Articles Posted in Ordinary Negligence

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justice-scales-gavel-fb.jpegChoosing a good lawyer to help you with a case, such as wrongful death, contract dispute, employment termination; asset forfeiture, and excessive force, can be very difficult.

Many blog posts advise you to make sure that (1) you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose and that (2) the lawyer you choose has sound experience and understanding in the area you need representation in. While all that is true, there is one area that also demonstrates the quality of representation you will be obtaining to handle your case: your lawyer’s willingness and ability to handle an appeal of your case in front of a higher court.

Foremost, you may not read a lot of blog posts that talk about handling an appeal of your case in front of higher courts, because that means something may have went wrong with your case in the lower court. But here’s the reality: when you are going up against cities, school districts; law enforcement officials; public officials; big corporations; and hospitals–whether you win or lose at the lower court (trial court), one party is going to appeal, or threaten to appeal the loss, to the higher court (Appeals Court).

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bed bug.jpg How do you know if you have valid legal claim for bed bug injuries in Georgia?:

In Georgia, it is important to show that the property owner was negligent. One example to show negligence would be if a hotel owner, when being put on notice of a dangerous condition (a bed bug infestation), failed to respond properly, thus subjecting tenants or hotel guests to the danger which caused their damages, i.e. injuries, property loss, medical bills.

What does the law say about bed bugs in Georgia hotels? The “duty of an innkeeper is well settled in Georgia as the duty to exercise ordinary care to afford guests premises that are reasonably safe for use and occupancy.” Hotel Richmond, Inc. v. Wilkinson, 73 Ga. App. 36, 41 (35 SE2d 536). Furthermore, the innkeeper has a duty to inspect and is liable for such injuries caused by defects as would be disclosed by a reasonable inspection. Hillinghorst v. Heart of Atlanta Motel, 104 Ga. App. 731.

The following are some of the various legal claims a Plaintiff may bring against a negligent hotel owner as a result of bed bug injuries:

Negligence: To prove negligence against a Defendant such as a hotel, the Plaintiffs need to show that the Defendants negligently breached their duty by failing to exercise ordinary care to provide them rooms that were reasonably safe for use and occupancy and that failure caused the Plaintiffs injuries.

Negligence Per Se: Under O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, it is the duty of an owner who by express or implied invitation induces others to come upon his premises for lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe. Additionally, under Georgia State Regulation 290-5-18-.11 of the Department of Human Resources, owners are required to utilize effective measures to eliminate insects from their hotel’s premises.

Consequently, in a negligence per se claim against a hotel, Plaintiffs can show that Defendants violated O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 by inviting guests to stay at their hotel property and failing to exercise ordinary care to keep their hotel premises safe. Additionally, Plaintiffs might also be able to prove that Defendants violated Georgia State Regulation 290-5-18-.11 by failing to utilize effective measures to eliminate the bedbug infestation from their premises while subjecting their hotel guests to these dangerous conditions. If Defendants violate these laws, they are liable for the harms their actions caused to the Plaintiffs.

Georgia Fair Business Practices Act: Furthermore, Plaintiffs as members of the consuming public may be able to file a Georgia Fair Business Practices Act claim if they can show the Defendant engaged in unfair and/or deceptive business practices and that Plaintiffs justifiably relied on Defendant’s knowing, false representations that caused the Plaintiffs damages.

If Defendant has committed several unfair and/or deceptive practices, Plaintiffs may be entitled to both general and exemplary damages, as well as being entitled to treble (triple) damages because Defendant intentional violated the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. See Conseco Finance Servicing Corporation v. Hill, 252 Ga. App 774 (2001). Prior to a Fair Business practices claim being filed, a 30 day written notice of demand must be made. Under Georgia law this notice is to be liberally construed. See Lynas v. Williams, 216 Ga. App. 434, 435 (1995).

Punitives claim: Plaintiffs can also argue that they are entitled to exemplary damages if Defendants’ conduct was wanton, willful, and showed a reckless disregard and deliberate indifference to the rights of the Plaintiffs.

Claim for Attorneys Fees: Additionally, if Defendants have been stubbornly litigious, acted in manifest bad faith and caused Plaintiffs unnecessary trouble and expense, Plaintiffs may ask that the court should grant Attorney Fees.

