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Very serious injuries can result from automobile accidents. Unfortunately, even prompt medical treatment does not always guarantee a favorable outcome.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties that can arise when injuries from a car accident combine with alleged medical negligence to yield an especially tragic result.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided case, the plaintiff was a woman who was involved in a car accident in May 2012. At the scene, paramedics placed her on a backboard and transported her to the hospital via ambulance. After a doctor interpreted the plaintiff’s CT scan as showing that there were no fractures in her cervical spine, another physician instructed a nurse to remove the plaintiff’s cervical spine collar and discharge her from the hospital. Continue reading →

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freewayAs the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20-20.” Often in our Atlanta car accident legal practice, we see people who would have approached their accident case very differently if only they had known certain things sooner. While many of these regrets focus on the cause of the accident itself, there are also many pitfalls during the post-accident phase.

If you find yourself an unfortunate victim of an Atlanta car or truck crash, here are a few important tips to keep in mind.

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tanker truckMost motor vehicle accident lawsuits involve two or more vehicles, but this is not always the case. Recently, a pedestrian truck driver filed suit after being struck in a gas station parking lot.

In addition to the driver who struck him, the trucker also asserted negligence claims against the station owner and the entity that managed the station.

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There are several reasons why business owners opt to incorporate, but, at least for small businesses and “mom and pop” shops, the primary reason to move from a sole proprietorship or partnership to a corporation is often to limit the owner’s personal liability.

If an unincorporated business is sued, and the plaintiff is successful in the case, he or she may be able to execute a judgment against the business owner’s personal assets. This could potentially include not only business property but also the owner’s home, automobile, and bank account. Once a business incorporates, however, only the business assets can be executed upon in most cases.

There is an exception to this general rule, however. Particularly with regard to closely held companies, there is a chance that a business owner can become personally liable for a corporate debt (such as a judgment for a personal injury claim) if the plaintiff in the lawsuit can “pierce the corporate veil.”

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When an employee’s negligence results in harm to another person, such as in a motor vehicle collision, there are several ways in which his or her employer can potentially be held liable for the injured party’s damages (such as lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering) under Georgia law.

One of those theories – negligent entrustment – was at issue in a recent case reviewed by a Georgia appeals court.

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tire treadA family’s life can change in just a few seconds. When a catastrophic injury or wrongful death results, probably the last thing on the family’s mind is the preservation of evidence that might be relevant in a lawsuit months or years down the road.

If litigation does ensue, as it did in a recent case involving a wrongful death allegedly caused by a bad tire, arguments can arise as to whether the family should be punished via a sanction such as the barring of the admission of the small amount of evidence that was preserved.

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In the case of Ingram v. AAA Cooper Transportation, Inc., the plaintiff was the husband and personal representative of the estate of a woman who died after being involved in an automobile accident with an employee of the defendant transportation company in June 2012.

The husband originally filed a personal injury and loss of consortium claim in the state court of Richmond County, Georgia, but the case was later removed to federal court (presumably based on diversity jurisdiction).

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stop lightWhen a motor vehicle accident occurs, generally the party whose negligence caused the crash is liable to anyone who was injured therein. If the negligent person was “on the clock” at the time of the wreck, his or her employer may also be held liable in most cases.

A recent case, however, proves the exception to these general rules. In the lawsuit, the person who was hurt was acting in the course and scope of his employment when a co-worker crashed the company vehicle in which the two were riding.

Since the employer had no workers’ compensation insurance, the plaintiff proceeded in tort with a negligence claim against his co-worker and their employer. The plaintiff also sought uninsured motorist benefits from his own carrier. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, each of these insurance companies was declared not to be responsible for any damages arising from the accident.

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pocket watch

The importance of promptness varies from one situation to the next. For instance, if you are a couple of months late returning a library book, you probably won’t lose all your rights and privileges at the library – at least not permanently – for your indiscretion. (You will, of course, incur the scorn of the desk clerk and a fine.)

On the other hands, if you are a couple of months late getting your complaint down to the courthouse to initiate a personal injury claim against a negligent motorist who caused a wreck in which you were hurt, your claim will be completely barred unless you meet one of a very few, narrow exceptions to the general statute of limitations.

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clockWe cannot stress this point too strongly. Regardless of how strong you think your case is, you cannot be successful unless you comply with all of the procedural requirements of Georgia law. These include filing your case within the time allowed by the statute of limitations, securing timely service of process, and adhering to other time limitations as the litigation unfolds.

A failure to file suit in a timely fashion, obtain service of process, or comply with other issues of notice and timeliness will, in most cases, result in a dismissal of what could otherwise have been a successful case. Although there are a few limited exceptions, failures to comply with procedural rules are usually fatal to a personal injury case, such as a car wreck or truck crash lawsuit.

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