An insurance company’s primary goal is to maximize profits for its shareholders. The main way they do this is by minimizing the amount they pay out in claims. Some workers’ compensation insurance companies use delay tactics to slow down the claims process, hoping claimants will eventually give up or accept lowball settlement offers. Below are some of the more common tactics seen in Georgia workers' compensation claims.
When communication falls by the wayside, it compromises your claim. Some adjusters will refuse to answer emails or phone calls promptly to either slow down the claim process, or because they are over worked. The best way to respond to this type of behavior is to keep detailed records of all communication between yourself and the insurance company. Note the dates and times of your requests for information, and keep all written correspondence as proof of lack of communication.
Insurance companies do not want to pay for ANYTHING. Sometimes an adjuster might delay your claim by disputing your injuries or requiring you to undergo multiple medical examinations by doctors chosen and paid for by the insurance company, claiming that pre-existing conditions are responsible for the injury, or trying to prove any injury was caused by a non-work-related event. If an injured worker provides documentation from a personal doctor, workers’ comp adjusters may try to contact the injured worker’s physician directly with “follow-up questions,” when really they are attempting to discredit the doctor’s findings and downplay the severity of the injury.
Even if the claim is ultimately accepted, the punishment for unreasonably delaying/denying a claim is generally not steep enough to prevent this type of behavior. Yet another reason to hire an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer as quickly as possible following a work accident.
It is rarely in your best interest to provide an insurer with a recorded statement before speaking to or hiring a lawyer. An insurer can use your words against you to limit your benefits, or possibly deny your workers’ compensation claim entirely. Consult an attorney immediately if an insurance company asks you for a recorded statement.
Your employer might tempt you to return to work by offering you a light-duty job. However, accepting this type of offer could be used as evidence against you in your workers’ compensation claim. For instance, an adjuster might argue that since you can return to work in a light-duty capacity, you can’t be too seriously hurt, and your workers’ compensation benefits should be reduced or denied.
Medical providers expect payment for their services. However, some adjusters might delay payment to providers or claim they are waiting on authorization to avoid covering your medical expenses. Some adjusters could even argue that specific medical treatments are unnecessary, meaning workers’ compensation benefits won’t cover them. Delaying payment for medical bills can have multiple negative impacts, including a downgrade of your credit rating.
At SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers we are committed to helping you understand your legal rights and fighting against these common delay strategies. If you are experiencing unnecessary insurance delays after a work-related accident, now is the time to get legal help. Give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
Legal jargon and terminology can be difficult to understand for anyone, including lawyers. Below is a list of commonly used legal terms in a Georgia personal injury claim.
Personal injury refers to any injury caused by another party’s negligence. It could be physical, mental, or emotional and includes property damage. The victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the negative consequences of the latter’s actions.
Aa lawsuit is initiated by filing a complaint with the appropriate court. The personal injury complaint is the formal expression of your grievances.
The complaint also includes a "prayer for relief", which is a fancy way of saying it includes information concerning how much money you want.
The plaintiff is the individual, or group of individuals, bringing the lawsuit. Generally this is an individual who is claiming they were injured or damaged as a result of the actions of someone else. For example, If you slip and fall and sue the store where the slip and fall occurred, you would be the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The plaintiff serves the complaint upon the defendant. The defendant is the party that is allegedly liable for the plaintiff's injuries. In the prior example, the grocery store would be the defendant.
Defendants file a formal answer to the complaint, which serves to notify the plaintiff and the court of the defendant's position regarding the allegations.
A statute of limitations is the time period (set by law) in which you may file suit claiming damages. The statute of limitations can vary from case to case depending upon the circumstances, and can vary from as little as one year to as long as ten or more in civil suits.
Personal injury cases, which generally are based on negligence, tend to have statutes of limitations in the area of two to three years, with special exceptions carved out for malpractice cases.
