If you've sustained significant injuries in an accident that wasn't your fault, the aftermath can be both overwhelming and bewildering. These injuries could result from various types of accidents. In Georgia, motor vehicle collisions rank as the primary cause of injury-related fatalities and the second leading cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Navigating through this situation, you might be uncertain about the next steps and concerned about when life will regain a sense of normalcy. This concern is heightened, especially if your injury has led to the loss of a job or income.
Below are here are four mistakes to avoid while you’re healing from your injuries and/or preparing to file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Following an accident, obtaining timely medical care is of utmost importance. Only a doctor can assess and diagnose your injuries, a crucial step for both your healing process and potential personal injury case. Acting promptly is not only essential for your recovery but also plays a pivotal role in supporting your legal claim.
Delaying medical attention might create the impression that you were not injured or that your injuries were not significant. It could be argued that you were well enough to carry on with your life without seeking medical advice. Compliance with your doctor's treatment and recovery instructions is a factor scrutinized in personal injury cases. Failing to consult a doctor promptly will likely harm your chances of a full recovery from the insurance company.
Upon consulting a doctor post-accident, you initiate the documentation process for your case. Your medical records play a crucial role in establishing a link between the accident and your resulting injuries. Beyond medical documentation, various other forms of evidence contribute to building a comprehensive case.
Depending on the nature of the incident, these documents may encompass a police report, photographs from the accident scene, available dashcam footage, and statements from eyewitnesses. An investigation is conducted to discern the circumstances surrounding the accident. The more thorough the documentation, the more effectively it constructs a narrative demonstrating that you were a victim of someone else's negligence.
Insufficient or lacking documentation makes it considerably challenging to build a robust case on your behalf. To gather compelling evidence, ensure the prompt involvement of the police in motor vehicle accidents, capture photos or videos, and secure eyewitness statements. Additionally, retain copies of receipts for any expenses related to the accident.
Following an accident, it's possible that an insurance company will reach out to you, often seeking a phone conversation. These companies are notorious for employing deceptive strategies to exploit individuals unfamiliar with the compensation process after an accident.
One such tactic involves requesting your consent for a recorded statement. The adjuster might attempt to lead you into making statements that could imply fault on your part for the accident. When contacted by the adjuster, it is advisable to direct them to your attorney. Refrain from engaging in conversation until you have sought legal advice.
The process of seeking compensation after an accident is intricate, and while it might appear cost-effective to handle it independently, the opposite is often true. It is crucial to have a lawyer with a proven track record of successfully representing numerous personal injury clients.
An experienced attorney can manage your entire case, taking care of interactions with insurance companies and negotiating settlements. Although the majority of cases are resolved without going to court, in the event of unsuccessful negotiations, you require a lawyer capable of constructing a compelling case to advocate for your justice in the courtroom.
If you have been injured, call our experienced lawyers today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
Navigating personal injury law in Georgia can be intricate, and misconceptions frequently steer individuals in the wrong direction when dealing with legal matters related to personal injuries. At SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers, our goal is to offer top-notch representation for personal injury cases throughout the State of Georgia. Leveraging our extensive knowledge and resources, we are dedicated to assisting clients in understanding and maneuvering through the legal complexities to secure the compensation they rightfully deserve. This in-depth guide aims to dispel common misconceptions about personal injury law, provide insights into the legal process, and underscore the significance of seeking specialized legal assistance.
There's a common misconception that personal injury cases are simple and adhere to a standardized procedure, but this is far from reality. Personal injury cases span a broad spectrum of incidents, including car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and product liability. Each case presents its distinct circumstances, evidence prerequisites, and legal standards. It's essential to acknowledge that the particulars of your case profoundly impact the legal approach taken and the potential compensation you might be eligible for.
Although certain personal injury cases may be promptly resolved, it is a misconception to assume that all claims are settled swiftly. The duration of a case is contingent on several factors, such as the complexity of the incident, the extent of injuries, the accessibility of evidence, and the cooperation of the parties involved. It is crucial to approach personal injury cases with realistic expectations and to recognize that the legal process may require time to achieve a fair and equitable resolution.
A prevalent misconception is that enlisting the services of a personal injury attorney is redundant, and individuals can manage their cases independently. Yet, maneuvering through the legal system without professional guidance can pose challenges and potentially result in unfavorable outcomes. Personal injury lawyers bring in-depth legal knowledge, experience in handling comparable cases, and essential negotiation skills to enhance the likelihood of securing fair compensation. They are well-versed in the strategies employed by insurance companies and defense attorneys, effectively safeguarding your rights.
Contrary to common belief, most personal injury cases are resolved through negotiations rather than proceeding to trial. Litigation can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor for everyone involved. Seasoned personal injury attorneys dedicate themselves to negotiating equitable settlements outside the courtroom, alleviating clients from the stress and unpredictability of a trial. Nevertheless, in instances where a fair settlement remains elusive, adept trial attorneys are ready to litigate your case and advocate for your rights in court.
