Filmmakers are always on the lookout for dramatic, high-stakes subject matter, and nothing quite fits the bill like a trial. Here are five intense courtroom movies that have influenced the genre and even inspired some prominent lawyers and judges who are still relevant and practicing today.
There’s one thing absolutely every homeowner, landlord and commercial property owner wants to avoid – and it’s not just a mold infestation, flood or fire – it’s a premises liability lawsuit. There are many scary things that can happen to you in life, but the thought of being served a complaint by a plaintiff who alleges that your negligently maintained property caused their injury or – even worse – the death of a loved one, is enough to give anyone nightmares.
There are some steps you, as a property owner, can take to help insulate yourself from the dangers of personal injury and premises liability lawsuits.
Carry Adequate Insurance
Having the right kind of property insurance coverage and an umbrella policy isn’t really a step you take to prevent an injury accident from occurring, but it can help ensure you are not financially ruined if you get sued in a premises liability personal injury case.
An umbrella insurance policy supplements your normal liability insurance and provides a much higher coverage limit. Many umbrella policies also cover types of claims that may not be covered under your normal liability coverage.
A traditional homeowners policy, for example, may cover your home’s rebuild cost if it were to burn down in a fire, but only provide minimal coverage if someone trips and suffers a spinal injury or head trauma on your property. An umbrella policy can provide a large amount of additional liability protection for a relatively low cost. These policies are usually an addon, or rider, for your property insurance policy, meaning you can’t purchase a standalone umbrella policy.
If you’re not sure an umbrella policy is necessary, consider this – even the highest liability coverage limits for standard home or auto insurance policies cap out at around $300,000 to $500,000. Roughly 15 percent of personal injury cases result in damages in excess of $1,000,000.
If the damages exceed your coverage limit, you’ll be expected to pay the excess verdict or settlement amount out of your own pocket, which can be financially ruinous.
The Most Common Types of Premises Liability Injuries
- Slip and Falls – These types of cases are pretty self-explanatory. They occur when someone slips or trips on your property and is injured when they hit the ground. People can trip on loose steps, icy outdoor walkways, wet floors or countless other potential obstructions. Even if you’re a responsible property owner there are some slip and falls that are unavoidable.
- Sick Building Syndrome or Other Environmental Hazards – Many people have mold allergies or can develop an illness from proximity or contact with some building materials, such as asbestos. If you’re the landlord of residential building and your tenant or their child gets sick from old lead paint you didn’t know was still on your property’s exterior walls, you could be held liable.
- Dog Bites – Dogs are great, loyal friends, but they can also be dangerous, especially if provoked. Georgia does not technically have a traditional one-bite rule, but it does have a slightly modified version. A one-bite rule essentially gives dog owners protection from liability for the first time their dog bites someone. The idea is an owner doesn’t know their dog is a danger to other people until the dog proves it by biting someone. Georgia law does have this feature except for instances where a leash is legally required. If your dog bites someone for the first time and it’s not on a leash where it is legally required to be on a leash, then you can be held liable. However, if the bite occurs in your home where a leash isn’t required then you should be protected from liability for that first bite. If your dog bites a guest in your home twice, you will be liable.
- Swimming Pool Injuries – Some of the most common premises liability injuries involve swimming pools, which have risks ranging from slip and falls on wet surfaces to injuries or wrongful deaths involving children who gain access to an improperly secured pool to diving accidents where someone jumps in the shallow end and smacks their head against the side or bottom of your pool.
Defense Against Premises Liability Lawsuits
The most obvious defense against premises liability suits is to maintain a safe, healthy property. If you take necessary precautions and don’t allow your property to fall into disrepair, hopefully no one will ever be injured on it.
The other important defense is putting up warning signs and taking action to rectify issues when they arise. For example, putting up a dog warning sign on your gate, a “no diving” sign at your pool or a “wet floor” sign if there are spills or leaks in a commercial or retail property where customers may be walking.
If someone ignores warnings that injury could occur and they become injured due to their own negligence, you may be able to escape liability, at least partially.
Have You Been Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
Have you suffered a dog bite, slip and fall, illness or some other type of injury due to a property owner’s failure to maintain a safe premises or their failure to warn guests or customers of danger? You may be able to file a personal injury claim for the pain, suffering and other damages you experienced as a result of your injury.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Johnny Phillips have extensive experience representing people who have been injured due to property owner negligence. Call (833) 564-6693 for a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your case with Johnny or another trial attorney on the team.
