Car Accident Attorneys
Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one is a car accident victim, it. can be overwhelming. You’re probably worried about how will medical bills be paid? How do you pay your normal bills while you are out of work? How will property damage be paid for? What if I don’t have rental car coverage? Why do I have to pay for medical expenses when this accident wasn’t my fault? How do I make sure that I get the compensation that I deserve after this accident? Your car accident lawyer must be prepared to help you put together a plan to address these real-world problems. The answers may not be what you want to hear or an “easy fix”, but an experienced auto accident lawyer should be able to help you navigate through these problems while working to get you the recovery you deserve.
For many people, these questions ultimately lead them to look for a car accident attorney. Unfortunately, many people believe that all lawyers are the same and that the result that they will obtain from the case will be the same regardless of the lawyer they choose. That could not be further from the truth. Many people are also hesitant to take any action to protect their rights because they are intimidated by the thought of speaking with a lawyer. Choosing a lawyer for car accident should not cause that sort of anxiety and worry.
Elements of Georgia Car Accident Claims
In order to successfully bring a car accident claim in Georgia, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove the following elements:
- Duty of care: The defendant (the person or entity being sued) had a legal duty to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle.
- Breach of duty: The defendant breached their duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly, such as by driving while under the influence or failing to obey traffic laws.
- Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s actions, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
It’s important to note that in Georgia, the plaintiff’s recovery can be reduced by the percentage of their own fault if they are found to be partially at fault under the state’s modified comparative negligence rule. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, they will not be able to recover any damages from the other party or parties.
It’s also important to note that there are time limitations, called statutes of limitations, that dictate how long a person has to file a lawsuit after a car accident. In Georgia, an individual generally has two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
It’s always recommended to consult with a car accident lawyer to evaluate your case and to help you navigate the legal process.
Factors in Your Georgia Car Accident Case
When a person is involved in a car accident, there are several variables that will be taken into consideration when determining the outcome of the case. These variables include:
- Liability: who is at fault for the accident? This will be determined based on the evidence gathered at the scene of the accident and witness statements. The party determined to be at fault may be held liable for any damages or injuries caused by the accident.
- Injuries: the extent of any injuries sustained by the parties involved in the accident. This includes both physical and emotional injuries. The severity of the injuries, as well as any long-term effects, will be taken into account when determining the amount of compensation to be awarded.
- Property Damage: the extent of damage to the vehicles and any other property involved in the accident. The cost of repairs or replacement will be taken into account when determining the amount of compensation to be awarded.
- Medical Expenses: any medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgery, physical therapy, and medication. These expenses will be taken into account when determining the amount of compensation to be awarded.
- Lost Wages: any income lost as a result of the accident, including wages, salary, and benefits. This includes any future lost wages if the victim is unable to return to work due to their injuries.
- Pain and Suffering: compensation for physical pain and emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident. This can include things like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Insurance Coverage: the insurance coverage of all parties involved in the accident will be taken into account. This includes the limits of liability coverage and whether or not the at-fault party has uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
- Evidence: the evidence collected from the scene of the accident and from the parties involved will be considered. This can include things like police reports, witness statements, accident reconstruction reports, and photographs.
- Pre-existing conditions: If any of the parties involved have pre-existing medical conditions, it may be taken into account when determining the extent of the injuries caused by the accident and the amount of compensation to be awarded.
- Negligence: Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care which results in harm to another person. If the party at fault is found to be negligent, they may be held liable for any damages or injuries caused by the accident.
Given that each case is unique, the recovery amount can vary widely. It’s hard to give a definitive estimate without more information about the accident and the specific circumstances. An attorney can help you understand the value of your claim, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. They can also help you navigate the legal process, advise you on your rights, and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
It’s also important to note that in some cases, the parties can choose to pursue mediation or arbitration instead of going to court. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps the parties come to a mutually agreed upon resolution. Arbitration is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator makes a binding decision in the case. These alternative dispute resolution methods can be faster, cheaper and less adversarial than going to court.
