Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

Mother Killed After Fall in Doctor’s Office Parking Lot

Posted on: January 16th, 2018 by Dontaye Carter

Michael Behrmann and his mother, Cindi.

On May 11, 2017, negligence stole the vibrant life of 58-year-old Cindi Behrmann. The grandmother of two young boys fell from a wheelchair lift shortly after arriving to her doctor’s office in Conyers for her appointment. Mrs. Behrmann battled Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years. At the time of her incident, she had lost the use of her hands, arms, and legs. Her head struck the concrete below without anyway of bracing for the sudden drop. After the fall, Mrs. Behrmann broke both of her femurs, broke her nose, and suffered multiple injuries to her head.  She immediately complained of being in pain and she was life-flighted from Rockdale Medical Center to Atlanta Medical Center where Mrs. Behrmann lost consciousness.

Her eldest son, Michael Behrmann, received the tragic phone call about his mother later that evening at his Florida home.   “Mom was in a horrible accident,” said Behrmann’s younger brother. However, the family was still under the impression that Mrs. Behrmann would survive. She was scheduled to have surgery to repair her broken femurs the following morning but Mrs. Behrmann never made it through the night. “At three in the morning, my father called to tell me that my mother passed,” said Behrmann. “If I had the opportunity to have my mom back, I would want my mom back.” Three days after Mrs. Behrmann’s death, a friend of the family suggested that the Behrmanns seek the services of the Haug Law Group.

After Haug Law Group began fighting for the Behrmann family, the case gained the attention of the local news media due to numerous complaints of patient neglect by a non-emergency transportation service. The company was entrusted with ensuring that elderly patients arrived at their medical appointments safely.  Mrs. Behrmann was in their care when she fell. Despite the increased exposure of the case, Haug Law Group’s focus remained on ensuring the Behrmann family was made whole.  “They truly understood and cared. I don’t know how many people were before us or behind us,” said Behrmann. “They took the phone calls, returned phone calls, and returned emails, and walked me through the entire process.”

In three months, Haug Law Group was able to resolve the case in the Behrmann family’s favor. “I couldn’t thank them enough for the amount of time they put into this. I honestly feel that they did as much as they could within the boundaries of the law,” said Michael Behrmann. “I just appreciate what they were willing to do. I just kept saying, “I don’t want another family to experience our loss.”

Can You Really Prepare for a Hurricane?

Posted on: September 5th, 2017 by James Haug

Water coming over the streets in Kemah during Hurricane HarveyAs Hurricane Irma inches closer to the United States, officials are warning people that they need to be prepared. People across the country have watched residents of Houston and the surrounding area deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The way that the city has responded should serve as an inspiration to some, but it should also serve as a warning.

In the days preceding Harvey, residents of Houston and its surrounding areas were not ordered to evacuate. While some chose to do so, many others chose to shelter in place, only be forced to evacuate once streets and homes began to flood. With waters reaching over 10 feet, some discovered flood waters touching their ceilings and rising higher.

The question has been posed: Can you really prepare for a hurricane? Devastating loss can occur, and likely will, no matter how prepared a person or family is. The one thing that is known is that although some possessions cannot be saved by preparedness, lives can be. As Irma threatens the East Coast and Gulf Coast, knowing how to prepare could save your life.

1. Know Where You Will Go

One of the most important things you can do is make plans for where you will go. Because the storm is not expected to strike land until the end of the week, there is plenty of time to leave and get to a friend or family member’s home. If you choose to evacuate to a shelter instead, listen for information provided by local authorities on where evacuees should go. Plan on several different routes and several different shelters. This will ensure you have a plan B should your first choice of destination be closed or blocked.

2. Share Your Plan

It is unfortunate to say, but people do die or disappear in hurricanes. Once you have your plan, share it with loved ones. Tell your family and friends where you plan on going and how you plan on getting there. Leave a note when you leave your home. Write down where you have gone and the route you have taken. Place the note in a freezer bag and tack it on a wall as high as you can.

3. Charge Up

Charge several portable battery packs so that you can keep your cell phones charged in the even power goes out. You want to be able to stay in touch with loved ones and you can’t do it with a dead cell phone.