State law controls statutes of limitations, so if you are thinking of filing suit, be sure to speak with a qualified lawyer as soon as possible,
A tort is any wrongful act that is not a crime and does not arise from a contract. Nearly every cause of action in a civil suit -- including personal injury suits -- is a tort. Negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and libel/slander are all examples of torts.
Intentional torts are wrongful acts committed on purpose. Many intentional torts can also be considered crimes. For example, assault/battery, can lead to both civil and criminal liability. So, too, can theft, and wrongful death (murder, manslaughter, etc.).
A tort forms the grounds for a lawsuit seeking damages that are necessary to make a plaintiff whole. Criminal cases, even if arising from tortious acts, don't provide for damages. They are brought by the state with the express intent to punish criminals.
Negligence is a tort arising from carelessness or the failure to act with reasonable care, when such conduct causes damage to the person or property of another. To prove negligence a plaintiff has to prove four things. First, that the defendant had a duty or legal obligation to the plaintiff. Second, that the defendant violated or breached that duty. Third, that the breach caused damage to the plaintiff; and fourth, that damages actually exist. Duty, breach, causation and damages are the backbone of nearly every personal injury case.
For example, all stores have a duty to keep the aisles free of hazards. They breach this duty if they fail to adequately clean up the spills and other hazards in a reasonable period of time. If a store breaches their duty, and you slip and fall as a result causing physical and financial damages. Given these facts, the store was negligent.
The burden of proof refers to the plaintiff's obligation to prove his or her allegations to be true -- or at least more likely true than not. There are several different threshholds that could apply depending upon the type of case being litigated.
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof normally applied is that a plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is liable. Simply put, personal injury plaintiffs must prove that the defendant's actions more likely than not caused the plaintiff's injuries. Continuing on with our example, in your suit against the grocery store, you'd have to prove that the store was more than 50% at-fault for your injuries in order to recover damages.
Strict liability is a legal theory that imposes liability for certain acts or injuries causing damage regardless of fault or wrongdoing. For example, farmers are strictly liable for the actions of their cattle. So if a farmer's herd tramples a neighbor's crop, the farmer is liable regardless of any wrongdoing. In the 21st Century, strict liability is most often applied in cases involving defective products holding manufacturers liable for injuries sustained as a result of using their products.
Strict liability essentially shifts the burden of proof to the defendant, forcing the defendant to prove that they are not liable as opposed to typical negligence-based cases where the plaintiff must prove that the defendant is at fault.
Damages are what a plaintiff is seeking to recover in a lawsuit. In a personal injury suit, damages generally equal money. Damages are separated into two categories, economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are quantifiable damages such as medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services and auto repair bills. Non-economic damages are not specifically quantifiable, and include such things as pain, suffering, and humiliation.
Contributory negligence is a legal concept that relates to personal injury and tort law. Comparative fault and contributory negligence can reduce or even eliminate damages altogether. It refers to a situation where the plaintiff's own actions or behavior contribute to their own injury or damages. In other words, plaintiff was partially at fault for their own injuries or losses. Georgia has a modified contributory negligence standard, which means if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, then they are owed no damages.
Georgia Courts have held contributory negligence is not an available defense to a defendant when an intentional tort, such as assault, battery, or theft, is alleged. McEachern v. Muldovan, 505 S.E.2d 495, 500 (Ga. App. 1998).
If you have been injured due to the actions of someone else, give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
Most of the time when someone thinks about being compensated after an injury in Georgia they think about filing a lawsuit. Visions of lawyers, judges, juries, and courtrooms may run through your mind. Well in Georgia, it is a little different. In Georgia, a workers' compensation case is a hybrid. It begins as an insurance claim, that if not handled properly, can turn into a lawsuit.
In order to fulfill the hybrid insurance/legal requirements the workers' compensation act, the legislature created the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation. The State Board's duties include handling the insurance claim portion, as well as any claim that turn into a lawsuit. Read further for a more in depth explanation on the structure of the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation and how it works.