In any case, it is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the maximum compensation possible. A lawyer can help you understand the complex legal process, advise you on your rights, and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
Our Georgia car accident lawyers can help you and your family.
These are the basic tasks that we work to perform in each of our car accident cases:
- a free consultation / free case evaluation;
- responsiveness to your call;
- knowledge about the basics of the personal injury case process;
- knowledge about how to handle your medical bills;
- the law firm will obtain the police report for your auto accident claim;
- knowledge about how to handle insurance reimbursement problems;
- investigating the car crash, including a visit to and documentation of the car accident scene;
- preserving evidence that may increase the value of your claim by preserving evidence of distracted driving (cellphone usage), impaired driving (drunk driver), etc.;
- these factors which bring “heat” to the case and punitive damage exposure for the defendant and their insurance company can help in getting fair compensation quicker and maximizing the compensation you receive;
- obtaining insurance policy information;
- knowledge about how to establish claims with the relevant insurance company or companies if you were hurt in an auto accident or premises liability incident;
- promptly communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to determine the amount of insurance coverage available from the company and whether comparative negligence is a contention in the case;
- communicate with the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver so that a statement is not given that may hurt the value of your claim or your ability to obtain fair compensation;
- knowledge about how to establish uninsured/under-insured motorist claims if you were hurt in a car wreck;
- if the statute of limitations is closing approaching, the lawyer has the capacity to quickly and efficiently prepare the case and to file a lawsuit on your behalf;
- if the case involves the State of Georgia or a local political unit (for example, a car accident with a sheriff’s deputy), the lawyer must understand the significance of and the importance of an ante litem notice;
- how to get you the treatment that you need;
- advocate for you to get the highest level treatment possible, including referrals to orthopedic specialists to care for broken bones, neurosurgeons and orthopedist to care for spinal cord and thoracic injuries, traumatic brain injury specialists to assist in deal with brain injuries, etc.;
- all settlement offers are communicated quickly and in writing to you;
- the case should be handled on a contingency fee basis – no fee should be charged to you unless a recovery is obtained on your behalf.
Serious injuries and wrongful deaths caused by car accidents require serious lawyers and a serious law firm. As you can see above, car accident cases and establishing the car accident claim involves numerous pieces, and a lawyer that does not know how to competently handle a piece can cost you real money. Frequently, large personal injury law firms are populated by inexperienced lawyers that are cutting their teeth in the firm. When you call seeking legal advice about your personal injury claim, you want to know that the lawyer within the law office you are speaking with has experience in dealing with your problem and they are not looking to a more experienced lawyer to address each of your problems. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident you’re seeking a fair amount of compensation for injuries, you cannot and should not leave your future in the hands of a lawyer that is just trying to learn how to handle car accidents. You need an experienced personal injury lawyer.
In order to obtain maximum compensation for your car accident claim, you need to receive the appropriate medical attention as quickly and consistently as possible, and your legal team needs to prepared to assist you in gaining access to the necessary medical care. Often times insurers and their assigned physicians delay in making referrals to specialists that can help our clients get better quicker. It is the responsibility of your personal injury lawyer to advocate on your behalf to assist you in gaining access to the appropriate medical care if an insurer is not helping you. Determining the extent of your injuries as quickly as possible is a critical early step in your car accident case. An experienced auto accident attorney understands that the value of your case centers around knowing the facts of your car accident (establishing the fault of the negligent driver for the accident) and the how the accident impacted your physical and mental wellbeing.
5 Biggest Mistakes That People Make After Car Accidents
- If you are involved in a car accident, there are certain things that you should always do. Be mindful of your priorities. Below are 5 things that you must do after a car accident, and they are primarily focused on first ensuring that everyone is receiving the medical care they need and then preserving your legal rights.1) If you need medical treatment, get it. If you know someone else involved in the accident has been injured, make sure that they receive medical care. It is intuitive, but the health and well being of everyone involved in the accident is the highest priority following an accident.
