Recently in Personal Injury Category

August 26, 2013

Georgians at risk from dangerous/altered tobacco and incense products

The Georgia Department of Public Health sent an email over the weekend warning of dangerous products currently on store shelves:

"The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has become aware of a dangerous, potentially lethal substance surfacing in convenience stores and smoke shops. When ingested or inhaled this neurotoxin can render a person motionless and/or unconscious and cause severe cardiac problems. In the last 24 hours, at least eight patients in Southeast Ga. have been hospitalized; some patients have been admitted to intensive care and are on life support. Two patients have been intubated.

The substance is marketed as "herbal incense," bath salts, or "roll-your-own" tobacco - similar to what public health and law enforcement have seen before containing cannabinoid receptor agonists (THC homologs), but there are now indications the chemicals or ingredients have been altered.

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First responders have reported unusual strength, agitation and combativeness in some persons followed by sudden hypokalemia, flaccid paralysis, severe hyporeflexia and unconsciousness. Symptoms may present almost immediately after ingestion or inhalation, or may be delayed as users ingest more of the product. Mild to moderate intoxication can result in alterations in mood and perception, reddened conjunctiva, nausea, vomiting, xerostomia, weakness, cardiac abnormalities, hypertension, disorientation and an increase in pulse rate, similar to marijuana (THC).

DPH is working closely with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to collect these products and remove them from store shelves. Samples of the product have arrived at a secure laboratory and testing to identify the toxins is underway. At this time, lab tests are continuing and the composition of the product is unknown. Clinicians are advised to treat symptomatically as no specific treatment has been identified.

Brand names include Crazy Clown and Herbal Madness Incense. The products are typically sold at convenience and tobacco stores and may display a clown or "joker face" with the character's tongue out and/or "5X" in product labeling."

Georgia has a Products Liability statute that protects consumers from dangerous or defective products. If you have been affected by these or any other products, contact an experienced Georgia Products Liability Lawyer.

March 12, 2013

Has Your Spouse Suffered Personal Injury in Georgia? You May Have a Claim for Loss of Consortium.

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When a married person is injured, the emotional toll of worrying about the health and well-being of the injured spouse can be overwhelming for the other spouse. In addition to the emotional hardship caused by the accident, a spouse may face demanding physical and financial burdens in caring for their injured loved one. Georgia law recognizes a separate claim for loss of consortium in personal injury cases where a married person suffers a loss of services and companionship as a result of an injury to their spouse caused by a third party's negligence or intentional misconduct.

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Loss of consortium claims can also compensate the non-injured spouse for an increase in the demands and burdens caused by the ordeal. Often, once injured, spouses are unable to offer the same level of affection, intimacy, and companionship as before. For example, an injured spouse may not be able contribute to performing household chores or help out in other spousal duties such as childrearing to the same extent that he or she could before the accident, requiring the non-injured spouse to assume the role of primary caretaker. In Georgia, spouses have a right to recover damages for the loss of such services and companionship a spouse normally could provide absent the injuries, such as household and family expenses, property maintenance and household chores, child care and parenting duties, emotional support and care, affection and sexual intimacy between spouses.

It can be difficult to recover significant damages for loss of consortium in Georgia unless the spouse proves that the impact on the marriage relationship is severe as a result of the seriousness and extent of the injuries. Thus, it is important that spouses document and share all the facts and details about how the injury has affected their marital relationship when consulting an attorney.

If an injury has come between you and your spouse's ability to engage in activities related to your married life, then you may be entitled to damages for loss of consortium. Contact an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

February 1, 2013

Georgia Premises Liability Basics: Part III - Assumption of the Risk

Even if you can make out the elements for a claim of premises liability (that is, you are an invitee, an owner/occupier owed you a duty to keep premises safe and/or to inspect and that such duty was breached because the owner/occupier knew or should have known of the danger, and that breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury), there may still be another hurdle for you to recover...

The most common defense owners/occupiers raise in claims of negligence based on premises liability is the defense of assumption of the risk. In order to establish the defense of assumption of risk, defendants must show that a plaintiff (1) had actual knowledge of the danger; (2) understood and appreciated the risks associated with such danger; and (3) voluntarily exposed himself or herself to those risks. Admiral Ins. Co. v. State Broad. Corp., 314 Ga. App. 648, 650, 725 S.E.2d 789, 791 (2012), cert. denied (July 2, 2012).

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Often patrons at amusement parks are said to have assumed the risk when they understand and appreciate risks associated with park rides and voluntarily expose themselves to the risk by going on the ride. However, this defense cannot overcome situations in which there are static conditions on the ride or premises nor can a judge grant summary judgment on issues such as how closely a particular retailer should monitor its premises and approaches.

Many questions regarding the defense of assumption of risk must be heard by a jury because of the factual issues involved. "[W]hat retailers should know about the property's condition at any given time, how vigilant patrons must be for their own safety in various settings, and where customers should be held responsible for looking or not looking are all questions that, in general, must be answered by juries as a matter of fact rather than by judges as a matter of law." Williams v. GK Mahavir, Inc., 314 Ga. App. 758, 762 (2012), cert. denied (June 25, 2012), reconsideration denied (Mar. 13, 2012) quoting American Multi-Cinema v. Brown, 285 Ga. 442, 445(2) (2009).

Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss any possible claims you may have.

January 31, 2013

Georgia Premises Liability Basics: Part II - Knowledge of the Hazard

First, we hope everyone is keeping safe from the slick, rainy conditions outside! Today, we will continue our discussion on Premises Liability in Georgia by talking about the types of knowledge an owner/occupier must have to be liable in negligence.

How Can I Prove Premises Liability for Hazardous/Dangerous Conditions?

An invitee can recover damages in a slip and fall if she proves two things: (1) that the owner/occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, and (2) that despite the exercise of ordinary care, the invitee lacked knowledge of the hazard due to actions or conditions within the owner/occupier's control. Cocklin v. JC Penney Corp., 674 S.E.2d 48 (Ga. Ct. App. 2009). Absent knowledge of the dangerous condition, there can be no causation (an essential element to make out a claim in negligence).

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Failing to use reasonable care in inspecting premises can give rise to constructive knowledge where the owner or occupier had an opportunity to discover the dangerous condition and to remedy it. This was the case in Valentin v. Six Flags Over Georgia, L.P., 286 Ga. App. 508, 510-11 (2007) where the appellate court found that Six Flags breached its duty by failing to conduct a reasonable inspection that would have allowed for discovery and remedy of an alleged unsecured mat and mildew hazard.

Thus, when the owner/occupier knows or should know about a dangerous condition on the premises, a plaintiff may likely have an actionable claim despite the defense of assumption of risk (which will be discussed in tomorrow's post).

Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss any possible claims you may have.