The Creation of an Atlanta
Car Accident Lawyer
law firm are ready to take on the insurance companies in your accident claim.
Call us for a free consultation.
Sam knows the pain and fear that comes with a serious car accident. At the age of 14 he was a passenger in a head-on collision that resulted in a serious injury that required surgery.
Sam understands that the physical injury from a car crash are sometimes only the tip of the iceberg. The emotional and mental strain may linger for years after the auto accident.
Lucky for Sam, he had a lawyer in the family that was able to pursue his accident claim to full compensation. He used the money from the insurance settlement to finance his education that ultimately lead him to becoming an Atlanta car accident lawyer.
Car Accident Lawyer Atlanta
The Insurance Company Doesn’t Care
The insurance company doesn’t care about what you are going through after your car accident. They are a for-profit business that only cares about making a profit at your expense. Their goal is to bring in more in premiums than they pay out in insurance claims.
This “profit-first” mentality seeps down from the board of directors to the insurance adjusters making ridiculously low settlement offers.
You may have medical expenses or property damage from your car wreck that the insurance company may simple refuse to pay. The insurance company knows they can use their money and resources to bully you into accepting a settlement offer below value.
They will flat-out attempt to minimize your injury and the suffering caused by their client’s negligence. They do it everyday. This is why it is so important for you to retain the right Georgia law firm to go after full compensation.
Juries are a Personal Injury Lawyer’s Friend
We like filing law suits. Sam began his career as a criminal defense attorney that specialized in traffic law. He spent over a decade working in the courtrooms around Georgia on a daily basis. He knows how to be a courtroom lawyer. He has tried cases to a jury…repeatedly.
He knows what will win and what will lose in front of a jury.
Juries can check the greed of the insurance companies by providing a human element to the decision making process regarding your car accident injury law suit. This is in contrast to the insurance adjuster working for a company that cares little beyond their bottom line.
Call me today for a free consultation about your accident claim. I take pride in my work seeking justice for car accident victims.
Should I talk to the insurance company without legal representation?
If you have not suffered any serious injuries and only property damage, you may be okay talking to the insurance company yourself. But if you have any medical bills that resulted from the accident, it is worth talking to a personal injury lawyer.
The insurance adjuster’s job is not to help you. Their job is to pay you the least amount possible. They do not have to inform you about your rights in the State of Georgia that could be used against their company. In the large number of cases, they will simply send you a low-ball offer hoping you will take it and go away.
When should I retain a Georgia law firm to help me with my claim?
One factor that you need to consider is the statute of limitations. A law suit needs to be filed two years from the date of the motor vehicle accident. This may be tolled for many reasons including due to the emergency order from Georgia’s Supreme Court, but you should not wait to long to talk to an attorney. Their hands may be tied if you wait beyond the two years of Georgia’s statute of limitations.
We offer a free case evaluation over the phone and will give you an honest answer or what can be done in your case.
Initial steps in your car accident claim as Atlanta car accident attorneys?
1. Review the police report and accident scene to establish liability. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, so we don’t necessarily need to prove that the other parties involved in the car accident were completely 100% at fault, but that the negligent driver was at least 51% at fault.
3. Evaluate the extent of your injuries and potential future medical expenses. We’ll review the medical records and make sure you are getting the best medical care.
4. Review the case for punitive damages such as instance of drunk driving or hit and run. In a few instances, we can pursue punitive damages. These are damages where someone acted beyond mere negligence into an intentional or gross negligence manner. The most common example is in cases involving drunk driving. The law allows us to punish the drunk driver by asking for punitive damages beyond those typically allowed in car accident claims.
How We Investigate Car Wrecks
1. We listen to you. Our investigation as an auto accident attorney begins in our first conversation. We’ll ask you what happened and listen to you. We’ll begin to get an idea of how your accident occurred. Where it happened. And who is at fault.
You may have already gotten the police report that you can share with us, and you may have taken pictures of the scene and damage to the vehicles.
We’ll visit the accident scene in person if we believe we can gain a better understanding of the accident. But at the least, we’ll take a look at the accident scene on google maps to get a sense of how things went down.
3. Property damage to the vehicles involved in the accident tell a story. We are not accident reconstruction experts but we have handled a lot of accident cases and can apply our common sense. It’s the most common type of case we have argued at trial, and that experience has given us many insights.
The location of the damage to your vehicle tells us a lot about how the impact occurred. Were you hit directly on the rear of your bumper or sideswiped
4. A great source for our investigation is witnesses. Witnesses come in two flavors. One are biased witnesses. These are people that have an interest or are friends and family to people that have an interest. This includes yourself and the other motorists involved in the accident. This may also include any passengers. We discuss the difference between witnesses further in this article.
The ideal witness is a third party witness that has nothing to gain or lose by their testimony. They may be other drivers or pedestrians. It is important to find these witnesses early and secure their contact information. Third party witnesses have little interest in the outcome of your case and tend to get lose interest in cooperating. They know they may be called into court for a trial and while doing the right thing may motivate them, the practicality of being a witness in a days long trial may not be their idea of a good time.