Established in 1920 by the Georgia legislature, the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is tasked with implementing Georgia's workers compensation act. The Board serves over 3.8 million Georgia workers as well as 250,000 Georgia employers. The State Board is funded by assessments from insurance companies and self-insured employers.
The Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is tasked with implementing all aspects of the workers' compensation act. This includes keeping records of claims, conducting hearings, approving settlements, and investigating fraud.
No. The Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is an administrative body that is limited in it's authority by law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
Yes. The legislature has given the State Board permission to pass rules to help implement laws passed by the legislature. The Board generally updates the rules yearly, with new rules coming into effect on July 1.
Since 1994, any changes or addition to the Board Rules are supposed to be vetted and approved by an entity known as the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a group of leaders from all aspects of workers' compensation--insurance, labor, medical, legal, small business, and business. This includes lawyers, insurance executives, business/ corporate representatives, medical providers, and members of the State Board. The Advisory Council is composed of 6 committees. These include:
Every year the Advisory Council meets during the first week of October to come up with changes to the Board Rules, recommendations to send to the legislature for changes to the workers' compensation act, and addressing any other concerns with the entire workers compensation system. Since it's inception there has been a "gentleman's agreement" to only propose Rule changes, and changes to the law, which are agreed to by consensus amongst members of the Advisory Council. Although recently the State Board has chosen to make some changes over the objections of certain groups. Our firm has been fortunate enough to have one of our lawyers, Joseph Brown, appointed by the Chairman of the State Board as a member of the Advisory Council since 2019. As such, Joseph spends the first week of October fighting to improve the types of benefits and medical treatment workers injured workers are able to receive.
In the event a party believes the other side is not performing their duty involving a claim, the aggrieved party can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). An ALJ is able to conduct court hearings where they receive evidence and testimony, evaluate legal arguments, and issue legal opinions. These hearings are similar to what you might think of, when you think of court. The main difference is there is no jury. The ALJ is the ultimate decision maker on who is right and who is wrong in any workers' compensation dispute.
Yes. You can appeal a decision of an ALJ to the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division consists of 3 judges (Chairman and 2 Directors) who will hear the appeal and issue a decision.
You can appeal any decision by the Appellate Division to the Superior Court of the county where the work injury occurred. After the Superior Court, a case can be appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, or ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States. It is important to note that you have a right to appeal any decision up to the level of the Superior Court. Any appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, or Supreme Court of the United States is only allowed if the given Court grants an application for appeal, also knows as granting "certioari".
If you have been injured at work and need help navigating the winding road of Georgia's workers' compensation system, give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
Facing a personal injury can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. Choosing the right lawyer to represent your interests is an important decision that
can often affect the outcome of your case. In this blog post we will guide you through the steps you should take to help you in choosing the best Georgia car accident
attorney to represent you.
Consider the type of injury you have suffered, the circumstances around it, and the complexity of your case. Different attorneys specialize in different areas of personal injury law. Therefore, knowing your specific needs will help narrow down your options.
It is always a good idea to seek recommendations from trusted friends and family members if they have had personal experiences with injury attorneys in your area. It is also a good idea to ask
other professionals, such as your family lawyer or doctor for referrals.
Online reviews can be a crucial part of finding the right personal injury attorney. These reviews can give you good insight into what experiences other clients of the firm have to say about the legal services they received at the law firm. Look for reviews on Google, Yelp or other legal directories. Consistently positive feedback is a very good sign.
Effective communication is a crucial part of legal representation. Discuss communication preferences and assess their willingness to be responsive and communicate with you throughout the
process. Ask about how often you can expect updates on your case and how you can best reach your attorney and their staff.
Consider the attorney’s experience in handling cases similar to your case. Ask about their success rate with settlement, mediation, and trial. An attorney that is experienced will have more likelihood of success in navigating complex personal injury cases.
