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Woman on Life Support After Pedestrian Accident

Cars on the road in the darkA woman in Gwinnett County was walking on Lawrenceville Suwanee Road early on Christmas morning when she was struck by a car. Since then, she has been on life support at Gwinnett Medical Center. Now, her family wants legal action taken against the driver.

The parents of the victim, Taylor Hamm, plus their attorney and Sally Flocks, the head Pedestrian Advocacy Group PEDS said the woman who struck Hamm should be charged. Specifically, she left the scene and waited to call for help. Police explained that the driver, who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the accident, did not feel comfortable stopping in the middle of the road when it was so dark. Instead, she drove two miles to her workplace, Gwinnett Medical Center, to report she had hit something in the road.

Gwinnett County Police Corporal Deon Washington explained: “We sympathize with the Hamm family who’s dealing with this horrific situation. At this time, there is no evidence that charges should be filed. There were no crosswalks, streetlights and it was pitch black. She didn’t stop because she didn’t actually know at the time struck a human being.”

Nonetheless, advocates say not charging the woman sends the message that it is acceptable to hit someone and leave them in the road. Hamm’s father said that elapsed time between his daughter being hit and receiving help could’ve made the difference between having some memory loss and being on life support.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter has said he and his team are examining the evidence presented to determine whether or not charges are appropriate in this case.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Atlanta or the surrounding area, you have legal rights. Contact the attorneys at Haug Law Group today for a free consultation.

July 7, 2016 Trial Victory Resulting in 162.5% Increased Verdict from Settlement Offer


Our team at the Haug Law Group regularly receives large verdicts and settlements for our clients, but we are not afraid to try cases of moderate to minor damages. An example of this can be seen through our victory in a Magistrate Court trial on July 7, 2016. A single-mother was involved in an automobile accident where she was struck from behind on Interstate-285 by an F-150 truck that veered into her lane. As a result of the collision, our client underwent 3 months of treatment, and incurred approximately $7,000 in medical expenses. Prior to trial, the opposing counsel was unwilling to consider any pain and suffering damages, and her highest offer was $4,000.00. Maintaining this stance at trial, the opposing counsel attempted to downplay our client’s treatment as unreasonable. Our team objected to this reasoning, asserting that our adversary could have sought the opinion of an expert to determine the reasonableness of the treatment obtained. We asserted, and the Judge agreed, that the opposing counsel was not a medical provider, and consequently was not in a position to determine the reasonableness of our client’s treatment. Also, we argued to the Court our client’s decreased quality of life since the accident. She unfortunately had to deal with loss of sleep and a reduction of activities in her daily life, and deserved $5,000.00 in pain and suffering. The Court ultimately awarded our client $7,000.00 in medical expenses she incurred, plus $4,500.00 for pain and suffering. At the conclusion of the trial, the Judge stated that she wished our case had appeared first that day, so that the other attorneys could see an example of how “it was supposed to be done.” As opposed to settling for the $4,000 originally offered, our team was able to increase our client’s compensation for their injuries by 162.5%. *It is important to understand that no two cases are alike, and no recovery or amount of recovery can be guaranteed. We would be more than happy to discuss your case with you and evaluate it for you. Please call us at 1-844-428-4529. Also, you can visit our website at

Prenatal Harms

Almost everyone is familiar with the idea that if a person dies as a result of the negligence of another, damages could be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, perhaps not as common is the idea that one could also recover for prenatal harms. There are three different kinds of prenatal harms recognized at common law. They are wrongful life, wrongful birth and wrongful conception.

The state of Georgia is one of a few states that does not recognize wrongful birth claims. However, a Georgia sperm bank, Xytex Corp. and a local fertility clinic are now at the center of at least two lawsuits. The plaintiffs thought their sperm donor was a neuroscientist, when in fact he turned out to be a convicted felon with mental health issues. Previous litigation was dismissed because Georgia does not allow wrongful birth claims. At issue is how the sperm doner was described on Xytex’s website.

A wrongful birth claim results when a child is born that would not have been in the absence of medical malpractice. In general, these cases fall into three categories: 1) births caused by failed sterilization procedures, 2) the failure to inform parents of a birth defect or abnormality of their unborn child, and 3) failed abortion attempts.