For helpful photographs on identifying bed bugs, see here. Additionally, the United States Environmental Protection Agency helpful website which covers frequently asked questions can be, seen here. Bedbug Central, a website devoted to helpful bed bug advice can be seen here.
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bed bug.jpgA recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that bed bugs are growing into more of a problem in Atlanta, Georgia. The AJC reports that according to the latest figures, Atlanta ranks number 21 of the top 50 cities that have bed bugs the most. That’s up from No. 45 as of a couple years ago.

Overall, a professional extermination company that regularly treats bedbugs was interviewed by the AJC and stated that they saw over a 30 percent increase in bed bug business between 2010 and 2011.

The AJC also reported that exterminators stated that the top two bed bug cities the second year in a row were Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively. Also included in the top 10 were Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York and Richmond/Petersburg, Va., respectively.

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nursing home.jpgIdeally, long-term health care facilities such as nursing homes will provide your loved one with long-term assisted living that respects their dignity. Georgia law recognizes three types of long-term health care facilities: personal care homes; skilled nursing facilities; and intermediate care homes. Some are privately owned, while others are state-owned. Some receive Medicare/Medicaid funding. And some care for the elderly or children or those who suffer from severe mental and physical challenges. Unfortunately, as the above-mentioned incident illustrates, regardless of who owns the home, or what type of long-term health facility it is, many times your loved one is mistreated (institutionally abused), a reality that really enrages and hurts both the abused person and those who love and care about him or her.

Recognizing an area of needed involvement, the Georgia legislature enacted a bill of rights for residents of long-term health care facilities (O.C.G.A. § 31-8-100). These rights include the right to receive care and treatment, and services, adequate and appropriate for your loved one’s condition; the right to choose amongst different forms of treatment; the right to refuse treamenent; the right to request a different doctor; the right to participate in the care and treatment plan developed for you or your loved one; the right to privacy; and the right to only be restrained in extremely limited circumstances, amongst others.

The object and purpose of Georgia’s patient bill of rights is to ensure respect for the dignity and self determination of each person living in a long-term health care facility. Additionally, because the legislature recognized the special circumstances in which these vulnerable people find themselves, and their potential to be abused and neglected, Georgia law allows you or a legal guardian to sue for damages for any violation of the Bill of Rights. Also, you should know that you may bring a suit, without exhausting administrative remedies.

Institutional abuse comes in many forms. Be on the look out for signs of mistreatment such as an unexplained or unexpected death of a patient; a serious injury such as broken bones; unexplained sores, welts and bruises; infections; unusual weight loss or weight gain; extreme dehydration; choking/gagging; and illnesses such as chronic aspiration/aspiration pneumonia (the elderly are particularly susceptible to this); and poor personal hygiene. A good lawyer will understand not only how to spot abuse but also how to uncover abuse through records request, testimony and other avenues.

Another reason you need a good lawyer to deal with nursing home abuse is the fact that there are so many laws and causes of action which apply to this situation. For example, and as stated, most long-term health care facilities receive federal and state funding, so Medicare/Medicaid regulations will apply. However, although Georgia law provides a private cause of action, many applicable federal laws such as 42 U.S.C. § 1395 do not. But the fact that a federal law does not provide a private cause of action does not mean that the standards established by those regulations cannot be used to demonstrate that a long-term heath care facility violated a standard of care it owed to your loved one.

Furthermore, you may have several different causes of action (legal claims) against the long-term health care facility. For example, you may have a professional negligence claim. This typically involves negligent conduct of a nurse or medical care provider. When a medical provider is responsible for injuring you or a loved one, hospital’s may be liable for those inujuries under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which means the employer of the negligent nurse/physician/medical provider is held liable. This type of claim is classified as a medical malpractice claim; that means that a host of procedural and substantive issues are involved. If your lawyer fails to follow “particular” procedural rules, your claim could be thrown out of court, forever.

Or, you may have an ordinary negligence claim, which typically does not involve an expert opinion or the tricky rules associated with professional negligence (malpractice) claims. Or, you may have a premises liability claim or a breach of contract claim or a class action claim. As you can read, a good lawyer is necessary to properly apply the facts of your case to all the applicable Georgia and federal laws and regulations, to ascertain which claim(s) you may have, and of those claims, which ones provide you with the best opportunity to maximize your recovery.

Ultimately, the outcome of you case will depend on many variables.
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