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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As a recent article related to sub-standard dental care makes clear, the practice of dentistry is only as good as the dentist who is performing the dental care and treatment. Why on earth a dentist in a large dental practice would subject his patients to potential disease and infection by re-using dental instruments which were designed and sold for single-use is anyone’s guess. What is important to know though, is that the dental care and treatment must comply with the applicable standard of care, regardless of the circumstances.

Dental implants are especially susceptible to infection because they are, by definition, a foreign body placed in the mouth with the intent on it staying there for the life of the implant.

As a lawyer who regularly handles dental malpractice cases in Georgia, I have reviewed many malpractice cases that stem from the negligent installation of dental implants. Most of these cases are very fact intensive and require a thorough review to determine if there was malpractice and if the malpractice caused the injury which the patient is complaining of. In most cases, all of the dental and medical records must be obtained and a competent expert must be retained to review the records to determine this. This is a complex process that, in many cases, takes many months to complete. That is why time is of the essence if you have been injured by a dental procedure.

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Lots of people travel through the Atlanta Airport each day. Some are heading home, other are passing through and still others are headed to destinations in Atlanta. What all have in common, is that they have to negotiate one of the world’s most dangerous airports.

According to the Airport itself, “safety is one of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s core business functions. The Department of Aviation is committed to implementing a safety management system (SMS) that enables its management, employees, the airlines, tenants and other business partners to operate in a safe environment that minimizes exposure to hazards and risks and encourages all employees to report safety-related situations, incidents or accidents. Hartsfield-Jackson is dedicated to developing, implementing, maintaining and constantly improving strategies and processes to ensure that all aviation activities take place within the department’s planed allocation for resources, aimed at achieving the highest level of safety performance and complying with local, State and Federal regulations and standards. Hartsfield-Jackson’s leaders will provide the necessary policy direction, resources and environment for a successful SMS. Department of Aviation employees will implement the SMS in partnership with airlines, tenants and other business partners. All levels of management, beginning with the Aviation General Manager, are accountable for delivering the highest level of safety performance.”

While this is a fine statement, it fails in practice, as there are many people injured at the Airport due to negligent conditions such not as inadequate warnings, status defects that are trip hazards, and unsafe conditions created by Airport workers in and around the airport terminal.

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Most people seem to know that Georgia is an “at-will” employment state and that an employer can fire you for any reason at all. While this is true, the backdrop to this is that an employer can fire you for any reason at all, so long as that reason is not unlawful. What would constitute and unlawful reason? Well for starters, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on age, disability, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race or color, retaliation, sexual harassment. While this list is not exhaustive, what is clear is that, even in a state like Georgia which has very little state-law protection for workers, the federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers in the workplace. This prohibition against discrimination applies to all stages of the work process, from hiring, promotions, and firing.

Because Georgia goes out of its way to promote itself as an employer friendly state (mostly to attract businesses), some of the worst discrimination takes place here because employers mistakenly believe that our workers have little protection from this type of abuse. However, this is a mistake that employers who discriminate against their workers make at their own peril because the federal laws that protect all workers are alive and well, in Georgia and in any other state in the United States.

Age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are 40 years old or older. Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other covered entity treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because he or she has a disability. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older, see above), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under the EEOC laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws. National origin discrimination involves treating workers  unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not). Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman in the workforce unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Race discrimination involves treating a worker unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of the color of their skin. The EEO laws prohibit punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including harassment.  Asserting these rights is called “protected activity,” and it can take many forms. It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

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As a lawyer in Atlanta who has handled many cases involving dog attacks resulting in severe and permanent injuries in Lawrenceville and Gwinnett County, as recently reported, the following scenario is typical:

A Gwinnett resident on a walk after dinner attacked by two dogs and needing immediate surgery. A quick investigation turns up the fact that this attack is not isolated and, in fact, the client is one of three people seriously injured after being attacked by the dogs, who had gotten loose from a home  in Lawrenceville. After the attack, Gwinnett County Animal Welfare captured the dogs and cited their owners. The dogs were euthanized and tested negative for rabies.

The victim of the dog attack was walking home from a local park, minding his own business when the loose pack of dogs jumped on him and began ripping into his arms, legs and other body parts. The attack was  witnessed by others who stopped and began trying to pull the vicious dogs off the helpless victim. Other neighbors tried, in vain, to help the elderly man as he was being attacked by a number of pit bulls at the same time.

