical Shocks in Construction and Related Industries
Construction sites are a veritable landmine of electrical hazards, including:
- Electrical currents running through their power tools and equipment
- Electrical lines that provide the power for the lights, tools, and equipment on the site
- Nearby and overhead power lines (extremely dangerous for crane operators, workers using portable metal ladders near power lines, and workers on rooftops and scaffolding)
- Workers installing electrical lines in the building or construction project.
Since it is not possible to remove electricity from the workplace in construction and related industries, employers must focus on safety to prevent injury and death.
How Electrocution Happens
The vast majority of people who come into contact with electricity survive the experience, even though many do suffer some injuries. Why do some people live and others do not survive?
Death occurs from an electrical shock when the amount of electrical energy causes a lethal level of overstimulation of the nervous system or damage to internal organs. Cardiac arrest is a common component of electrocution.
Whether a particular electrical contact will be fatal depends on these five factors:
- How strong the electrical current is,
- The path the current takes through the body,
- How long the electrical contact lasted,
- The damage the body took from the electrical contact, and
- The emergency medical treatment the person received.
You can experience an electrical shock by either a direct contact with an electrical current or from an electrical arc hitting you. An electrical arc happens when electrons flow through the air or through a gas. Construction sites have many locations where electrical shock from direct contact or arcing can occur.
The heat of an electrical arc can create a flash burn on the human body. You can sustain flame burns if the electricity ignites your clothing or other nearby combustible materials. Flash burns and flame burns are thermal burns that seldom involve electricity flowing through the body. The damage is usually limited to the skin and layers of tissue below the skin, as opposed to the internal organs.
You can suffer internal and external burns from electrical shocks. Internal burns happen when the electricity flows through parts of your body, burning a swath of your tissues and organs all along its path. The current can cause nerve damage and blood clots throughout your body along the path of the internal burns.
Falls from Electrical Injuries
When a jolt of electricity hits the body, your nervous system responds rapidly with muscle contraction or a startle reaction. If you are working at a high elevation on a construction site, such as in a crane, on a ladder or scaffolding, or in an aerial bucket, the reflex response could cause you to fall or move into the path of dangerous equipment. Either result could be fatal.
Your Legal Options After Suffering an Electrical Shock Injury at Work
You might be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if you sustain an on-the-job electrical shock injury. At S. Burke Law, we will explain your legal options and how to collect your worker’s compensation benefits.
If a third party’s negligence caused your injuries, you might be able to file a claim for damages from that individual or company.
When a Third Party Can Be Liable for Your Electrical Shock Injury
If a third party (not your employer) caused your electrical shock injury at work, you might have a right to compensation from that entity. Let’s say that the manufacturer of a crane with aerial bucket used cheap wiring that did not meet safety requirements
The manufacturer knew that the wiring would eventually fail, but it calculated that it would be cheaper to pay injury claims than to use the high-quality wiring mandated by safety guidelines. You were in the aerial bucket on the job when the wiring failed, disabling the steering. The bucket careened into live electrical lines, and you suffered severe electrical shock injuries.
The law would hold the manufacturer responsible after applying this four-prong liability assessment:
- The manufacturer had a duty to produce equipment that was safe when used as intended.
- The manufacturer violated that duty when it used inferior, unsafe wiring in assembling its cranes with aerial buckets. Violation of a legal duty of care is negligence.
- The manufacturer’s negligence caused the accident.
- You suffered physical injuries in the accident.
Therefore, the manufacturer owes you compensation for the injuries you suffered as a result of its negligence.
Damages You Can Recover from the Liable Party
In a negligence action, you can typically recover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term impairment. Depending on the facts of your case, you might be eligible for other damages as well.
Getting Legal Help for Electrical Shock Injuries
The team at S. Burke Law will answer your questions and tell you if you might have a claim for compensation. Call us today at 404-842-7838, and we will set up your free consultation.
