To better serve our customers in the Conyers and Covington Georgia area, Christopher Simon Attorney at Law has an office located at 884 Green St SW, Conyers, GA 30012.
Christopher Simon, Attorney at Law has been litigating in Rockdale County since 2005 when the firm became involved in a flooding case at Indian Hills Golf Club. The firm takes appointments at the Conyers office by appointment and over the years we have helped over 30 clients from Rockdale County with the personal service we are known for. We service Covington, Oxford, Monroe, and Loganville from this office.
Survey of Jury Decision in Rockdale County
As any resident of Conyers knows, the County has changed a lot in the last 10 years. What used to be a predominantly white, conservative venue has become much more ethnically diverse and this is showing up in the jury pools. Why does this matter? Because juries ultimately decide what the value of a particular car wreck case is and the more liberal a jury is, the more they tend to award.
Consider the composition of a 12 person jury that a friend had in a June 2017 trial; Plaintiff was a 39-year-old black female and the defendant was a 21-year-old black male. Jury composed of one Hispanic female, three black males, three white females, and four black females. That is a drastic change from ten years ago. Not one white male on the jury!
The case was a low impact collision with $700 in damage and around $15,000 in bills and resulted in an $80,000 verdict. Now, that is an outlier but with good medical testimony and no prior care, it is achievable. A Typical range on that verdict would be around $25,000.
In January 2017, there was a car accident case verdict with medical bills totaling $47,000 for a fractured kneecap and the jury returned a verdict for $250,000. These numbers used to be unheard of in Rockdale.
In January 2016, a more conservative jury with a State Farm agent as the foreperson awarded $675,000 on a slip and fall case against McDonalds stemming from a mopped floor with no sign. The 17-year-old fell and had arthroscopic surgery on both knees to the tune of $45,000 and was in need of another in the future.
In April of 2015, a Rockdale jury returned a $3,250,000 verdict on a commercial trucking case with a truck driver who lied about not running the red light. The plaintiff was a mid 60s female who suffered a broken bone in her neck and multiple rib fractures. She healed up well and had around $100,000 in medical bills. The jury was incensed primarily because of the stubborn refusal of the trucking company to accept responsibility for the crash and failure to pull a driver MVR that would have shown that the driver had other traffic tickets prior to the crash.
The attorneys at the firm are in the Conyers office on a weekly basis to meet with clients and to pursue cases in the Courts. We find that the slower pace of life and the openness of the community allows the Firm to practice law in the personal fashion we prefer. If you need a Conyers Georgia injury lawyer, please feel free to give us a call.
Christopher Simon Attorney at Law
884 Green St SW
Conyers, Georgia 30013
Conyers Area Collision with Roadway Construction Equipment Heads to Appellate Argument
In a recent Georgia car accident decision, a woman and her husband were hurt when the van she drove hit a dirt pile and then hit an excavator at a worksite for the county water authority. The woman sued the water authority and its employee. Summary judgment was granted to the water authority and its employee, based on official immunity. The lower court found that even if there wasn’t sovereign immunity, summary judgment under OCGA § 9-11-56(c) would be appropriate. Fortunately, the Court of Appeals said the lower court erred and reversed all the grants of summary judgment and sent it back for a jury trial.
The evidence showed that employees of the water authority had been asked to fix a leaking underground pipe on the side of the road. The leader of the crew parked a track hoe with one track on and another off the road. He used the vehicle to dig a hole and dug a service ditch to the water meter. He put the dirt onto the road so that any vehicles traveling that way on the road would come across the dirt pile and mini-excavator. However, while filling the hole, he realized he hadn’t put out warning signs or traffic cones in front of the dirt pile on the road.
Meanwhile, the plaintiff left home with her husband and started traveling in the direction of the dirt pile on the road where the water authority was working. The weather was clear, and the car was going at about 35 mph. She saw a blur and swerved but hit the track hoe. The water authority employee hit the dirt pile and the track hoe. The van tumbled over. The woman and her husband were hurt. The water authority employee couldn’t remember anyone other than her coming along that road through the area where he was working.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued it was inappropriate to find that official immunity barred her claims against the employee. She argued that his failure to put advance warning signs up to alert drivers was a ministerial act, for which he wasn’t shielded by official immunity. The appellate court explained that under official immunity, government officials and employees can’t be held accountable for discretionary acts, except when the acts were wanton, willful, or otherwise outside the scope of authority. The appellate court noted that nobody claimed the employee acted with malice or intent to injure in not putting up warning signs. The issue was whether putting them up was a ministerial or discretionary act. A ministerial act is definite and requires the execution of a particular duty.
Immunity is not waived for a discretionary act, which requires a public official to use personal judgment and deliberation for a decision that’s not explicitly directed. In this case, there was no written traffic control policy. On-the-job training told the crew leaders which signage should be put up. Nobody advised the employee to put up warning signs on the day of the accident. The water authority and employee argued that since there was no explicit directive, it was within his discretion whether to use warning signs. The appellate court reasoned that a jury could conclude the employee’s supervisor directed him to put up warning signs at every worksite. His supervisor had clearly and definitively told him before the accident he should put up warning signs at work sites.
The appellate court found that it was a ministerial act, so it was improper for the lower court to grant summary judgment in his favor on the basis of official immunity. The record didn’t show that the plaintiff had been given notice and an opportunity to respond on whether the water authority had waived its sovereign immunity.
The appellate court instead did a two-step around the entire immunity argument and decided that when you hit a huge pile of dirt in broad daylight, you are the one at fault and threw the case out on that principal. The appellate court also found that it wasn’t clear that by using reasonable care, the plaintiff could have avoided hitting the dirt pile, for which there was no warning sign. The judgment was vacated in part and reversed in part. The Atlanta car accident attorneys at Christopher Simon Attorney at Law have substantial experience and are ready to help you with your possible case. Feel free to contact us for a complimentary case consultation if you are interested in learning more about the difficulties you may encounter and the options you may have.