In a wrongful life claim, the child is the plaintiff and the damages are the cost of the child’s support. In a wrongful birth claim, the plaintiff is the parent and the damages are the cost of the child’s support. Both allow recovery for the birth of unhealthy children. These sound like the same thing, especially since the damages are the cost of the child’s support under both theories of recovery, but it does matter which claim is chosen. If the child recovers, it’s her money and would last a lifetime. If the parent recovers, the parent can only recover for support up until age 18. Recovery is limited, however, to the extraordinary expenses of raising the child, not the normal and foreseeable costs of raising a healthy child. Wrongful Conception, where it is allowed, differs from wrongful birth and wrongful life in that it allows for the recovery of unwanted healthy children.

Dog owners can recover the value of medical costs in a Negligence Action in Georgia.

Dog owners can recover the value of medical costs in a Negligence Action in Georgia.

In Georgia, when a person is injured in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, she can often recover money damages for her personal injuries, including her medical costs. If that same person passes away due to the negligence of someone else, her estate may have a claim for wrongful death. However, what happens when a pet animal is injured or killed due to the negligence of another?

The general rule is that an animal, even if it is a loving member of your family, is considered personal property, and if that animal is killed, the owner would only be able to recover the fair market value of the animal. A court will take the animal’s training, temperament, and use into consideration, when determining fair market value, but will not consider the value of the animal to the owner. Rather, it will only consider the value of the animal in a fair market.

In a recent Georgia case, the Supreme Court of Georgia still refused to allow dog owners to recover for their sentimental value for their dog, a mixed breed dachshund named Lola. The owners brought suit against a boarding facility after Lola died from kidney failure allegedly caused by the boarding facility’s negligence. The court reasoned that “the unique human-animal bond, while cherished, is beyond legal measure.”

The owners also sought to recover the value of the medical services provided to Lola. They spent nearly $67000 on Lola’s medical care at a specialized animal hospital in Florida for a period of nine moths before Lola passed away. The boarding facility argued that recovery should be limited to the fair market value of the dog, but the court held that, in addition to the fair market value, Lola’s owners could also recover for the reasonable value of medical expenses they incurred while trying to save Lola. The court held that the jury could consider the reasonableness of the medical treatment and costs in determining how much the owners could actually recover.

Avoiding Liability for Accidents in Your Home

If someone is injured in another’s home, the homeowner could be liable for any damages caused. Common problems include falling on slippery or insecure surfaces, being injured in pools or trampolines, lawnmower accidents, and accidents involving pets or unsafe conditions on the property. You can protect yourself from liability by knowing the situations that could lead to trouble:

1) Failing to maintain your property .

2) Creating a condition on your property that could lead to injury.

3) Having a known hazard on your property and failing to protect others against it with warnings or barriers.

4) Failing to safely maintain or creating a hazard that could attract children.

5) Engaging in actions that could damage to your neighbor’s property.

Avoiding these situations and protecting yourself from liability starts with keeping your home safe. The American Bar Association has provided a handy checklist of suggestions you can use to ensure a safe home:

Repair steps and railings.
Cover holes.
Fix uneven walkways.
Install adequate lighting.
Clear walkways of ice and snow as soon as possible.
Be sure children do not leave toys on steps and sidewalks.
Replace throw rugs that slip or bunch up.
Reroute extension cords that stretch across traffic lanes.
Repair frayed electrical cords.
Keep poisons and other hazards out of the reach of children, even if you don’t have children.
Warn guests about icy conditions and other hazards.
Restrain your pet.
Erect barriers to your swimming pool; an automatic pool cover or a tall fence with a good lock that you lock, and an alarm on any door leading to the pool.
Remove all guns or keep them securely locked and out of sight, where children cannot see them or gain access to them.
Remove nails from stored lumber; secure any lumber piles.
Don’t leave ladders standing against the side of the house or garage.
Don’t let children stand nearby when you mow the lawn.
Don’t let your guests drink and drive or drive under the influence of drugs.

By acting reasonably, paying attention, and correcting problems, you can protect yourself from liability and make sure your home is safe for both your family and others!

