Accidents happen and sometimes, when people act carelessly, there can be serious injuries involved. It is something that can turn your life upside down. If you have been seriously injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering what you can do to recover for your medical bills, lost wages, and mental anguish. Our Atlanta personal injury attorney is here to guide you through the steps of your case. You are a priority and the success of your case is important to us. After you read about your personal injury case, please do not hesitate to give our office a call to set up a free consultation.
Types of Personal Injury Cases We Handle
Personal injury is a term that covers a lot of ground. There are several different types of personal injury cases which we have successfully handled before. These include:
- Slip and falls
- Car accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Pedestrian accidents
- Negligent security
Each case comes with a host of injuries that need to be treated right away. They also require specialized representation. When you are looking for a Atlanta personal injury attorney, you need to take into consideration their experience with your particular type of personal injury case. When you hire someone who has a proven track record with your case type, you greatly increase the chances of you getting the best possible outcome.
Georgia Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
If you are injured in Georgia, you need to be aware of the laws that are in place that apply to you. It is important you know the statute of limitations in particular. The statute of limitations is a term for the amount of time you are allowed to bring your claim or have it settled in civil court. Georgia permits two years starting from the date of your accident/injury to bring or settle your claim. There are some exceptions to this with cases like medical malpractice or nursing home negligence. These are cases where you may not be able to immediately discover that there has been negligence. For instance, you may not realize the pharmacist gave you the wrong medication right away. In those types of cases, your statute of limitations begins when you have discovered, or should have reasonably discovered, that there was negligence.
Personal Injury Compensation Laws in Georgia
Very often, there will be fingers pointed at you when you try to bring a personal injury claim. Even if there was a clear liable party other than yourself, the insurance company for the other party tries to turn it around and blame you to reduce their responsibility to give you compensation. When that happens, we put the laws of compensation into play. Georgia follows modified comparative negligence laws which has to do with the reduction or elimination of your ability to collect an award. For example, if you have been involved in a car accident where a driver hit you after running through a stop sign, but you were speeding, then you would most likely share some fault. Let’s say you were awarded $10,000 for your injuries, but were found to be 20% at fault for the accident. You would then be allowed to collect $8,000 of that award to account for your role in causing the accident. Georgia law requires the application of comparative negligence laws when there is shared fault between the two parties. This often is a source of contention during negotiations for settlements.
Biggest Personal Injury Case Mistake to Avoid
Shortly after your accident, you will most likely be receiving a call from the liable party’s insurance company. The representative assigned to your case is going to have a goal, which is to get a recorded statement from you. It is imperative that you do not give them any kind of statement. No matter how convincing they are when they tell you it will help resolve your case sooner, you should never agree to do this. All it takes is one wrong answer and you could ruin your case. The insurance company knows this and they are trained to ask questions which illicit a response that is damaging to your case. We suggest that you allow your attorney to take over all communication with the insurance company to avoid any damage.
Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions
What mistakes should I avoid when filing a personal injury claim?
We frequently see people come into our office who have caused damage to their personal injury claim without even knowing it. The first mistake we often see people make is not calling the police and filing a police report when an accident occurs. It’s essential to have the police arrive and make a police report so that, one, the claim is documented – what occurred, where it occurred and when it occurred – and, two, that we have the information necessary to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. If no police report is taken, those drivers may disappear, and we may never be able to locate them to pursue your claim.
A second thing we see people do is not accurately report their injuries at the scene of the incident. We frequently have people tell the responding officer that they are not hurt, when, in fact, they admit to us that they were already experiencing pain. This is not the time to be tough and hide your injuries. Make sure that your injuries are accurately recorded. It’s not good for us if at the scene you claim to have been suffering from pain, but the accident report says, “no injuries reported.” Tell the officer when you are feeling pain.
Another thing that people do that is very detrimental to their claim is not seeking medical treatment immediately after they’ve been injured. If you are feeling pain at the accident scene, go to the hospital and get checked out. If it’s not until the next morning that you begin to feel pain, which is very common, go that day and get checked out. This does two things: it documents the injuries that you’re having and when you began having them, and it begins your recovery right away.
Finally, make sure you hire an attorney immediately to help preserve your rights and walk you through this process. If you try to handle these cases yourself, insurance companies will take advantage of you because you don’t have a lawyer that knows the process. Don’t just hire a lawyer; hire the right lawyer – one that’s experienced and knows how to handle these cases.
What should I look for when choosing a personal injury attorney?
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when hiring a personal injury attorney. First, you want to make sure that the attorney you hire dedicates his or her practice solely to personal injury lawsuits. There are many attorneys out there who may spend significant time handling other types of cases, such as criminal cases or bankruptcies, but will also handle a personal injury case too if it comes along. You’re not doing yourself a service if you hire a law firm that doesn’t handle injury cases every day. At The Gunnels Law Firm, we exclusively handle personal injury lawsuits.
