Georgia Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims
Thousands of accidental injuries occur every day, and the victims are left with crippling medical debt, difficult recoveries, and lost wages from time off of work. If your injury was caused by the negligence or reckless behavior of someone else, then you deserve full compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.
When you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, there a couple of options open to you to receive compensation. You can file a personal injury claim through the insurance company of the responsible party, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
However, there are rules and guidelines for seeking compensation for a personal injury in Georgia. It is important to recognized and adhere to these guidelines and to research your options while you still have time. The best thing that you can do is to contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to discuss your case and the steps that you need to take to file your claim and receive compensation.
The most important thing to understand from the very beginning is the statute of limitations that applies to your claim. Statutes of limitations are the timelines that you have to work with. You have a certain amount of time to file your lawsuit before you forfeit the right to do so. Georgia Code of Law, Ga. Code Ann. § 9-3-33 addresses the statutes of limitations in personal injury cases that involve negligence, giving you two years from the date of your injury to file your claim.
The reason that the statute of limitations is set at two years is to allow you time to recover and get a better idea of what your medical expenses are and will be in the future. It gives you time to ascertain whether or not you’re going to be facing permanent disabilities or other long-term damage. It also gives you time to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your injuries and to investigate the circumstances of your claim. Finally, it gives you and your attorney plenty of time to negotiate with insurance companies, reach a settlement, and/or file a personal injury lawsuit, as appropriate.
Having said that, there are situations where the statute of limitations can provide for additional time, when necessary. For example, if you lost a spouse or other family member to accidental injuries, you have up to four years to file a claim for the associated damages.
Determining the Value of Your Atlanta Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve suffered an accidental injury and are wondering what your personal injury claim may be worth, it is important to recognize that there are many more factors than just what you’ve suffered in property damages and medical debt. Your injury is likely to cause problems for you in the future that are physical, emotional, and financial. You need to consider the likelihood of suffering from chronic conditions and the cost of future medical care. You should also think about how your medical condition will impact your quality of life and ability to enjoy activities. In some cases, there may be scarring or disfigurement that impact your life forever. Some injuries and disabilities can even damage your ability to continue to pursue your career, meaning that you lose your potential to earn the wages that you once looked forward to.
If you trust the insurance company to calculate a fair amount of injury and damage compensation, you may later discover that they didn’t take any of these factors into account. This is why it’s so important to communicate with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer about the true value of your claim. Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.
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Georgia State Law and Negligence
Section 51-1-2 of the Georgia Code of Laws defines negligence as failing to act prudently under the given circumstances. Some examples include failing to post warnings of wet floors, failing to safely handle food, failing to keep dogs on a leash, or failing to adhere to traffic laws. Any of these behaviors can lead to serious accidental injuries in which there is a responsible party who is then accountable for your damages.
Section 51-1-4 of the Georgia Code addresses the concept of gross negligence. Gross negligence is defined as acting in a manner that is contrary to common sense and failing to show the least amount of responsibility for behaviors. For example, driving drunk, failing to post warnings of construction hazards, or intentionally selling a defective product are all grossly negligent acts that will warrant additional damages in the value of your claim.
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Modified Comparative Negligence
Some states have “no-fault” laws in place; however, Georgia is not one of them. In Georgia, a portion of responsibility will be ascribed to each driver involved in an accident. If the other driver was completely at fault they will be 100 percent negligent and you will be zero percent negligent. Not all accidents are that simple; sometimes both parties are partly to blame for the accident.
Georgia modified comparative negligence law allows a person to collect on a personal injury claim as long as they are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Your claim settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault in the crash. For example, if you had medical expenses of $100,000 but were found to be 10 percent at fault, you will be entitled to no more than $90,000. A portion of negligence is typically determined by the insurance companies or by the judge if the case goes to court.
Wrongful Death Claims
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 130,000 people die from accidental injuries every year. In fact, accidental injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the US. Examples include falling, drowning, poisoning, auto accidents, and getting struck by an object. Beyond this, more than 200,000 people die from medical mistakes every year, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If someone you love has passed away due to the accidental or reckless behavior of another party, then you may be entitled to compensation for a wrongful death claim. You can receive compensation for the cost of medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the lost financial support of the deceased family member. None of this will replace your family member or alleviate your grief, but it can ensure that you are financially prepared for the challenges that you must face.
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Dog Attacks and Bites
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that about 4.5 million Americans suffer from dog bites and attacks every year. Even the most friendly and familiar of dogs can suddenly attack for various reasons. In some cases, dogs are injured, ill, scared, or confused by the circumstances. Whatever the reason, a dog bite or attack can leave you with severe puncture wounds, infections, torn muscles, and much more in addition to the psychological trauma that you are likely to encounter during and after the attack.
