Atlanta is home to more than 500,000 citizens and the population has steadily been on the rise since 2010 according to U.S. census data. Atlanta is a major metropolitan area and millions of travelers pass through Atlanta on I-20, I-75, and I-85 each day shuttling to other parts of the country. This may explain why there were 115,909 emergency room visits in 2018, due to motor vehicle accidents. Georgia has the fourth-highest amount of traffic fatalities in the nation.
What is Personal Injury Law?
A personal injury claim can be made against another party when that party suffers an accident or injury for which the other party is responsible. Accidents are reasonably commonplace but if you’re experiencing pain due to the negligence of someone else, then personal injury attorneys can help you recover economic and non-economic damages.
A personal injury case can be formalized by a civil court proceeding in which a court judgment will be made to determine who is legally at fault. Most personal injury claims are settled informally before a court proceeding is necessary.
Elements of a Personal Injury Case
For your team of super lawyers to seek justice in your personal injury case the following elements will need to be present:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
- The defendant acted negligibly and breached their duty to the victim
- The breach of duty and negligent acts caused an accident, injury, or both
- The victim was damaged due to the breach of duty and negligent acts of the defendant
It will be your job as the victim, your personal injury lawyers, and the law firm representing your case to prove that all four elements are present in your injury claim. Your Atlanta personal injury lawyer will need to show evidence that demonstrates the presence of all the elements for your claim to be successful. Consider a free consultation with an Atlanta personal injury attorney to determine if your case should be tried. A proficient Georgia personal injury lawyer will have expertise in the practice areas necessary to defend your case versus an insurance company, another person, and protect your injury claim.
Types of Personal Injury Law in Georgia
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for those 24 and under but car accidents aren’t the only types of personal injuries that your attorney in Atlanta will have to deal with. Personal injury cases vary but you may want to file a claim for one of the following accident types:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common personal injury that lawyers try and settle regularly. Whether you’ve been affected by a car accident as a passenger or driver or involved in a collision including a motorcycle, pedestrian, or commercial vehicle an Atlanta personal injury attorney can help you receive the financial compensation you’re entitled to.
We entrust medical professionals to care for our health as well as our lives and sometimes these professionals can act in a way that can be deemed as negligent. Medical malpractice could lead to misdiagnoses, surgical errors, pharmaceutical errors, errors committed in child-delivery, or a failure to diagnose serious medical conditions. If you’ve lost a loved one or experienced an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, then it may be in your best interest to see a Georgia personal injury law firm for a free consultation.
A wrongful death may happen as a result of a car accident or other personal injury accident. Some of the most common wrongful death causes are construction accidents, use of defective products, medical malpractice, and traffic accidents. It’s important, when filing a wrongful death claim, that your personal injury lawyer has experience with wrongful death claims because they are unique compared to other personal injury claims.
Personal injury could also occur as a result of negligent practices on another person’s property. Grocery stores, shopping centers, swimming pools, or the homes of neighbors have been held liable for personal injuries. Improper cleanup, defective safety equipment, mishandling of pets, and slip and fall accidents have led to personal injury lawsuits.
Similar to premises liabilities, manufacturers and businesses can be held responsible when their products harm others. Businesses can be found liable in civil court for not properly warning their consumers about potential dangers their products present. Merchants, designers, and marketing agents can also be held responsible for defective products. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer will have experience investigating harmful products, identifying the liable party, then trying or settling the claim for the maximum compensation allowed for your injuries.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 90 fatal work-related traffic incidents in Georgia in 2018 and 22 slip and fall deaths. Georgia’s worker’s compensation system was made to protect Georgian workers’ rights and help them to return to work. Injuries can be stressful but this system could help relieve that stress but sometimes a personal injury attorney is necessary to ensure that insurance companies don’t take advantage of you. A law firm that specializes in work-related injuries will do all they can to get you the proper medical attention and afterward, recovering the damages you’re entitled to.
In Atlanta GA, employers with three or more employees are required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and disabilities. Employees could be compensated for accidents at work even if they are found negligible because of Georgia’s no-fault workers’ compensation system.
