The personal injury attorneys of The Poe Law Firm, understand that pursuing a legal claim may be a new experience for you. To help you better understand your situation, we present the following answers to frequently asked questions about personal injury cases.
However, the general information below is no substitute for meeting with an attorney to discuss the specific facts and legal issues involved in your case. To speak with attorneys Jim or Matt Poe, please call us today or reach us through our online form. Our consultations are always free and confidential.
What constitutes negligence in a personal injury claim?
In a personal injury claim, you would be the plaintiff. The other party would be the defendant. You would generally need to show:
- The defendant owed a duty to you
- The defendant breached that duty (by acting unreasonably or recklessly)
- This breach proximately caused you to suffer an injury
- You actually suffered an injury (or damages).
For example: A driver owes a duty to other drivers to refrain from driving negligently or recklessly. A driver may breach this duty by speeding through a red light, texting while driving or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Because of this conduct, a driver may have collided with your vehicle and caused you to suffer severe injuries. If you were involved in such a car accident and suffered injuries, then you have a personal injury claim.
Negligence is also a factor in many slip-and-fall accidents. Property owners generally owe a duty to visitors to make sure customers have equal knowledge of hazards on their premises. Owners and operators accomplish that by eliminating hazards or providing warnings to customers. The failure to do so amounts to a breach of that duty. If you suffer an injury by slipping on the wet floor, you may have the grounds to bring a premises liability claim against the property owner.
In medical malpractice claims, negligence is recognized as a medical professional’s breach of the duty to provide the recognized standard of care to a patient.
Proving negligence in a personal injury claim requires careful investigation. This is why it is important to hire an attorney who understands the complexity of Georgia personal injury law and has the experience and resources that will be needed to properly establish a case for your recovery.
What can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit?
Typically, a lawsuit seeks compensation for an injury victim’s economic and non-economic losses from an accident, including:
- Property damage – This may be the cost to repair or replace a vehicle in a car accident case, or it could include the value of property stolen in a negligent security case or damaged by negligence.
- Medical expenses – This may include all reasonable and customary charges for emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, medication, rehabilitation therapy, assistive devices, psychological counseling and other care and treatment that is needed for all injuries caused by another party’s negligence.
- Lost income – This may include wages (or self-generated income) that could not be earned due to the injuries a plaintiff suffers, including regular pay, commissions and bonuses. In cases that result in disability, lost income may also include future losses due to the injured worker being unable to work, being forced to take a job that pays less than what he or she earned before or missing out on promotions or other likely career advancement.
- Pain and suffering – Damages for physical and mental pain and suffering will be determined by a jury or in negotiations if a claim is settled out of court. The standard jurors are told to use is their enlightened consciences as fair and impartial jurors.
In some limited cases, punitive damages may also be sought to penalize a defendant and deter them from behaving in the same way in the future.
How long will it take to complete my personal injury case?
Some cases are simply more complicated than others. For instance, in certain car accidents, it is fairly clear that a driver’s careless or reckless conduct caused a plaintiff’s injuries and should be held liable. A drunk driving accident case is an example. In other cases, it may take a reconstruction of the car accident to determine exactly what happened and why. A case may also become challenging when multiple parties are involved.
A personal injury case may be delayed because the defendant challenges a request for certain evidence such as cell phone records or business records. During negotiations, the other side may also be slow to make a settlement offer or respond to a counteroffer.
Should a case go to court, the length of the trial will depend on the amount of evidence and the number of witnesses presented. Even if a trial concludes in your favor, the defendant may still appeal the verdict, which can further delay resolution of the case.
If you want to know how long will my personal injury case take, the above complexities give you good reason to contact a lawyer as soon as you can in order to start the work that is required for a claim to move forward.
Georgia law controls the county where a claim can be filed, and some courts are simply slower or faster than other courts.
Why do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury case?
You can deal directly with an insurance company in order to obtain compensation for your losses. However, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will have an obligation to his or her employer to pay you as little as possible. An attorney’s professional obligation, on the other hand, will be to protect your rights and pursue just compensation for you.
A personal injury attorney can investigate your case and determine what you need for a full recovery. An attorney can also negotiate with the insurance company or take your case before a jury.
Additionally, a lawyer will handle all administrative matters in your case, including collecting records, filing paperwork and ensuring all deadlines are met. The attorney can also deal with the complex issues created by health insurance, ERISA, CHAMPUS, Medicare or Medicaid subrogation claims, which impact almost every case.
As your attorney focuses on your case, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.