Wrongful death and severe personal injury cases are always heart wrenching for the families involved, but can be especially emotional when loss of consortium damages are being sought by the plaintiff. Loss of consortium is based on the emotional pain and long-term future suffering of a surviving spouse.
It’s Difficult to Put a Price on Mental Anguish
You can attribute a monetary value to some types of damages relatively easily using basic formulas. If a plaintiff had a job making $60,000 a year and would have worked for another 30 years had they not been injured, an attorney could potentially make a case for $1.8 million of lost future wages.
That’s an oversimplified example, but it shows that some types of damages can be calculated.
A person is much more than a salary and earning potential to the people who love them. The emotional pain of the surviving spouse needs to be considered when calculating damages.
But how do you put a dollar amount on a child having to grow up without a mother or father, or the enduring emotional hardship of wife or husband losing the love of their life due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence?
A loss of consortium claim is essentially seeking compensation for the loss of things like:
• Love and affection
• Parental guidance
• Sexual relations
• Emotional and psychological support
These aren’t just legitimate losses in many personal injury and wrongful death cases – they often have the greatest impacts on the affected families. No amount of monetary compensation will eliminate the painful void left in the lives of the surviving spouse or children.
It should be noted that in the majority of Georgia cases, loss of consortium claims can only be brought by a spouse of the injured party or wrongful death victim.
How Can Something Unquantifiable Be Measured in Monetary Terms?
The answer is: it’s hard – and often seems impossible. Juries in Georgia personal injury courts, with guidance from the judge in the case, will have to come to their own determination of loss of consortium damages.
Part of the judge’s instructions to the jury will be to dispassionately analyze the state of the marriage prior to the injury or death and use their observations to inform their decision.
Making a Loss of Consortium Case
One of the difficulties for the plaintiff’s attorney in a loss of consortium case is proving the emotional impact of the spouse’s death or incapacitation. If members of the jury believe a marriage was already unstable when one of the spouses was injured or killed, they may be inclined to award less than they would if it were clear the death or severe impairment of a husband or wife was going to be a traumatic loss for surviving loved ones.
It’s up to the personal injury or wrongful death attorney to paint a compelling picture of a happy, supportive and intimate marriage in order to convince the jury that the loss is going to have a severe, lasting impact on the surviving spouse.
Loss of Consortium Isn’t Just About Sex
One of the oldest and most persistent assumptions about loss of consortium claims is the misguided belief that these cases are just about sex and physical intimacy. Distilling a loss of consortium case down to that one salacious aspect of a marriage is an unfair trivialization of what families are going through while they cope with the loss or injury of a loved one.
Consider some of the common, seemingly mundane aspects of a life that could be forever altered due to a wrongful death or personal injury:
• A couple is no longer able to talk or communicate, whether those communications were deep conversations about religion and philosophy or trivial, silly discussion about superhero movies or reality TV
• Neither spouse can find comfort or solace in the other during difficult times
• A husband or wife may be forced to become a full-time caregiver for the injured spouse and have to assist with everything from changing diapers and feeding to raising children alone and taking on all the duties of a household
• A family that used to love camping, hiking, boating, traveling, going to football games or any other pastime can no longer do those meaningful activities
Those are just a handful of examples of the emotional and psychological toll debilitating injuries or deaths can have on the family unit. There are countless other potential scenarios and sources for pain in loss of consortium cases.
Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Loss of Consortium Attorney in Atlanta
If you or someone you know has recently lost a spouse due to a severe, debilitating injury or death caused by the negligence of another person, company or government entity, bringing a loss of consortium case in a Georgia personal injury court may be an appropriate course of action. If you have questions about personal injury cases or would like to speak with an experience trial attorney, call the Law Office of Johnny Phillips at (833) 564-6693.
There’s virtually nothing in life as tragic as losing a loved one. That tragedy and heartache is amplified when your loved one is taken away due to a preventable accident caused by the negligence of other people.
Many families who have experienced this kind of loss feel guilt about bringing wrongful death suits against the responsible parties. They fear other people will view their actions as trying to profit from the death of someone they loved.
That is simply the wrong way to think about wrongful death cases.
Firstly, there should absolutely be consequences for causing someone else’s death due to negligence. In some cases, those consequences are criminal; but not always. Damages can be sought in addition to criminal prosecution and in situations where there is no criminal prosecution for your loved one’s death.
Secondly, losing a family member can send the surviving family into a downward spiral of monetary struggles. When you factor in the lost family member’s salary, multiply it by their remaining projected working years and adjust for raises, employee benefits and pensions, it’s not uncommon for the surviving family members to be looking at millions of dollars in lost income.
