Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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“How can I get attorney fees in a lawsuit?” This is a question we often hear from clients. Different Georgia laws govern the recovery of attorney fees in a lawsuit. If the actions of the defendant prior to the litigation were done in bad faith and would be considered “stubbornly litigious,” then fees may be assessed pursuant to OCGA 13-6-11.

If during the course of the litigation, the attorneys expanded the litigation beyond reasonable or pursued claims or defenses that had no justiciable issues of law or fact, then a party may recover fees associated with that conduct under OCGA 9-15-14.
And, if a party incurs damages as a result of a lawsuit that are beyond attorney fees, they may have an entirely different and separate cause of action pursuant to OCGA 51-7-80.

Finally, after the trial, sanctions can be awarded for frivolous appeals. As with any of these statutes, the party must prove the attorney fees that were actually incurred, the actions the opposing party did to incur such fees, and whether the fees were reasonable and necessary.

Merely prevailing at summary judgment does not automatically merit an award of attorney’s fees. Chong v Reebaa Construction, Inc. 284 Ga. App. 830 (2007). Likewise prevailing in an entire case also does not garner an automatic award of attorney fees either. Glynn Brunsick Mem’l Hosp. Autho. V. Gibbons, 243 Ga. App. 341 (2000). If there is at least an arguable support for the position taken, then an award of fees should not be justified. So long as there is some evidence from which a jury could find for the plaintiff a defense verdict does not warrant imposition of fees. Rental Equip Group LLC v. MACI LLC 263 Ga. App. 155 (2003). An award of attorneys fees is not justified where there is arguable legal support for the position taken.

Nevertheless, under OCGA 9-15-14(a), attorney fees are mandatory where a party has asserted a position where there is a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact that it could not have been reasonably believed that a court would have accepted the position. Cavin v. Brown 246 Ga. App. 40 (2000).

Additionally, under 9-15-14(b), a permissive award of attorney fees and litigation expenses is available if: i. the action brought lacked substantial justification (is substantially frivolous, groundless or vexatious), ii. the action was brought for delay or harassment, or iii. the party or attorney unnecessarily expanded the proceedings by discovery abuse or otherwise.

In order to prevent the chilling of actions that prevent stagnation of law, section c provides that no attorney or party shall be assessed attorney fees in a “good faith attempt to establish a new theory of law in Georgia if such new theory of law is based on some recognized precedential or persuasive authority” which might include dissents, federal cases, cases from other states, and positions taken in law reviews or other legal writings.

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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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traffic.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer is very concerned about the Governor’s new plan to turn the emergency lane on the Ga. 400 into a travel lane. Governor Nathan Deal announced this new project to convert the highway shoulder that is typically used for an emergency lane as an additional lane for traffic. The emergency shoulder is currently used for ambulances, firetrucks, and police cars who need a speedy bypass for getting through congested traffic to reach an emergency or get a patient to the hospital in time.

Emergency services operators are all expressing their alarm. Even those who simply need to use the emergency lane in the event of a car break down now will not have an option to do so, thus increasing the dangers on this particular freeway significantly. Firefighters, police officers, and ambulance drivers are against the new plan believing it will put the public at risk.

Ga. 400 rush-hour commuters know how difficult this freeway can be as it has been recently ranked as one of the nations most unreliable commutes. Nevertheless, experts say that converting the emergency lane into a traffic lane will not ease the traffic that significantly and critics contend that the heavy price tag made up of safety losses make it not worth it.

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teacherteacher.JPGHere is one letter that Williams Oinonen LLC recently received from a satisfied client who walked out of our office with a very fat check after hiring us to handle her case. This client was a school teacher who lost everything and was severely injured due to someone’s negligence. While we can’t tell you the Defendant’s name or the amount of money they had to pay her to compensate her for these injuries due to a confidentiality agreement, we can share with you what she states in her own words about us:

“Hi, my name is Nicole and I retained services from Williams Oinonen LLC. This was my first time hiring a lawyer so naturally I was very skeptical. But, my experience with Williams Oinonen LLC has been a fantastic experience. When I first sought out a lawyer, I emailed countless of law firms and most law firms didn’t even respond to my email. One law firm responded and told me I didn’t have a strong case. Williams Oinonen LLC is the ONLY law firm that even considered taking my unique case.

