There are many situations that lead to personal injury claims. You might be involved in an auto accident, might trip and fall, or might experience the dangerous side effects of a particular medication. Simply being injured, however, does not give you grounds to file a claim. Rather, you must be able to prove that a negligent party was liable for the injury that occurred, with a direct causal link between that party’s negligence and your personal injuries. It is normal to be overwhelmed by the process of pursuing a claim, and this where a personal injury attorneys in Augusta, GA can make all the difference.
If you are planning to file a personal injury claim, or if you have already done so and are considering the steps ahead of you, contact Dr. Ted A. Greve, an attorney who is also a doctor, to get a free consultation and answer questions about the specifics of your case.
Do I Have a Case For a Personal Injury Claim?
In order to have a case for a personal injury claim you must have sustained serious injuries, or be the survivor of someone who sustained fatal injuries, that were caused by someone else’s negligence. In situations where nobody is to blame for the accident that occurred, and cases where the injured party is also the negligent party, it will not be possible to file a personal injury claim.
To determine if there was negligence and who the negligent party is, you must identify the party who acted in a careless or reckless way, ultimately causing the accident and injuries. The elements of negligence that you have to prove are that a duty of care was owed, that the at-fault party breached that duty, and that this is what caused your injuries.You must be able to prove three elements of negligence, and be able to prove the damages that you’ve suffered.
- Duty of Care: In personal injury claims, you must demonstrate that the defendant (negligent party) had a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party) to keep the plaintiff from being harmed or injured. For example, a doctor has a duty of care to patients to prescribe medications that are safe, while drivers have a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians to exercise caution on the road.
- Breach of Duty: Once you’ve established that the plaintiff owed a duty of care, you must prove that the duty of care was breached through a failure to exercise the reasonable care necessary to prevent injuries. This standard of reasonable care is evaluated based on what a person should reasonably have done or not done in the given circumstance. An example would be a drunk driver who, by being intoxicated, is breaching her duty of care to drive safe.
- Cause in Fact: Next, comes the proof of Cause in Fact. This means that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and thus, caused the accident and injury. Also known as the ‘but for’ causation factor, it expresses that ‘but for’ the negligence of the defendant, the injury of the plaintiff would not have occurred. Example: “But for the negligence of the doctor, he would not have gotten the infection.” To prove that statement, the plaintiff would have to show the cause in fact where the doctor’s negligence directly led to the infection.
- Damages: The last thing that you have to prove as the plaintiff in a personal injury claim is the damages that you’ve suffered through the negligence of the defendant. You will need to present the medical documents, bills, invoices, etc. You will also need evidence of any mental and emotional damages, as well as your financial losses, including wage loss.
Most Common Personal Injury Claims
Motor Vehicle Accident Claims: Whenever a motor vehicle accident occurs and causes injury, a personal injury claim typically results. This is true of accidents involving commercial vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles.
Slip and Fall Accident Claims: Slip and fall claims occur when someone is injured through tripping and falling on some unattended hazard. It can include tripping on a broken sidewalk, falling down stairs with a broken railing, slipping on ice, etc. These accidents are also known as premises liability because claims result from the accidents occurring on the property of another party who failed to address such hazards to prevent injury.
Workplace Accident Claims: Workplace accident claims arise from all sorts of injuries and all types of work environments. Office workers frequently sustain injuries to the hands from typing, injuries from slip and falls at work, and injuries from things falling. No matter how safe someone’s job is, injuries can occur anywhere. Workers’ compensation typically addresses the injury claim.
Dangerous Product Claims: Dangerous product accidents occur when a product is hazardous to consumers. All products are supposed to be evaluated for safety and provided with instructions for use. If the manufacturer is negligent, then injured consumers can pursue personal injury claims. Examples of dangerous products include faulty latches on a high chair, machinery with missing parts, and toys with choking hazards.
Dangerous Medication Claims: All medications that are sold in the United States must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To be FDA approved, the medication must be tested for side effects and appropriately labeled. Unfortunately, there are some drug manufacturers who do not reveal all of the side effects. For example, a medication that is known to cause birth defects being taken by a pregnant woman without that information could result in a dangerous medications claim.
How to Prove Negligence in Georgia
Modified Comparative Negligence is applicable in Georgia with the 50% Bar Rule. If you are more than 50% at fault for an accident you cannot recover damages from a personal injury claim. If you are less than 50% at fault, then you can recover damages up to the percentage of fault that the defendant is liable for. For example, a $10,000 claim would yield $8,000 if you were 20% at fault.
When pursuing a personal injury claim in Georgia, you need to provide evidence to demonstrate that another party is mostly or entirely at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. You’ll need evidence of the cause of the accident, of each person’s involvement, and of all damages and injuries that resulted to be able to prove a negligence claim. Some common forms of evidence include photos of the accident scene, damage, and injuries, damaged property evidence, witness statements, video of the accident, and police reports.