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Dental implants are becoming more common in Georgia. Along with the increased use of implants comes a not so welcomed increase in the number of dental nerve injuries caused by implants being installed improperly by general dentists.

Sensory alteration resulting from the injury results in serious injuries that can be life altering. In some cases, the injuries become much more serious due to the general dentist (who quite possibly negligently installed the implants and caused the nerve injury) is not trained  or otherwise qualified to diagnose and treat the nerve injury. Once this is the case, what was otherwise a potentially temporary injury can morph into a permanent and debilitating injury that can affect almost every life function of the injured dental patient.

Effective management of potentially serious nerve injuries caused by implants is based on providing a timely diagnosis and then treatment such as steroids or anti-inflammatories or corrective surgical intervention as soon as possible after diagnosis of the nerve injury, for best results in properly treating the nerve injury. In other words, the general dentist should timely refer the injured dental implant patient to a nerve specialist. The nerve specialist, in turn, can provide an early diagnosis and recommend the correct course of action for successful treatment. As these injuries become more prevalent, it is more and more apparent that nerve injuries are more likely to be persistent or even permanent when there is an increased period of time between injury and a diagnosis by a competent dental nerve specialist of the patient. If the diagnosis is delayed, there can be irreversible damage to the patient. Unfortunately, as a dental malpractice lawyer who specializes in dental implant injuries, I often see clients who sustained a dental nerve injury, report the symptoms of this injury to the dentist who installed the dental implants, and then these clients are not referred out to a nerve specialist. Rather, they are told that the injury is “normal” and that it will heal on its own over time. Many times, this advice is harmful to the patient and, in some but not all cases, negligent.

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Dental nerve damage can often be caused by dental treatment. Many kinds of treatment have reportedly caused dental nerve damage such as root canals and placement of dental implants in the lower jaw. Despite many types of proposed treatment and many claims of success, many victims of dental malpractice in Georgia have exhibited poor recovery after surgery is attempted to correct dental nerve damage.

After undergoing microneurosurgery, an injured dental patient’s quality of daily life activities may improve because of the resolution of numbness or pain in the tongue, lip, chip or face during movement.  Other areas of sensory perception which may improve after this type of corrective surgery are thermal perception (ability to feel hot or cold) and taste sensation.  Improvements in taste can include recoveries of sweet and salty tastes or recovery of the injured patient’s ability to taste sour things again. It is interesting to note, that even when some semblance of taste is recovered, the taste buds on the side of the tongue that the nerve was injured on are sometimes smaller and less prominent, and this  almost always permanent. It is also common that the subjective taste perception does not mimic an apparent regeneration of the nerve under some of the radiographic tests that are available for this purpose, such as a cone beam CT scan (3D CT), x-rays, MRI or MRN.

I regularly handle cases that involved nerve injuries that were caused by dental procedures. It has been my experience that most of these injuries are traumatic and severe. Due to the nature of the injury, the effects on the injured patient are certainly seen in pain and numbness in the area of the injury. However, many times the patient has far more reaching pain and numbness that cannot be adequately addressed by corrective surgery, pain drugs or therapy. In these cases, the patient’s injuries become debilitating and permanent. In these cases, the injury become much more than simply a physical pain or numbness and it can affect almost every aspect of the patient’s daily life. This can include, but is certainly not limited to, pain while brushing teeth; pain while eating; drooling; unbearable pain in the jaw, face and ear; tremendous anxiety; difficulty sleeping; not being able to work; sexual dysfunction; fear of getting future dental work done; and many other types of problems.

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One prominent nerve repair expert explains the need for quick action one a dental nerve injury is diagnosed: Peripheral nerve injuries requiring surgical intervention will have better results the earlier the nerve is repaired after injury. Therefore, repairs with or without grafting done immediately after the injury have better results, with progressively worsening results if done 3, 6, 9, or 12 months or longer after the injury. Wietholter et al reported best results for IAN (Inferior Alveolar Nerve) and LN (Lingual Nerve) repair if reconstruction was done within 3 weeks of the injury. Early repair circumvents major problems encountered with elapsed time such as Wallerian degeneration, atrophy, and fibrosis in the distal portion of the nerve. Atrophy creates a significant size match discrepancy between the nerve graft and either or both stumps. The time factor reflects the rate and extent of degeneration and atrophy of the distal fascicles prior to nerve repair. However, if the injury is primarily a traumatic neuroma without atrophy or degenerative neurologic changes in the distal portion of the nerve, the time factor may not be as important; that is, whether the repair is done at 3 weeks or 2 years may not make a difference in functional outcome.