But we will track down the witnesses in your accident case and interview them. We will lock down their stories and collect their contact information. If necessary, we will get them under subpoena for a trial.
5. The Police Report is the first “official” version of the car accident. We put quotation marks around “official” because in our experience has traffic lawyers for a decade the accident reports generated by police officers are typically woefully inadequate.
Not to pick on the police officers, because responding to car accidents is the most common type of call they receive and they are not all equally trained to investigate car wrecks. The good reports have accurate statements from the drivers and witnesses with accurate contact information for all of them. The report will have a description of the damage to the vehicles, and a conclusion on why the officer decided to issue citations with an explanation on how he or she came to that conclusion.
There is a lot of useful information in the accident report that can give us clues on further investigating your accident case. We will write a blog post on how to read an accident report in the future.
6. Video cameras are everywhere in our society. Almost everyone has a video camera in their pocket on their smart phone. Vehicles are installed with dash cams. Businesses and homes have them at their doors for security. Traffic cameras are everywhere on the roads and interstates.
Securing a recording of this footage is a different story. As we learned in the recent murder in Piedmont Park – and has been common knowledge by traffic lawyers for years – the cameras operated by the City of Atlanta do not always function.
In some cases, the footage may be in the hands of the opposing party. Like in a recent case we had with a truck driver rear-ended our client. This recording needs to be saved before it is conveniently taped over by the opposing party. We do that by sending a spoliation letter to the trucking company to preserve the recording. If they still destroy or lose the recording after we have sent this letter, we get a presumption at trial that the video was favorable to us. These type of letters can be powerful.
We have obtained most of the recordings we used in our cases by simply asking the resident or business for a copy. Most people seem willing to save the video and email it over to us without much hesitation. But this needs to be done early in the process because the video may be recorded over on a time interval.
Early in the investigation process we will not have filed a law suit and will not have subpoena powers from a civil court to obtain a video. But if you have been cited for the accident and there is an open traffic case against you, we have been able to use the subpoena power of the traffic court to secure videos in the past. Not every video has gone our way. Some have shown our client clearly at fault. But others have proven our clients’ stories and set us up for a successful recovery in their personal injury suit – after we have their citation dismissed.
7. Accident Reconstruction/hiring an expert/using the officer as an expert. You may be wondering why we saved hiring an accident reconstruction specialist for last. We have found that hiring a good expert is expensive. And for the most part, many cases do not merit this expense. Liability may be clear from the beginning, and we do not need an expert. Or your injuries may be minor and the cost of an expert would eat into your compensation.
But in cases with serious injuries and the issue of liability is questionable. We may hire an expert to help us reconstruct the accident. This expert will not automatically take our side because we paid them. This is what gives their opinion more weight.
In some cases, we can also use the police officer that responded to the scene of the accident as our expert witness. We can subpoena them to trial and review the accident report they created to help the jury understand what happened.
How a Personal Injury Attorney proves Damages
1. Property Damage is usually the easiest damages to prove. You can have a reputable body shop examine the damages to your vehicle and provide you with an evaluation on the costs. If your car is a total loss, then the insurance company will use blue book value.
2. Personal injury damages are the nitty gritty of our practice. This is where we can add the most value to your case, and in our experience can become the most contentious with the insurance company. Many insurance companies will outright deny you are hurt and deserve any compensation.
We prove your personal injuries through medical Bills and medical records. Even if your health insurance paid a portion or all of your bills, we can still claim the entire amount under Georgia law. We can also demand the insurance company cover your future potential medical bills.
Future medical treatment. The fact you may suffer from an injury for years or a lifetime after your accident can be documented by notes from your treating medical doctor and from comparison with plaintiffs with similar injuries. It is important to lock in future medical costs because in most cases you will not have an opportunity to ask for additional funds after your cases settles.
3. Your compensation does not end at with your car accident injuries. You can also collect on lost wages. Lost wages are not as straight-forward as they once were as many people have moved into the gig-economy to support themselves. A huge portion of the population no longer has a paystub to show the time they missed from work due to their accident injuries.
Instead, we can document your lost wages by comparing your income over a period of time previous to your car wreck to what you made after your injuries. This can be done with bank statements or even tax returns.
A note from your doctor recommending that you not work during a period of time can also help bolster your case for lost wages. And also remember that if you took sick days or personal time off to recover from your injuries, that is also considered lost wages that is recoverable.
6. Georgia allows personal injury plaintiffs to claim pain and suffering damages. Legally, there is no limit to the amount you can claim. Your claim for monetary damages must conform with the evidence of your case. Some ways to provide evidence from your claim will be through your medical notes. Your doctor will ask you about your pain levels in some instances. You can also provide photographic evidence of your injury. Serious injuries may simply look painful.
Other pain and suffering may be more difficult to document, and keeping a journal on the pain and suffering you experience as a result of your injury will be a good way for you to help explain to a potential jury. If your injury caused you to miss out on things you enjoyed – like travel or exercise – and this lead to depression, you can explain that suffering to the jury.