Ms. Oinonen took my case because she truly cares about her clients. After speaking to her for the first time, I trusted her because she was very knowledgeable about my situation and she was very compassionate, therefore I hired her (plus no one else offered to take my case!)

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Here is one email that Williams Oinonen LLC received from a highly, satisfied client who obtained good sized check after hiring us to handle his case. This client was a professional who was injured due to the negligence of a corporation he had been a customer at. The result of his injuries affected his appearance and in turn, his self-confidence on the job and in his day to day life. While we can’t tell you the Defendant’s name or the amount of money we got them to pay in order to compensate our client for these injuries due to a confidentiality agreement, we can share with you what he states in his own words about us:

“I was new to the Atlanta area and had a case that was not important to anyone until I talked to the law office of Williams Oinonen LLC and after that I started to see thing move for me. I am so satisfied with all the effort that Williams Oinonen LLC did for me. I don’t think I would have received this kind of loyalty or support from any other firm in GA. They made it easy for me to understand what was going on every step of the way. They explained every law term in plain English with me. I have and will continue to refer people to this firm. I have yet to hear any complaints from anyone that I have sent their way. So I highly recommend the law office of Williams Oinonen LLC. If I ever need a law firm this is the only one I will call. I cannot say enough about this office. You guys are my lawyers for life!”–Tim T.

Williams Oinonen LLC represents Georgians all across the state in employment matters, personal injury, business litigation, business disputes, education and civil rights matters. We are passionate about our clients and fight hard for them to obtain the justice they deserve. As the 2011 year ends, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our Georgia community and look forward to future service.

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This is an extremely disturbing video of what happened yesterday in Oakland, California at an Occupy Oakland protest. A young Iraq war veteran named Scott Olsen, age 24, is potentially brain injured thanks to a police officer throwing something that some people are alleging to be a flashbang grenade, i.e. a bomb, into a crowd of people. When a crowd of young people rush to help save him it appears that the police officer throws a second bomb at the crowd. At this point, the police department have issued a press release denying use of flash bang devices but others dispute this.

Flashbang grenades are NOT a non-lethal use of force as some police departments would have you believe. They are deadly. Just this year in Charlotte, North Carolina, a SWAT officer by the name of Fred Thornton was killed when a flash bang grenade exploded as he was securing his equipment in the trunk of his patrol car. Certain city police departments, including the New York City Police Department have banned the use of flash bang grenades because they kill innocent victims.

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Thumbnail image for College_graduate_students.jpg Good Georgia Lawyer is very happy to report that the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights is cracking down on how colleges and universities report sexual misconduct.

The tougher response comes after a federal investigation identified problems at a number of colleges where sexual assault victims were re-victimized by university policies and procedures.

The Obama administration approach is also in response to the previous administration’s laissez faire approach. Now however, colleges and universities are all on notice that they must respond appropriately and accurately report sexual misconduct incidents. Additionally, feds have launched investigations on certain campuses.

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Lady-justice-jury.jpg Williams Oinonen LLC (Good Georgia Lawyer) is a member of AAJ, the American Association for Justice. AAJ shares the same commitment as Williams Oinonen LLC, making certain people have a fair shot at obtaining justice through the legal system when they are injured by the wrongdoing or negligence of others. We believe this even when it means challenging big foreign corporations. The problem is that a recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court this past month makes it even harder to challenge foreign corporations and easier for companies outside the United States to get off the hook when they create a product that injures or kills an American consumer.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro is the case that creates challenges and makes it much more difficult to hold foreign manufacturers accountable in the U.S. court system.

American Association for Justice Gibson Vance commented on this decision stating: “Simply put, foreign companies that market and sell their products in our country should not be able to evade accountability. . . In our global marketplace, this decision will allow foreign manufacturers to sell their products without adhering to our safety standards.”

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lady.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer’s favorite consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is pushing the FDA to issue a recall for a vaginal mesh used for women dealing with incontinence and other health issues. The consumer group warned that this product carries a high risk of serious injury for women.

Public Citizen filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration urging them to recall the mesh to prevent women being exposed to serious life altering injuries.

The Food and Drug Administration did state that women who have these mesh implants are at greater risk of bleeding, infection, and pain compared to a more traditional surgery.