Common Personal Injury Types
Surviving an accident is a complicated experience. The road to recovery can be a long and winding one and that’s why it’s so important to seek a personal injury lawyer that can provide the support you need during this difficult period. Personal injury attorneys cover many practices areas but they also represent clients with the following injuries:
- Birth injuries
- Brain traumas
- Neck injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Hip injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Critical burns
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments, muscles, and tissue damage
- Internal injuries
Georgia Personal Injury Laws
Atlanta GA and the rest of the state of Georgia have laws that dictate how they handle personal injury cases. Every personal injury lawyer in Atlanta needs to be aware of the following laws in order to successfully represent your case:
Georgia Fault Laws
Georgia is a modified comparative fault state meaning that victims could be entitled to compensation as long as they are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident. The percentage of fault will play a role in how damages are recovered because the total amount of compensation you’re entitled to will be reduced by the percentage that you are found at fault.
Georgia Negligence Laws
Atlanta GA personal injury attorneys help clients who have been injured due to the carelessness of another party demonstrate two specific criteria. These criteria help to ensure that civil courts rule in their favor. Personal injury plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant had awareness of the hazard and that the plaintiff conducted themselves responsibly without being aware of the hazard.
Georgia Statute of Limitations
Georgia Statutes beginning with OCGA §9-3 outline the following statutes of limitations on personal injury cases:
- Personal injury: 2 years
- Property damage: 4 years
- Professional Malpractice: 2 years
The Georgia statute of limitations begins on the date of the accident and it’s important for victims to fully recover from their injuries before filing their suit so that they may claim all the damages that they’ve encountered while they recover.
Victims only need to file the claim before two years are up. Timing is everything and that’s why it’s so important for your injury lawyer to have experience working with cases similar to yours. If you’re concerned that Georgia limitations may prevent you from filing a suit, then seek a free consultation with an adept personal injury lawyer right away.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that damage caps, limits on the amounts of damages that a plaintiff may recover, were unconstitutional. However, according to the OCGA 51-12-5.1, there are still limitations on the number of punitive damages that can be recovered ($250,000). Damages brought against the state or an employee of the state cannot exceed $3 million in total. Georgia statutes do no place a cap on the following types of damages:
- Wrongful death claims including burial expenses and net economic losses
- Personal injury
- Medical malpractice
- Pain and suffering
Due to the damages that may occur as a result of an accident, especially those non-economic damages which are hard to quantify, Georgia courts felt it was best not to limit how much Georgians can recover in an injury claim.
Atlanta Personal Injury Outcomes
Personal injury claims are normally solved out of court through an informal settlement but there are two likely outcomes to your injury claim:
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Let’s say you’re involved in a car accident and your personal injury lawyers have attempted to negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company and lawyers but they are unable to make a deal that is satisfactory to your needs. Insurance companies often lowball plaintiffs to get them to settle as quickly as possible but your Atlanta personal injury lawyers have experience trying car accident cases like yours, and won’t fall for the insurance company’s schemes.
Your injury lawyer files a claim in civil court alleging that they acted irresponsibly or carelessly in connection with an accident or injury that caused harm. Next, the Atlanta GA civil courts will hear your case and make a judgment determining who is at fault and how many damages you’re entitled to.
The defendant’s legal team, insurance companies, and your injury lawyer normally settle personal injury claims without ever going to court. If they’re able to settle, then both parties will forgo their right to take the issues back to court for additional damages and rather resolve the case based on an agreeable total amount of damages.
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ
When you’re involved in a car accident or suffer other types of personal injuries in Atlanta GA you may have lots of questions. The following questions come up commonly by those who’ve had a personal injury and if you still have questions upon reading them you can sign up for a free consultation with an Atlanta GA injury lawyer:
What should I do if I’m involved in an accident?
After you’re involved in an accident the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Injuries may not immediately present themselves and going to see a medical professional could help you to catch an injury that has yet to surface.
After seeking medical care it may be in your best interest to call a personal injury attorney in Atlanta GA and set up a free consultation. Next, you’ll want to do all that you can to collaborate with the investigation by providing the officers handling your case and your personal injury attorney with all the precious detail.