4. Plan for Pets

Make a plan for your pets. You may want to ask someone to take care of them for you, especially if that person lives in an area that is not presumed to be affected. You can always go pick up your pet in the event your area remains untouched by the storm. If you don’t have somewhere to send your pets, make sure the shelters you are considering are accepting animals or make arrangements at a local shelter or boarding facility.

Atlanta likely won’t receive the full brunt of Irma, but the storm is expected to be one of the most devastating in decades. As such, residents should prepare for the worst, no matter what.

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident in Atlanta at the fault of someone else, you have legal rights to compensation. Call our office today for assistance.

Heat Sickness at Summer and Sports Camps

Posted on: August 7th, 2017 by James Haug

Young boy taking his football helmet off after a gameIf you have a child that plays sports or is attending summer camp, it’s important that you understand heat-related illnesses. It is equally important for coaches, counselors and other workers to be aware of these illnesses that can affect people of any age.

It’s not unusual for practices, activities and games to take place under the high heat of the sun. In most cases, these activities are completed without incident. In the worst cases, such as one in Louisiana, a young person can die from what is known as exertional heatstroke, or EHS.

The fact is that EHS is the third leading cause of sudden death among athletes in high school. It is a severe illness that can lead to organ and brain damage, and even death in extreme cases. People can be healthy and experience EHS. It typically affects people who are very young or elderly or those who have pre-existing medical conditions. People who are loaded down with gear and uniforms are particularly susceptible.

Medical professionals have recommended that athletes do not participate in two-a-day practices. Colleges have listened to the recommendations and banned two-a-days as has the National Football League. High schools have been slower to follow. Georgia is one such state in which back-to-back two-a-days are banned, but two-a-days are still permitted.

Signs and Symptoms of EHS

There are two particular forms of heat illness that are most concerning: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is recognized by heavy sweating, pale skin and a weak pulse. Those with heat exhaustion may experience muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, a feeling of being weak or tired, dizziness and headache. A person exhibiting these signs should be moved to a cool place, have their clothes loosened and sip water. Medical intervention is immediately necessary if symptoms last longer than one hour, vomiting occurs or symptoms get worse.

Heat stroke is characterized by a high body temperature, fast, strong pulse, nausea, a feeling of confusion and headache. People experiencing heat stroke may pass out. Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency that warrants immediate medical attention. While waiting for emergency medical responders, the person should be moved to the shade and covered with cool cloths. The person should not be given anything to drink.

Heat related illnesses can be very serious and are almost always avoidable. If you have a child that will be playing sports this summer or attending a camp, do not hesitate to find out how much heat exposure your child will be subjected to and what policies are in place to protect young people from heat illness.

If your child suffers a heat-related illness in Atlanta and someone is found to have been negligent, you may be legally able to seek compensation in civil court. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your child’s illness and advise you of your legal options.

Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall

Posted on: July 5th, 2017 by everspark

first person perspective of a shoe stepping on a banana peelComing off of your feet is a scary experience. One moment you are walking along, the next you are trying to catch yourself as you fall. What you do immediately following any slip and fall accident can make a difference in whether a claim is paid out or a lawsuit is successful. Here is what you need to do after a slip and fall.

1. Seek Medical Attention

The first thing you need to do is seek medical attention, especially if the incident occurred on someone else’s property. While you may not feel as though you have been hurt, there are some injuries that will not show up for days.

Obtaining professional attention serves a couple purposes. You will be properly diagnosed and treated for any injuries that you have sustained, and you will have a running record that you can use for an insurance claim or lawsuit should you find it necessary to file one.

2. Look at the Area

If you are not severely injured and have time to do so, survey the area of your fall. Note the potential cause for your slip. Are there cracks in the sidewalk? Is the pavement uneven? Maybe you slipped due to loose carpeting or spilled food. Write down what you see and your version of the incident while it is still fresh in your mind.

3. Look for Witnesses

It is a normal reaction to be a bit embarrassed when you slip and fall in front of people, but they may be potential witnesses in a lawsuit. If there was anyone who saw the accident, ask for their name and contact information. If no one saw you fall but saw your recovery, still get their information. They may be able to testify to your pain and suffering.

4. Take Photos

Your written account of the incident and description of the area may not be enough. If you have your cell phone available, take photos of the surrounding area as soon as possible. You want to be sure that you get photos of the area’s state of repair at the time of your fall, not after the property owner has had time to make corrections.

