A car crash, tripping and falling on a cracked sidewalk, taking a medication that has dangerous side effects – all of these situations are potential personal injury claims. There is more to a personal injury claim than just an accident and injury. To bring a personal injury claim to settlement, you must have evidence of negligence and another party to hold liable. The whole personal process can be daunting and intimidating, but an Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help.
Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. helps accident victims in Georgia file their personal injury claims, collect fair settlements for their damages, and get on with their lives. If this article does not answer all of your questions or you are ready to get legal help, call Ted and his team today at 800-375-9190 to schedule a free consultation.
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Atlanta, GA 30303
What makes a personal injury claim?
A personal injury claim results when a person sustains serious or fatal injuries due to the negligence of another. Negligence of another party is the key factor in a personal injury claim. If an accident occurred due to coincidence or personal negligence, a personal injury claim may not be possible.
The definition of negligence in a personal injury claim is when a party acts in a careless way that causes injury to another person. In order to establish that negligence caused your accident and resulting injuries, you must have proof of the elements of negligence.
Duty: Duty is the relationship that existed between the injured plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the negligent party). The defendant must have had a duty of care to keep you safe from harm. This relationship can be a doctor’s responsibility to prescribe safe medications to his patients or a driver’s responsibility to be a safe and attentive driver when sharing the road with others.
Breach of Duty: This occurs when the negligent party fails to exercise reasonable care in performing their duty to you. The standard of “reasonable care” is what a reasonable person would do in the situation to keep others from harm. If a driver drinks too much and decides to drive, she has breached her duty to drive safely.
Cause in Fact: Once you have established that the defendant owed you a duty to keep you safe from harm and breached that duty, you must then establish that that breach caused your accident. This is known as “but-for” causation and can be summarized as, “But for the other driver’s inattention to the road due to texting and driving, he would not have hit me and I would not have broken my arm.”
Damages: Finally, in order to file a personal injury claim for damages due to negligence, you must show that there were damages directly caused by the defendant’s negligence. You will need medical evidence and other documentation to establish that the accident caused physical or mental injury and resulted in financial and/or emotional losses.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Vehicular Accidents: Any accident involving a vehicle and injury to at least one person can become a personal injury claim. This can be a car-to-car crash, a semi-truck jackknifing and causing nearby cars to wreck, or a bus running over a pedestrian.
Slip and Fall: These accidents are also known as premises liability cases and involve a person suffering injury on another’s property due to an unattended hazard. This may be a case of a person tripping on a broken sidewalk or a visitor falling down a staircase with a broken handrail.
Work Accidents: Anyone can suffer an accident and injury at work, regardless of how “safe” his job may be. Office workers sustain injuries from heavy objects falling off bookshelves just as easily as a construction worker could suffer an injury from falling debris hitting him in the head. Workers’ compensation usually handles these claims.
Dangerous Products: Consumer products are supposed to go through extensive safety testing and include clear instructions for use. When a product poses a danger to consumers and a manufacturer’s negligence caused that danger, the injured consumer can seek a personal injury claim. A dangerous product claim could include a baby crib with faulty latches, mattresses that come undone from the base, or other safety flaws.
Dangerous Drugs: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve all medications sold in the U.S. The FDA requires extensive safety testing and labeling of side effects, but some drug manufacturers do not disclose all of the side effects or potential harm that can come from using their drug. For example, paroxetine is a well-known dangerous drug due to the high risk of increased suicidal tendencies and potential to cause birth defects when used by pregnant women.
Proving Negligence in Georgia
Georgia follows the Modified Comparative Negligence- 50 Percent Bar Rule. This means that any party whose percentage of fault for the accident is above 50 percent cannot recover damages. The full text of these laws may be read online in Georgia Code § 51-12-33.
As long as you can prove you were less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you are entitled to recover damages. Be aware that your degree of fault will reduce your settlement accordingly. For example, if your personal injury claim settles for $100,000 and the insurer or court found you to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, you will only be able to collect $80,000 of your settlement.
For this reason, it is extremely important that you are able to provide evidence to prove another party was majorly or completely at fault for the accident.
Evidence of the cause of the accident, each party’s involvement in the accident, and the resulting injuries is necessary in order to establish a negligence claim. You must be able to show that another party’s negligent actions directly caused the accident and your subsequent damages.
The following are common types of evidence proving negligence in Georgia personal injury claims:
- Photographs of the accident scene and resulting damage/injuries
- Property damage in the accident (wrecked car, torn clothing, etc.)
