We are here to help. We offer free legal advice. Call our Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer today.You don’t need to worry about having money to get the answers you need. Give us a call any time to schedule your free legal consultation.The information below will provide you with an overview of your drunk driving accident claim. First, we’ll show you the most common mistakes people make in Atlanta when involved in drunk driving accidents. Next, we’ll use a story to give you more information, and hopefully answer some of your questions about your claim. Be sure to read to the end to get as much as possible from the information that follows.
Common Drunk Driving Accident Mistakes
You may think it would be easy to get compensation for damages caused by a drunk driver. Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes the victims of these accidents make that devalue claims. Be sure to read through them to make sure you don’t make these same errors.
Not Getting Checked by A Doctor
In the aftermath of a traumatic experience, such as an automobile accident, people typically experience a rush of stress hormones. These hormones are a leftover from our nomadic days when people were much more vulnerable to attack from predators. The adrenaline and cortisol flooding your system was meant to help you outrun such a threat, even while injured, if possible. To help achieve this, the hormones diminish our ability to feel pain while providing a sudden burst of energy.
These days, threats come from very different sources, including drunk drivers. After a drunk driving accident, the stress hormone rush does more harm than good, keeping us from seeking medical help when we should. Not getting evaluated threatens both physical safety and the welfare of a drunk driving claim.
Skipping the medical exam gives the insurance provider responsible for damages a chance to claim you weren’t injured as severely as you say you were. If you get a medical exam but wait a day or more, the insurance company can still try to suggest that you could have been injured after the accident in an unrelated event.
Protect your claim from vulnerability by getting your injuries on record with a doctor as soon after the accident as possible. This record will carry a date and timestamp that coincides with that of the accident, adding further credibility to your claim.
Be Sure to Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan
All too often, people injured in drunk driving accidents forget to take medications as directed, let physical therapy appointments slide, or fail to follow their doctor’s treatment plan in some other way. As with the previous mistake, not following the treatment plan your doctor has laid out for you can jeopardize your claim.
If the insurance company can find evidence that you never finished your antibiotics, skipped out on physical or occupational therapy, or neglected any other treatment plan you were given, they will again use it to try to lower the value of your claim. “After all,” they will say, “If you aren’t taking the doctor’s plan seriously, how injured could you really be?”
Don’t give the insurance provider the opportunity to escape their obligation. Be diligent about medications and all follow-up appointments after your accident. And don’t take on activities too soon that your doctor has told you to stop for the time being. This may include things like a sport you love or even a strenuous aspect of your job.
Make sure you get the rest, medicine, therapies, and treatment you need to recover from your injuries and protect the value of your claim.
Don’t Give the Insurance Provider a Recorded Statement
After your accident, you can expect a representative of the insurance company to call and ask for a recorded statement. They may try to convince you this is the best way to move your claim along. They are almost certainly going to sound sympathetic. They’ll provide a listening ear and get you talking, if you give them half a chance.
Don’t fall for this. Insurance representatives are well-trained in the art of getting people to open up. Hopefully, remembering that they are calling to help the insurance company’s bottom line when you are at your most vulnerable will give you the strength to hang up the phone. You can be polite. Just tell them “No, thank you,” and hang up. Or easier still, don’t pick up the call.Many people don’t know they are not legally obligated to speak to insurance representatives. You are well within your rights to delegate this responsibility to your Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer.
Waiting to Hire a Lawyer
When you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you may be so overwhelmed or so focused on recovering and getting back to work that you shelve finding a lawyer or filing a claim, until “sometime soon.” All too often, “sometime” comes and goes and the statute of limitations on filing your claim runs out.
Don’t put your claim at risk. Keep in mind that even if the statute of limitations in Georgia gives you two years to file, evidence does not hang around. Both physical evidence and witness testimony will be harder to come by the longer you wait. The sooner you hire an experienced lawyer to handle your drunk driving accident claim, the stronger the case they can prepare for you.
Choosing the Wrong Lawyer
It’s important to remember that not all lawyers will bring you equal results for your accident claim. Just like doctors, lawyers have practice areas in which they specialize. Just as you wouldn’t go to an eye doctor for a stomach ulcer, you should not look to your mother’s estate attorney for your accident claim.
