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Demanding Payment:  Timeline of Settlement

One of my clients recently asked me about how long it would take to settle her case from the date we sent off a demand to the insurance company in her car wreck case.  Before even sending a demand, a claimant in a personal injury case needs to complete his or her medical treatment, so that amount of time will vary according to the injuries and treatment.  After the treatment is completed and the medical bills and records are gathered (that normally takes at least 60 days), the timeline of settlement from the date of the demand also depends on the circumstances of each case.  Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. Section 9-11-67.1), the minimal amount of time a claimant must give an insurance company or at-fault driver to settle a bodily injury claim based on personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision prior to filing a lawsuit is 30 days from the receipt of the offer.

Preserving Bad Faith Claims:  Giving Insurance Company Reasonable Amount of Time to Settle

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A personal injury case is a civil claim that the victim of another person or company’s negligence can make under the law.  What that means is that if one suffers from an injury that arises out of an event, such as an automobile collision, a slip & fall, a mistake that a medical provider made in treatment, a workplace injury, the use of a defective product or drug, and many other types of situations, then that person may make a claim for compensation for his/her injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs that s/he incurs from that injury.  Most personal injury cases begin as insurance claims and transition into civil lawsuits (as opposed to criminal) against the at-fault party.

The Basic Elements of a Personal Injury Case

The basic information that must be proven to successfully bring a personal injury case include:  (1) showing that the other party acted carelessly or negligently; (2) showing that the carelessness or negligence caused an (an event that caused an injury) injury to the claimant or plaintiff; and, (3) showing the amount of loss that resulted from the injury (or injuries).

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In Atlanta, crimes such as shootings, rapes, robberies, or assaults occur on many commercial properties, including hotels and motels.  Under Georgia law, a victim of a crime that occurs on the property of an unsafe hotel or motel may be able to recover against the hotel or motel for negligent security.

Negligent security is a type of premises liability claim. Premises liability cases in Georgia rest on the principle that a property owner has the legal duty to make sure that lawful visitors or “invitees” to its property are safe from dangerous conditions.  An invitee of a hotel or motel includes guests, and dangerous conditions can include crimes that are committed by unrelated persons who come on to the property or even other motel or hotel guests.

Hotel and motel owners have the duty to protect its guests from “foreseeable” criminal acts, even if the crimes are committed by third parties.  Thus, one of the factors that a victim of a crime on an unsafe property has to prove is that the crime was foreseeable.  You may ask how anyone could predict the future to foresee the criminal act of a third party.  Some factors that show that a property owner should have foreseen a criminal act are past crimes that occurred on the property or complaints about criminal behavior from customers, employees, or other guests.

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Generally, the victim of a security guard’s bad acts or negligence (false imprisonment, excessive use of force, wrongful detention) may bring a civil lawsuit in Georgia to recover damages for the victim’s resulting injuries.  However, because recovering damages in a civil suit requires money, whether it be via a corporate entity with deep pockets or via insurance coverage, a more important question is, “can any corporate defendants also be held responsible for the individual security officer’s acts?”  When looking at corporate entities to sue in a case involving a bad acting security guard, Georgia attorneys should investigate the case to see if the property owner who hired the security guard and/or the security company who employed the guard can be held responsible for the guard’s behavior.

Under Georgia law, property owners have the ultimate duty of care, or the responsibility to its customers, tenants, visitors, or other people who are lawfully on the property, to keep the property safe.  This responsibility includes making sure that the security guard or security guard company is one that will properly ensure the safety of the people who are lawfully present on the property.  Under some circumstances, a property owner can be held liable for the security guards intentionally bad acts, crimes, or unintentional acts/negligent acts.  Examples of intentional bad acts include using excessive force, such as assaulting or shooting someone unnecessarily or wrongfully detaining or arresting someone.  Examples of negligence include not being on the property when required or failing to follow certain safety protocols and procedures.

Many property owners hire private security companies to keep their properties safe.  Thus, it is possible for a victim of a security guard’s bad or negligent acts to sue the security company that employed the guard.  Under the Georgia law of respondeat superior or vicarious liability, an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s wrongful acts, if the employee was working within the course and scope of his or her employment. Secondly, an employer, such as a security company that employs a bad security guard, may be held responsible for the negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and training of a security guard who acts negligently or wrongfully. Thus, an attorney handling the case against the security company should investigate whether the employer checked the guard’s criminal history or work history before hiring him.

