Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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.

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A very sad tragedy occurred for a Clayton County, Georgia family this past weekend. Franky J. Cassidy, a 24-year-old man was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle home from work. Marvlyn Eugene Martin, was drunk driving when he ran into Cassidy’s motorcycle head on at 4 a.m.

Police stated that Martin had a blood-alcohol count of .192 percent, more than double the legal limit. Martin was charged with driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and other traffic violations.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that as of yesterday, Martin was held without bond on the homicide charge in the Clayton County jail.

The fact that Martin was driving intoxicated will certainly be admissible and would be the primary factor for proving punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. At a trial of any civil or criminal action arising from actions alleged to have been committed by any person in violation of O.C.G.A. 40-6-391, evidence of the amount of drug or alcohol in a person’s blood, breath, urine or other bodily fluid at the alleged time, as determined by chemical analysis shall be admissible. Cheevers v. Clark, 214 Ga. App. 866 (1994).

When a police officer requests a driver to submit to a chemical test because of actions alleged to have been conducted while driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the police officer arrests that persons, O.C.G.A. 40-6-392 requires that the police officer informs him at the time of the arrest of his or her right to an independent analysis to test the amount of drugs or alcohol present in the blood stream in order for the test administered by the police to be admissible at trial to prove the accused was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Carswell v. State, 171 Ga. App. 455 (1984).
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Pit Bull.jpgLawmakers out in Pacifica, California are currently discussing passing a law requiring pit bulls to be spayed or neutered after a pregnant woman, Darla Napora, was bitten to death dozens of times by her own pet pit bull. The pit bull, covered in Mrs. Napora’s blood and hovering over her body when officers arrived, immediately was tied up by police officers. Unfortunately, the pit bull was able to break free and charged at the police officers as they tried CPR to restart Mrs. Napora’s heart. The dog was shot by the police officers.

The law requiring pit bulls to be spayed and neutered was passed in San Francisco in 2005 after Dianne Whipple was killed by a dog in Jan. 2001 and 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish was mauled by his family pit bulls in 2005.

The President of Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in San Francisco, Jason Walthall, admits that this law has no doubt been effective. Walthall stated: “We did see the number of pit bulls being surrendered to our shelters drop fairly dramatically.”

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Morrow_1069660l.jpgThe AJC reported that a Cherokee County wrestling coach Robert Leslie Morrow, age 28, has been charged with sexual assault involving a 16 year old; and a teacher Kristin May, age 32, who failed to report it was also arrested.

The victim, who reported being assaulted, no longer attends school in Cherokee County.

Morrow confessed to the assault when interviewed by detectives. The victim reported the incident to a teacher, Kristin May, in January, but May did not contact police, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff. May, 32, of Canton, was arrested Thursday afternoon and charged with failure to report.

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footballs.JPGDear Dr. John Barge:

Our law firm urges you to submit a DOE proposed rule pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-13-4(b) that protects our young Georgia student athletes from further injury and death due to heat related illnesses as a result of sports practice in high temperatures during the most dangerous months of the summer. As you know, just last week, two Georgia high school students have died from heat exposure during football practice – two deaths that should have been completely treatable and avoidable. These deaths are two too many.

Consequently, we ask that you take action by issuing State DOE recommendations to local county school districts, in addition to submitting a proposed rule concerning school sports safety before another student’s life is put at risk.

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GA state patrol.jpgThe second fatal collision occurred last week in Moultrie, Georgia this time involving a motorcycle and truck. The Georgia State Patrol investigators reported that a 1996 Toyota Tacoma, driven by an 81 year old man named James Henry Smith, failed to yield when crossing a road, hitting a motorcycle that was driven by 30 year old Randy Larry Harris.

Very sadly, Mr. Harris was ejected from his motorcycle and died at the scene. Mr. Harris, a young man at age 30, tragically left behind a loving wife, children, and large extended family from West Berrien. He was a diesel mechanic and shop supervisor at the Berrien County Bus Shop, and a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. The elderly driver who hit him was given a citation for failing to yield.

Very sadly, motor vehicle crashes such as this one are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The most recent 2010 report put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading in fact the cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. The financial impact is also significant: the lifetime costs of automobile crash deaths and injuries among Americans was listed at $70 billion a year just a few years ago.

