Personal Injury News
Georgia Senator Introduces Bill Designed to Eliminate Medical Malpractice Claims.
Last Friday Georgia State Senator Beach introduced the Patient Injury Act, SB 141. The bill, in theory, would lower medical costs by establishing a "compensation panel" of doctors to review claims. This panel would allow everyone to pay into a "no-fault" fund to cover all claims. Basically, Beach's bill tries to force medical malpractice claims into the Worker's Compensation model. By funneling claims through this panel process, supporters contend that Doctors can cease practicing "preventive medicine" and lower medical costs.
And it all sounds too good to be true. Because it is. The Worker's Compensation system works because you have a very good baseline-specifically lost wages. And comp claims don't go before a panel of employers; they go before an administrative law judge. Running medmal claims through a board of physicians and others would not yield the same results. Partially because of the lack of a baseline. How would a panel of physicians value the arm of a concert pianist? That problem does not arise in comp claims, because the focus is on lost wages. What will these panels focus on? Potential lost wages? Potential use of body parts? Cost of repair? Shouldn't, you know, economists be making the decision about what a particular botched surgery is potentially worth?
I'm not saying there aren't benefits to the proposed system. A very small number of medmal claims ever make it to a "claim" currently. Realistically, if the doctor doesn't leave you half dead-or fully dead-then your claim is likely too small for a lawyer to take. Lawyers get a bad rap sometimes, but a lot of factors go into a lawyer taking a malpractice claims. First of all, litigation is likely to cost a hundred thousand dollars even before going to trial. Insurance companies fight these claims tooth and nail. They hire experts, you hire experts, they do depositions, you do depositions, and guess who fronts all of these costs? Lawyers. The high cost of fighting insurance companies prevents many individuals from bringing their claim.
The proposed system would at least provide those people with coverage. But that's not a good reason to throw out the current system. The other benefits touted by the bill's supporters simply do not add up. "Preventive medicine" is what doctors are taught now; it has been the standard of care since the seventies. This bill won't make it disappear. Medical Schools will still teach it, doctors will still practice it. Because it's better to act in an abundance of caution.
The other fallacy is that this will drive costs down. Our medical costs are on par with most states; but states with rigid tort reform do not have less expensive medical care. Texas, for example.
Further, SB 141 will not decrease any litigation. As set forth in the proposed appeal system, a denied claim or a "low ball" claim can be appealed to an administrative law judge. The judge's opinion is subject to judicial review. Basically bringing us back to square one.
Senator Beach, likely, has the best intentions, but the system he has created will not achieve its goals. It will cause headache without decreasing costs. It will ensure that individuals are denied just compensation.
Does Delay in Seeking Medical Help Hurt my Case?
Have you been injured because of the negligence or intentional acts of another person? The absolute best course of action is to always seek immediate medical assistance. But that is not always what happens.
Most people simply do not like going to see the Doctor; even if that only means a fifteen minute visit to a medical clinic. Instead, they take a few aspirin and believe the pain or injury will go away in a day or two. That day or two turns into a week or even longer, and then finally, the person realizes their injury is not getting any better. Conventional wisdom tells us, "If you wait to get medical help, then there is no way you can have a valid claim against a defendant."
While many of us labor under that belief, it's simply not the case. Recently a Gwinnett County jury decided otherwise, and awarded the victim of an automobile accident their full claim of medical bills and damages. In that case, the plaintiff waited two months before seeking medical help.
Each case is different, and if you've been hurt you should seek immediate medical help. But all is not lost if you failed to seek immediate medical help. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, please contact Burke Lasseter LLC at 844-287-6969 for a free and comprehensive consultation.
Does The Other Guy Getting A Ticket Help My Case?
Who was at fault in the accident? Determining who was at fault for a car accident is an important part of the investigative process and oftentimes requires a skilled investigator and attorney to make that decision. A driver's act of careless or reckless behavior which resulted in an injury or fatality-causing accident should be held accountable for the damages they have caused.
Unfortunately, the process of determining fault and liability is not always easy. After an accident, it is important to ask if any traffic laws were violated by any of the parties. Our experience is that the sooner that analysis occurs, the better. Proving fault for an accident is made somewhat easier when the at-fault driver is cited for speeding, running a red light or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However a police officer's opinion is not determinative of the fault issue. It is important though and we will want to speak to that officer about their thoughts when they were at the scene.
Yet a driver does not have to face traffic citations or criminal charges to be held liable for a crash. Citations and charges can help bolster the civil claim of the injured party. For example, if a driver violates the established speed limit, disobeys a traffic control device or violates the state's ban on texting while driving, the citations for these violations may be considered evidence in the accident victim's favor should the driver enter a guilty plea to the citations.