Documenting any mental anguish that resulted from your car wreck is also important. If you experienced PTSD or depression that can be linked to the accident, this can be part of your claim. It is always a good idea to treat your mental health as vigorously as your physical health, and Georgia law allows us to include these damages.
5. Some other damages that may not be apparent at first is loss of enjoyment of activities you can no longer participate in while you are injured.
Georgia law also allows for damages on loss of consortium with a spouse or partner due to injuries. Your spouse or partner may have a claim as well, if you are no longer able to participate in previously enjoyed activities.
7. Documenting your injuries/photos and videos
8. Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are also calculated in a similar manner. The family members are considered the victims in these cases and they can sue for pain and suffering due to the loss, as well as lost earning over a lifetime.
9. Punitive damages can be awarded in cases of intentional torts like assault and battery or in cases like DUI car wreck cases.
Steps in a Law Suit
We often find insurance adjusters make unreasonably low offers hoping you will give up on your personal injury case and take a low settlement offer. We find that law suits keep the insurance companies honest. They are forced to retain a law firm that specializes in insurance defense that can advise the adjusters on the strengths and weaknesses of our case and the amount of liability the insurance company is opening itself to if the plaintiff is success at a jury trial. We find dealing with insurance defense attorneys
2. Costs of the law suit and service requirements
The steps in filing a law suit is paying the filing fees and then serving the opposing parties.
The filing fees vary on which court we are filing our law suit. Magistrate Court is $54 and State Court the fee can be as high as $245. Then we need to pay for service as well.
4. Discovery Phase
Once the defendant has responded – usually through the insurance defense attorneys – the personal injury law suit moves into the discovery phase. In this phase both sides have opportunities to learn more about the case by asking the other side for evidence. This evidence can take the form of admissions, documents, photographs or videos, and deposition testimony from witnesses.
The discovery phase of a car accident law suit can last months and is often extended by consent between parties. It is in the best interest of both parties to completely understand the case so they can make their best judgment on the likely outcome of a jury trial.
This part of the law suit may drag on for some time but it is important to be patient so we can come up with the maximum settlement offer.
5. Depositions and what to expect
In most car accident injury law suits the plaintiff is asked to sit for a deposition. This is an examination by the opposing parties’ attorneys outside of the courtroom. They will have to opportunity to ask you as many questions as is reasonable while a court reporter records your responses. This will typically be done at our office but can also be scheduled over zoom in some instances.
In our experience, the insurance defense attorneys are hoping to test your ability as a witness. Many of the questions they ask at a deposition will not be allowed at trial for evidentiary reasons but they are allowed to ask almost anything.
Depositions can be exhausting marathons at times. The insurance defense attorneys want to see if there are holes in your story that they can take advantage and to learn in general what they can expect from your testimony to be like at trial. We find that a calm matter of fact demeanor is best. The deposition can be an important moment in allowing the insurance company’s representatives to understand that you are a human being and not merely another file they are handling.
In many jurisdictions, mandatory mediation is required. Judges find that mediated cases often settle prior to trial and avoid using the court’s limited resources. Even in jurisdictions that mediation is not required, we will often suggest it as a tool to facilitate a fair settlement offer.
The mediator is someone that both sides agree to use and hire themselves. They are a licensed professional in the State of Georgia that has been trained in mediating cases. Typically they are attorneys or former judges with experience in the practice area of your personal injury case. Mediator rates vary widely and we need to be conscious of those rates because they will be partially paid by you.
At mediation, you can expect to have an opportunity for both parties to explain their version of the case and why they think it is worth a certain value. As plaintiffs, we typically go first and the defense follows. At that point the mediator may have questions for both parties before we break out into separate rooms.
The mediator then goes between both parties relaying offers back and forth while making legal and factual arguments challenging each sides view of the case. The mediator goal is to find a value of the case that both sides can agree upon.
We find mediation to be a powerful tool in resolving cases and recommend participation in almost every instance.
8. The Trial
Once we get to the trial many months and possibly years have passed since your auto accident. We have gone through the discovery phase, and possibly mediation and pre-trial motions. At the trial, both parties will select a jury in a process known as voir dire. Voir dire varies in different jurisdictions, but is our first chance to speak to the potential jurors and begin to figure out who is appropriate to hear your trial.
As the plaintiff, we go first to present the elements of your tort claim and prove your case. You will almost certainly testify during this phase.
Once our case is made, the defense will have an opportunity to counter our argument. In some cases they may merely be arguing that your injuries were not severe enough to merit the cash value we have placed on it. In others, they may argue you contributed to the liability of the car wreck.
9. On Going Negotiations
Negotiations never stop. We willingly engage in negotiations at every stage of the law suit – even sometimes in the middle of trial. We find that a willingness to work out issues with opposing counsel is the fastest most efficient way to a fair settlement. Trials can go against us for strange reasons and if we can negotiate a value on your case that is fair and just while saving you time and mental stress is often a better outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
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