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New Georgia biking law General Assembly House Bill 101, which went into effect July 1, provides for safer bicycle riding for bicyclists and the motoring public.

It also spells out minimum safety guidelines for bicycle lanes in Georgia.

Georgia bikers say they hope the new law encourages motorists and bikers to be more careful. Reports of accidents between motorists and cyclists in 2009 and 2010 faulted cyclists at 48 percent of the time and motorists around 39 percent of the time. The remaining percentage was for no fault or when both parties (the cyclist and motorist) were both to blame.

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Georgia wrongful death lawyers at our firm have explained the laws concerning wrongful death before in other articles. Today’s article will explain when a minor can still sue for the wrongful death of their mother or father who died, even if it happened years ago.

An action for wrongful death in Georgia is solely created by statute and does not exist in common law. What this means is that the Wrongful Death Act in Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1 et seq., must be strictly interpreted and not extended beyond its plain meaning and explicit terms.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Extended for Minors:

The language of the Act, given its plain and ordinary meaning, does not contain a separate, internal statute of limitation that applies specifically to a wrongful death claim. As a result, O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, the general two-year statute of limitation for personal injury claims, applies to wrongful death claims that do not arise from medical malpractice.

Under § 9-3-33, actions for injuries to the person generally shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.

Consequently, the courts have made clear in Georgia that if you have a wrongful death in Georgia, you must sue within the two years of your loved one’s passing in order to secure your claim. However, if your mother or father died while you were still under the age of 18, i.e. a “minor,” you will still have an additional two years after you turn 18 to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful Death: Terminating Life Support Without Family Approval:

Under State of Georgia law, the decision of whether to continue or terminate life support belongs exclusively to the patient’s family or legal guardian, not to the hospital, the doctors, or the State. A claim based upon a physician’s termination of life support of a child over the objections of the child’s parents constitutes a claim for wrongful death. DeKalb Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Hawkins, 288 Ga. App. 840, 843 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007)

In 2007, an important case arose after a young mother named Tara Hawkins fell and sustained severe head trauma. When Hawkins arrived at the Dekalb Medical Center, she was unconscious and sadly, she never regained consciousness. Hawkins, who was pregnant, remained on life support for nearly four months.

During that time, some of her physicians believed that she was brain dead and that her baby would not survive. Based upon these opinions, DMC repeatedly recommended an and the termination of her life support. Hawkins’ mother refused to agree to the abortion or termination of life support. On March 16, 2004, a DMC nurse discovered that Hawkins had spontaneously given birth to her son, Emmanuel Hawkins, without any medical assistance. Emmanuel weighed less than three pounds and suffered from numerous medical ailments.

Two days after giving birth, DMC terminated Hawkins life support, and she died that very day. There is no evidence in the record that, prior to terminating life support, Hawkins was terminally ill or that her death was imminent, nor was there any evidence that her brain function deteriorated or that her prognosis changed after Emmanuel’s birth. No family member, including Hawkins’ mother, had agreed to the termination of life support. Further, Hawkins did not have a “living will” or other advanced medical directive, and there was no court order giving DMC permission to terminate life support without the family’s consent.

On May 15, 2006, more than two years after Hawkins’ death, her mother, Nonnie Hawkins, as the next friend and natural guardian of Emmanuel Hawkins, filed a lawsuit against DMC, Marshall Nash, M.D., and DeKalb Neurology Associates, LLC. The lawsuit asserted a claim against DMC for “tortious termination of life support,” claiming that the hospital discontinued life support without the permission of her mother, the consent of any family member, or a court order.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that based upon the plain language of the statutes at issue, the lack of an internal statute of limitation in the Wrongful Death Act, the lack of language limiting the application of the tolling provisions in the Wrongful Death Act, and the absence of any Georgia appellate court rulings to the contrary, that the minority tolling provision of OCGA § 9-3-90 (a) applies to a wrongful death action brought by a minor for the death of a parent when the action is not based upon medical malpractice.

What this means in plain English is that if you are a person less than 20 years of age whose father or mother was wrongfully killed (outside of medical malpractice reasons) you may still have a wrongful death claim against the person or entity responsible, even if your parent died long ago.

However, because this law is so complex and because the clock is ticking on the expiration date of such a claim, it is important to seek competent, legal counsel as soon as possible.
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