Another thing to take into consideration is to what extent the attorney you hire knows how the insurance system works. Insurance companies have their own way of doing things and determining what the value of a personal injury case is. I spent many years representing insurance companies in personal injury lawsuits and know how they work, how they think and what moves the needle. I eventually determined that I was on the wrong side of that litigation and wanted to spend my time helping individuals who had to fight with these insurance companies. Now I can put that experience that I have being on the other side to use for individuals that I represent. It’s important to have an attorney that knows how that system works.
You also want to make sure that the law firm or attorney you’re hiring is getting good results in the personal injury cases they are handling. Ask about results they’re receiving and how often they’re trying cases. It’s important to know that you’re working with someone that is willing to do all the work that is necessary.
The final thing, as previously mentioned, is making sure you have an attorney who tries cases. There are way too many attorneys that aren’t willing to take a case all the way to trial, and the insurance companies know who those attorneys are. We strive to never be an attorney who is going to be looked at as being afraid to take a case to trial. We are in the courtroom a lot, and the insurance companies we deal with know that.
You don’t want to find yourself with an attorney who is going to just take the best offer the insurance company will give you. In many instances, the insurance company is not going to be the one that gives you a fair offer and you’re going to have to take the case to a jury to make sure you are fairly compensated. We pride ourselves in going through the entire process and not stopping until we’ve achieved justice for our clients.
Why do I need a personal injury attorney after an accident in Georgia?
When people call us to discuss claims, one thing they often want to know is why they need a personal injury attorney to handle their Georgia claim. The reason is insurance companies are not going to treat them fairly without the representation of an attorney. Attorneys that practice personal injury law know how these claims work and know how to build a case. They know the steps that need to be taken in each situation to maximize the recovery of the case. Insurance companies are just going to assume that general individuals who are not attorneys don’t understand these steps, and they’re going to try to take advantage of that in every situation.
We have seen some of the most ridiculous offers from insurance companies to people who did not have representation until they decide to hire us to handle their claim. Make sure that you don’t allow the insurance company to take advantage of you in your personal injury claim. If you have a claim and you need assistance, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you.
Can I hire an attorney after I’ve already started my personal injury claim?
We often get calls from people who thought that they could handle their personal injury lawsuit on their own but realized after beginning discussions with an insurance company that they weren’t going to be treated fairly without the representation of an attorney. This happens often, and insurance companies will take advantage of you if you’re not represented by an attorney.
In many situations, a person has begun to work through this process and realizes that they do need assistance. In almost all of these cases we find that the individual, by beginning the work on the suit themselves, has not done any damage that we can’t undo. It is important, however, to get an attorney involved as soon as possible to give us maximum time to get the case on the right track and make sure all the appropriate boxes are being checked.
If you have begun the process of negotiating a personal injury claim and realize that you need representation in order to be taken seriously, please give us a call so we can help you get your lawsuit in the best possible position to maximize your recovery.
Should I speak with insurance companies about my accident?
We’re often asked by clients whether they should give a recorded statement to an insurance company that has requested one after an accident has occurred. The answer to that question is no. While people think they may be doing their case a service and making it better by telling their side of the story, they are at a disadvantage in those types of claims. The insurance companies have adjusters who are trained to ask questions and get information from the injured party that could be harmful to the case later on.
We want to make sure that the insurance companies do not ever get a chance to speak with our client without us present and available. To the extent that we ever do have to give recorded statements, always wait until you have an attorney to participate in the recorded statement with you.
Do I need a minimum amount of medical bills to file a personal injury claim?
When people call us over personal injury cases, one of the things they often ask is if there’s a minimum amount of medical bills that they need to have sustained in order to support a claim. The answer to that is, no, there’s no rule about how much is required in medical expenses before a claim is viable.
There are certainly cases where the amount of injuries and medical expenses that have been suffered just don’t warrant the time and expense of pursuing a case. However, there are some claims, that can be very significant, that involve a very small amount of medical expenses relative to what the injury is. One example that we’ve dealt with recently is a multiple finger amputation. There’s simply not much that can be done, other than covering the wound and sewing it shut, to help one of those cases. You can often have a lot more expenses in dealing with a – relatively speaking – back or neck injury than you may have with something as severe as fingers being amputated. Obviously in that situation, the finger amputation case would have a lot more value because of its permanent damage. While a lot of how these cases are viewed involves the amount of medical expenses that have been suffered, it’s not always a determining factor.
Will a pre-existing condition affect my personal injury claim in Georgia?
I regularly get calls from people who want to know whether a preexisting injury prevents them from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. The state of Georgia protects people whose existing injuries have been exacerbated by a personal injury. With preexisting injuries, it’s extremely important to use an attorney who has experience handling these claims; they are very different from an injury such as a broken arm or a broken leg where the source of the injury can clearly be traced to the accident. In injuries involving a neck or back, often, those injuries are not visibly apparent and it takes a lot of work to establish a timeline for when injuries occurred and when they were made worse.