Prepare a list of questions that come to mind after your car wreck or injury. Bring your list of questions to the initial consultation with the attorney. An experienced attorney will give you transparent answers and address all of the concerns you have up front.
It is very important to find an attorney that makes you feel comfortable and gives you a feeling of confidence and ease. Trust your instincts and consider if you can build a positive and trusting relationship with your attorney.
It is always a good idea to have an upfront and honest conversation regarding fees and payment structure. Most personal injury attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. Be sure you understand how the fee agreement is structured because every attorney handles it differently.
Selecting the right personal injury attorney is a crucial step in seeking justice and compensation for your injuries. Take the time to do your research and find a good
fit for you. Ultimately, trust your instincts when making your choice. Choose an attorney who make you feel heard, understood, and gives you confidence in their
abilities. Remember that your attorney will be your guide and advocate throughout the process of your case. They should always have your best interest in mind when
making decisions about your case.
If you've been injured in a car accident give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
After a work injury in Georgia, it is normal to have questions and concerns. Below are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions our clients have about workers' compensation following a work accident in Georgia.
Workers’ compensation is an accident insurance program paid by your employer which may provide you with medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if you are injured on the job. It also provides benefits to your dependents if you die as a result of a job-related injury.
Georgia's workers' compensation act is a section of laws contained within the Official Code of Georgia. The workers compensation act is found under Title 34, Section 9 and currently contains 432 sub-sections.
No. Only employers who have 3 or more employees are required to obtain workers' compensation insurance.
No. Railroad workers, domestic servants, and farm laborers are specifically excluded from the protections afforded under Georgia's workers' compensation act. Additionally, independent contractors are not covered unless it can be shown that the employer exercised a sufficient right of control over the independent contractor at the time of a work accident.
Possibly. Georgia residents who are injured while on the job in another state are subject to Georgia's workers compensation as as long as their employment meets certain requirements. These requirement include: the employee was hired while living in Georgia, the employer’s place of business or the residence of the employee is in the state of Georgia, and the job you were hired for was not exclusively for work outside of the state of Georgia.
You are covered from the first minute you start work for an employer.
All Georgia employers are required to post information identifying medical providers you can choose to see following a work injury. This includes:
You are entitled to medical treatment for your injury immediately. You are entitled to weekly income benefits if you are unable to work for more than 7 days. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work.
If you are injured at work in Georgia, you are entitled to receive medical and income benefits for up to 400 weeks (a little more than 7 1/2 years). If your injury is deemed "catastrophic" in nature, you may be entitled to lifetime benefits.
You are entitled to receive two-thirds (2/3 or 66%) of your average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit amount currently being $800.00 per week.
You will receive what are called permanent partial disability ("PPD") benefits based upon an amount set by law. For example, if you lost an arm or leg, you will receive benefits of 225 weeks.
You are eligible to receive a reduced benefit called temporary partial disability. The amount you receive is based upon your earnings prior to your injury, and can be received for a maximum of 350 weeks following your injury. The maximum temporary partial disability benefit is currently $533.00 per week .
While tough to think about, it is possible that a work accident can cost you your life. In these terrible instances, your dependents will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage or a maximum of $800.00 per week for death. Your dependents include your surviving spouse/partner, children/step-children, any other family member who can prove you supported them financially at the time of their fatal work accident. A widowed spouse/partner, with no children, is limited to a total amount of $320,000.00 unless he or she remarries or cohabitates in a meretricious relationship. Children are allowed to receive benefits until they turn 18 years old, unless they can show they are attending college, which allows them to receive benefits until the age of 22.
If you have been injured at work give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
While you may feel you can handle dealing with the aftermath of a car accident on your own, an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer can maximize the compensation you receive, while also easing the burden of dealing with the legal system alone. As part of their representation, a Georgia car accident lawyer will:
A good Georgia car accident lawyer will explain how the law works regarding car accidents and negligence. They should explain that in every car accident case you have to prove the other drivers careless or negligent actions were the cause of the accident. Additionally, they have to prove that you were damaged as a result of the careless of negligent actions of the other driver.
