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 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.
Can I Sue If I Fell Down the Stairs?
If you fell down the stairs on someone else’s property and sustained an injury, you need to know if you can collect compensation to pay for your losses and the pain and suffering you experienced. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to sue the property owner. Sometimes third parties can face legal responsibility.
When a Landowner is Liable in Georgia
Having legal responsibility for people who sustain injuries on property you own is premises liability. A landowner has to pay for losses people suffer if all three of these elements are present:
1. There was a dangerous condition on the property.
2. The landowner knew or should have known about the hazard.
3. However, the owner did not post adequate warnings or take corrective action to repair the situation.
How Careful the Owner Must Be Depends on Why You Were on the Property
Georgia law imposes a different duty on landowners based on the status of the injured person.
Trespassers Are Nearly On Their Own
Landowners cannot “booby trap” their property to intentionally harm people who trespass. For example, if a trespasser loses his footing and falls down the stairs, the landowner is not liable. On the other hand, if the property owner sets a trap to push trespassers down the stairs, the owner is responsible for the injuries.
Licensees Have More Protection Than Trespassers
If you came onto the property solely for your benefit or as a social guest, you are a licensee. An example of a licensee is someone who walks into a grocery store to use the bathroom, but not to shop for groceries.
In terms of legal protections, a licensee is sort of a hybrid between an invitee and a trespasser. The landowner does not have to safeguard licensees as much as invitees. The law does not allow property owners to commit willful or wanton injury to licensees.
Let’s say the grocery store’s bathroom for customers to use was on the first floor. The store manager was angry about non-customers using the facilities, so he told employees to direct them to the basement bathroom, and he poured slippery oil on the stairs. The owner will be responsible for any injuries resulting from these willful and wanton actions.
Invitees Have the Highest Level of Protection
If you enter the premises for any lawful purpose at the express or implied invitation of the landowner, you are an invitee. For example, a shopper in a store is an invitee. Also, an employee of the electric company who comes on the property to read the meter is an invitee.
Georgia law requires the property owner to use ordinary care to keep the premises and approaches safe. The owner of a two-story restaurant, for example, must use ordinary care to make sure the stairs are safe for customers.
To satisfy this duty, the owner must monitor the stairs regularly for hazards like spills or objects which could trip patrons. When an employee discovers a problem, the restaurant should warn people, prevent them from using the stairs, and promptly wipe up the spill or remove the object.
What Happens if a Third Party Created a Hazard Which Caused Your Fall
The property owner is the most likely party to have to pay compensation for your injuries, but if someone else contributed to your fall through negligence or an intentional act, you might be able to get some damages from them as well. Here are but a few examples of the many ways a third party can be responsible for your injuries:
- Someone pushed or bumped into you (intentionally or accidentally).
- Someone made the stairs slippery (for example, spilled a drink).
- Someone installed carpet or another surface on the stairs incorrectly.
Whether Your Negligence Affects Your Compensation
When someone gets hurt, often more than one person is at fault. Let’s say you had some wine at dinner before you fell on the restaurant stairs. If your blood alcohol level was high enough to contribute to your falling, the judge might assign a portion of the negligence to you. This rule is comparative fault.
You can still collect damages for your losses, but the law will reduce them in proportion to your fault. For example, if your damages were $100,000, and you were responsible for 10 percent of the total negligence, the rule of comparative fault will cut $10,000 from your recovery.
How to Get Legal Help for Falling Down the Stairs
Premises liability involves multiple parties—landowners, employees, and third parties. Evaluating these cases can become complicated. You do not have to navigate your premises liability claim on your own. Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838, to line up your free consultation with a premises liability lawyer. We will sort out the issues at no cost to you and with no obligation.
Can I Sue a Security Company for Negligent Security?
You may be able to sue a security company for negligent security if you sustained injuries on your or someone else’s property.
Potential Lawsuits Against a Security Company for Negligent Security
If you suffered an injury because the security company failed to provide adequate security on your property, you may have a negligent security and breach of contract claim. You may also have a negligent security claim if you sustained injuries on premises owned by someone else who hired a security company.
Actions That May Constitute Negligent Security by a Security Company
There are many ways in which a security company can be negligent. Here are a few examples:
Negligent hiring of employees. A security company should perform sufficient background and criminal checks to ensure that they are not hiring dangerous or violent felons. It should also confer with previous employers to see if the potential employee poses any type of security risk.
For example, if at a previous job, the security guard left his assigned post in a parking lot behind a downtown store. While the guard was in a nearby bar, someone attacked and injured a customer who was walking from the parking lot into the store.
The previous employer fired the guard for leaving his post. A routine background check would have revealed this. If the current employer did not perform a background check when hiring the guard, the company can be held liable for negligent security.
Negligent training of employees. A security company may have thoroughly investigated its job applicants but failed to train them. Handing someone a uniform and a badge without making sure that he has the skills to handle foreseeable circumstances is negligent training. It can subject the security company to liability for damages.
Negligent supervision of employees. A security company should have protocols in place to make sure that the employees do their jobs correctly. If the security company does not keep track of how its employees perform, the company can be guilty of negligent security.
