Personal Injury FAQ
Have Questions About Your Personal Injury Case? We Have Answers!
What Is Negligence?
In Georgia, there is no single statutory definition of negligence. Most courts have consistently employed the following elements of a cause of action for negligence: (1) A legal duty to conform to a standard of conduct; (2) a breach of this standard; (3) a legally attributable causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) some loss or damage as a result of the alleged breach of the legal duty.
Georgia law couches the concept of legal duty in terms of reasonableness. Thus, every person is required to conform to the appropriate standard of conduct raised by the law for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm. If a legal duty and a breach thereof are established, the next determination is whether the negligent act resulted in the injury complained of. If the injury would have occurred regardless of the defendant’s acts of negligence, those acts cannot be said to be the “proximate cause” of the plaintiff’s injury, and there can be no recovery. Finally, once proximate cause is established then we must show damages.
This negligence standard is how juries in Georgia are instructed to decide whether someone is liable to another for personal injuries.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Most people don’t know what insurance companies are really like until they try to get fairly compensated after an accident or injury. Insurance company adjusters make every attempt to assure injured individuals that they have their best interests at heart; however, insurance companies and these adjusters are only concerned with increasing their shareholders’ profits by saving every penny they can save. They will do everything in their power to avoid paying you what you deserve.
We know how to deal with insurance companies. We also know how to value cases to ensure you are fairly compensated.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Every case is different. One of the factors that will determine how quickly we try or settle a case is how long it takes for the victim to complete medical treatment. Prior to settling a case, a client should have either completed treatment or have a good idea of future medical needs and costs.
Once treatment is complete, we ensure that we have all of the client’s medical bills and we will send a settlement demand to the insurance company. Typically, we give the insurance company 30 to 60 days to respond, depending on the type of demand.
Do You Also Help with The Property Damage in Cases Involving Roadway Collisions?
Suffering severe property damage from an accident can be extremely frustrating as you attempt to recoup your losses. If a client signs up as a personal injury client, I help that client deal with their property damage free of charge.
The first step is to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and your insurance company immediately. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company picks up the claim then we immediately get you a rental vehicle while your auto is being repaired.
If the car is a total loss, then the insurance company will have to compensate you for the value of the vehicle. In the vast majority of cases, the client disagrees with the insurance company’s valuation of the auto. I assist clients with negotiating the property damage settlement in these instances.
Who Will Pay My Medical Bills?
Many clients have a misconception that the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay their medical bills. This is not the case. The at-fault party’s insurance company is not required to pay any medical bills until the case is concluded.
Here are the most common ways medical bills are paid after a car accident or other personal injury:
If you have health insurance then you should use it to pay for your medical bills. Insurance companies do not pay the full medical bill in most cases. They pay a certain percentage of the bill. For example, if you have an MRI and receive a bill that states the procedure costs $1500, the insurance company may pay $600. This is a positive result for the client because if we have to reimburse the health insurance company at the end of a case the reimbursable amount will be based upon the lower figure. Health insurance companies are governed by a doctrine commonly called the “made whole doctrine.”
Under Georgia case law, the “made whole” doctrine means that an insurance company exercising subrogation rights must demonstrate that the insured was made whole for its loss before it may participate in a recovery from the tortfeasor. This means that, in many cases, insurance companies may not get anything back at the end of a case.
Treat on A Lien
If you do not have health insurance, the next best option is to find a doctor who will treat you on a lien. If you cannot find a doctor or hospital to treat on a lien, then we will put you in contact with a company that specializes in covering medical expenses for clients. The advantages are obvious: You get immediate treatment without having to come out of pocket for major expenses. The disadvantage is not so obvious. You will have to reimburse the company or doctor in full for the treatment you received because they are not subject to the “made whole doctrine” like insurance companies.
These companies provide a valuable service because in many cases, indigent clients without health insurance would not be able to receive treatment for their injuries otherwise.
Your car insurance policy sometimes calls Medical Payments Coverage “Med Pay.” This coverage usually pays your hospital and medical bills. It pays regardless of fault, so you can seek medical treatment immediately and know that your bills are covered even if there is a dispute about who was at fault.
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
“Bad faith” means that the insurer’s refusal to pay its insured is frivolous and unfounded. To support a claim for bad faith, the burden is on the insured to show that the refusal of the insurer to pay a claim was made in bad faith. If there exists reasonable and probable cause for refusing to pay, the good faith of the insurer is vindicated to the same extent as a complete defense to coverage under the policy.
Where bad faith is found, an insured is entitled to recover the amount of the loss not paid by the insurer in addition to penalties equal to 50% of the amount of the insured loss or $5,000, whichever amount is greater. Attorney’s fees may also be awarded if it is found that the insurer acted in bad faith.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
A statute of limitations has been defined as “the action of the state in determining that after a lapse of a specified time, a claim shall not be enforceable in a judicial proceeding.” For injuries to the person, the action must be commenced within 2 years after the right of action accrues. This means that after a car accident or PI claim, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to pursue a lawsuit. It is usually best to hire an attorney early in the process to allow them to investigate, and that way you shouldn’t run into a statute of limitations problem.