In addition to looking for a lawyer who spends the majority of their focus on personal injury, look for a trial lawyer. Not all lawyers are trial lawyers. And while it’s true that not all claims go all the way to trial, it’s a possibility. If yours goes the distance, you need to know the lawyer representing you has the skills to win.
Ironically, there’s also the possibility that hiring a trial lawyer saves your claim from going to court. It’s common for insurance companies to be familiar with the best trial lawyers in their regions. If your case is handled by one of these trial lawyers, the insurance company may change their mind about refusing to consider a fair settlement.
No matter how your claim goes, your best chance for compensation will be an experienced personal injury trial lawyer who has handled drunk driving accident claims.
Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Client Story
The story that follows will give you additional insight into your drunk driving accident claim. The names and details have been edited to protect the identity of our client, but the value of the information remains. Make sure you read it all the way through to get the most out of it. When you’re finished, please take us up on our offer of free legal advice and call to schedule your consultation about your case.
On a warm Saturday night not so long ago, nineteen-year-old Amanda Hebert exited the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta with her college roommate Lainey and their friend Jada after a concert. They laughed and talked excitedly about their amazing seats and the phenomenal acoustics at the concert as they searched the sea of cars for Amanda’s blue Honda.
As the girls waited in the long line to exit the parking lot, they made plans for the next day. Amanda and Jada had a Chemistry midterm Monday, and Lainey had an English paper due Monday and her English midterm on Tuesday. Each of them had additional midterms during the rest of the coming week. They decided to spend Sunday morning studying and then meet up for lunch at 1:00 p.m.Talk turned to Thanksgiving as Amanda finally inched the blue Honda up to the light at Pryor. She liked the school and loved her new friends, but she was homesick. She was looking forward to the drive home to Tennessee next weekend. Her mom was ecstatic and blowing up her phone with pictures of the house decorated for the holidays. She’d also sent Amanda the list of food she was cooking for the big dinner. Amanda’s stomach made a loud sound just thinking about it, sending peals of laughter through the car.
The light changed and the girls were finally able to pull onto Pryor to head south. Amanda’s left turn was cut short, however, when a drunk driver ran the light and T-boned the Honda. Amanda never knew what hit her.
Amanda was in a coma for four days. She’d suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a punctured lung. Her left femur and ulna were broken. Her friends had both been belted into the passenger side of the car. They, too had suffered broken bones, but Amanda had taken the brunt of the collision.
Waking up, Amanda found herself looking into the concerned face of her brother, Max. She was confused, unable to recall the accident. Even more confusing was her brother’s swift exit from the room when she’d tried to speak. Could she be dreaming? Max was up at the University of Tennessee…Amanda’s jumbled thoughts were interrupted as Calvin and Marian, otherwise known as “Mom” and “Dad” rushed in. Amanda blinked at their tearful faces, trying to get her bearings.
Now a short, soft-spoken woman in her fifties in a white lab coat swept into the room, Max close on her heels.“You’re lucky to be alive,” said Dr. Manzana, checking her vitals. Amanda gazed into the doctor’s warm brown eyes, marveling that she barely came up to her father’s armpit. The thought made her laugh and laugh, unable to stop even as her eyes brimmed with tears.
“Emotional outbursts are to be expected until the brain swelling subsides,” the doctor somberly explained. She turned to Amanda, “The good news is, we may be able to transfer you to a rehabilitation facility by Christmas. We’ll see how you’re doing with your TBI in the coming weeks.”“Christmas…” Amanda mumbled as the severity of her situation suddenly dawned on her. “CHRISTMAS?! I’m going to be in a rehab facility at Christmas!” She wailed, looking desperately to her father. Now the tears flowed in earnest, and she didn’t even try to stop them. Her mother took her hand gently and searched the doctor’s face for help.
“Like I said, the emotions will bounce around for a while,” she said. Patting Marian’s shoulder, the doctor turned and disappeared out the door as abruptly as she’d come in.