Let’s say that a night security guard is supposed to make the rounds every hour, checking to see that the doors are locked and that the building is secure. However, the company never verifies that these security measures have been implemented. Consequently, it can be held liable for negligent security, especially if someone gets hurt because of the guard’s negligence.
Negligent retention of employees. No matter how well the security company vetted, trained, and supervised an employee, the firm has a duty to remove dangerous employees. If the employer knows or should have known that the employee poses an unacceptable safety risk and does nothing, the company can be held liable if that failure to act causes harm to someone.
As an example, a security company hires a guard who must drive a golf cart-style vehicle while performing her duties. Despite her third conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, the security firm does not fire her. As a result, she injures two people while driving the security company’s vehicle through the parking lot. In such a situation, the security company is liable for negligent retention.
Respondeat superior. Sometimes, employers have to pay for the harm their employees cause. The theory of respondeat superior holds employers responsible because they hired the employee.
If you need help determining if you have a case, contact a premises law attorney for legal assistance.
The Four Elements of Negligence
We must prove four factors to win a security negligence claim:
1. The security company (defendant) had a duty toward the injured person (plaintiff). Georgia law requires security guards to “protect the asset under their protection.” They are to carry out such actions as are legal under state law for the security of the person or property under their care. If the security company was supposed to protect the person who was injured, the firm had a legal duty toward that individual.
2. The security company failed to fulfill its legal obligations toward the person or asset under its protection. If the security company did not take the required actions to protect someone within the scope of its duty, the company breached its legal duty toward that person.
For example, a jewelry store hires a security company to protect its employees, customers, and merchandise. However, the security guard on duty fails to take any action when he sees someone stealing a ring. This failure to act constitutes negligence.
3. The negligence must be the cause of the injury. The thief is emboldened by the guard’s negligence and brandishes a gun. He robs the store and shoots a customer in the process. The guard’s failure to act contributed to the shooting.
4. The injury must be preventable. If the guard had responded to the thief promptly, he could have prevented the injury.
Since the above constitutes all four prongs of a negligent security claim, the security company can be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
Get Legal Help for Your Negligent Security Case
We provide a free consultation to determine if a security company’s negligence makes you eligible for compensation for your injuries. Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today for a free case evaluation.
What Are Permanent Total Disability Benefits Under Georgia Workers' Compensation?
There is no category of Georgia Worker’s Compensation benefits called Permanent Total Disability Benefits, but it is possible to get benefits for a total disability on a permanent basis for a qualifying catastrophic injury or for loss of or loss of use of more than one major member of your body.
To speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838.
The Four Kinds of Worker’s Compensation Benefits in Georgia
Georgia has four different types of benefits for people who sustain qualifying injuries on the job. The four benefit categories are:
Temporary Total Disability Benefits. An employee with a work-related injury who cannot work at all while recuperating can collect Temporary Total Disability benefits. The authorized treating physician must certify that the employee cannot work.
The weekly check will be two-thirds of the employee’s average wage as of the time of the accident, up to the legal maximum. Most people can only receive the benefits for a total of 400 weeks from the date of the injury.
Those with catastrophic injuries have no limit on the number of weeks that they can collect these benefits, so for these people, the benefits can be permanent in duration.
If at any time a person receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits, whether for a catastrophic injury or a non-catastrophic injury, recuperates to the point at which she can go back to work, the Temporary Total Disability benefits will stop. The authorized treating physician can certify you to return to work, even if you have to take a lower-paying job or work fewer hours.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits. Sometimes people can return to work after an injury, but because of the injury, they cannot work as many hours, or they have to take a job that pays less. In this situation, Georgia worker’s compensation will pay Temporary Partial Disability Benefits to help make up the difference in income.
These benefits only cover two-thirds of the difference between the employee’s previous injury and current income. Also, these benefits have a time limit. You can only collect these benefits for up to 350 weeks following the injury. If you already collected Temporary Total Disability Benefits for 350 weeks or longer, you will not qualify for Temporary Partial Disability Benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits. If you experience residual impairment from your injury, you might qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits.
Your authorized treating physician (worker’s compensation doctor) will evaluate you to see if you fall within the American Medical Association’s guidelines for loss of or loss of the use of a body member, such as a hand, a leg, your hearing, or your sight. Georgia statutes designate the number of weeks for which you can receive benefits for your partial impairment.
Your weekly benefits will be two-thirds of your regular wages. You will get the checks for the number of weeks the law dictates.
For example, you can receive weekly benefits for 225 weeks for the loss of or loss of the use of an arm. The loss of vision in one eye qualifies for 150 weeks of benefits.
Death Benefits. Eligible dependents like minor children or a dependent spouse can receive worker’s compensation benefits for the death of an employee from a work-related injury. The benefits are two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average wages up to the legal maximum. Worker’s compensation will also pay a limited amount of funeral expenses for death from an injury on the job.
Qualifying Circumstances for Total Disability Benefits on a Permanent Basis
If you lose both of your arms, hands, feet, or legs, or any combination of two of these body parts, there is a rebuttable presumption that you qualify for the payment of total disability benefits on a permanent basis. Losing your vision permanently in both eyes also qualifies you for this type of compensation.
You will get the same amount every week that you would for Temporary Total Disability. Your benefits will be unlimited in duration. In other words, they will not expire 400 weeks after the work-related injury.