A Guide to Personal Injury Law In Georgia
A Guide to Personal Injury Law In Georgia
Being injured in a serious accident can be a life-changing experience. It may leave you confused, upset, and in a terrifying financial position. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are over 31 million emergency room visits made for unintentional injuries. About 130,557 people die from unintentional injuries, leaving families across the country devastated. Personal injury claims are brought by accident victims against the person(s) or entity(s) responsible for their injuries. These claims can assist accident victims in recovering for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia personal injury attorneys have assisted thousands of accident victims across Georgia. We know firsthand that personal injury law can be complex, and those newly injured in an accident can feel overwhelmed. Our compassionate personal injury law firm provides individualized and attentive representation to those injured in car accidents, slip and falls, sports accidents, workplace accidents, and much more. The following is an overview of personal injury related issues in Georgia. For assistance with your specific case, contact our office today to learn more about your legal options.
What To Do If You Are Injured in an Accident
No one expects to be injured in an accident, but millions of people, unfortunately, will find themselves in this position each year. It is important that you take steps to ensure your physical health as well as your potential personal injury claim in the wake of the accident. Below is a list of some crucial actions you should take after an accident:
- Seek medical assistance—if you have sustained injuries in an accident, immediately seek medical help to ensure you receive the medical treatment you need.
- Call 911 or report the accident to the appropriate party—depending on the type of accident in which you are injured, you will need to report the accident to either law enforcement officials or the correct party within the business. You should report car accidents to the local police. Slip and falls, on the other hand, can be reported to a manager, HR department head, or supervisor of the premises. Consider who you should report the accident to after it occurs and follow through with your own documentation of what happened
- Contact an attorney—seeking the help of a personal injury lawyer early on can protect your claim and assist you in obtaining the best legal outcome.
- Document your injuries and any property damage—you will want to obtain copies of the police or accident report, take pictures of your injuries and any damage, and jot down notes about how the accident occurred.
- Obtain witness contact information—witnesses can prove crucial to your case. Ask witnesses for their names, phone numbers, addresses, statements, and other basic information. Your attorney can assist in interviewing witnesses as well.
- Do not give statements or sign releases of liability without your attorney's advice—you will likely be approached by the insurance company to provide a statement or sign a release of liability. These actions can be devastating to your potential injury or property damage claim. Contact your lawyer before talking to anyone other than the police or signing any legal document.
Types of Personal Injury Claims in Georgia
Personal injuries can result from a variety of circumstances. Some of the most common types of personal injury claims include, among others:
- Slip and falls—if you are injured on the property of another due to a dangerous condition, you should be able to seek compensation from the property owner or lessor.
- Car accidents—car accidents are perhaps the number one cause of personal injury claims. Accident victims can file suit against negligent drivers for their injuries and property damages.
- Defective products—products that do not work correctly or come with inadequate warnings can inflict serious injuries. The makers of such products can be liable for the damages inflicted.
- Workplace accidents—accidents happen in the workplace every day. Many accidents will fall under the realm of workers' compensation, but at times, the injured employee could have a viable personal injury claim.
- Dog bites—dog owners can be held accountable for the injuries their dogs inflict.
These are just a few types of personal injury cases. If you have been injured in an accident and believe negligence was the cause, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Timely Filing Your Personal Injury Claim
Depending upon the facts surrounding your accident, you should be able to file a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your injuries. These claims are complex, and you can greatly benefit from the assistance of a licensed attorney. All personal injury claims must be filed within a certain period following the accident. This is known as the statute of limitations. Georgia personal injury laws sets out the time frame for filing personal injury actions in O.C.G.A. 9-3-33.
Who is Liable for Your Injuries?
Georgia uses the legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence to assign fault after an accident. This doctrine is set out in O.C.G.A. 51-11-7. Under the code provision, an injured accident victim can receive compensation if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. The plaintiff's recovery will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
For example, if you are in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light, and you were speeding, the jury may find that the driver who ran the red light was 70 percent negligent while you were 30 percent negligent. You would be awarded 70 percent of your total damages. If instead, the jury found you were 50 percent negligent or more, you would be barred from any recovery at all.
Uncovering the party responsible for your injuries is not always an easy task. At times, the true cause of an accident will not readily present itself. Product defects can be masked as human errors, and things that seem at first glance to be pure accident could be rooted in negligence. It is important that you and your personal injury lawyer closely review the facts surrounding your accident to accurately determine its cause and hold the correct party responsible.
Damages for Your Injuries
Damages stemming from a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, workplace accident, or another serious accident can be devastating. Accident victims can find themselves in the hospital, needing ongoing medical treatment, unable to return to work, and much more. A catastrophic injury can impact not just the accident victim, but his or her entire family.
In a personal injury claim, injured accident victims and their families can seek compensation for their damages caused by the negligent actions of the defendant. Potential damages in Georgia include, among others:
- Emergency room expenses and ambulance or helicopter transportation
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Income lost due to permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Limitations on damages do exist, and your exact recovery will depend on the unique facts surrounding your case. At times, punitive damages can be awarded if the jury finds the defendant acted in a malicious, willful, fraudulent, or oppressive manner. These damages are usually capped, and a portion is awarded to the state.
Catastrophic Personal Injury Claims in Georgia
Catastrophic injuries are medical conditions severe enough that the accident victim cannot resume the life they led before the accident. These injuries occur in just seconds but have a long lasting impact on the accident victim and his or her family. Catastrophic injuries differ from regular personal injuries due to their severe and ongoing nature. Examples of catastrophic injuries include, among others:
• Loss of vision
• Loss of hearing
• Traumatic brain injuries that impact body functions or memory
• Damage to internal organs that requires ongoing care, such as dialysis
Nearly any accident can lead to catastrophic injuries. A football coach in Union City, unfortunately, experienced this when he suffered a catastrophic injury at an entertainment park. The popular local coach was celebrating with his team at a Peachtree City amusement park when he jumped into a foam pit, landed on his neck, and broke two vertebrae. His severe injuries almost claimed his life and today, tragically, he is paralyzed and learning to use a breath-controlled wheelchair. The accident victim has filed a lawsuit against the entertainment center claiming that they did not have adequate safety protectors in place.
Catastrophic accident victims like this Union City man will have more extensive damages related to the accident. Those with a catastrophic injury will likely have regular medical expenses spanning the remainder of their lives and may be unable to return to their previous profession. A personal injury lawyer can help you with assessing your potential damages and seeking the compensation you deserve.
Should I Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The decision whether to hire an attorney is one that ultimately only you can make. There are several reasons that support hiring a lawyer to help with your claim, including, but not limited to:
- Experience—personal injury lawyers are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate your claim to advise you whether you have a viable cause of action. Your attorney's experience can also prove vital to obtaining the compensation you deserve.
- Less stress—you are already dealing with physical pain, doctor's appointments, and work concerns. Filing a personal injury claim may be the last thing you want to add to your workload. A personal injury attorney will take charge of the matter and handle the difficult steps on your behalf.
- No fees unless you recover—you may be afraid to hire a personal injury lawyer due to the potential expense involved. The good news is that most personal injury attorneys offer contingency fee arrangements, which means that you will not pay your attorney's fees unless you recover.
All of these are facts to consider when deciding your strongest course of action. Weigh all considerations and make the best decision for you and your individual case. If you are unsure of what you should do, consider visiting an attorney for a free consultation to explore your options.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case!
The Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, provide caring and skilled representation to injured accident victims and their families. For over 30 years, our firm has represented accident victims across Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
Toll Free: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Hours: Open Now