There are laws designed to prevent such encounters with dogs, and any dog owner who fails to adhere to leash and containment laws with their dog is responsible for the injuries that occur. If you are a dog bite victim, you can seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and psychological trauma, or mental anguish.
Personal Injury Claim Damages
There are different types of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury claim, as defined by the Georgia Code of Laws, Title 51, Chapter 12. These include special damages, general damages, and punitive damages. Special damages include actual expenses, like medical debt, property damage, and lost wages. General damages include future expenses, like future medical care, and lost earning potential. Punitive damages include any compensation that is awarded the intention of punishing reckless or negligent conduct. Your pain and suffering will be taken into consideration, as will the potential loss of enjoyment and quality of life that you may face.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help you to ascertain the actual value of your personal injury claim by investigating your case, the circumstances of the injury, and the legally responsible party. We will gather medical evidence, police reports, and expert witness opinions to prove your case. Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation of your case and to get started on the path to financial recovery.
Who is Responsible for Your Injury?
It is not uncommon for victims of personal injuries to blame themselves. You may feel that you were clumsy or careless or that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, in most personal injury cases, there is another responsible party whose negligence or recklessness directly resulted in the accident. Even if you think that you were at least partially at fault for the accident, you would be wise to seek a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta.
When it comes to ascertaining legal liability for a personal injury, there are many factors that need to be investigated. If someone else failed to exhibit due care, then he or she can be held responsible for the injuries that occurred, as detailed under Title 51 of the Georgia Code of Laws. This does not just mean that the person must have done something to cause the accident; it can mean that the person failed to do something, ultimately causing the accident. For example, in a drunk driving auto accident, the driver may be held responsible, but the person who served a clearly intoxicated person more alcohol could also be responsible.
In a premises liability case, the responsible parties may include property developers, store managers and supervisors, owners, and even general employees. In defective product claims, you may have a case against the designer, the distributor, the seller, and/or the manufacturer. If you have a medical malpractice claim, it may be filed against the doctor, the hospital, the surgeon, or any other provider of medical care who may have been responsible for your injury. In some cases, more than one person will be held accountable for the accident. If this all seems confusing, you are not alone. Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to discuss who may be responsible for your injury.
The Most Important Factors for a Successful Claim
Not all accidents result in successful claims. In many situations, a claim will be denied or disputed for lack of evidence or proof of the claim. The more details, information, and documentation that you have to prove your case, the more likely it is to be successful. There are four basic elements of a personal injury lawsuit that must be met in order for it to be successful. These include:
- Duty of Care
- Breach of Duty
You must be able to establish that the driver had a duty of care while driving and that he breached that duty. You must prove that the other party’s negligence was the cause of your injuries. You must also be able to prove that you sustained injuries.
Proof of Negligence
The other driver must be proven negligent in order to have a successful case. You and your attorney will gather evidence to prove that the other driver caused the crash. Some useful ways to prove negligence include the police report, witness statements, an accident reconstruction expert and specialist testimony.
Injuries and Damages
You must have sustained actual injuries in order to bring a lawsuit. If the other driver was negligent and caused a crash but you didn’t sustain any injuries and didn’t receive medical treatment, you have no actual damages as a result. Therefore, you will not be able to have a successful case.
Documentation and Evidence
Strong documentation and evidence are essential to a successful personal injury claim. You can never have too much evidence, only too little. If you don’t have enough evidence to prove your case, you won’t be able to succeed. Keep in mind that the other driver’s insurance company may try to dispute your evidence. An experienced Georgia personal injury attorney understands the evidence needed and will work to ensure that he gathers everything necessary for a successful claim.
Deciding Whether to Sign an Insurance Release
Another common mistake that victims of accidental injuries make is assuming that the insurance company is on their side. It is understandable, because you are facing many hardships at the time, and the insurance company claims adjuster will likely be friendly and seemingly helpful. You may be tempted to think that they are working for you to ensure that you get fair compensation. Before signing an insurance release, remember that the insurance company has just one goal, and that is to get you to settle for the least amount of money.
To avoid settling for a sum that is less than what it should be, investigate the costs and expenses that you are currently facing and may face in the future. Talk to your doctor about the potential need for future medical care. Pay attention to your bills, expenses, and property damage. Above all, speak to an attorney before you sign anything or agree to anything. If you contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, our experienced attorneys will be happy to go over the details with you and help you to determine what your claim might actually be worth in comparison to what the insurance company may have offered you. It is better to be safe than sorry, so contact us today for a free consultation.
