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.
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.
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.
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.
What is uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance and why is it important to have in Georgia? In Georgia, every individual driving a motor vehicle (excluding commercial vehicles like big rigs, which have different requirements) is required to carry automotive liability insurance. The minimum requirements under Georgia law require the policy to have minimum coverage of
This means that in any type of accident involving the covered driver, the insurance policy will only pay a maximum of $25,000 to any individual injured in the accident, with a maximum combined payout of $50,000 per accident. Additionally, a minimum coverage auto insurance policy will also only pay for up to $25,000 in property damage (damage to another vehicle, building, etc.). Many of the well known, as well as highly advertised, insurance providers issue these types of policies.
In Georgia, about 12% of drivers do not have liability insurance. Our neighbors, whose drivers come into Georgia every day are even worse. In Florida 26.7% of drivers are uninsured and in Alabama the figure is 18.4% drivers do not have auto insurance.
Well what happens if you are in an auto accident where the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or the accident results in bodily injury or property damage that exceeds the coverage limits of the insurance policy? This is where uninsured and underinsured auto insurance come into play.
Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is a type of auto insurance coverage designed to protect you if you're involved in an accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. In can also come in handy in other instances, such as hit-and-run accidents where the responsible driver cannot be identified.
Here are situations where uninsured motorist insurance comes into play:
Underinsured Motorist Coverage is often included as part of uninsured motorist coverage. It's purpose is to kick in when an at-fault driver has insurance, but their coverage limit is lower than the costs you've incurred due to the accident. For example, say an at-fault driver has the minimum coverage required by Georgia law. Following an accident, the victim has extensive medical treatment due to injuries suffered in the accident and accumulates medical bills of $50,000. Without underinsured auto insurance, the victim will likely be limited to collecting a total of $25,000 from the at-fault drivers insurance company. Unless the at-fault driver is independently wealthy, the odds of recovering the additional $25,000 in medical bills is very slim.
Your underinsured motorist coverage can fill in this gap. If you have underinsured motorist coverage, then your insurance company would be responsible for paying the additional $25,000 for the medical bills resulting from the car accident.
Keep in mind that uninsured motorist coverage generally doesn't cover vehicle/property damage. It is mainly designed to cover your medical expenses and other costs resulting from the accident.
Georgia law requires all automobile insurers operating in Georgia to offer uninsured motorist coverage to policyholders in the same amount as the liability coverage purchased. Which as previously stated, is a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, and $25,000 for property damage.
That being said, an insured driver can opt out of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage being included in their policy. This opt out has to be made in writing.
You should always notify your own car insurance if you are involved in a car accident, even if it is not your fault and even if the at-fault driver has insurance. In order to file a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist you are required to give the insurance company notice so they have time to investigate the accident. The old adage "the sooner, the better" applies when giving notice to your uninsured/underinsured about a possible claim, as waiting too long could allow the insurance company to deny payment.
If you or a love one have been injured in an auto accident, give our experienced lawyers a call to discuss your legal options today at (770) 214-2500.
It's that time of year again in West Georgia, where kids start another year of learning at school. Whether it be by bus, walking, or riding a bike, the increased traffic and congestion on the road can de dangerous. Below are a few back to school safety tips to think about.
In Georgia, school zone's are usually clearly marked and have a posted speed limit which is slower than the surrounding roadway. When driving through a school zone it is always important to limit distractions. Additional safety tips include:
It is always a good idea to practice the walking route with your child before the 1st day of school. While practicing the walk, it would also be a great time to freshen up on pedestrian safety.
In the event you are injured in a car accident in Georgia due to the negligence of someone else, the law allows you to recover damages from the individual who caused the harm. These may include compensatory damages, consequential/special damages, and punitive damages.
Compensation, or "compensatory damages," is a type of monetary award that is intended to compensate the injured party for their actual losses and expenses resulting from a wrongful act or negligence of another party. The primary purpose of compensatory damages is to make the injured party "whole" again, as much as possible, by providing financial reimbursement for the harm they have suffered.
Consequential damages, also known as "special damages," are a type of legal remedy available in certain cases. These damages are different from compensatory damages, which are the immediate and foreseeable losses resulting directly from another individual's negligence or wrongful act.
Consequential damages refer to the additional losses or harm that occur as a consequence or result of another person's negligence. They are not the direct result of the negligence itself but are rather the secondary or indirect damages that flow from the negligence. These damages are generally not evident or foreseeable at the time the negligence is committed.
Also referred to as "non-economic damages," general damages are intended for losses that don't have a precise monetary value. These types of damages are subjective and can range from a relatively paltry amount all the way up to hundreds of millions of dollars. These damages are more subjective and are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the non-financial harm they have endured due to the defendant's actions. General damages may include:
In Georgia, to be eligible for punitive damages, the plaintiff must show by "clear and convincing evidence the defendant's actions demonstrated willful misconduct, malice, fraud, oppression, wantonness, or conscious indifference to the consequences. The standard of "clear and convincing evidence" is higher than the typical "preponderance of the evidence" standard used for most other civil matters.
Punitive damages are a type of monetary award that goes beyond compensating the plaintiff for their actual losses. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to make the injured party whole again by reimbursing them for specific economic and non-economic losses, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their egregious conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful behavior in the future.
Recently, Georgia enacted a law that imposes a cap on punitive damages. The total amount of punitive damages awarded cannot exceed $250,000 unless certain exceptions apply. Exceptions include cases where the defendant acted with specific intent to cause harm, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or engaged in conduct constituting a felony for which the defendant was convicted. Additionally, Georgia law grants immunity from punitive damages to certain entities and individuals, such as volunteer organizations, healthcare providers who treat indigent patients, and manufacturers or distributors of certain products.
Being involved in a car accident in Georgia can be a traumatic experience. Individuals involved may suffer serious injuries that require significant medical treatment and, in some cases, long-term care. In 2020, motor vehicle crashes were the second leading cause of injury deaths and the second leading cause of hospitalizations and ER visits in Georgia. This can lead to undue medical expenses, lost earnings, and other significant damages for which the responsible driver may be held liable. In order to understand your rights and determine how best to proceed, give the professionals at SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers a call today for a free consultation (770) 214-2500.