If a family loses a significant percentage of their income while the household’s children are still in grade school, then you must consider how that family is going to pay for everything from clothes, food and school supplies to transportation, housing and college. If the lost parent was the primary caregiver, then you must factor in the new cost of year-round childcare, home upkeep and the many tasks they completed throughout the course of a day.
The Wrongful Death Compensation Formula
The loss of a loved one is incredibly hard to quantify, especially in monetary terms. Compensation is generally broken into three different types of damages: economic, non-economic and punitive.
These types of damages are calculated based on the monetary cost of the death in terms of wages and actual expenses that arose from the wrongful death. They often include:
- Medical costs incurred during lifesaving treatments
- Funeral expenses
- Lost benefits, such as employer health care coverage, pensions, 401(k)s, etc.
- Expected lost earnings calculated based on salary at the time of death, potential raises in the future and the number of projected working years lost
These types of damages are significantly harder to quantify monetarily, but their impact on the family is equally important, if not more impactful. This includes many emotional and parental factors such as:
- Mental anguish
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of advice, nurturing and care
- Loss of protection and security
- Loss of love, companionship and comfort
These types of damages should be looked at in a way akin to criminal prosecution. Punitive damages are generally intended to punish the negligent party and discourage them from committing similar malfeasance in the future.
Punitive damages are usually only included in a case where the responsible party acted with a high degree of recklessness and disregard for the safety of others.
How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?
The economic damages are easier to understand because they can be easily quantified with simple math. You may not be able to know what the future had in store for your family, but you can make informed estimates.
Things like care, mental anguish and companionship can be harder to calculate. Some of these non-economic damages may only be applicable in certain cases. Care for a child would only be applicable if the wrongful death victim were a parent of a young child, for example.
There was a time when a stay-at-home parent may not have warranted any type of compensation, but modern sensibilities and the justified acknowledgement of the value of homemakers has forced courts to take these things into account.
In order to calculate a non-economic damage like care, the court may look at the costs of housekeeping, childcare, daycare, after-school care and other domestic services the lost loved one may have provided.
If the lost loved one were already retired and passed away due to medical malpractice or nursing home negligence, they may not be eligible for care-related damages.
Get Help With Your Wrongful Death Case
If you or a friend have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another person, medical professional, business or government agency, a wrongful death lawsuit may be an appropriate course of action. Your choice of attorney is going to have a significant impact on the types and amount of damages that can be collected, which is why it’s important to consult with several wrongful death lawyers and choose one who has extensive experience and will provide attentive representation.
Call the Law Offices of Johnny Phillips at (404) 948-3334 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We are available 24/7 to ensure we can provide assistance whenever you need us.
Although 2018 saw a slight decrease in traffic deaths as a whole, there has unfortunately been an uptick in pedestrian and bicycle deaths.
In 2009, pedestrians only accounted for 12 percent of traffic accident related deaths. By 2017, 16 percent of all car or truck accident fatality victims were pedestrians. Based on preliminary numbers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was expecting a four percent increase in pedestrian deaths and a 10 percent increase in bicycle deaths for 2018.
What is causing this sudden spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the United States? Evidence suggests two important influences. The first is a growing trend that’s affecting all accident stats – distracted driving. The second is a societal movement away from driving and towards walking and biking in cities that have been designed specifically for vehicular traffic.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
There have been many great improvements in vehicle and driver safety over the past half a century, resulting in a decrease from roughly 55,000 deaths a year to approximately 40,000 a year.
Groups such as Moms Against Drunk Driving (MAD) have pushed legislation and education campaigns that have drastically reduced the frequency of drunk driving and the associated deaths. Back in the mid ‘70s, nearly 60 percent of all traffic deaths were related to alcohol. In 2016, only about 28 percent of traffic fatalities were attributed to alcohol impairment.
Laws that mandate seat belts and standard airbags, along with better vehicle components and structural technology, have made traveling in cars and trucks significantly safer. The NHTSA estimates 14,955 lives were saved by seat belts in 2017.
What has not gotten safer, however, are the modern distractions that can easily plague today’s drivers. Like drinking and driving, distracted driving is a choice. Younger, inexperienced drivers are more likely to have their driving competency significantly degraded by distractions, and they are also the demographic most prone to being distracted while driving.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Although overall traffic fatalities may be going down, bicyclist and pedestrian deaths are increasing as a percentage of overall traffic deaths. This is in large part driven by big cities, where being a pedestrian or bicyclist can be a dangerous proposition.