Addressing Medical Debt from Your Injury
When you’ve suffered an accidental injury, you will quickly start to see bills for your medical care, and you may feel overwhelmed by the financial strain. Naturally, you’ll be seeking compensation for these expenses, but while you wait for your case to settle or go to court, you may not know what to do with them. One option is to pay your bills through private insurance. You will still be able to seek compensation for these expenses. Another option is to get a letter of protection filed by your personal injury lawyer. This will inform the medical providers of your lawsuit with an assurance of payment from the proceeds of the claim.
Can You Settle an Atlanta Personal Injury Claim Out of Court?
It is more than possible, likely in fact, that you will be able to settle your claim outside of the courtroom. Statistics show that 95% of personal injury claims are settled without ever going to court. Going to court is expensive and time-consuming for both sides of the claim, so everyone is motivated to reach an agreement. Aside from saving money in court costs, the insurance companies know that the judge may award a higher amount than you are willing to settle the claim for. Thus, it is in everyone’s best interests to avoid taking the case to court.
Negotiating a Personal Injury Claim on Your Own
A common question, when it comes to personal injury claims, is whether or not the victim can negotiate on their own, without legal representation. The answer to this question is, ‘yes, but it may be unwise.’ You do have the right to negotiate on your own behalf, but you are less likely to get the full amount of compensation that you deserve. Once you agree to a settlement, there is no going back, and insurance companies count on your lack of expertise in personal injury claims. Meanwhile, having a qualified attorney on your side ensures that the insurance companies don’t get away with pressuring or confusing you about the settlement process and valuation. The personal injury lawyers at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers have the experience and expertise to effectively negotiate for a fair settlement amount so that you don’t get tricked or taken advantage of.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
In the US, there are over 30 million cases of injury every year. The sad fact is that some of these cases are as a result of another person’s negligence or carelessness. In such cases, you’ll need to understand the personal injury lawsuit process if you want to sue the party at fault.
Keep in mind that every case is unique, but there are common elements that you’re likely to encounter. So, if you’re unfamiliar with what goes on in a typical case and how long it cases, this post is here to answer some of your nagging concerns.
Keep on reading to learn more!
Finding a Lawyer
After sustaining injuries from an incident, you’ll need to find a good lawyer to represent you. It’s always a good idea to have the lawyer inspect the scene of the incident. This is crucial in acquiring any relevant details and evidence.
You’ll also need to the lawyer to work together with your doctor to make it easier to access your medical records. In most cases, you’ll need an initial consultation, which most lawyers or firms will happily offer it freely.
The consultation offers you the opportunity to narrate your account of the incident and ask questions about the case. It also gives the lawyer the time to assess the viability of the case and advise you accordingly. They will only enter a fee agreement after determining that the case is viable.
Be sure to engage several lawyers before making your final decision.
After your initial consultation, the lawyer will start investigations. This includes interviewing you and witnesses and reviewing your background and medical records. Lawyers will want to know everything about the accident, your injuries, and the treatments.
Then the lawyer will acquire your medical records and bills that relate to your injuries and accidents. They’ll also want medical records of conditions that occurred as a result of your injuries.
The information and records your attorney will find will help them determine the course of your case.
Filing Court Documents
Your lawyer will need to file a personal injury complaint, and this usually the first document of the case. In this case, they must ensure they serve the defendant the complaint and other related documents.
Basically, the party you’re suing will be listed as the defendant on the complaint. Your lawyer will physically deliver the complaint to the defendant to ensure they receive the documents. This helps to ensure that they don’t deny being served the documents.
The complaint will detail the nature of the incident and the injuries you sustained. It will also show the legal basis for holding the defendant accountable and the types of damages you’re pursuing.
The Discovery Process
At this point, the parties enter the discovery process, which basically involves exchanging evidence. Your lawyer sends a list of interrogations (questions) to the defendant. They may also request documents.
Both parties may take sworn statements or depositions of all the witnesses in the case. This process can last six months to a year depending on the court deadlines and the complexity of your case.
Your lawyer may also consult with medical experts and accident reconstruction experts to build a strong case and get any relevant reports.
Pre-Trial Litigation and Motions
Some cases can get resolved by Motion to Dismiss before they proceed to trial. This can happen due to several reasons like a procedural defect or voluntary withdrawal.
Also, this stage allows attorneys to request evidence from the other side. It also gives the parties the opportunity to know what evidence will be accepted at trial.
The defendant’s attorney may also file a motion to dismiss all or a part of the lawsuit due to lack of evidence. The plaintiff’s lawyer can also file summary judgment to show that the evidence is undisputed and the jury should act accordingly.
Making Demands and Negotiations
The truth is that personal injury cases are usually complicated. That’s one of the reasons up to 90 percent of the cases are generally resolved pre-trial.