- Call 911. There are plenty of reasons to call emergency personnel and police after a wreck. A lot of people think that if no one is injured, the police do not need to be called. This is a bad idea. You need documentation regarding how the accident occurred, and if you have injuries, it is important that your medical condition be documented by emergency personnel. Calling the police in this situation is a way to prove how the car accident happened to your insurance company. There could certainly be a case where the other driver involved in a wreck with you does not have updated insurance, have insurance at all, has active arrest warrants, or there is actually someone in need of medical attention. If you get into a wreck with someone without insurance and you did not call the police, there is not a significant way to prove that the wreck happened and you are stuck with a dilemma. So always call the police.
- Do not discuss fault for the accident. There is a time and a place to discuss fault for the accident. The roadside immediately following an accident is not the time or the place. A very common accident is being rear-ended. Usually, the person “following too closely” is the one who gets the ticket. But if you were driving the car in the front and you weren’t paying attention, which in turn leads you to break really hard, it could very easily be seen as your fault. However, if you don’t admit that it was your fault, the law can take your side and the person who was “following too closely” will most likely get the ticket. Admitting it was your fault could also lead you to a door of possibilities of a lawsuit, extra fines, or other penalties.
- Some simple documentation of the accident can go a long way. Don’t forget to properly document every bit of the wreck. You want to think about how exactly the wreck took place from what you were doing before the crash to the moment after. This has to be very accurate for law enforcement. Also don’t forget to get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance information, car make, car model, color of their vehicle, and pictures if possible. All of this can come in handy during the process after the wreck. Also always remember to have your own license, registration, and insurance information at all times.
- Never leave the scene of an accident without speaking with law enforcement. Even if everyone seems alright from what you can see, and there’s no damage to the cars after a minor wreck, you should never leave the scene. You always have to stop to check on everyone involved, exchange insurance information, and report to law enforcement. If you do not do this, you will have committed a crime.
Proven Car Accident Attorneys for Serious Car Accidents
Sessions & Fleischman has a proven record of providing exceptional results to people injured in a car wreck and treating them with the compassion and care they deserve. Your car accident lawyer at Sessions & Fleischman will work hard to know our client’s case and our clients as well as possible. We understand how dramatically an injury can affect you and your family. Our commitment to our clients has been recognized through numerous accolades including:
- Selection to Top 100 – Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2021
- Selection to Top 100 – Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2020
- Selection to Top 100 – Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2019
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2019
- Inclusion in Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2018
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2017
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2016
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2015
- AVVO – Superb (10.0) Rating
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation.
The Insurance Company Has Accepted Fault, So Do You Need a Lawyer (And Why Haven’t You Been Paid Yet)?
It is a surprise to many people that insurance companies accept liability/fault but they still refuse to compensate them. It is probably going to come as a surprise to you as well that most of the time the insurer fights more over how much to pay an injured than they do over whether to pay a person. Frequently, they just do not believe that you were hurt or injured
How much does a lawyer for a car accident cost?
First, you absolutely should not be paying out-of-pocket, up-front money to a car accident lawyer.
Second, there is no reason at all for fear over costs keeping you from retaining a lawyer for your car accident injury case.
Every reputable car accident lawyer in Georgia handles car wreck cases on a contingency-fee-basis. That means that any many you pay to the lawyer will come out of the settlement or judgment received in your case. Do not be afraid to call a lawyer because you cannot afford to speak with them. We provide free consultations and you will not owe us a dime unless we obtain a recovery for you.
What does an attorney do in a car accident do?