There is a common belief that personal injury compensation only addresses medical expenses resulting from an accident or incident. While medical costs are a significant part of compensation, personal injury law acknowledges that victims may endure various other damages. Compensation may encompass lost wages, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Collaborating with an experienced personal injury attorney, who evaluates the complete range of your damages and advocates for comprehensive compensation, is crucial.
Personal injury claims are bound by statutes of limitations, legal deadlines that dictate the period within which you can initiate a lawsuit. These limitations differ based on the nature of the incident, the jurisdiction, and other factors. Neglecting to commence legal proceedings within the designated timeframe may lead to the forfeiture of your right to pursue compensation. It is essential to promptly seek the guidance of a personal injury attorney after an incident to ensure adherence to all relevant deadlines.
Misunderstandings about personal injury law frequently give rise to misconceptions that may negatively affect the rights of those who have suffered accidents. Our aim is to dispel these common misconceptions, illuminate the intricacies of personal injury cases, and empower individuals to make informed decisions when seeking legal help. At SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers, our devoted team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to delivering outstanding representation and vigorously advocating for our clients' rights. If you've sustained injuries due to someone else's negligence, we encourage you to reach out to our firm for a complimentary consultation. Together, we can navigate the legal process and strive towards securing the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Medical malpractice in Georgia refers to the professional negligence or misconduct by a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, or other medical professionals, which results in harm to a patient. This negligence may occur through actions, errors, or omissions during the diagnosis, treatment, or general care of a patient. Medical malpractice cases typically involve a breach of the standard of care that a reasonably competent healthcare professional would provide in similar circumstances.
Recent studies have estimated errors may account for as many as 251,000 deaths annually in the United States, making medical errors the third leading cause of death. Error rates are significantly higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the United Kingdom. At the same time less than 10 percent of medical errors are reported.
Medical malpractice cases can be complex, and they often involve expert testimony to establish the standard of care and to demonstrate how the healthcare provider's actions deviated from that standard. Additionally, medical malpractice cases can be very expensive to bring to trial, with expenses typically exceeding $50,000.00 before the case even makes it to a court room.
With that being said, medical malpractice cases have a higher average settlement value compared to other injury cases. This is due to the severe nature of the injuries caused by medical negligence. Nationally, the average settlement payout for medical malpractice claims is between $300,000 to $380,000. For cases that go to trial, and win, the average verdict is just north of $1 million dollars.
Laws regarding medical malpractice vary by jurisdiction, and there are specific procedural requirements and time limits for filing a claim. In Georgia, you have 2 years from the date of the malpractice (or 2 years from when a reasonable person would have learned of the malpractice) in order to file a lawsuit. Additionally, Georgia requires that any malpractice suit include a signed affidavit from a physician who practices in the same specialty as the physician accused of malpractice. Without the accompanying affidavit, any malpractice lawsuit will be dismissed.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, give our attorneys a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation to assess the merits of your case.
If someone asked you the most dangerous season of year to drive, what would your answer be? If you guess Fall, you would are correct. Fall is the most dangerous time of the year to drive, even more dangerous than winter. Not too many people realize it, but fall is the most dangerous season with a motorist’s risk of being involved in car accidents at its highest during these days.
Carfax recently announced that according to its data, it is autumn and not winter which is the deadliest season of the year for drivers. In fact, according to the data, more than 72% of Americans live in states like Georgia where fall is the deadliest season of the year with the highest number of auto accidents recorded.
There are a number of reasons why the risk of car accidents is greater during fall season compared to other times of the year, but the 3 biggest culprits of increased accident are:
Avoid becoming a car accident statistic this Fall by following a few simple steps.
If you have been injured in an accident in Georgia, you may be dealing with pain while also facing substantial medical bills. People often do not know the steps that they should take to protect their rights. Here are some brief answers to frequently asked questions about Georgia personal injury claims.
If you have been injured in a Georgia accident, the most important priority is getting medical attention. Assuming that you are not taken to the emergency room immediately, you should take photos or videos of the accident scene and get the contact information of any witnesses. You should not admit fault or apologize to anyone else who was involved, even if it seems like a polite thing to do. Anything that you say in the aftermath of an accident can be used against you if you pursue a claim or lawsuit later. If you suspect that someone else may have been at fault, you should set up a consultation with an attorney to discuss your options. The first consultation is almost always free.
Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial. The overwhelming majority end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to reach a settlement is hard to predict and can vary dramatically. As a general rule, a claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to settle because the insurer will fight harder over it. If the case is complex or liability is unclear, a settlement also may take longer to reach. Hiring an attorney sometimes can motivate an insurer to make a fair offer earlier in the process, since they know that they are less likely to take advantage of you.
The insurance for the at-fault party will not pay for your lost wages in the immediate aftermath of the accident. You can use PIP coverage if you were injured in a car crash or another accident, or you may be able to get short-term or long-term disability benefits through your employer. These insurers usually will need to be reimbursed when and if you get a settlement. If you have vacation time, sick time, paid time off, or other forms of “comp” time through your employer, you can use these as well.
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.
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.