Wrongful Death Cases for Electrocution at Work
If your loved one died due to electrocution at work, you may be eligible to recover damages through a wrongful death case.
Electrical hazards are so prevalent on construction sites and in related industries that workers are at an unacceptable risk of electrocution (death from electrical shock). Many workers do not receive warnings about the present electrical dangers, so they do not take steps that could protect them from injuries and death.
Power tools and equipment on construction sites use electrical currents. Overhead power lines are a lethal risk at many job locations, causing the deaths of crane operators, workers in aerial buckets, and people working on rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders.
Electrocution Deaths in Construction and Related Industries
Most electrical injuries are not life-threatening, but some are fatal to the victim. Electricity kills when it causes a lethal level of damage to internal organs like the brain or heart, or overstimulation of the nervous system. People who die from electrocution often experience cardiac arrest.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists these five factors as indicative of whether a person will survive an electrical shock or die from electrocution:
- The strength of the electrical current,
- The path of the electrical current through the body,
- The duration of the electrical contact,
- The bodily damage sustained from the event, and
- The speed and quality of emergency medical care the person received.
How Contact with Electricity Can Be Fatal
The electrical current itself can cause a lethal amount of damage to the body, but that is not the only way a person can die from contact with electricity. If the electrical injury causes the worker to fall, the worker can die from a combination of electrical contact damage and injuries from the fall. Many electrocuted victims also suffer substantial internal and external burn injuries from their contact with electricity.
Getting workers' Compensation for a Fatal Electrocution at Work
Depending on the facts of your case, you might be eligible for workers' compensation death benefits if your loved one died from electrocution on the job site. Georgia workers’ compensation defines a compensable work-related claim as one that arises out of and in the course of employment.
The dependent spouse and minor children of an employee who dies on the job can file for workers’ compensation death benefits. The workers' compensation board will pay qualifying claims for funeral expenses up to the legal limit. Eligible dependents can also collect two-thirds of the decedent’s average weekly wage, up to the maximum amount.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Negligent Third Party
Georgia law allows you to pursue a negligence claim against someone who caused your loved one’s injury at work, as long as that third party does not work for the same employer that your loved one did. The workers' compensation board might demand some reimbursement if they paid workers’ compensation death benefits and you also recovered damages from the responsible third party.
Let’s say that your loved one worked for the general contractor on a construction site.
An excavation subcontractor’s worker crashed a backhoe into a utility pole. The pole broke, and a 7200V overhead power line fell next to your loved one, electrocuting him.
A mandatory drug test revealed that the backhoe driver was under the influence of controlled substances at the time of the accident, which impaired his ability to operate the equipment safely. The subcontractor knew that the driver took illegal drugs.
You can pursue a wrongful death action against both the subcontractor and the backhoe driver (defendants). The law will determine their liability using these four steps:
- The law will evaluate whether the defendants had a legal duty toward the decedent. Yes, they both had the duty to perform their activities in a reasonably safe manner on the construction site.
- If the defendants failed to live up to their legal duty of care, they were negligent. When the backhoe driver operated the equipment on the job site while impaired by drugs, he was negligent. When the subcontractor allowed a worker with a known drug habit to operate equipment on a construction site, the subcontractor was negligent.
- The negligence must be the cause of the accident. Both acts of negligence contributed to causing the accident.
- The harmed person must have suffered physical injuries as a result of the negligence. The injured person died from electrocution, clearly meeting the requirement of a physical injury.
Getting Legal Help for a Wrongful Death Claim for Electrocution at Work
Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 and claim your free consultation. We will talk with you, investigate what happened, and tell you if you might have a claim for workers' compensation or a wrongful death lawsuit or both. We provide this service at no cost or obligation to you.
Injuries on the job can involve two different areas of the law—workers' compensation and wrongful death actions. One misstep can affect your legal right to compensation for your loss. We will explain how these laws work and navigate you through the claims process and the courts.