Confidential Settlement for Premises Liability Accident
Confidential Settlement for Motorcycle Wreck
$705,000 Verdict in Commission Dispute Case
Confidential Settlement in Golf Cart Injury
$1.9 Million Recovered in Pay Dispute
Confidential Settlement For Atlanta Chiropractic Malpractice
Confidential Settlement in Commission Pay Dispute
Confidential Settlement In Dental Malpractice Case
$3.25 Million For Alleged Fraud in Sale of Business
$5.5 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict
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There has been a number of large Georgia verdicts recently in inadequate security premises liability cases. The landscape is ever-chaning for these cases because the law evolves over time in the courts and the codes are interpreted more narrowly. A thorough and timely evaluation is essential to the ssuccessful pursuit of these cases. Some of the initial steps are: talking to the police; requesting crime history reports for the surrounding area; and securing statements from witnesses. Additionally, a thorough anlysis of what insurance is available to cover the incidetn is essential.

When someone gets injured or attacked on a business premises (such as a big box store, hotel, motel or restaurant), the most commong defenses are based on legal arguments of experiration of the applicable statute of limitation, assumption of the risk, trespasser status of the injured plaintiff, equal knowledge of the unsafe condition and contributory negligence. Other common defenses are that the incident did not happen on the property or that the incident was the sole responsiblity of a third party tortfeasor (the attacker).

Inadequate security can often be the basis for liability against the defendants. Most businesses have some type of secuirty measure in place, but the issue is usually crafted around whether the security measures were sufficient to protect against incident that occurred based on the totality of the circumstances.  Some common security measure that may or may not be adequate to defend against liability are the organizations policies and procedures related to safety and security, criminal backgound checks of all employees, subcontractors etc., an on-site security guard, adequate fencing that is well-maintained (many incident are the direct result of third parties gaining access to the property through holes in the fence which are regularly used as cut throughs), a security gate for pedestrian access, a security gate for vehicular access, community engagement for safety, adequate reporting of incidents and potential dangers, courtesy officers on site showing a presence, and a documented effort to combat crime.

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Dental malpractice can occur during various procedures, but some common dental procedures result in a much higher percentage of dental malpractice claims. The reason for this is probably the complexity of the procedure, the proximity of the procedure to certain anatomical structures in the mouth and tongue and jaw and the severity of the injury when these structures are violated by the dentist performing the procedure. Some of the procedures which tend to cause the most Georgia Dental malpractice claims are:

  • Tooth Extractions in the Lower Jaw: Improper extraction techniques during complex extractions can lead to damage of the jawbone, nerves that run along the jaw and tongue and other parts of the face.  This results in nerve damage and has leads to signs and symptoms such as pain, numbness, (pain and numbness together) and loss of feeling in the lip chin gums, teeth and face.
  • Root Canals Procedures in the Lower Jaw: Not complying with the applicable standard of care when performing root canal therapy (root canals) results in errors during root canal procedures, such as perforations of the root, over-instrumentation of the canals, apllying too much pressure whine filling the canals, using the wrong type of filling material, incomplete cleaning, or overfilling of the canal. These can call cause cause infection, pain, nerve damage and or damage to surrounding tissues and, even at time, damage to the surrounding bone when the malpractice causes and infection and the infection is not treated in a timely manner or is treated ineffectively. This can lead to osteomylitis, a very serious bone infection that is extremely hard to treat due to the lack of blood and oxegynation in the infected bone..
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While three of the top dental injuries are toothache, jaw pain and broken teeth, the most prevalent injuries from dental procedures or dental malpractice in Georgia are quite different. Among the most common injuries from dental procedures are a numb tongue, numb chin, numb lip and teeth, and nerve injuries of the face, jaw and tongue. While this may be stating the obvious, to pursue a dental malpractice claim in Georgia, the plaintiff must prove: (1) that she sustained and injury from a dental procedure; and (2) that the injury was caused by negligence on the part of the dentist during the performance of a dental procedure such as a root canal or dental implant. In other words, it is not enough that there is an injury, but rather the plaintiff must prove that the injury was caused by malpractice.

