If you’re suffering from injuries after an accident in Atlanta, you are likely facing an uphill battle with medical care and expenses, a difficult recovery, and a hard blow to the lifestyle you used to enjoy before you were hurt.
You may not be able to go to work or pay your bills, and there may be no end to your financial woes in sight. If your accident didn’t have to happen, the negligent party who caused it may owe you compensation. A personal injury lawyer in Atlanta who is an expert in Georgia law can help.
Frequently Asked Lawsuit Questions
For many people, filing a lawsuit after an accident is unknown territory. You may not know where to begin or what to expect from a claim. Our attorneys have answered our clients’ most frequently asked questions so you can get the information you need:
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?
One of the first things you need to know about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia is the fact that there is a time limit. This is known as the “statute of limitations,” and once it’s passed, the courts won’t hear your case.
According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §9-3-33, the statute of limitations in personal injury cases that involve negligence, you have two years from the date of your injury to file your claim. For instance, the premises liability statute of limitations in Georgia varies depending on who or what you want to sue. You have two years to file a lawsuit against someone for your injuries suffered on their property, but you must file a claim against a municipality in no more than six months. For this reason, it’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to get the process started.
What Factors Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim?
If you’ve been injured and you’re wondering what your personal injury claim may be worth, it is important to recognize that there are many factors that will influence your settlement. If any of these conditions are elements of your claim, it could be worth more:
- Chronic pain
- The need for future medical care
- The inability to continue in your career
- The inability to enjoy your life the way you used to
- Scarring and permanent disfigurement
This is why it’s so important to communicate with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer about the true value of your claim. The insurers most likely will not take these conditions into consideration if they are allowed to determine the value of your claim.
How Does Georgia’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law Work?
Understanding the negligence laws in your state is also an important part of pursuing a personal injury claim. Your attorney will prove fault in your case. Some states have “no-fault” laws in place; however, Georgia is not one of them.
According to Georgia code § 51-12-33, a portion of responsibility will be ascribed to each driver involved in an accident. For example, if the other driver was completely at fault, they will be 100% negligent and you will be 0% negligent. Your claim settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault in the crash.
You may be able to get compensation even if the accident was partly your fault. Georgia modified comparative negligence law allows a person to collect on a personal injury claim as long as they are less than 50% responsible for the accident.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
There are different types of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury claim, as defined by the OCGA §51-12-30. These include special damages, general damages, and punitive damages.
Your personal injury attorney will assess your damages to determine a fair settlement amount. This can include:
- Special damages like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages
- General damages include future expenses, like future medical care, and lost earning potential
- Punitive damages, though these can only be ordered by the court
Your pain and suffering will also be taken into consideration, as will the potential loss of enjoyment and quality of life that you may face.
Who Is Liable in a Personal Injury Claim?
When it comes to identifying all potential defendants who may be liable for a personal injury, there are many factors that need to be investigated. If someone else failed to exhibit due care, then they can be held responsible for the injuries that occurred, as detailed under Title 51 of the Georgia Code of Laws.
The person who directly caused the accident may not be the only liable party. 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.
Should You Talk to the Defendant’s Insurers Without a Lawyer?
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 seem helpful. You may be tempted to think that they are working for you to ensure that you get fair compensation, but beware.
Before signing an insurance release, remember that the insurance company has just one goal: to get you to settle for the least amount of money. Your attorney will be your advocate during this process. The insurance rep, even if they act like they are, will not.
Can You Settle an Atlanta Personal Injury Claim Out of Court?
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. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interests to avoid taking the case to court.
Can I Afford a Personal Injury Attorney?
Is it worth getting a personal injury lawyer? If this question is keeping you awake because you don’t know whether you can afford legal representation, allow us to clarify some things. The majority of personal injury attorneys in Atlanta 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.
Will It Take a Long Time to Settle My Injury Claim?
If you wonder how long does it take to settle a personal injury claim in Georgia, the answer is that every personal injury claim is different when it comes to how long it takes until the parties reach a satisfactory settlement. 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, our goal is to settle your case as quickly as possible while still ensuring that you get the compensation that you deserve.
What Is a Good Settlement Offer in a Personal Injury Claim?
When both parties are able to agree on a settlement and come away from negotiations happy, the settlement is a success. A good settlement is one that covers your costs and allows you to fully recover from your injuries. What this looks like in terms of a dollar amount will depend on the severity of your injuries.
What Kind of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
What is considered a personal injury lawsuit? Without going into the specifics, a personal injury lawsuit is a legal claim following an injury and its related expenses. In personal injury law, the injuries for which you can sue include bodily damages, pain, and suffering, mental anguish, or disfigurement/disabilities.
Personal injury attorneys handle cases in which one party’s negligence has caused another person to be injured or killed. The areas our Atlanta law firm represents include the following:
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Truck accidents
- Workers’ compensation
- Wrongful death
What Do You Need for a Successful Personal Injury 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 defendant owed a duty of care to you and that they breached that duty. You must also prove that the other party’s negligence was the cause of your injuries and the resulting damages.
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
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Medical expert testimony
Proof of Injuries and Damages
You must have sustained 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 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.
What Happens During the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process?
It’s perfectly normal to worry about what is going to happen during the claims process, but you’re in good hands with our lawyers. This description of the stages of a claim will let you know the basics of what you can expect next.
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.
The investigation of your claim will involve your lawyer interviewing you and witnesses, as well as reviewing your background and medical records. 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. The complaint will detail the nature of the incident and the injuries you sustained.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process 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. Your lawyer may also consult with medical experts and accident reconstruction experts.
Pre-Trial Litigation and Motions
Your lawyer will make demands after you have attained the maximum medical improvement (MMI). Demanding compensation before fully recovering could mean that you won’t have enough money to pay for future treatments. Once your full damages are known, your attorney will negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurers.
Making Demands and Negotiations
Your lawyer will make demands after you have attained the maximum medical improvement (MMI). Demanding compensation before fully recovering means could mean you won’t have enough money to pay for future treatments. Once your full damages are known, your attorney will negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurers.
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. If they decide in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant will be expected to compensate the plaintiff for the identified damages.
Call to Arrange Your Free Consultation in Atlanta
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers focus on personal injury cases. That means that we know the laws and can take on any case regardless of how complicated. Our results speak for themselves. We know how to get the compensation you need to move on with your life. Let us help you get a fresh start after this difficult time.
Give us a call to get started with a free consultation!