Approximately 46 percent of New York City’s traffic deaths in 2017 were pedestrians. San Francisco only had 20 traffic deaths in 2017, but 14 of them were pedestrians and two were cyclists. In Washington, D.C., traffic deaths were down but pedestrian and bicycle deaths ticked up an alarming 20 percent in 2018.
In fact, the major decline in traffic fatalities are almost entirely occurring in rural America. Urban traffic deaths have gone up 17 percent in the past decade.
One of the contributors is likely the increasing emphasis on alternative, non-vehicular means of transportation. Many cities are implementing policies and marketing campaigns that encourage people to bike or walk rather than ride in cars.
The problem is most cities have been designed for vehicle traffic, and most roads have yet to be modified to accommodate an increased volume of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Inadequately sized bike and pedestrian lanes, high-speed vehicular traffic and blind spots are all factors that contribute to car and bicycle or pedestrian accidents, and it will likely require a change in roadway infrastructure, speed limits and traffic laws to start reducing cyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Were You or a Loved One Injured by a Distracted Driver in the Atlanta Area?
Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers injured by distracted drivers or other reckless motorists are entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Families of pedestrian, bicyclists and vehicle passengers killed by distracted drivers should also be compensated for the wrongful death of their loved one.
The insurance companies will do their best to shift the blame from the responsible driver and try to argue that you or your loved one share some or all of the accident liability. That’s why it’s likely worth your time to speak with a bicycle or pedestrian accident injury attorney. Call the Law Office of Johnny Phillips at (833) 564-6693 to discuss the details of your case and learn about your legal options.
People who suffer catastrophic injuries in slip and falls and car accidents may have their family’s entire future riding on the outcome of their personal injury case. Catastrophic injuries are those that result in severe damage to the spine, spinal cord or brain. These injuries can result in significant disabilities and impairments, which will dramatically impact every aspect of you or your loved one’s life.
Some personal injury victims may be able to recover, return to work and go on living a full and relatively healthy life. Catastrophic injury victims can, in many cases, never return to their career, care for their family or pursue their hobbies and passions the way they had been able to before their injury.
The level of care required for some injury victims who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury may be astronomical in scope and cost. Many people end up requiring full-time care and assistance with virtually all daily activities. In addition to sometimes round-the-clock care, some head and brain injury victims also require expensive equipment and home modifications to improve accessibility and allow them to continue enjoying a degree of independence.
For people who are no longer able to walk, stair lifts, ramps, specially designed bathrooms and widened doorways are often necessary to make their homes more accessible. They also will likely require specialized vehicles with chair lifts or modified controls.
There are also the long hospitals stays, costly rehabilitation and many other health care costs that go along with suffering a catastrophic injury.
Types of Compensation Catastrophic Injury Victims Can Receive
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury due to another person’s negligence, you will likely be awarded some form of compensation for your injury. The personal injury representation you receive may significantly influence the ultimate settlement or verdict you receive. At a minimum, you should aim to receive compensation for any medical costs you incur or lost wages you suffer due to your head, brain or spinal cord injury.
In addition to damages that can be quantified or estimated, like medical costs and lost wages, there are also general and punitive damages. General damages are for things like pain and suffering and mental anguish, which are often significant factors in catastrophic injury cases.
Punitive damages are awarded when the actions of the negligent party are considered particularly egregious. These types of damages are intended to act as a punishment to deter the culpable party from committing the same actions again. Punitive damages are most common in cases like drunk driving accidents or other injury causing accidents where the negligent party knowingly partook in dangerous behavior.
What to Look for in a Lawyer for Your Catastrophic Injury Case
One of the most important things you can do when looking for a lawyer is accurately determining their experience, typical client satisfaction rating and their case results. Attorneys who are confident in their skills often have case results pages on their website, as well as testimonials.
Not every law firm will have a great rating on review aggregators like Google or Facebook, and when you look at those firms a lot of the client complaints have to do with things like inattentiveness and poor communication. We encourage our potential clients to look through some of our reviews and see just how many past clients appreciate how friendly and attentive our office staff is. It’s important for us to ensure our clients feel heard.
Your ultimate decision should be based on more than just these reviews, but they may be able to give you valuable insight into how a personal injury law firm interacts with their clients.
You may also want to consult with several different personal injury attorneys before choosing one. When you’re on the free consultation call – and it should be free – do your best to judge the attorney’s character, the empathy they show and how closely they listen to you and hear your concerns.
This is a person you may end up working with for a while, and you’ll have a lot riding on their performance as an attorney. If someone seems dismissive, rushed or inattentive, they may not be the right attorney for your case.