A good lawyer will spend a large amount of time at the beginning of your case thoroughly investigating the accident. For example, if you were injured in an auto accident at an intersection, your injury lawyer will want to know about lights, traffic signals, speed limits, or traffic signs that control access to the highway. This also includes includes the investigating the lighting conditions, any obstructions in the roadway, or anything else that could have caused or contributed to the accident. Additionally, you lawyer will begin to collect evidence such as:
Some cases may be more time consuming to investigate than others, such as accidents involving rideshare companies, commercial trucks, and public transportation.
A care accident lawyer will always ensure that legal deadlines, such as the statute of limitations, are met. The statute of limitations provides a deadline for when you can seek compensation for damages in a personal injury case. The limitation in Georgia for most car accident injury claims is two years, but sometimes you are required to give notice of your claim for injuries much sooner. Due to the statute of limitations in Georgia, it is important to hire a lawyer in Georgia as soon as you possibly can following a car accident.
A Georgia car accident lawyer can help you identify all of the losses you have suffered. Car accidents can result in a variety of losses. These can range from damage to a vehicle to serious physical injuries, as well as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or any other mental/emotional pain and suffering. You lawyer will do this by gathering documents to prove:
Examples of the types of documents you car accident lawyer will gather include repair estimates, medical bills & records, and pay stubs.
All of the investigating and documenting is ultimately done in order to prepare your case for trial/settlement. A Georgia car accident lawyer will us the gathered information to build your case and establish a strategy. A car accident attorney will prepare for trial/settlement:
Georgia Car Accident Lawyers charge a contingency fee. A contingency fee mean you will pay the lawyer a certain percentage of the money you receive if you win the case or settle out of court.
The insurance company will have its attorneys representing their case. The attorneys at SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers will ensure your legal rights are protected and you receive the maximum compensation possible. Learn more about how our car accident lawyers can help you by contacting SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
Under Georgia's workers compensation laws employees of a business are covered by workers' compensation insurance, while independent contractors are not. Independent contractors have been traditionally limited to construction. With a general contractor overseeing a job and then hiring specialized sub or independent contractors to perform certain work, such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc. But as the "gig economy" (Uber, Doordash, etc.) continues to grow, this distinction can become critically important in the event you are injured in a work accident.
Sometimes, it’s unclear whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Here are some questions to help determine whether someone is considered an employee or independent contractor after a work injury in Georgia:
As you can see, determining whether a worker is an independent contractor an employee resides in a legal gray area. There are many facts that go into determining whether a worker is classified as an employee or independent contractor, which is why it is important to hire an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer to help you win your case.
If you have suffered an injury a work give the our lawyers a call today for free consultation at 770-214-2500.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by a police officer or other government employee in Georgia can I still sue? The quick answer is Yes, but the process is much different than a normal personal injury lawsuit.
In Georgia, individuals typically have two years to file a lawsuit after they’re injured. That two-year time period is called the “statute of limitations.” If a lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitations period ends, the court will dismiss it.
Two years might sound like a long time. But, it’s not. Personal injury investigations often take many months. In fact, it typically takes 3-6 months for a victim’s lawyer to obtain the victim’s medical records. If medical causation is disputed, the victim’s lawyer may also have to hire an expert to review the case before it’s filed. Additionally, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be continuing to receive medical treatment for longer than 2 years.
This is where the biggest difference involving a lawsuit for injuries against a government employee comes into play. If you were injured by a city, county, or state entity, they must se served an “ante litem” notice before filing their lawsuit. “Ante litem” is a Latin phrase that translates to “before the action.” An ante litem notifies the government entity that they may be responsible for your injuries. The ante litem notice deadline typically ranges from 6 months to 1 year depending upon the government entity that caused the injury. If you do not serve the anti litem notice before the deadline, a court will dismiss your lawsuit.