Right-of-way issues may also determine liability in some cases. Drivers who are turning left, for example, must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic unless they have a green arrow. Therefore, drivers responsible for turning into other vehicles can be held accountable for their actions.
A skilled car accident attorney will work with investigators to review the police report, examine the crash site, inspect the damaged vehicles, conduct eyewitness accounts and inspect any other piece of evidence that will support the victim's claim. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, please contact Burke Lasseter LLC at 800-491-4314 for a free and comprehensive consultation.
Car Seats Save Lives
From our friends at WRWR:
Car accidents are the leading cause of death to children over three years old... and many of these deaths could be prevented if the child was in the proper car seat. To learn a little bit more about car seat safety, we sent Patriot Health Reporter Mayci McLeod to a car seat safety class.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only about 3-percent of 1to 3 year-olds use the proper car seat, and only about 10-percent of 8 to 10 year-olds are in the proper booster seat. It is the law in the state of Georgia for a child to be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 4 feet and 9 inches tall. Those children must also ride in the backseat until at least age 8. Any car which gets pulled over with an incorrectly installed seat could receive a ticket and a fine. According to Car Seat Safety Technicians... it can be a lifesaver. It is also important to make sure your car seat is properly installed... and you read the instruction manual.
The Houston County Health Department offers a free car seat safety course to any parents who want to make sure their child is in the proper seat, and it is installed correctly. The Health Department has also received a grant from Safe Kids which enables them to give away car seats to people who attend the class and cannot afford one.Marnay Harris attended the course today with her son Harrison. She says this class was very beneficial. Harrison is leaving the Health Department today with a brand new car seat... which his mother says he will be very excited about.
To get your cars seat inspected you can stop by the Houston County Health Department anytime.. or call and sign up for the monthly car seat safety course.
In addition to getting your car seat checked at the Health Department, local fire departments, police departments, and sheriff's offices also have car seat safety technicians on hand to inspect car seat installation.
Read more: The Warner Robins Patriot - Houston County Car Seat Safety
Strip Club Hit with $1.75 Million Verdict For Over serving
Strip Club Hit with $1.75 Million Verdict For Over serving
A strip club was hit with a $1.75 million verdict for over serving a customer who then drove the wrong way on I-20 in Atlanta, killing himself and another driver, Fatima Bird. Ms. Bird had no chance against the wrong way driver, and her death left her two small children to be raised without their mother. The DeKalb State Court jury hammered the strip club because evidence showed that the offending driver had a blood-alcohol content of .398, five times the "per se" drunk driver amount set by Georgia law.
This case points out that someone who is obviously intoxicated should not continue to be served alcohol by the wait staff or bartender. Any establishment that continues to provide alcohol to an inebriated individual may well be punished by a jury if that person later on causes the serious injury or death of an innocent person.
At Burke Lasseter, we've prosecuted people who violated the law in this manner and we've sued them as well. Call us if you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of a drunk driver. We'll make sure that you get the justice that you deserve.
You Can Sue The Government
You Can Sue The Government
A recent 2012 case out of Gwinnett County proves that sometimes the public can get justice from the government. A Gwinnett County policy officer was speeding to the scene of a suspicious person. He was not traveling with lights and siren. He collided with a driver who was turning left into a parking lot. The driver was killed by the impact. Based on the evidence, the speed of the police officer was 78-80 mph, far in excess of the posted speed, which apparently was not obvious to the driver that was turning left.
The family of the driver killed in the wreck sued the county and the jury awarded a judgment of $2 million. The court ruled that the county was not exempt under the concept of "sovereign immunity" because it was a self insured county. The case is on appeal.
- Call 911. Get assistance. Even minor accidents may not stay minor.
- Get a photograph or video of the scene. Show the cars as they appeared at the time before officers and tow trucks start moving them.
- Get the name and telephone numbers of witnesses. Crucial because people tend to want to help early on, but disappear later when it appears that everything is under control.
- Get the insurance information of the other driver(s).
- Seek medical attention. Do not delay medical treatment because you are worried about who is going to pay for it. Early medical intervention may save you from a serious long term injury.
- Contact Burke Lasseter at 844-287-6969 as soon as possible. We'll help you with everything from that point on.
Latest Statute of Limitations
Statute of Limitations
In Georgia, a lawsuit over a claim has to be filed within a certain amount of time. Not only, filed but served on the defendant who caused the harm.