5. Follow the Right Steps

If you have had an accident on someone’s property, you should notify them immediately. Do not make any effort to resolve the issue, but do notify the manager or owner. If someone on site makes any type of comment about similar accidents happening before or makes you aware that they knew about the hazard that caused your fall, make a note of the person’s name and what was said. 

If you have had a slip and fall accident in Atlanta, reach out to our team of attorneys. We can assist you in dealing with insurance agencies and, if it becomes necessary, filing a personal injury claim in the local court. Call today and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discover more about your rights under the law.

Liability for Accidents to Trespassers

Posted on: June 2nd, 2016 by James Haug

In general, a person owes a duty of reasonable care to all foreseeable plaintiffs and a Defendant’s failure to act reasonably may result in tort liability if his unreasonable conduct causes a Plaintiff injury. However, if a plaintiff is injured while on the land of another, a different standard of care may apply. Interestingly enough, landowners might be liable for injuries to trespassers on their land, even though the trespasser did not have permission to be on the land. The key is to determine what standard of care a landowner owes to the trespasser.

If the trespasser is unknown to the landowner, the landowner does not owe a duty to him. However, if the trespasser is known to the landowner, in other words, the landowner becomes aware that the trespasser is present, the landowner must exercise reasonable care to prevent the trespasser from being injured by activities conducted on the land. The landowner also must warn the known trespasser of hidden dangers of which the landowner is aware and the trespasser is unaware, but has no no duty to prevent injury that could be caused by a natural condition on the land.

If the landowner knows or should reasonably know that others often trespass on his land, the duty he owes is similar to that owed to known trespassers. Finally, if children are trespassing, the landowner will owe a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent children from being injured by artificial conditions on the land. This heightened standard only applies if 1) The artificial condition creates a foreseeable risk of unreasonable danger, 2) it is foreseeable that children are likely to trespass, 3) the child is not aware of the danger, and 4)  the risk of danger outweighs the utility of the artificial condition.

Difference between a Workers Compensation Claim and a Personal Injury Claim

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by James Haug

In Georgia, the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. The Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employers subject to the act either carry insurance to insure the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers or qualify as a self insurer.

Therefore, if an employee is injured at work, he can choose to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Claim. The main difference between the two is that a personal injury claim requires fault, while a Workers’ Compensation claim does not. The employee must prove negligence. In other words, to have a successful Personal Injury Claim in Georgia, an employee must prove that the employer or fellow employee did something wrong that caused the employee’s injury. However, in a Workers’ Compensation Claim, no proof of fault is required.

This is an important distinction because not every injury is the result of negligence. Accidents do happen. Therefore, when they happen at work, the employer will pay for damages even if the accident was the employee’s own fault.

Another important difference is damages. In a Worker’s Compensation case, an employee will only get damages for lost wages, medical bills, impairment benefits, and rehabilitation costs. In a Personal Injury case, the employee can recover for his pain and suffering as well as any damages proximately caused by the accident. He can recover for lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and future medical bills, among other things.

Again, in Georgia, the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. However, if an employee has a valid Workers’ Compensation claim and the employer carries no insurance, the employee can sue the employer in tort and the employer cannot rely on the exclusive remedy in defending the suit.

Intentional Trespass

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016 by James Haug

What happens if someone is mistaken with regard to her property line and accidentally builds on her neighbors property? Would she have to pay damages or tear down whatever she had built? Assume for a moment that two neighbors built houses and garages on their adjacent lots. Assume as well that Neighbor A’s garage encroached onto neighbor B’s property by a few feet and A was unaware of the encroachment. The question becomes whether B can sue A for Trespass.

The tort of Trespass to Land requires intentional entry onto the land of another. The intent is shown here because A intentionally built a garage on the land. It didn’t just magically appear. Mistake is not a defense to trespass, so it does not matter that A did not know that he was building on land that didn’t belong to him.