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Yes, victims of crimes such as assaults, shootings, robberies, and rapes in Georgia may be able to sue property owners and operators where those crimes occur under the Georgia law of premises liability.  Victims may also sue the assailants, but, when looking at a civil suit, suing a corporate owner or operator of a premises gives the victim a better chance for monetary recovery, as most individuals, particularly criminals, probably do not have assets with which to pay their victims.

Under Georgia law, owners and operators of businesses owe a duty of care to the keep their premises safe for visitors and customers.  Where a business owner knows that there is a significant amount of violent crime on its property that could cause customers to be assaulted or even killed, a business owner is required to provide security or take measures to prevent such crimes.  Where such a business owner fails to provide adequate security, and a violent crime, such as a shooting or a rape occurs on its property, the property owner may be civilly liable and be required to pay the victim for the crime, even if the criminal is totally unrelated to the property owner.

Places such as business parking lots, parking decks, bars, hotels, and gas stations can be high crime areas where adequate security is a must.  Business owners who know about high crime on their property can make efforts such as providing well-trained security guards, controlled access, adequate lighting, fencing, warning signs, and security cameras.

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On May 3, 2017, a jury in New Orleans found in favor of the manufacturers of the blood thinner Xarelto in a lawsuit that Joseph Boudreaux filed against Bayer AG, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson after Mr. Boudreaux’s was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding that required multiple blood transfusions.  The Boudreaux case was based on a failure to warn theory, where the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturers of the drug did not adequately warn him about the dangers and risks of Xarelto.  The defense of the case was based on the learned intermediary doctrine, which allows a drug manufacturer to warn a medical professional about the dangers of a drug rather than to the patient directly.

On June 12, 2017, the drug manufacturers won a second bellwether case based on the death of Sharyn Orr, who died after suffering from hemorrhaging in her brain after taking Xarelto.  Ms. Orr required surgery, but her doctor did not operate because Xarelto was still in her system; by the time she could have the surgery, it was too late, and Ms. Orr passed away.  The plaintiff’s lawyers alleged that the drug manufacturers not only failed to adequately warn Ms. Orr and her doctors, they also failed to create a monitoring plan and properly instruct doctors to conduct a blood test that would allow them to predict which patients are most susceptible to internal bleeding from taking Xarelto.

The Boudreaux and Orr cases are just two out of 40 or so “bellwether” trials (test trials that are conducted to help determine value where there are a heavy volume of similarly based cases, typically in multi district litigation) that are scheduled in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation.  Thus, there is still hope that plaintiffs will win some of the future Xarelto cases.  There are currently 18,000 or so Xarelto claims pending, and the results of the bellwether trials will help shape the future of the claims process.

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What Is Xarelto?

Xarelto is a prescription blood thinner that is prescribed to reduce blood clotting.  Unfortunately, Xarelto is also a potentially dangerous drug that has caused significant injuries to patients taking it.

How Does Xarelto Cause Injuries?

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What Is An IVC Filter?

IVC filters, which are manufactured by big medical device manufacturers such as Cook and Bard, have been known to cause significant injuries to patients because of safety issues with the IVC devices.  An IVC filter is a medical device in the shape of a cone with spider-like wire, that is implanted into the “inferior vena cava” (IVC). The IVC is the vein that transports deoxygenated blood from the lower/middle part of the body to the right atrium of the heart.  The IVC filter is implanted in order to prevent pulmonary embolisms from occurring; a pulmonary embolism is where the artery to your lungs is blocked (typically by a blood clot) and can cause shortness of breath, fainting, and even death.  The IVC filter is designed to catch blood clots trying to move to the heart and lungs.

How Do IVC Filters Cause Injuries?

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When it comes to personal injury claims in Georgia, determining the value of your case is complicated.  There is no set formula for valuing a case, but there are many factors that come into play.  Although the following list is not exhaustive, some of the factors that can determine how much your personal injury claim is worth are outlined below.

1.  Type of Injury/Damages

Personal injury claims in Georgia can vary from car accidents to medical malpractice to slip and falls.  The common theme, of course, is that you are injured because someone else acted negligently or carelessly.  The value of a case often hinges on just how badly you are hurt and how much your medical bills or lost wages are.  Injuries can range from a little whip lash to catastrophic injuries or even death.

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Do I Need an Attorney to Handle My Personal Injury Case?

If you are injured as a result of another person or company’s negligence, Georgia law allows you to recover compensation for your injuries.  Personal injury cases can vary drastically from a simple car accident to a complex products liability case against a medical device manufacturer.  Although generally, it is always much wiser to have any attorney represent you when you have any legal issue, the question of whether you need an attorney to handle your case depends on several factors, including:

•    The extent or seriousness of your injuries;