Your car accident lawyer is basically going to put together the pieces of the puzzle of your case. In every car accident case in Georgia, it is the responsibility of a person seeking payment for their injuries to establish that the other driver was at fault for or caused the accident, and we must establish that the other driver actually damages that we are seeking to pay for. The tasks that your car accident lawyer undertakes in your case may be different than they undertake in another case, and what is extremely time-sensitive in one case may not be time-sensitive (or necessary) in another case. For example, in some cases, who caused the accident may be unquestionable, but in other cases, an accident reconstruction expert may be necessary. It will be the responsibility of your car accident lawyer to make the strategic decision about what is and should be undertaken and how soon.
If you have suffered a serious injury, you want answers and you want clarity. In addition to having a lawyer that knows how to pursue your claim and protect you, you want a lawyer that will pay attention to the details of your case. For example, negotiating the amount of medical bills that our clients owe can make a huge difference in the actual amount of recovery that our client receives.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer that will dedicate the time to pursue your claim can make a tremendous difference in the level of worry that you experience after an injury and the recovery that you receive.
We Protect You and Your Family by Taking Care of Your Car Accident Claim.
If you had the time and wished to commit the effort, you could probably make sure that all of the “I”s were dotted and all of the “T”s crossed in your car accident claim on your own. You could probably timely communicate with potential car insurance carriers regarding the pending claim, gather medical records, communicate with insurers regarding the claim, negotiate reimbursement agreements to health care providers and insurers, and possibly settle your claim on your own. Very few people have the time to learn to do all of these tasks on their own, and very few people want to take the chance that they will miss a deadline or enter into an agreement that will place their recovery in jeopardy. We understand the importance of providing prompt and thorough attention to your claim. That is essential to preserving your case and earning the best recovery possible.
We have frequently discussed the importance of insurance in the car accidents. If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a member of your family, there are several concerns that your lawyer must have. Most car insurance policies and excess liability policies has what is called an intrafamily tort immunity or exclusion clause. What that basically means is that a member of your family may be excluded from coverage for damages to another member of your family. This is really important stuff because frequently people are injured as a result of 1-car accidents, and frequently those cars are driven by members of our family.
DOES GEORGIA PERMIT TO EXCLUDE FROM COVERAGE A CAR ACCIDENT CAUSED BY A MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY?
The general rule in Georgia is that an insurer is not prohibited from included an intrafamily exclusion from coverage within a policy.
“[S]ince Georgia law does not require liability insurance in every case, we have concluded that exclusions are not per se prohibited but must be individually evaluated to determine whether they are against public policy.” (Citation omitted.) Southern Guaranty Ins. Co. v. Preferred Risk Mut. Ins. Co., 257 Ga. 355, 356, 359 S.E.2d 665 (1987). An intrafamily exclusion will be upheld if it does not unfairly penalize an innocent victim or expose the insured to unanticipated liability.
Id. Moreover, even in the absence of a policy containing an intrafamily exclusion, the doctrine of interspousal tort immunity may prohibit a suit between spouses, or the estates of spouses, as a matter of public policy. See Larkin v. Larkin, 268 Ga.App. 127, 128, 601 S.E.2d 487 (2004).
THERE ARE LIMITS ON THE ABILITY OF CAR INSURERS TO EXCLUDE FROM COVERAGE INTRAFAMILY TORTS.
In Govt. Employees Ins. Co. v. Dickey, 255 Ga. 661, 662, 340 S.E.2d 595 (1986), the Supreme Court of Georgia refused to enforce an intrafamily exclusion. It determined, however, that the exclusion was contrary to public policy only to the extent that it conflicted with Georgia’s compulsory insurance law. Id.
Similarly, in Stepho v. Allstate Ins. Co., 259 Ga. 475, 383 S.E.2d 887 (1989), the Supreme Court of Georgia held that an intrafamily liability exclusion violated public policy because it left the victim unprotected by insurance coverage. That Court held, however, that the “insurer is entitled to rely on the intrafamily exclusion as to sums above those required by our compulsory insurance law. That is to say, the compulsory insurance law does not establish public policy as to sums greater than those required by such law.” Id. at 477(2), 383 S.E.2d 887.