Basic dental malpractrice law requires that the Plaintiff establish duty, breach and causition. Put another way, tin order to prove her case, the Plaintiff in Georgia must prove that there was a dentist/patient relationship, that the dentist had a duty of care to perfrom the procedure in a competent manner, the dentist breached that duty, and that the breach of the standard of care caused the injuries that the Plaintiff is complaining of in the lawsuit. Some of these necessary requirements are satisfied by expert testimony in the form of an affidavit that is attached to the complaint when it is filed with the court. That is why it is essential to retireve Plaintiff’s records from the defendant, as well as all subsequent treating providers such as dentists, doctors, hospitals and pain doctors.

Elements of damages can include, but are not limited to, past lost earnings, future lost earnings, a decreased ability to labor, disfugrement, physical or mental impairment pain and suffering, past medical bills, future medical bills and other damages. These types of damages are proven with documentary evidence, as well as testimony and opinions from dentists, doctors and lay witnesses in order to fill in the gaps and provide a complete picture to the jury.

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Sales associates and account executives typically work very hard. Successful and hard-working sales people can earn a lot of money and make a good living. Unfortunately, they are not always paid the correct amount of money that they are owed by their employers. Sometimes, this is an honest mistake and can be rectified in short order. Far too often though, there is no mistake and the employer company refuses to pay the full amount of commissions owed, even after the sales associate makes numerous demands for payment.

This is an unfortunate situation that happens all too often. A salesperson is gainfully employed and working hard. She makes a large sale, or a series of large sales, often pushing the limits of the commission plan. The company, while very happen to book the revenue, does not want to pay the large commission. In an attempt to avoid paying the full commission, the company tries to unilaterally change the salesperson’s commission plan after the sale and without the consent of the salesperson. Or, the company will terminate the salesperson before the commission is due and claim that the do not have to pay the commisson. Alternatively, the company will try to negotiate with the saleperson to avoid paying the full amount owed under their agreement.

These type of commission disputes are usually governed by something in writing. It could be an employment agreement, commision schedule, commission plan or some other similarly titled document which explains how salepeople are compensate and under what conditions. There is usually an itemized list of definitions and this document, many times, lays out when the sales is consdered booked and when it is payable. It almost always details the amount of commission that will be paid on each sale, what has to be completed to be paid, how commissions are calculated, any incentives or bonuses that could be applicable and when the commissions and bonuses are payable. While each case is different, this commission document usually forms the basis for the claim for full commissions due and payable.

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Dental malpractice in Georgia can take many forms. Some of the most common reasons malpractice occurs is a lack of training by the dentist performing certain procedures (such as root canals, dental implants and oral cancer screenings); a lack of communication between two dentists (whether in the same office or in separate dental offices) who are involved in the care and treatment of a patient; a failure to properly document and observe important anatomical landmarks and measurements (thi is especially important when performing root canals and dental implant procedures); failing to review the patient’s chart and medical history prior to using or prescribing drugs that the patient may be alert to or which may interact with medications that the patient is current taking; and carelessly performing a procedure which results in injury to the patient.

The standard of care for dental malpractice in Georgia requires that all of the above situtions be handled in a fashion that a reasonable dentist would do in like or similar circumstances. Many of the standard of care violations that we uncover occur when general dentists perform dental procedures that should be referred out to a specialist. This occurs most often with complicated extractions, root canals and the installation of dental implants. One area that we have seen that results in a lot of dental malpractice claims is large corporate dental chains who advertise as providing affordeable dentures causing severe dental nerve injuries when the attempt an “all on 4” dental implant procedure. This procedure involves extracting all of the patient’s existing teeth (both top and bottom), placing 4 implants on the top and 4 on the bottom, and then attaching the implants to these implants. Unfortunately, the high volume of procedures preformed result in many serious dental nerve injuires that could be avoided with proper training, careful placement and other quality control processes that don’t happen in high volume dental implant offices that sometimes focus on quantity over quality.

Lawsuits in these situations will focus on duty (from the dentist to the patient), breach (of the standard of care, in other words the procedure is not done properly) and the resulting damages (often dental nerve injuries and other types of dental injuries that result from the procedure. These form the basis of the lawsuit and each of the elements are necessary to pursue a dental malpractice case in Georgia.