Federal Tort Claims Act and Georgia Soverign Immunity

Prior to 1946, the government could not be sued based on the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. However, today, if a person is injured because of the acts of a government employee acting within the scope of employment, the injured person can sue the government for personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. Therefore, if a visitor slips and falls on negligently maintained stairs at a federal building, that visitor would have a claim for negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

State governments have their own immunity laws. In Georgia, sovereign immunity is waived in certain situations. If a driver is injured in an accident due to a malfunctioning street light or perhaps an obstructed stop sign, she may be able to recover damages from the government entity responsible for the stop light or sign. Her first step would be to file a notice of claim to let the government know that she has been injured. For cities, this must be filed within six months after the accident and within a year after the accident for counties and state entities.

Filing this notice is very important and can cause a victim to lose her case if she doesn’t follow the rules. For example, in a case wherein a Waynesboro police officer drove his patrol car into the back of the victim’s automobile, the victim she lost her negligence case. The court dismissed the case, finding that the victim did not file appropriate notice within six months of the accident. The court further noted that a state statute prevented the victim for suing the victim from suing the officer personally.

Because of the formalities requires and protective rules, it can therefore be difficult to sue the government, but it is not impossible. Hiring a good lawyer that understands the rules and limitations is a good way to start!

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

If a person is injured by a drunk driver, who is liable? Obviously, the person driving drunk could be sued if he negligently caused an accident that resulted in Plaintiff’s injuries. However, the person or establishment that gave the driver the alcohol in the first place could also be held responsible. If the drunk driver was noticeably intoxicated and the bar continued to sell him alcohol, the injured person may have a claim. The rule is that one who sells intoxicating beverages for on-premises consumption is under a duty of care to third persons not to sell to noticeably intoxicated persons.

Further, if the car that the driver was operating is owned by another, the owner could be held liable for negligent entrustment. This is true even if the the driver is not drunk at the time he in entrusted with the car. The owner can still be liable if the owner knows that the driver had a history of drunk driving. Similarly, one who provides a car to a minor who is unfit to drive may also be liable if the minor causes an accident.

Most cases of negligent entrustment involve giving a dangerous thing to a person whom the entruster knows or should know would be apt to use it in a dangerous way – things like guns, or knives, or cars, or cigarette lighters. In negligent entrustment cases the owner provides a car to an already intoxicated person, with the resulting dangerous combination of driving and alcohol. In the alcohol dispenser cases, the order is reversed:  the owner of the alcohol sells it to someone who already has a car, but the resulting dangerous combination is the same.

In order to prove a claim for negligent entrustment, the Plaintiff must prove 1) the driver was negligent in operating the vehicle, 2) the defendant was the owner of the vehicle, 3) the defendant knew or should have known the driver was incompetent or unfit to drive the vehicle, 4) the defendant permitted the driver to use the vehicle and 5) the driver’s incompetence was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.

Liability for Accidents to Trespassers

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

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.

Governmental Immunity

Suing the Federal Government, the State of Georgia, or a Georgia county or city can be a confusing, lengthy, time-consuming process.  It is therefore important to hire an attorney who knows the rules and process.

In cases where the federal government causes personal injury to an individual, the government is generally immune from lawsuits because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, the injured individual may be able to bring a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or “FTCA.” In other words, an private individual can not sue the federal government unless the FTCA allows it.  The FTCA allows certain kinds of lawsuits against federal employees who are acting within the scope of their employment. For example, if an individual has a potential personal injury claim against the United Post Office after slipping and falling, that individual will have to file suit under the FTCA.

Similarly, the State of Georgia and its counties are subject to being sued under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, or “GTCA.”  It applies when officers and employees of the state and state agencies act negligently, but does not apply to officers and agents of counties, municipalities, hospital authorities, and school boards. It can be complicated as it requires a notice of claim to be made to the government, provides for a limit on liability. As an example, an injured individual may sue under the GTCA if she suffers a personal injury as a result of an automobile accident caused by a state government official while driving as part of his job.

When suing a Georgia City, there are still other rules to consider. An important point to consider when suing a city in Georgia is that the injured individual has to prove more than ordinary negligence. For example, in one case, an individual was injured in a car accident because the city failed to trim a dogwood tree that was blocking a stop sign. The court dismissed the suit, holding that it could not impose standard of ordinary care rather than proper standard requiring showing that maintenance of the defect exceeded mere negligence.