However, an Atlanta dental malpractice lawyer who almost always has a number of active clients suffering from nerve injuries caused by root canals, dental implants and tooth extractions, I know what most dentists tell patients who have suffered from these injuries: “Your injury is temporary and it will get better. We need to keep an eye on it and wait. It could take up to two years for you to get better. We will monitor you and we simply have to wait, as there is nothing more to do.” Horrible advice that could possible cause you your right to sue if you wait too long.

In most cases, if you are injured by dental malpractice in Georgia, you have two years from the date of the alleged malpractice. Of course, like every rule, there are exceptions, but the are limited and the general rule, as stated above is what you, as a person who has a serious injury from a dental procedure, should proceed under. Also, if you have a serious injury from a dental procedure, you should hire a lawyer today. Why? Well, the first reason is that, in most cases, you should not follow the advice that dentists typically give patients who have suffered a dental nerve injury. Secondly, the deadlines that may apply to your case are quite complex and no one other than an experienced dental malpractice lawyer who regularly handles these types of cases in Georgia should be relied upon to provide you with legal advice. Finally, the sooner a competent lawyer is advising you, the sooner you have another trusted advisor in your camp who can help you make decisions that can save your health and make sure you protect all of your legal rights. In most cases, if you miss the statute of limitations (or the deadline for filing your lawsuit) your right to sue is lost forever.

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Our firm has had a lot of success recently handling slip and fall cases with catastrophic injuries. Most of these cases revolve around a defect in a walkway or path. This defect can be either in the design of the walkway or in the failure to keep the walkway safe and secure. One way to prove a defect is to rely on ASTM standards.

ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards. ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. In the United States, they set a standard for what is considered safe.

In regards to walkway surfaces, ASTM standards are as follows:

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A recent article notes that over 60% of people fear going to the dentist. In fact, dentists are feared more than medical professionals such as neurologists and general surgeons. Perhaps the reason for the fear of the dentist arises from the number of dental malpractice cases in Georgia. As dental malpractice attorney in Georgia, I have seen a rise recently in the number of cases of dental malpractice related to the improper placement of dental implants in the lower jaw and improperly performed root canals procedures.

As the article points out, there are a number of ways that you can help alleviate the fear of dentists. The best way I know to eliminate that fear is to choose a dentist carefully. The best way: talk with friends and family and go to a dentist that they have been to before and can highly recommend. The worst way to pick a dentist in my opinion: go to one of the large dental chains such as Coast Dental, Aspen Dental, or Great Expressions. While the care at any of these large dental groups can be excellent, they are extremely large and you may not have the experience or outcome that you desire. The better course is to listen to people you trust and go to a dentist that comes highly recommended.

Another way to lessen the chance of a bad dental experience is to utilize a specialist. For instance, if you need a root canal, you might be better off with an endodontist than a general dentist. That is not to say that all general dentists are not able to perform root canals within the standard of care, it has just been my experience that the level of expertise with general dentists who perform root canals (especially difficult root canals with narrow canals, curved roots or calcified openings) varies greatly. Conversely, most endodontists have the necessary training, experience and tools in their office to competently perform even the most complex root canals.

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Many times, a claim for dental implant malpractice or root canal malpractice involving dental nerve injuries includes a claim for mental pain and anguish. Defendants in these cases typically try to obtain all of plaintiff’s medical and psychiatric records for the previous 10 years, or longer. This type of request was addressed in Brown v. Howard, 778 SE2d. 810 (Ga. App 2015). In holding that the plaintiff’s mental health records were not subject to the defendant “fishing expedition”, the Howard court reasoned as follows:

“Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action [.]” OCGA § 9–11–26(b)(1). Georgia law provides several privileges related to mental health, which, collectively, are referred to as the “mental health privilege.” State v. Herendeen,279 Ga. 323, 325, 613 S.E.2d 647 (2005). The components of the mental health privilege include

(5) Communications between psychiatrist and patient;