In common sense terms, assume a farmer owns a large farm and a developer comes along and buys the property behind the farmer to build town homes. Now assume that the developer misreads the lot description and accidentally puts one of those town homes on the farmer’s property. Would it be fair for the builder to be able to simply say “Well. I made a mistake, so I shouldn’t have to pay for any damages or tear down the home.” This obviously would not be acceptable. The
fact of the matter is that the builder built a town home on the farmer’s property and the farmer should be compensated for any damage caused. The farmer may not end up making the builder tear down the town home, but now since the farmer’s farm is smaller, she will not be able to sell it for as much money, so she could sue the builder for the value of the land he encroached upon.

Swanson v. Tackling: A Georgia Dog Bite Case

Posted on: February 12th, 2016 by James Haug

Swanson v. Tackling: A Georgia Dog Bite Case

In a recent Georgia case, a seven year old boy was bit on the head by one of Defendant’s Great Dane dogs while he was visiting their home. He suffered serious and disfiguring injuries as a result. His mom filed a personal injury suit against the dog’s owners.

When the boy and his parents arrived at the home, they were introduced to the dogs who were behind a gate in another room. One of the dogs put her head over the gate barked in the young boy’s face. This made the mother nervous and she requested that the dog be kept away from her son, although she did not share this information with the owners. The next day, the young boy asked if he could give one of the dogs a stuffed toy. In an attempt to get the toy, the dog bit the boy’s arm. The boy began to scream and cry and when he bent his head down, the dog bit him. the dog’s owner testified that “prior to this incident, the dog had never bit, chased, jumped on, or even growled at anyone.”

The trial court ruled in favor of the dog owners on the grounds that there was no issue of material fact for a jury to consider because the dog had never displayed any vicious behavior or evinced a propensity to bite anyone prior to biting the boy. The appellate court agreed and ruled in favor of the dog owners.

In a dog bite case, Georgia law allows a plaintiff to recover based on a dangerous animal liability theory or a premises liability theory. However, in order to succeed, the plaintiff must show evidence that the dog had a vicious propensity in order to prove that the owner had superior knowledge of the danger. In order to infer this knowledge, there “must be at least one incident that would cause a prudent person to anticipate the actual incident that caused the injury.” Although the dog owner doesn’t have to be aware of the dog’s propensity to act in exactly the same way that causes the injury at issue, that previous incident must be the same type as the incident at issue. Finally, it is well settled under Georgia law that “a dog’s menacing behavior alone does not demonstrate its vicious propensity or place its owner on notice of such propensity.”

As mentioned, Georgia courts allow recovery under a dangerous animal liability theory or a premises liability theory. Also, if a person voluntarily undertakes to restrain a dog and fails to do so and an injury results, the owner can be held liable. In this case, there was no evidence that the mom asked the Defendants to restrain the dog or that they promised to do so. Therefore, while the Court was sympathetic with regard to the boy’s injuries, it had to rule in favor of the dog owners.

2016 WL 718465

Injuries Caused by a Mentally Impared Person

Posted on: February 2nd, 2016 by James Haug

If a victim is injured by someone who is mentally impaired in Georgia, can that victim recover damages for her personal injuries?

The general rule in Georgia is that a psychotic person cannot be held criminally responsible for his crimes because he is not acting as a free agent and is incapable of a guilty intent. However, in a civil case, if the mentally impaired person cases personal injury to another, proof of intent is generally not necessary. Therefore,  the mentally impaired person is liable for torts the same as anyone else,  except for torts that require proof of intent.

This rule allows a victim to sue the mentally impaired person for personal injuries caused by negligence. This rule is supported by the principal that where a loss must be borne by one of two innocent persons, it should be borne by the one who occasioned it.

Of course, there is the occasional odd circumstance where the “insanity is not a defense in tort cases except for intentional torts” rule seems to be a little too broad. For example, if a driver is suddenly overcome, without forewarning, by a mental disability or disorder which incapacitates him from conforming his conduct to the standards of a reasonable man under like circumstances, the insanity defense may apply.  In one case, Breunig v American Family Ins. Co. (1970) 45 Wis 2d 536, 173 NW2d 619, 49 ALR3d 179, a victim that suffered personal injuries suffered in an automobile accident. The Defendant suffered a mental delusion while she was driving, as she saw a white light on the back of a car ahead and was under the impression that God was holding the steering wheel and directing her car when the accident occurred. The court held that it was a jury question with regard to whether the driver had knowledge of her schizophrenic, paranoid condition and of likelihood of hallucination while driving.