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The need for a root canals typically arises when the patient has a cavity that is too deep to be filled congenitally. The cavity extends down into and close to the roots of the teeth. When this happens, the dentist will either refer the patient to and Endodontist or perform the root canal herself. Either is fine, but the root canal must be peformed properly to comply with the applicable standard of care for dental malpractice in Georgia.

X-rays or CT scans (“imaging”) are taken of the tooth to determine the extent of the decay and to determine how many canals must be accessed to perform the root canal. In order to comply with the legal standard of care for dentistry, imaging should be performed before, during and after the root canal is completed. In addition to imaging, there are many test that the dentist must perform to make sure she is performing the root canal on the correct tooth; that the tooth is not cracked (most cracked teeth cannot be cured by a root canal); and to make sure a root canal is indicated.

Most times, after a root canal, the tooth is scheduled for the placement of a crown, but if the area is not too large, a crown is not always necessary (just a filling). If all goes well, the pain from the original need for the root canal and from the drilling and pressure associated with the procedure itself should subside within a few days, at most. Similarly, the numbness from the anesthesia necessary to perform the root canal should wear off the same day.

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Most dental malpractice cases handled by our firm stem from root canals or dental implants that are performed below the standard of care and which result in serious dental nerve injuries. A recent case (that we did not handle) appears to have been filed by a woman who claims that her dentist performed over 30 dental procedures in a single sitting. This is hard to fathom, and, if the allegations are true, it would be hard to imagine how the patient could have stayed numbfor these dental procedures without exceeding the recommended maximum dose of anesthetic numbing agents (but withouth knowing more, I guess it is possible).

8 crowns, 4 root canals, and 20 fillings in a single visit is certainly a lot of dental procedures in one day. Without reviewing the patient’s dental records, it’s hard to comment further, other than to follow the case and learn more as facts develop in the case. According to news reports, the expert who reviewed the records noted that almost every tooth in the plaintiff’s mouth had some form of decay on it, but that the care provided was nonetheless, “wrong.” One of the specific acts of negligence cited in the news report was that the amount of anesthesia administered to the patient exceeded what the expert considered to be safe under the circumstances. It is not clear, what specific injuries this alleged violation of the standard of care caused. However, it is an interesting case to follow for a nunber of dental reasons and I am curios to see how the litigation develops.

Most dental malpractice cases in Georgia are reviewed by an expert dentist, endodontist, oral surgeon or similar expert prior to the lawsuit being filed. If there is malpractice identified by the expert and the malpractice has proximately caused a substaintial permanent injury, an affidavit is prepared to support the lawsuit, the lawsuit is drafted and the complaint is filed in the appropriate court. Most of these cases start out as root canals or dental implants which are not performed to the standard of care and which wind up injuring an adjacent structure in the mouth or jaw such as a dental nerve. This is similar to a medical malpractice case where a doctor or surgeon leaves the surgical field and injures the patient while they are not operating in the area in which they should be. This is usually when the most damage is caused by the dentist.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Over the past 25 years, I have seen all types of dental malpractice situations. Most involved a procedure (root canal, dental implants, etc.) which create a dental nerve injury. While the advances in these procedures change over time, the need to perform them within the applicable standard of care does not.

Good, solid dental care certainly does not fit the one-size-fits-all description. Every care situation is different and the facts are what determine the outcome of many cases. The expression: the devil is in the details, certainly rings true in dental malpractice. And the details are often recorded in the patient’s chart so we can determine what took place, at least as far as what the notes say took place.

Unfortunately, many potential clients (and quite a few lawyers who don’t have the depth of experience with dental malpractice cases) conflate sloppy dentistry with dental malpractice. But, sloppy dentistry, while frustrating and while it can certainly cause much harm and frustration cannot support a lawsuit. However, dental malpractice, if committed by the treating dentist and resulting in sufficient injuries due to the malpractice, certainly can. The general standard of care for dental malpractice in Georgia is a national standard and if an expert bases his opinion on a local standard, his opinion can be excluded. Since this is the case, a standard of care expert needs no personal knowledge of the standard of care in the local community in which the malpractice occurred (such as Fulton County, DeKalb County, or Gwinnett County, or the City of Atlanta, for instance) to render an opinion of what the standard of care in the case is; and whether the applicable standard of care was violated by the dentist. What a particular dentist would have done under like and similar circumstances is also not dispostive on the issue of whether the standard of care was violated, although this type of testimony has become common to impeach experts who are being less than transparent when trying to defend a dentist who has clearly committed malpractice. In other words, the dental expert testifies that the way the procedure was performed met the standard of care, but admits under oath that he would not perform the procedure that way. In most cases, that is because performing the procedure the way the defendant did was below the standard of care and that deviation of the standard of care is what caused the injures that the Plaintiff is complaining of in the lawsuit.