Here, enforcing the intrafamily exclusion does not conflict with Georgia’s compulsory insurance law because Shahzaman was insured, and Sultana’s estate has been compensated, under National Casualty’s general liability policy for the full amount required under such law. OCGA § 33-7-11(a)(1)(A). While Hoque may contend that the compulsory minimum insurance amount, as set by the Georgia legislature, is inadequate compensation for the loss of Sultana’s life, Empire’s intrafamily exclusion does not violate public policy because it does not prevent recovery of the compulsory minimum insurance amount. See Cotton States Mut. Ins. Co. v. Neese, 254 Ga. 335, 342(2), 329 S.E.2d 136 (1985).
Conveying the Effects of Your car Accident on Your Life
A large part of obtaining a fair recovery for you involves effectively conveying the effect of your car accident on your life. One of the largest parts of most car accident cases and personal injury cases, in general, is pain and suffering. Unfortunately, many personal injury lawyers attempt to make pain and suffering a very mechanical number. For example, often times you will hear car accident lawyers say that pain and suffering is calculated as a multiple of your “special damages” which are typically your medical expenses and/or lost wages. Many car accident attorneys mistakenly fix pain and suffering damages at one and a half to three times special damages. Certainly, in some cases, that range of pain and suffering measurement might be fair; however, what if you have exceptional circumstances in your life that greatly increase the amount of pain and suffering damages that you should receive? What if your car accident lawyer was unwilling to break out of the traditional mold in assessing and arguing your damages in your case.
Our car accident attorneys understand that there is no “one size fits all” formula for calculating the damages required to make our clients whole again. At Sessions & Fleischman, we take the time to get to know our clients and their lives, so that we can effectively convey the effects of the car accident upon our client’s life. If you want a car accident attorney in Macon, Georgia, call Sessions & Fleischman.
Frequently Asked Questions and Things You Should Consider After a Car Accident
- Should I talk to an insurer about my car accident?
- Can’t I show the insurance company my medical bills and handle this on my own?
- Can a lapse in medical care affect my car accident case?
- Should I sign any documents provided by an insurer after a car accident?
- What must be done immediately after a car accident?
- How do we prove causation of injuries in a car accident involving multiple vehicles?
- I was hurt, but I am worried about suing someone personally. Why can’t I just sure their insurance company?
- What are punitive damages in a car accident case?
- Can I settle my claims involving one insurance company and still pursue a recovery under another insurance policy after a car accident?
- How will my medical bills be paid after a car accident?
- Should I follow the referral from a medical care provider to a certain lawyer?
- How important are medical expenses in determining my recovery following a car accident?
- What is medical payments coverage and why is it important in my car accident case?
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
You have up to two (2) years after a car accident to file a lawsuit to recover for your injuries. O.C.G.A. Ga. § 9-3-33 states:
Except as otherwise provided in this article, actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues, except for injuries to the reputation, which shall be brought within one year after the right of action accrues, and except for actions for injuries to the person involving loss of consortium, which shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
If you would like to recover medical treatment, medical expenses, pain and suffering, future loss of enjoyment, lost wages, and other damages, your claims must be brought within the applicable statute of limitations.
The overwhelming majority of clients that come into my office, um, that have been hurt in an accident won’t their case to be settled as quickly as possible for as much money as possible. Um, and they also frequently believe that almost any lawyer can put together a demand package, negotiate their case and get almost the same result. That might be [inaudible] be the case that sort of lower levels of, uh, cases that are never going to trial. Um, but if you actually have a valuable case and you think that almost any lawyer can put together a demand package and get the same value out of the case as any other, you’re probably really mistaken. Um, what you need to recognize is that there is very real value in having a lawyer that will spend the time, spend the resources that are necessary in order to prepare that case for trial.