A week later, Max entered the hospital room and showed our website to Marian on his phone. Amanda was coming to terms with the accident and how long it may take her to recover, now fully aware of the challenges that lay ahead. When her parents asked her if she was up for a meeting with us, she agreed.
Calvin called our offices and explained that they had three main questions: how much would it cost to hire us to represent their daughter’s case, how much would the claim be worth, and how long would it take?
How much does it cost to hire a drunk driving accident lawyer?
We met Amanda and her parents the next day in the hospital room. After we sat down, Amanda looked protectively from her parents to us and said, “Before we get too far with this, how much do you charge? My parents are already dealing with two kids in college; the last thing they need are hefty legal fees.”
Marian quickly jumped in, “Honey, don’t you worry about that,” she said, looking at us, “Whatever it costs…”
“Actually, Mrs. Hebert, we don’t charge anything upfront. We operate on a contingency fee basis. This means we don’t get paid unless we bring Amanda’s claim to a successful resolution.”
“Okay, you can stay, then,” Amanda said with a smirk as she and her parents visibly relaxed a little.
What is my drunk driving accident claim worth?
“What’s a case like mine worth, you think?” Amanda asked next.
We told her that unfortunately, it’s tough to predict at the outset. “The first thing we need to do is conduct a thorough accident investigation. We’ll gather evidence and speak to witnesses. We can begin that process immediately, but the other factor that will determine the worth of your claim, Amanda is your damages. To determine those, we’ll need you to reach maximum medical improvement.
“This means reaching a level of recovery that returns you to what your doctors would consider ‘back to normal.’ If that’s not possible, given your injuries, then maximum medical improvement will be when you’ve reached your ‘new normal.’
“Your job, Amanda, is to focus on recovery. That means getting all the rest you can and following your doctor’s orders for your treatment plan, including going to the rehabilitation facility, should it be necessary.”
“Rehab,” Amanda said as if the word was sour in her mouth.“Absolutely— if transitioning to a rehabilitation facility is what you need. Physical therapy exercises, medication, anything else the doctors think will be beneficial. You are now an active participant in your recovery,” our lawyer replied.
Can I sue a drunk driver if the person is already facing criminal charges?
“Speaking of ‘active participant,’” Calvin said, “The driver that hit our daughter was drunk. Blood alcohol off the charts. If he’s facing criminal charges, can we also file a personal injury claim?”
“Yes, you can,” our lawyer replied. “In fact, the police and accident reports will constitute a valuable part of our evidence.”
How long will my drunk driving accident case take?
Marian jumped in. “Can you tell us how long a case like this usually takes?”
“Again, I have to tell you that there is no set answer to that. It’s going to depend on two factors. The first is your damages. As we’ve said, we won’t know those until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement.
“Once we know your damages, we’ll send a demand letter to all insurance companies involved. With your case, there may also be a claim against the bar the driver had just left. We’ll know more as we get into the investigation.“The second factor determining the timeline of your case is whether the insurance companies respond in a reasonable and fair manner, or not,” the lawyer said.“And if they don’t?” Marian asked.
“Then we sue. Please don’t let this possibility alarm you, though. We are experienced trial attorneys with a successful track record of winning cases like yours.
“Ironically, the insurance industry’s awareness of our reputation may keep your case out of the courtroom. Insurance companies often become much more willing to negotiate a fair settlement when faced with the prospect of a jury trial. The last thing they want is a jury deciding the compensation you should receive from a drunk driver.
“Whether your case heads for the negotiation table or the courtroom, Amanda, be assured that we’ll be ready. That’s why no matter whom you choose to represent you, we always recommend you go with a successful trial lawyer.”
Amanda and her family were satisfied with the information they got during their free consultation. The retained us that day, and we are pleased to say we got Amanda over seven times the amount the insurance companies initially offered.
Call our Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Today
No one should have to endure the pain and trauma of a drunk driving accident. We hope this page has answered some of your questions about your drunk driving accident claim. That said, every case is unique, and the last thing you need is to take on your own claim while recovering from your injuries. Let us help. Call as soon as you can to schedule your free case evaluation.