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In an unbelievable turn of events, missing dentures were found stuck in a dental patient’s throat 8 days after he had surgery! His case involves a 72-year-old man whose partial dentures apparently got stuck in his throat during surgery and weren’t discovered for eight days. The man went to the emergency room because he was having a hard time swallowing and was coughing up blood. Doctors ordered a chest X-ray, diagnosed him with pneumonia and sent him home with antibiotics and steroids. Apparently they didn’t think to x-ray his throat at the first ER visit. It took another hospital visit before another X-ray revealed the problem: His dentures (a metal roof plate and three false teeth) were lodged at the top of this throat! The man had previously thought his dentures were lost while he was in the hospital for minor surgery. How he could suffer this type of pain and disability is beyond comprehension.

A case like this would typically be referred to our practice by a former client (many times former clients are employed in the healthcare industry and are appalled at the negligence and sloppy medical care that goes on in their institutions), family or friends of the injured or of former clients, healthcare providers themselves (yes, this happens. I healthcare provider will be so concerned with the level of ineptitude that they will inform the injured potential client to call us for a free case evaluation), self referral, or other attorneys. I should point out that, in today’s environment, the overwhelming number of new case referrals we receive are through the internet when people search for Georgia dental malpractice lawyers or Georgia medical malpractice lawyers. For me, this is a two edge sword. It is sort of an equalizer that victims of malpractice who do not personally know good lawyers who specialize in malpractice can locate a good one by doing some basic google searches, sometimes the “heavy advertisers” get the calls, and they are, in most cases, not the best choice.

In a case like the above, getting the facts of the case up front is critical. During the initial call, be prepared to discuss who, what when and where in detail. As an initial matter, the attorney must determine when the alleged malpractice took place (and or when the injury was first discovered) so they can determine when the applicable statute of limitation may begin to runWhether the case has merit or not depends on so many factors such as whether the facts that the caller is relaying to you “add up” and make sense, are the resulting damages caused by the malpractice sufficient to warrant the attorney time and case expenses, the Plaintiff’s background and particular circumstances, whether other qualified attorneys who specialize in dental malpractice or medical malpractice have reviewed the case (including obtaining the records ands even possibly hiring and expert to review the facts and the records and render an opinion as to whether, in her opinion, malpractice occurred and whether the malpractice caused the injuries that the Plaintiff is claiming.

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It’s all the rage these days. Clients are asking dentists to pull all of their teeth and install all-on-four dentures. Sometimes called teeth in a day or full mouth implants, these procedures are sometimes performed in the same day. While the billboard advertisements tout shiny smiles and happy patients, this may not always be the case.

All-on-four implants are offered by individual dentists and small dental practice groups. But, the vast majority of these procedures are performed by large dental chains. Some of the large dental chains that offer this type of procedure are ClearChoice, Affordable Dentures, Aspen Dental, Coast Dental, First Dent, DentChoice. This list is certainly not exhaustive and all-on-four dental implant procedures are performed by anyone from a general dentist, periodontist, prosthodontist, all the way up to an oral surgeon.

While the vast majority of these procedures are performed adequately, some complications due to dental malpractice can arise. These procedures require a great deal of expertise, proper planning and implementation, very precise radiographic tests such as the use of a Cone Beam CT Scan (CBCT) and a great deal of skill on the part of the dentist. Lack of proper planning, improper measurements, drilling to deeply when prepare the site for the implant and installing the implants too deeply into the jaw line or just some of the potential problems that can occur when these procedures are not performed correctly. This can happen when the dentist is not properly trained in the procedure, is careless, or lacks the skills to adequately plan and perform the procedure with the applicable standard of care.

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