Please make sure that you hire an experienced attorney to handle these claims. At the Gunnels Law Firm, we handle claims like this on a daily basis and would love to help you work through your claim. Please give us a call.
Should I accept the first settlement offer for my Georgia personal injury case?
When we reach the point of negotiating to resolve a claim for our clients, one of the first things clients want to know is whether they should take the insurance company’s first offer. In almost every situation, the answer to this question is no. One of the reasons that we spend so much time building our cases and preparing them for trial at the Gunnels Law Firm is that we want to be prepared to persuade the instance company to put their best offer on the table. That never happens at first. We have to use the information that we have gathered and present it in a form that’s persuasive to the insurance company; that may involve a process of mediation before we even get to the point of going to court.
In situations in which the insurance company has a policy for its insured that is less than the amount of compensation that is clearly due in a case, the insurance company will often put the full value of that policy on the table at the outset because they can be held liable or responsible for any amounts over that if they don’t do so in a prompt fashion. That is about the only time that an insurance company is going to put a fair offer on the table at the beginning of the negotiating process.
It’s important to make sure that you have representation that understands this process and understands how to build and present a case. If you have a case that needs to be evaluated, please give us a call at the Gunnels Law Firm.
What are the steps to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia?
When clients come to see us for their Georgia personal injury cases, one thing they want to know is what the process for filing a lawsuit is. Filing a lawsuit is a process that is undertaken by the attorney without a lot of involvement for the client, other than providing us with the factual background of the case. The first thing we have to do in evaluating a claim is find where the defendant is living so that we know in which county the case can be filed. In Georgia, the case has to be filed – when there is an individual driver – in the county in which that driver resides.
The next thing we do is file the case with the court through electronic filing and prepare a summons that is served with the lawsuit on the defendant. The summons and lawsuit is either served on the person directly by a professional process server or a police officer working for the county. After the lawsuit has been personally served on the defendant, the clock starts running on the case; the remainder of the issues involving the lawsuit have to occur within a specific period of time. If you have any questions about service of a lawsuit or the filing of a lawsuit in general, please feel free to contact us.
Can I still file a personal injury claim if I don’t want to go to court?
We see a lot of clients who tell us upfront that they don’t want to go to court. They don’t want their case to be put before a jury, and they don’t want to have to go before a judge. We handle cases like this all the time, but we have to advise our clients that it can greatly minimize the compensation that they receive in the end if they’re not willing to put the case into a lawsuit and potentially go to trial.
Prior to going to court, insurance companies generally dictate how much money they’re willing to put on a case to resolve it. In situations where we don’t feel like they have put enough compensation on the table, the next step is to file a lawsuit and to litigate the case up through and including a jury trial, if necessary. If you do not wish to do that, we understand, but it greatly limits what the potential outcome could be in those cases.
Cases like this need to be evaluated on an individual basis. We like to take the opportunity to talk our clients through what the case may look like with our without filing a lawsuit. If you have any questions about this in your case, please feel free to give us a call.
Will my personal injury case go to trial?
Something that all of our clients ask us at some point during their representation is whether their case will go to trial. The answer is we never know until the end. Insurance companies largely dictate how much compensation they are willing to give prior to a trial in any given case. At the Gunnels Law Firm, we prepare every case we have for trial so that we are prepared, in the event that the case is not able to settle and we do need to put the claim before a jury to decide the proper amount of compensation. All claims get worked up in the same diligent manner, and if we are able to resolve the case for a reasonable sum prior to going to a jury trial, we do so. However, it is our goal to make sure every case that we bring in and we litigate is prepared to go to trial in the event that it is needed.
How much is my personal injury claim worth?
When we have clients come in who have a personal injury case of any sort, they often want to know what the value of their claim is. That can vary based upon many different sources. Georgia law does not provide any type of formula that tells what someone is entitled to when they have been injured by the negligence of another person. If you have a viable personal injury action, you’re entitled to special damages, which are the medical expenses and lost wages that you have incurred, and non-economic damages, which is pain and suffering and the disruption of your life.
When determining the value of your claim, it all comes down to the amount of these expenses, along with how significantly you were injured. We’re looking at the severity and whether your injury is permanent or not. Permanent injuries have a lot more value than non-permanent injuries do.
In addition to what the value of your injury is, you also have to look at the amount of available insurance coverage. It doesn’t really matter how much value your injury has if there’s not enough insurance coverage to support paying you that amount. You could have a million dollar claim with someone who has $25,000 in liability insurance, and the likelihood is you’re going to be capped at that $25,000 regardless of how much value your injury has. The important thing to do is, at the time that you are injured, consult a personal injury attorney right away who can help you work through these issues and make sure to maximize the value of your case.
Please Call Our Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or even malice, please call our office today to set up a free consultation. You deserve to have competent and dedicated representation. Atlanta personal injury attorney Christopher Gunnels is highly experienced in many different practice areas and will guide you through your case step by step. When your life is flipped on its head, call our attorney to get the compensation you deserve from the liable party’s insurance company.
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