So, at this stage, your lawyer will try to negotiate with the defendant if they think the case can be settled out of court. How the defendant’s team responds will determine how the case proceeds.
Keep in mind that your lawyer will only make demands after you have attained the maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is one of the reasons personal injury cases take longer. Basically, your doctor has to confirm that you have recovered well and, therefore, you no longer need medical treatment.
Demanding compensation before fully recovering means the defendant won’t be liable for any medical cases related to your injuries that might occur after they’ve paid the settlement. This means that even if you take months or years to reach MMI, a good lawyer will have to wait.
If the parties fail to reach an out-of-court agreement or settlement, then the case advances to trial.
During the trial, the jury is responsible for determining if the defendant is liable. Their verdict will depend on the evidence the plaintiff’s team will provide. If the evidence is convincing, then the jury will determine the number of damages.
The defendant will be expected to compensate the plaintiff for the identified damages.
After the trial, both parties can file an appeal, and this process can last from months to even years.
Tips for Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury cases can be complicated, and you are well-advised to seek help from a qualified Atlanta car accident attorney. Choosing the best Atlanta car accident attorney for your case is one of the most important factors in a successful resolution of your case. Here are some tips for choosing an Atlanta Personal Injury attorney that will meet your needs and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Knowledge and Experience
It is important to choose an Atlanta personal injury attorney with the knowledge and experience to handle your case. Since personal injury cases are different than other types of legal matters, you want to make certain that the law firm you choose regularly handles these types of cases. Although a friend or relative may give you the name of an Atlanta personal injury attorney, not all lawyers work in the same areas of law. You don’t want to trust your personal injury case to a bankruptcy lawyer, for example.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers focuses on personal injury cases. That means that we know the laws and can take on any case regardless of how complicated. Our team is highly skilled and specifically qualified in personal injury cases. We know how to help our clients get the money they need for their medical expenses and other damages caused by the accident.
Read Reviews and Testimonials
Look at reviews and testimonials to see what other clients say about the firm. This will give you some insight into what you can expect from the experience. All law firms are not alike. It is best to know as much as you can about the Atlanta personal injury attorneys before you decide to put your case in their hands. Many factors are important in the overall satisfaction with an Atlanta personal injury attorney, such as communication and the ability to get answers to your important questions. You want to make sure that the entire team will provide you with a high level of service throughout the process.
Choose a law firm that has a proven track record of winning cases that are similar to yours. Results speak for themselves, and you can easily see whether a firm has the skills and knowledge to get the type of results that you expect. Remember that every case is different and has its own unique set of circumstances. The results of each case will depend on the situation and the evidence. Your Atlanta personal injury attorney will be able to give you some idea of what to expect after reviewing the details of your accident. It is helpful to choose a leading Georgia personal injury law firm to handle your case.
Initial Case Consultation
Initial case consultation is the first time you will talk to an attorney. The consultation may be completed in person or over the phone. The attorney will ask questions about your accident and injuries, and you will have the opportunity to ask some questions as well. You will be able to get a good idea about the attorney and law firm during your first consultation.
Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions
What should I do after an accident?
If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are a few things that you need to do as soon as possible. You will need to notify the police and/or other relevant authorities. You will need to make a note of the details and circumstances of the accident (time, witnesses, etc.). Finally, you will need to seek medical treatment for your injuries and notify your insurance company.
Can I Afford a Personal Injury Attorney?
The majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that if they take your case, they will not require payment unless they are able to get compensation for you. Then, their fee will come out of that compensation.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers will provide a free consultation and will charge a contingency fee, only if you receive a settlement or judgment in your favor.
Will It Take a Long Time to Settle?
Every personal injury claim is different when it comes to how long it takes to settle. Some factors that will impact the timeframe of your claim include the time for an independent investigation and the time required to locate witnesses. Ultimately, the goal of Bader Scott Injury Lawyers is to settle your case as quickly as possible, while still ensuring that you get the compensation that you deserve.
What Do I Do First?
The first thing you need to do in pursuing compensation for your personal injury is to contact an attorney for a free consultation. At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we’re here to help you every step of the way and to fight for your right to fair compensation.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Process – Final Thoughts
Being involved in a work accident or car accident and pursuing compensation are different cases. However, the denominator is that they are both overwhelming.
If you want to get a satisfactory jury verdict, it helps to work with a lawyer who understands the personal injury lawsuit process. This is particularly important when you’re filing a claim against large companies with adequate resources to hire top lawyers.
Keep in mind that defendants can opt to settle the case at any stage in the process above. The case can be resolved quickly if both parties reach a mutual settlement agreement.