By virtue of doing that, what’s you’re going to do is very clear signals that are going to be sent to the other side that we’re serious about this and we’re not going away until we get the value that’s actually deserving on the case. Um, it will make a true difference on your case if we’re having someone who is willing to prepare the case and go the distance if necessary, in order to get value for you. Um, so while you might want to settle the case and almost everyone does, you need to be preparing for the launch longer haul if necessary. And by virtue of doing that preparation, a lot of times you will be able to get the value that you need much earlier on. If you have any questions about your case, feel free to call me.
What Can You Do to Help Your Georgia Car Accident Lawyer Get You the Recovery You Deserve as Quickly as Possible?
In most cases when new clients come into my office, they are looking to put their lives back together as quickly as possible. They want to treat their injuries, pay their medical bills and put the accident that caused their injuries behind them. Very few clients, if any, actually want to drag their case through a jury trial – especially at the outset of a case.
If you have been injured in an accident, you likely want to get your life back to normal as soon as possible too. However, if you are seeking compensation for your losses, you should know that actually receiving the compensation you need will be difficult without first pursuing litigation.
For both clients and lawyers, pursuing a claim against an insurance company can take time to fully resolve. In many cases, insurance companies will offer quick settlements that are far below the actual value of your case – knowing that you are eager to move forward with your life. Only those clients willing to reject those initial low offers and build a strong case are those who are able to maximize their recovery under the law.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is the first step toward getting your life back on track after an accident. Once you hire an attorney, you can go back to focusing on your physical recovery, work and your family while your lawyer works on your case. Your attorney will be able to build the strongest case possible for you and negotiate a settlement with opposing parties that maximizes the compensation due to you.
Deciding whether or not to pursue a personal injury claim after an accident is a big decision. Before you decide anything, you should speak with a personal injury attorney about your case. If you have questions about your case, I encourage you to call our office for a free consultation at (470) 225-7710.
ACCIDENTS INVOLVING FARM EQUIPMENT & TRACTORS OR ATTACHMENTS ON TRACTORS CAN BE DEADLY.
Accidents involving farm equipment are frequently catastrophic. In many cases, accidents involving agricultural machinery and equipment occur in the early morning or at sunset. Accidents involving farm equipment usually occur during these time periods because that is when farmers or their employees try to move farm equipment from one work location to another. Unfortunately, at these times, there is usually very little natural lighting. Car accidents involving farm equipment and machinery frequently involve very high-speed impacts with little pre-braking because the driver of the vehicle simply could not see the equipment in his/her lane of travel prior to impact.
ACCIDENT INVOLVING FARM EQUIPMENT FREQUENTLY INVOLVE EQUIPMENT THAT IS NOT MAINTAINED PROPERLY.
Frequently, agricultural machinery is poorly equipped to be operated on roadways. Frequently, farm equipment does not have safety features such as reflectors.
It is not uncommon to see accidents involving head-on collisions with cars attempting to pass farm equipment. In accidents that involve other vehicles attempting to pass agricultural equipment on the road, it is critical that the potential liability of the tractor not be overlooked. Any personal injury attorney investigating these types of accidents must be aware of the potential contribution to the accident by the tractor (farm equipment) operator. This is an important consideration because the farmer may very have substantial additional insurance that may provide coverage for you or your loved one’s injuries. Additionally, if you fail to appreciate the contribution to this accident by the farmer, the jury may very attribute the accident to the farmer and, therefore, you would be unable to recover unless they were also a defendant in the case.
Making Sure There Is Insurance Coverage for Your Injuries Caused by A Car Accident
Making sure that there is insurance coverage for your injuries caused by a car accident is an important part of your lawyer’s work in a car accident case. Georgia law has some strict rules regarding an insurer’s ability to defeat insurance coverage for your injuries after a car accident. However, there are some steps that your lawyer can take to protect insurance coverage for your injuries.
