We all know that drinking and driving can have terrible consequences. When somebody is hit by a drunk or drugged driver, fair compensation should be a given. After all, Georgia’s laws are written so that victims of DUI injuries can be properly compensated.
But even though the law “should” be on your side, the fight is not always an easy one. Here are some stories of courageous citizens of Georgia who received justice even though the drunk driver and his insurance company resisted payment.
Injured Truck Driver? Better Bring a BIG Yardstick to Measure Pain and Suffering!
When a middle-aged Georgia man was injured and forever sidelined by a drunk driver, a North Georgia jury found that the trucker’s tremendous pain and suffering was worth $7,000,000. Did the jury over-compensate him for his injuries? Consider this case study and imagine what you would decide if you were an Appeals Judge.
In the case of Arnsdorff v. Fortner, 276 Ga. App. 1, one September evening, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and made a left turn, hitting a 47-year-old professional truck driver. The victim was very seriously injured and the defendant was charged with DUI, failure to yield, and four counts of serious injury by motor vehicle.
The trucker’s life-threatening injuries required four months of hospitalization, multiple surgeries, and many complications. Even after his release from the hospital, the truck driver needed two more surgeries to re-gain some degree of motion in his shoulder. He could barely use his right hand well enough to accomplish the small, day-to-day tasks of living. This formerly strong truck driver could no longer work.
Even though he was badly injured, the drunk driver and his insurance company refused to make a fair settlement offer. The case went to trial, and the Jury awarded $7,000,000.00 in damages (but found that punitive damages were not appropriate).
The drunk driver’s insurance company fought and delayed to the end.
Attorneys for the drunk-driving defendant appealed this verdict calling it “excessive.” The defense attorneys requested that the jury’s verdict be overturned, citing several “errors” supposedly made by the trial judge.
After consideration of the several alleged errors by the trial court, the Georgia Appellate Court found that the trial was valid and that the jury’s verdict was not excessive.
In Georgia, there is no discount price tag on injuries and life.
As you can see, insurance companies have lawyers they pay every day to try to hold down the damage caused by drunk drivers. The job of an insurance lawyer defending a drunk or intoxicated driver is simply to keep the insurance company’s money in their own bank—not yours. Because they get paid whether they win or not, insurance defense lawyers sometimes don’t worry a bit about delaying Justice or running up legal bills with frivolous appeals.
Fortunately, Georgia law does not seek to second-guess what it rightly called “the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury,” and justice was received by this trucker.
Failure to Celebrate Responsibly Costs Atlanta Drunk Driver, Her Company, and a Restaurant $2.4 Million
Whether it’s a college graduation or the birthday of our great nation, we have ample opportunity throughout the year to come together in happy observances. In so doing, we must exercise caution as we celebrate. We each have a responsibility to leave our fellow man unharmed by our behaviors.
One Fulton County Georgia couple was badly injured when their car was hit head-on by a drunk driver. The woman driving the oncoming car was an employee who had been drinking at an industry-sponsored party. She attended the party because her employer directed her to do so.
On her way home from the party, the drunk woman swerved into the plaintiffs’ lane of travel, causing a violent head-on collision. The plaintiff husband, 52 years of age, was more severely injured than his wife.
He sustained a closed-head injury, a knee fracture, a fracture of his left arm, and fractures of several bones of his left foot. He had to undergo six separate surgeries to repair these multiple injuries.
The necessary surgeries included the insertion and removal of various rods and pins used to stabilize the various fractures. Immediately following the accident, he was relegated to a wheelchair and remained immobilized for a substantial part of his recovery time. His medical expenses were approximately $400,000. His wife sustained minor and less permanent injuries.
The defendant driver’s personal auto insurance policy limits were insufficient to cover the couple’s many medical bills. The plaintiffs filed a suit for damages, arguing that the driver, her employer, and the restaurant where the party was held were all responsible for the accident.
How the tort case was proven: a case against multiple businesses
Thanks to thorough investigation, the victims were able to prove that the drunk driver was acting within the scope of her employment when she attended the holiday party. When she was hired, the employee was told that she was to attend various industry-sponsored social functions in order to network with clients and potential clients. And, when she arrived at the party, she was given a name tag with her employer’s name on it and two free drink coupons!
The employee testified that she drank just two glasses of wine at the party. But her blood alcohol content (BAC) after the crash was between .14 and .16. The plaintiff’s expert also testified that her blood alcohol level was most likely .18 when she left the restaurant. Clearly, she had more than “two” drinks.
This level of alcohol in her blood would have resulted in her being in an obviously impaired condition. It is illegal for drivers of all ages to operate motor vehicles in Georgia if they have blood alcohol concentration
Can a Georgia restaurant be responsible for over-serving alcohol?
Yes. If the testimony and evidence shows that restaurant employees should have recognized that a customer is clearly drunk and that she would soon be driving, the restaurant, under the Georgia Dram Shop statute, may be liable for continuing to serve the noticeably intoxicated woman.
Can Georgia employers sometimes be held liable for DUI accidents?
Yes. Georgia law makes special provisions that can hold employers responsible when and if an employee, who is performing in the scope of his or her work, acts negligently and causes injury to others. In cases such as this one, the employer’s insurance coverage may cover the defendant drunk driver. If there is no insurance, or the limit is small, the business itself may have to cover the verdict or settlement.
This suit was settled out of court for the sum of $2,375,000.00 in favor of the injured couple.
Hit and Hurt by a Drunk Driver in Georgia and Seeking Justice?
The Millar Law Firm specializes in drunk driving injury cases. We will be happy to evaluate your case free of charge and explain your legal rights.
Even if you just have questions and are not sure you need an attorney, call and speak with one of our experienced and compassionate lawyers by telephone. Our consultations are free and there is always no pressure or obligation to become a client.