- Example 1: In an auto accident, you could collect evidence through crash scene photographs, police reports, eyewitness statements, etc.
- Example 2: In a slip and fall accident, you could collect evidence through photographs of the hazard (cracked sidewalk, icy walkway, etc.), and the surrounding area to demonstrate a lack of hazard warnings.
When pursuing a personal injury claim, you must establish all elements of negligence and fault before the statute of limitations for your claim expires. In Georgia, you have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of injury, during which you must file an a personal injury claim or lose your right to do so. Learn more about the stature of limitations for personal injury in Georgia.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in Georgia Personal Injury Claims?
There are different types of damages that you can recover when you pursue an personal injury claim in Augusta, including economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those that can be easily calculated with available data, such as lost wages and medical expenses. Noneconomic damages are those which are intangible and not as easy to calculate, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
The most common damages in personal injury claims include: medical expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and mental/emotional distress.
Medical expenses are claimed by including the current cost of medical care and an estimate of future medical care expenses. These include expenses for treatment, prescriptions, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation. Lost wages can be claimed when you have missed time at work due to the injuries.
Loss of enjoyment of life can be claimed when your injury results in long-term or permanent damages that prevent you from engaging in activities that you once enjoyed, including hobbies, family vacations, and more. For example, if you previously enjoyed surfing, but can no longer do so because of permanent damage to your legs, this would qualify as loss of enjoyment of life.
Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship that occurs when an injured family member passes away from their injuries or becomes mentally incapable of their former emotional support. This is typically claimed by surviving spouses and children who have lost a spouse or parent. Pain and suffering and emotional distress refer to the physical discomfort and emotional and mental stress that resulted from the injury.
Process of Filing A Personal Injury Claim
The process of filing a personal injury claim begins when you submit your claim to the insurance company of the at-fault party. This would be an auto insurance company in the case of a car crash, a homeowner’s insurance company for slip and fall accidents, or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company for a workplace injury. Some cases may also involve a third-party claim if more than one entity is responsible for your injuries.
You can expect to be contacted by an insurance adjuster soon after filing your claim. He or she may ask for a recorded statement, but you would be wise to politely refuse to give any statement at all before speaking to an attorney. Remember that the insurance adjuster wants you to settle quickly for a low amount or to refute your claim altogether. You don’t want to say something that can be held against you or accidentally leave out pertinent information.
Hiring an attorney takes much of the stress and leg work of a personal injury claim off of your shoulders and protects you from being unfairly denied. Your attorney will be able to gather the necessary evidence of negligence, fault, and damages and present that evidence.
Once your evidence is established, you and your attorney will make a claim for a settlement that includes the economic and noneconomic damages that apply to your claim. In many cases, the insurance company will offer a settlement before you take this step. You should not accept their initial settlement offer without first reviewing the offer with your attorney. It is highly unlikely that the initial offer will be a fair amount to compensate your damages. Most cases are settled through negotiation to reach a fair agreement.
In some cases, it will not be possible to reach a fair settlement agreement, and you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit, taking the claim to Augusta Municipal Court. If this happens, then the case will be heard by a jury, with all evidence presented, and they will determine a settlement amount based on this.
Note: You do not have to go to court to settle a lawsuit. Your lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit while negotiations are ongoing to avoid running out the statute of limitations on your claim.
Hospitals and Medical Centers in Augusta, Georgia
If you sustain serious injuries in Augusta, it is best to consult with a doctor or medical professional immediately. Some of the major medical centers and hospitals in the Augusta area are:
- Children’s Medical Center – 1446 Harper Street, Augusta, GA 30912 / (706) 721-4262
- East Central Regional Hospital – 3405 Mike Padgett Hwy, Augusta GA 30906 / (706) 790-2011
- Medical Center – 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912-5536 / (706) 721-2273
- Select Specialty Hospital – The Partridge Inn, 2110 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904 / (706) 737-8888
- Trinity Hospital of Augusta – 2260 Wrightsboro Road, Augusta GA 30904 / (706) 481-7000
- University Hospital – 1350 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30901 / (706) 722-9011
Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A.
257 Bobby Jones Expressway
Augusta, GA 30907
Get a Free Consultation with Dr. Ted Greve in Augusta, GA.
You’ll be able to review the details of your case and the best way to proceed with your personal injury claim. Your attorney will act on your behalf throughout the complexities of the case, the paperwork, the insurance company communications, the negotiations for a fair settlement, and achieving the best possible outcome for your claim. For this reason, it is always in your best interests to seek a free consultation with an Augusta, GA personal injury attorney.