Legal Question in Personal Injury in Georgia

is county liable for wife's accident

wife works for rec dept,they are required to work july 4th until fireworks are over.alcahol is not allowed at rec dept.after fireworks, my wife's boss, who is head of the dept went & bought a cooler of beer.everyone started drinking.they had golfcarts on loan to use.a guy that works with wife,who is a superevisor,was driving her to other side of park. he was drunk.mind you, this was all in presence of department head.he was driving crazy, swerved to miss something & threw my wife out.she busted her head open, fractured her skull & bruised her brain in 3 places.she spent 2 weeks in hospital, 2 more weeks at home.her vision & hearing have been permanately altered.things taste & smell different.she has no balance,migranes & extreme mood swings.about 5 weeks after accident,she had a stroke due to bleeding & sweeling in brain.doctors say she will probably never recover fully.i have $50,000 of hosp bills & about $200 per month in meds.county hasn't paid a cent.she missed over a month of work w/no pay.her quality of life has been lessened dramatically.can i sue the county for expenses and negligence for personal injuries.

Asked on 12/18/01, 1:16 pm

6 Answers from Attorneys

Donald Singleton The Law Office of Donald W. Singleton

Re: is county liable for wife's accident

ABSOLUTELY. Please give me a call ASAP either at 770-438-8225 or cell 404-388-1063.

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Answered on 12/18/01, 1:30 pm
Steve Thornton Nix, DelCampo, Thornton & Graddock, P.C.

Re: is county liable for wife's accident


Please accept my condolences for this tragic and completely unnecessary accident that your wife was involved in. I have had extensive experience with brain injured individuals, and I offer my sympathies for the things your family is going through because of this life-changing event.

The facts you have presented strongly indicate to me that you can pursue recovery against one or more entities/individuals. Before providing you with a thorough and complete evaluation of the case, I would need to learn more specific facts about the July 4th incident. I would be looking to establish that the County either knew or should have known that alcohol was being provided at an event where motorized vehicles (golfcarts) were being used, and that the County either expressly approved of this behavior, or implicitly approved by their silence and inaction. If there is legal liability to you and your wife for this very sad accident, we will find the entity responsible and hold them accountable.

My law firm has handled numerous brain injury cases with tremendous success. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about this case. If you are interested, please give me a call at (404) 377-7600. Either way, your family is in our prayers.

Steve Thornton

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Answered on 12/18/01, 1:52 pm
Hugh Wood Wood & Meredith

Re: is county liable for wife's accident

You have to jump through some hoops to hold a county liable, but it can be done. Counties have soverign immunity (SN). If the purchase Insurance (ins.), you can get around SN. "County's establishment and maintenance of fund for defense and indemnification of its personnel does not constitute waiver of its sovereign immunity." And, the drunken activity of its officers may allow you to get around SN. "Willful conduct," needed to subject employee of local governmental to liability" OCGA 46-5-131. "Under sovereign immunity principles, public officer or employee, acting within scope of authority and engaged in discretionary as opposed to ministerial functions, is entitled to immunity from suit provided acts complained of are done within scope of officer's authority and without wilfulness, fraud, malice or corruption." OCGA 36-1-4, GA Const. 1,2,9 and 9,2,9. We tried a case against Gwinnett County last April. You have some Anti Litem Notice issues against the you must address immediatly. If you want to talk further about your wife's ability to sue (its her cause of action against the County) email me at [email protected] or call 404.633.4100 x 5

Hugh Wood

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Answered on 12/18/01, 1:58 pm
Ronald Arthur Lowry Ronald Arthur Lowry

Re: is county liable for wife's accident

Dear Sir: Let me say that this type of misconduct is outrageous and should be severely punished if only to keep it from happening again.I am very sorry this happened.I have represented many head injured clients and I understand what your wife, your family and you are going through.I have read the comments posted by the other attorneys and the thing that first strikes me is that there is at least the possibility that this incident may be covered by worker's compensation.She (and you) would have all medical bills paid that way plus be entitled to a weekly payment and other benefits.She (and you) may still have the right to sue as well. Please call me at (770)427-8468 for a free consultation. Ron Lowry

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Answered on 12/24/01, 2:10 pm
Jonathan Pope Hasty, Pope & Ball

Re: is county liable for wife's accident

I have reviewed your question and, as have some of the other attorneys who have replied, I agree that you and your wife most likely have a viable claim against both the person operating the golf cart and the county. However, there are certain laws that govern the actions of governmental employees. Most significant is the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This doctrine dates back to the laws of the King of England. The principle is that the King could not be sued without the consent of the King. Transferred to today's time, this simply means that the government, and its employees, enjoy some amount of immunity for their actions. Therefore, generally, governmental employees, including the employee and the county in your case, enjoy immunity from lawsuits for their actions. However, there are exceptions to this rule. First, a governmental employee and the county will not be liable for discretionary acts unless it can be shown that the employee acted with intent to harm or with malice. Second, a governmental employee and the county may be liable if the employee negligently performs a ministerial act. Generally, if an employee violates a law, such as may be the case here, the employee is seen as negligently performing a ministerial act.

Having stated the above, this is a specialized area of law. I am knowledgeable in this area due to the fact that my firm represents the City of Canton. Moreover, I have been involved in numerous personal injury and other damage suits lawsuits against counties, including a case in which my client was shot by a deputy sheriff. My firm also handles catastrophic injury cases, including brain injuries.

You will have many lawyers interested in speaking with you about your case. Please take the time to review their background and determine exactly what types of cases they have tried. That does not mean whether or not they have settled 1 or 2 cases similar to yours. It means whether or not they have litigated and tried these cases in front of a jury.

You and your family have my sympathy. I wish you well and, if I can be of assitance, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.

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Answered on 12/20/01, 11:15 am
Michael Azzariti Azzariti Law Firm, P.C.

Re: is county liable for wife's accident

Yes, it sounds as though your wife has a potential claim against the county and perhaps others for her injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc. However, you should speak with an attorney immediately regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding your wife's injury claim. Of course, I would be happy to discuss this matter with you further. I can be reached at 770-640-6558. Best Wishes.

Michael J. Azzariti

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Answered on 12/19/01, 10:31 am

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