If you're injuries were caused by a city/municipality, or one of their employees, you anti-litem notice has to be served within 6 months of the date of the injury. The notice must also include:
Due to the short time period for providing an ant-litem notice in this situation, it is imperative that you hire an experienced lawyer to help you with your claim.
If you're injuries were caused by the State of Georgia, or one of their employees, you anti-litem notice has to be served within 12 months of the date of the injury. The notice must include:
If you're injuries were caused by a county, or one of their employees, you anti-litem notice has to be served within 12 months of the date of the injury. While the statue of limitations for this notice is the same as claims against a state entity, there are no specific requirements of what to include in the notice. As such, it is always best to provide the same information you would provide in an anti-litem notice against the State of Georgia.
As you can see, suing a government entity in Georgia can be a complicated endeavor. Often, you may not know who is responsible for causing your injury. You may not know that the driver who hit you was working for the city or county at the time of a crash. You might not know who is responsible for managing a street or a sidewalk containing a pothole or a crack that you slipped and fell on. If you wait to act in these situations, you run the risk of being barred from recovering anything for your injuries. Which is why it is extremely important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. Give us a call today so one of our lawyers can ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Yes -- you can sue someone personally following a car accident. You have to file the lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident. Additionally, you will be required to prove the following things:
In order to prove the other driver was at-fault, you must show that the accident was due to their unsafe or negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Common causes of car accidents include:
In order to successfully sue someone following a motor vehicle accident, you must show that suffered damages. These include property damage to your vehicle, as will as personal injury damages such as medical bills or lost wages. Ways to prove damages include:
Being the victim of a car accident can affect your life in countless ways. If you were injured in a collision caused by another party, let the attorneys at SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers handle all aspects of your case so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
If you are injured on the job in Georgia, it is important to perform the following steps in order to have a successful claim. Below is a checklist of things to do if you are injured while working in Georgia.
In Georgia, you have 30 days to report your injury to your employer. Although 30 days is the maximum amount of time you can wait to report an injury, the old adage "the sooner, the better" applies. The sooner you report an injury to your employer, the sooner the workers' compensation system can kick in to provide you with medical treatment, and possibly replacement of lost income.
It is also important to report ALL injuries, even if you believe they are small or will heal on there own. Injuries, particularly the older you get, can be tricky. Things that may have healed with rest when you were younger, might now require medical intervention. So it is extremely important to report ALL injuries, no matter how small. Reporting the injury protects you and is the first step in bringing a successful workers compensation claim.
After reporting an injury, you should always ask for medical treatment. Whether it be with a plant nurse, or with a workers' compensation doctor, it is important to have any injury evaluated quickly. Evidence supports the fact that quick medical treatment results in faster recovery time. Additionally, medical providers generally keep detailed records, which will help prove your injury was the result of working rather than being caused by something else.
Most injuries are initially treated conservatively. This type of treatment includes medication, rest, physical therapy, and work restrictions (i.e. no lifting more than 10 pounds). It is important to follow your medical providers instructions in order to increase the chances of making a full recovery. This includes telling your employer that you can not perform your regular job in the event a doctor places you on work restrictions.
Georgia workers' compensation cases can hinge on whether or not you have proper documentation for an injury. It is extremely important to document everything relating to your work accident and injury. So be sure to keep any documents you receive from your employer and any medical providers. It may also be beneficial to start a journal, or take notes, regarding medical treatment you receive and the types of symptoms your injury is causing.
Georgia's workers' compensation system is a specialized part of the law. As such, many of the issues involving a workers' compensation claim are unique and different from common law used in personal injury claims. Due to this specialization, it is crucial to hire an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to maximize the compensation and medical treatment you receive following an accident.
If you, or a loved one, has been injured while working in Georgia. Give our experienced lawyers a call today for a free consultation at (770) 214-2500.