- Witness statements (eyewitness or expert witnesses)
- Video of the accident
- Police report
An example of evidence in an Atlanta car accident would be photographs of the crash scene accompanied by the police report and any statements from eyewitnesses. Evidence for a sidewalk slip and fall might include photographs of the cracked sidewalk and surrounding area to show there were no hazard warnings near the crack.
You must establish the elements of a negligence case, fault, and evidence prior to the Georgia statute of limitations expiring. The statute of limitations is the time in which an injured party has to bring an action (e.g., claim or lawsuit) against the negligent party. In Georgia, an injured party has two years from the date of the accident to file an action. The full text of the Georgia statute of limitations can be found in the Georgia Code § 9-3-33.
Damages Recoverable in a Personal Injury Claim
You may be able to recover several types of damages in a personal injury claim. There are two main types of damages:
- Economic: Damages you can calculate with data, such as medical costs and lost wages
- Noneconomic: Intangible damages for the pain and suffering you and your family experience
The most common damages in a personal injury claim include the following:
Medical costs: Your claim should include the current cost of your medical care, as well as an estimate for future medical care needs.
Lost wages: If you had to miss work due to your injuries, you are entitled to compensation for all of the income lost during that time.
Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injury resulted in long-term or permanent damages that keep you from enjoying your normal hobbies or daily routine, you may be able to collect non-economic damages for this loss of enjoyment. An example of this type of damage would be if a person who suffers a broken arm and has surgery to place a metal rod in their elbow can no longer bend their arm well enough to return to their tennis hobby.
Loss of consortium: If an injured family member dies from their accident or becomes mentally incapacitated, the spouse may claim loss of consortium. This means a loss of emotional support and guidance to the surviving spouse and/or children.
Pain and suffering: The mental toll a serious accident and injury takes on a victim and their family can be serious.
The Personal Injury Claim Process
A personal injury claim begins with filing a claim with the insurance company. For car accidents, you will file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, while homeowner’s or property insurance will handle slip and fall accidents.
The insurance adjuster will contact you to go over the details of the accident and your injuries. Do not consent to give a recorded statement before speaking with an Atlanta personal injury attorney. By getting a personal injury lawyer on your side at this early stage of the personal injury claim process, you can take much of the work off your hands and protect your claim from an unfair reduction or denial.
Once the insurance company has your claim established, it is your attorney’s job to gather and present the evidence of negligence, fault, and damages. The evidence must show another party was negligent and therefore at fault for your injuries and damages. The evidence must also prove the extent and amount of your damages.
After you have established the evidence, you will make a claim for a settlement equal to the amount of damages presented and noneconomic damages you believe apply to your claim. The insurance company may preempt this step with an initial settlement offer, but do not accept without consulting with your personal injury lawyer. The initial offer is rarely enough to cover all of your damages, and you will often have to negotiate the settlement in order to get a fair amount for your claim.
If you cannot negotiate a fair settlement, your personal injury lawyer will then take the case to Atlanta Municipal Court in a personal injury lawsuit. A jury will hear the case, see the evidence proving your damages and the fault of the other party, and make a ruling on the settlement amount they feel you are due.
Note: It is possible to settle a lawsuit without going to court.
Throughout all of this paperwork, correspondence with the insurance company, and negotiation, your personal injury attorney acts as your voice. You will have much less to worry about and fewer responsibilities when an attorney files and negotiates your personal injury claim.
Hospitals and Medical Centers in Atlanta, Georgia
If you are in Atlanta and you sustain serious injuries, consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Some of the major hospitals and medical centers in Atlanta, Georgia are:
- Atlanta Medical Center – 303 Parkway Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30312-1212 / (404) 265-4000
- East Point Medical Center – 1203 Cleveland Avenue, Suite 1A, Atlanta, GA 30344 / (404) 209-1408
- Emory University Hospital Midtown – 550 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 / (404) 778-2000
- North Dekalb Health Center – 3807 Clairmont Road, Atlanta GA 30341 / (404) 616-0700
- Saint Joseph’s Hospital – 5665 Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30342 / (678) 843-7001
- South Fulton Medical Center – 1170 Cleveland Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30344 / (404) 466-1170
Get Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. Working on Your Personal Injury Claim
The team at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. is here to support north Georgia residents when an accident causes serious injury or the death of a family member. If you have more questions about the personal injury process or your own personal injury case, we are always available to discuss your concerns during a free consultation.
Call our office at 844-409-0999 to schedule a consultation or fill out our free accident evaluation form and we will reach out to discuss your claim.