(a) No motor vehicle liability insurance policy covering a motor vehicle principally garaged or principally used in this state shall be issued, delivered or issued for delivery, or renewed in this state unless such policy contains provisions or has an endorsement thereto which specifically requires the insured to send his insurer, as soon as practicable after the receipt thereof, a copy of every summons or other process relating to the coverage under the policy and to cooperate otherwise with the insurer in connection with the defense of any action or threatened action covered under the policy.
(b) Noncompliance by the insured with this required provision or endorsement shall constitute a breach of the insurance contract which, if prejudicial to the insurer, shall relieve the insurer of its obligation to defend its insureds under the policy and of any liability to pay any judgment or other sum on behalf of its insureds.
(b.1) In the event the insurer denies coverage and it is determined by declaratory judgment or other civil process that there is in fact coverage, the insurer shall be liable to the insured for legal cost and attorney’s fees as may be awarded by the court.
(c) Subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section shall not operate to deny coverage for failure to send a copy of a summons or other process relating to policy coverage if such documents are sent by a third party to the insurer or to the insurer’s agent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery within ten days of the filing of such documents with the clerk of the court. If the name of the insurer or the insurer’s agent is unknown, the third party shall have a period of 30 days from the date the insurer or agent becomes known in which to send these required documents. Such documents must be sent to the insurer or agent at least 30 days prior to the entry of any judgment against the insured.
O.C.G.A. § 33-7-15.
Under OCGA § 33–7–15(c), where the insurer has received notice of the pending action not from the insured but from a third person, the insurer has not made out the defense of failure of notice of a pending action. Ga. Farm &c. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 209 Ga.App. 237, 238(1), 433 S.E.2d 315 (1993), rev’d on other grounds, 264 Ga. 347, 444 S.E.2d 739 (1994); see also Mahone v. State Farm &c. Ins. Co., 188 Ga.App. 664, 667(2), 373 S.E.2d 809 (1988).
Where under OCGA § 33–7–15(c), a third party gave notice to the insurer more than 30 days prior to judgment, as in this case, summary judgment as to notice should have been denied, leaving the issue of third-party notice up to a jury. Ga. Farm &c. Ins. Co. v. Martin, supra, 209 Ga.App. at 238, 433 S.E.2d 315 (notice by third party more than 30 days prior to judgment); Chadbrooke Ins. Co. v. Fowler, 206 Ga.App. 778, 779–780, 426 S.E.2d 578 (1992) (plaintiff failed to give notice more than 30 days prior to taking a default judgment); Champion v. Southern Gen. Ins. Co., supra at 132, 401 S.E.2d 36 (no notice prior to default judgment but plaintiff offered to set aside the default judgment, creating a jury question as to prejudice).
Thomas v. Atlanta Cas. Co., 253 Ga. App. 199, 203, 558 S.E.2d 432, 438 (2001).
One of the most frequent concerns that clients express to us is over how their medical bills will be paid after their car accident.
YES, YOU MUST “COOPERATE” WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT.
How must you “cooperate” with your insurance company following an accident?
Depending on what state you live in, motor vehicle liability insurance policies will require compliance provisions to be implemented throughout the policy before it can be issued. These compliance provisions are also known as cooperation clauses. Cooperation clause provisions typically require the insured to send his insurer a copy of every summons or other process relating to the coverage under the policy and to cooperate otherwise with the insurer in connection with the defense of any action or threatened action covered under the policy. This information can range from police reports to pictures from the scene to statements taken by those involved in the accident in question.
It is also worth noting that the information needed can even be sent by a third party to the insurance company. While it may vary between states, it is common for the third party who is sending the material on behalf of the insured to receive a period of 30 days from the date the insurer or agent becomes known to get all of the required documents in before a judgement can be made against the insured.