Although big law firms often have prestige and reputation, they far too often end up treating some clients like a number in a spreadsheet. Smaller law firms often offer more personalized client service, and in many cases will possess a higher level of personal injury case experience than you’d get with a larger firm.
Representing Clients with Catastrophic Injuries in Newnan
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury, head injury or spinal cord injury in the Newnan area, the attorneys at the Law Office of Johnny Phillips are here to help you. We understand the anxiety and stress you’re feeling right now, because we’ve helped many clients facing the same struggles. Give us a call at (404) 948-3334 to request a free, no-obligation consultation. Our office would be happy to help you understand your options.
Nothing can throw your family’s life into a tailspin quite like being involved in a severe accident, especially if a serious or traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or head injury is involved. You may know, based on seeing and hearing lots of auto accident personal injury attorney commercials over the years, that finding a full-service personal injury law firm may be in your family’s best interest.
But how do you go about deciding which one is right for your case? And what should you expect them to do for you?
A Full-Service Law Firm Should Do More Than Just Fight for You in Court
If you or a loved one has recently suffered a severe injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or head injury, you likely have a lot of logistical hurdles to face. Money can quickly get tight in situations like these, where medical, rehabilitation and ancillary costs are going sky-high, and your household may not have a reliable, steady income due to the injury. Most people who suffer catastrophic injuries can’t return to work right away, and in some cases may never be able to return to their job.
Many law firms have partnerships with medical professionals or specialty financing that can help families pay for expensive treatments, especially if those life or mobility-saving treatments aren’t covered by their insurance.
They can also provide a wealth of resources and advice during a time when your family would most benefit from the experience and support of professionals who have helped other families with the same challenges you’re facing.
Attorney Liens and Letters of Protection
If you or a loved one have suffered a severe, catastrophic injury, you want to make sure you’re receiving the best possible care that’s going to give you the highest chance of a full recovery and maximize your mobility, especially if severe musculoskeletal or brain injuries were suffered.
Unfortunately, sometimes the best, most advanced care, treatment methods and providers may not be covered by your insurance or in your network. Some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the state of Georgia accept what are known as attorney liens or letters of protection.
These both essentially accomplish the same thing – it’s an agreement that the orthopedic surgeons will perform advanced diagnostics and provide the latest and best treatments possible today and wait until your case has been
settled to receive payment. The lien or letter is like a contract that guarantees to the doctor that they will be paid for their treatments out of the compensation you receive once your case has been concluded.
Not every orthopedic surgeon will accept an attorney lien or letter of protection and those that do may not accept them from just any attorney. If you do find yourself in a situation where your loved one needs the best orthopedic care possible, like for a severe spinal cord injury, and your insurance isn’t going to cover it, you should contact a highly rated orthopedic specialists and reputable full-service personal injury law firm to find out how the process works.
Fighting for All the Compensation You Need
The total cost of a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or head injury can be astronomical. Although the costs of initial emergency treatment, oftentimes requiring expensive neurosurgeries, can be extraordinarily high, those costs have the potential to pale in comparison to other long-term future costs. This is especially true if the injured party is the primary earner or caregiver for a household. A catastrophic injury could prevent them from continuing to earn a living or caring for children, both of which can leave families in dire financial straits.
There are also many costs that accompany a lifelong disability, like in-home nursing or caregivers, home accessibility modifications, mobility equipment like wheelchairs, specialized vehicles and lifts and many other additional health care expenses you would never have needed to worry about if the accident had not occurred.
It’s hugely important for families in these situations to receive adequate compensation to pay for medical expenses, make up for current and future lost wages and afford the many additional costs they will incur in the future due to the catastrophic injury.
Skilled, experienced personal injury law firms familiar with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries will be able to work with medical specialists and other professionals to develop a realistic estimate that takes into account all these factors. They will also be able to build a strong case that uses accurate and compelling evidence to clearly show how a negligent party’s actions caused the catastrophic injury that led to all these costs.
Making a strong case grounded in evidence and developed through in-depth investigation is fundamentally the most important thing a full-service personal injury law firm can do for its clients. Their ultimate goal in every case is to get each client the compensation they need to recover and move on with their lives.
Schedule a FREE, No-Obligation Consultation with an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered an auto accident, slip and fall, workplace injury or any other type of injury due to another person or company’s negligence, call The Law Office of Johnny Phillips at (404) 948-3334. We will listen carefully to your situation and provide the straightforward, honest information you need during this difficult time.