In Georgia, for most personal injury, product liability claims or negligence actions, an adult has two (2) years to make a claim from the date of injury. In a medical malpractice claim, if the injury occurred at birth, the parents have two (2) years, and the child’s claim continues for five (5) years. If surgery was involved in a malpractice case, suit should be filed within two (2) years of the surgery date.
There is no advantage to waiting, and you should seek professional assistance as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute puts your case in jeopardy and potentially you could lose it all. Witnesses tend to forget and cannot be located, so an early statement from a witness can be crucial to your case. Experienced attorneys with trained investigators should be retained as soon as possible so that your legal rights are protected.
If suit can be filed within the first year of the incident, it will be settled that much sooner or positioned from trial so that you get what you deserve. Time is money and the money should be yours. Seek help from a team of professionals that can protect you each step of the way.
Divorce and Personal Injury Cases
At times, clients get hit with some really bad luck. Let's say they are going through some marital difficulties and a divorce is pending. While the divorce is pending, the client becomes injured in a car accident. Does the client have to share their personal injury award with their spouse?
While we don't handle domestic cases at Burke Lasseter, as our focus remains personal injury cases, we work closely with attorneys that primarily engage in domestic work. We have many associations with lawyers that handle workers compensation, social security disability, domestic and other legal issues. We have found that our clients are best served by a laser like focus on personal injury cases, so we associate other attorneys when the need arises. The scenario pointed out above is one such example.
A Georgia case, Campbell v. Campbell, 255 Ga. 461 (1986), settled this issue many years ago. What the Supreme Court said was that the portion of any award that was personal in nature, for instance the pain and suffering, lost wages, future medicals, would not be part of the divisible marital property. Now if some of the medical costs were paid with marital property, it is possible that could be subject to equitable division. “A personal injury claim settlement, to the extent that it represents compensation for pain and suffering and loss of capacity is peculiarly personal to the party who receives it. For the other party to benefit from the misfortune of the injured party would be unfair.” said the Court.
Issues like this arise from time to time in a personal injury case. At Burke Lasseter, we will find the answer to issues like this as part of our legal representation of our clients. More importantly, we will bear the cost of any such related legal advice so that our client gets the best possible advice on every aspect of their case.
Infant Car Seats - Orphan Makers For A Reason
Orphan Makers. Ever hear that term? If you have, it may not have been in the context of what I'm about to tell you, but the real orphan maker these days is a property installed car seat with an infant properly buckled in. I first heard the term from Dr. Dean Hawley, a world renowned forensic pathologist from Indianapolis, Indiana, when I attended a seminar on baby deaths. Dr. Hawley pointed out, and statistics now prove, that a baby who is properly placed in a car seat and the seat is properly buckled in, has incredible odds of surviving a crash. Think of NASCAR drivers: They are essentially in a baby seat. They have neck bracing (unfortunately mandated after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt). They have five point harnesses. They have molded seats. All of those things are part of an approved infant car seat. Further, a rear facing car seat is even safer. That feature makes a child under the age of 2 years old 75% less likely to die in an accident that a front facing car seat. Now you can't drive a car, even if you are a NASCAR driver, facing backwards, but with reasonable care you can make your baby as safe as a NASCAR driver by placing your baby in an approved car seat and install it correctly. I've heard that 95% of all car seats are improperly installed, so take the time to follow the directions and do it right. Almost any police officer can help you with the proper installation as well. Ask them, you'll be surprised how helpful they are.
Seat Belts and Air Bags - A Good Combination
This week a gentlemen was driving his car through Houston County when he lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway. Unfortunately a tree was what stopped the progress of his car and he suffered some injuries, which is understandable. The news out of the case wasn't that there was an accident, but that the injured driver was admitted to the hospital and is expected to have a complete recovery, all because he had the foresight to wear his seatbelt. A seatbelt, coupled with an airbag, gives the occupants of the front seat far better odds of surviving an accident than someone who fails to wear their seatbelt, even if they have airbags. The deputy in the case, Justin Hall of the Houston County Sheriff's Office who is someone I consider a friend, said " It goes to show that seat belts and air bags save lives,” Hall said of the crash. “All the safety features on the car did their job.”
Please wear your seat belt at all times in your car. That seat belt will keep you in one place and keep you from being ejected. Ejection is almost always fatal, but even if you survive, chances are you will have significant injuries. As district attorney I saw far too often the result of someone's failure to have a seat belt on when they were in an accident. You may not want to wear a seat belt, maybe that 2-3 seconds it takes to buckle in is too big a deal, but your family wishes you would take that time. Arrive alive.