It’s also a good idea to document everything at the scene of your accident including:
- Driver’s information including name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and their insurance information
- Take pictures and videos of the scene
- Take note of the setting including nearby intersections, shops, and CCTV cameras that may have caught the incident on video
- Gather information from witnesses and record their testimony whenever possible
Do I need a personal injury attorney?
Insurance companies have of experience combatting claims and an astute personal injury attorney will be able to use his experience, relationships, and knowledge of the law to win your case or settle in your favor.
Severe injuries will affect your quality of life and that’s why it’s important to have a team of super lawyers working for you. So if you’ve suffered severe injuries or property damage and don’t want to be at the mercy of insurance companies then it may beneficial to your case to hire a professional injury lawyer.
What’s the difference between economic and non-economic damages?
An injury lawyer will do all that it can to seek damages for your personal injury. A personal injury lawyer will look to seek economic and non-economic damages in your Atlanta GA accident case.
Economic damages are those that are easier to measure because they have a monetary value. Economic damages include medical bills, repairs to your property, rental fees, wages lost from work, and more. Economic damages are real losses that are objectively quantifiable.
Non-economic damages are subjective because they aren’t as clear to quantify. Non-economic damages compensate for the pain and suffering a victim experiences due to their personal injury. A personal injury lawyer in Atlanta will help you seek damages for the emotional traumas you’ve faced, distress, suffering, and the loss of quality of life.
What important questions should I ask my personal injury lawyer?
You’ve been involved in an accident and decided to contact a personal injury lawyer to have your free consultation but unsure which questions to ask them and what information you’ll need. Here are some great questions that an Atlanta GA professional injury attorney should be able to answer:
- “What practice areas does your law firm specialize in?” The answer to this question is vital because you want a personal injury lawyer with experience winning and settling cases similar to yours in the Atlanta GA community.
- “How have cases similar to mine turned out?” Not only do you want a lawyer with experience but you want to go into your case confident that you can win. If cases similar to yours haven’t gone well in the past, then your case may have a similar outcome.
- “Who will be handling my case?” You may be wanting to work with a particular attorney at the Atlanta GA personal injury law firm of your choice and end up working with a junior lawyer. This lawyer is probably qualified to handle your case but he isn’t one of the super lawyers you had in mind.
- “When will my case be resolved?” No attorney will be able to give you an exact date on when your case will be resolved but they may be able to hypothesize based on their experience with cases similar to yours.
- “Will my attorney work on a contingency basis?” Most personal injury attorneys get paid contingently after the plaintiff wins their case or settles. A personal injury lawyer that charges hourly can be very expensive.
- “How often does my attorney go to trial versus settling out of court?” Some attorneys work in cahoots with insurance companies to take advantage of their clients by settling as quickly as possible so that they can continue to turn over more clients. This practice is unethical so you need to find a lawyer that is not afraid of taking cases to trial when necessary.
- “Does my attorney and I need to agree on a settlement amount before settling my case?” You’ll get the final say in whether or not you’ll accept a settlement and you and your legal defense team need to be on the same page. Your personal injury lawyer may revoke their services if they reach a settlement they find satisfactory and their client does not.
- “Does the lawyer representing my case have recommendations from former clients and has the law firm won any prestigious awards or recommendations from other law professionals or the community?” It’s important to get as much background information as you can about your potential personal injury lawyer. These resources will prove invaluable as you compare and contrast different attorneys across the Atlanta GA metropolitan area.
- “Has the personal injury lawyer representing my case ever been reprimanded or received any disciplinary censorship by legal or ethics communities?” Law professionals are humans and biases toward your lawyer or firm could hurt your case. Just because a lawyer offers you a free consultation that doesn’t mean you have to trust them with the lump sum of your settlement especially if you find they have been disciplined for similar issues in the past.
How much does a personal injury attorney cost?
Most Atlanta GA attorneys will offer a free consultation to potential clients. Afterward, they’ll decide if they want to charge fees or work contingently. Most personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency basis for a fee between 30-40% of the total amount awarded to their client.