UNDERSTAND THE PARTS OF YOUR INSURANCE CONTRACT THAT REQUIRE COOPERATION FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT
The cooperation clause has been found to require the insured “to cooperate with his insurer in the investigation of accidents, the securing of evidence, giving notice of the accident and of claims on suits brought against him arising out of it, and attending court, assisting as he can at the trial and in making full, fair, complete and truthful disclosures of the facts known to him relative to the accident when called upon to do so. O.C.G.A Section 33-7-15. In order to defend the insured against claims covered by an insurance policy, the insurer must possess the ability to investigate the facts and circumstances of the accident and retain access to evidence that stands to be admitted in a trial. In conducting such an investigation, the insurer is allowed the opportunity to determine any possible defenses that can be raised on behalf of the insured and they are able to determine whether settlement negotiations should be started.
Failure to comply with cooperation clauses and provisions will constitute a breach of the insurance contract. And what this means is that if a court finds that the insured refused to cooperate with the insurer, the insurer can be relieved of its obligation to pay for any damages on behalf of the insured and defend the insured of any liability as would otherwise be covered under the policy. When the insurer asserts a defense that it has no obligation to the insured under the insuring agreement predicated upon the insured’s failure to cooperate, the insurer must show that it has sought diligently to obtain the insured’s cooperation but that the insured has willfully and intentionally refused to cooperate. Once this is shown, the burden shifts to the insured to show justification or excuse for his failure to cooperate. Supra. If however a judgment is found in the insured’s favor, showing that there is in fact coverage, the insurer will remain responsible for legal cost and attorney fees as the court sees fit.
A “cooperation clause” in a standard policy could read as follows:
Assistance and Cooperation of the Insured
“ … The insured shall cooperate with the company and, upon the company’s request, assist in making settlements, in the conduct of suits and in enforcing any right of contribution or indemnity against any person or organization who may be liable to the insured because of bodily injury, property damage or loss with respect to which insurance is afforded under this policy; and the insured shall attend hearings and trials and assist in securing and giving evidence and obtaining the attendance of witnesses. The insured shall not, except at his own cost, voluntarily make any payment, assume any obligation or incur any expense other than for such immediate medical and surgical relief to others as shall be imperative at the time of accident.”
Can my Insurance Premiums go up After a car Accident That is not my Fault?
We are frequently asked by people involved car wreckes whether car insurance premiums go up after a car accident that is not their fault. Georgia insurance law clearly forbids an insurer from imposing a surcharge or cancelling an auto liability policy based upon a car wreck that is not the fault of the insured:
No insurer shall surcharge the premium or rate charged on a policy of motor vehicle insurance or cancel such policy as a result of the insured person’s involvement in a multi-vehicle accident when such person was not at fault in such accident.
O.C.G.A. § 33-9-40.
This statute and Georgia law seems to provide a great deal of people that have purchased a car insurance policy from a sudden increase in premiums based upon a car wreck that is not the fault of the insured. However, and despite this statute, insurers have found a “work around” and they may simply refuse to renew the policy (which typically is issued for 12 months):
The fact that, as described by the code section, the generic phrase “termination of insurance coverage” encompasses both cancellation or nonrenewal does not mean that cancellation or nonrenewal equate with one another. If OCGA § 33-9-40 forbade “termination” where a policy holder was not at fault Banks might be right. However, that code section employs instead the more restrictive term “cancel,” which does not include “nonrenewal.” While the insurance carrier could not cancel the policy for accidents not the fault of its insured, it was not prohibited from declining to renew the policy for that reason. OCGA § 33-24-45 makes a clear distinction between the requirements regarding the right to cancel and the right not to renew.
Banks v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 189 Ga. App. 758, 758, 377 S.E.2d 685, 686 (1989).
WHAT INSURANCE DO I GET PAID BY WHEN THE OTHER DRIVER IN AN ACCIDENT IS IN A RENTAL CAR?
It is really important to understand the order of liability insurance coverage applicable to a car accident (or any accident). The reason that is important is because if you cannot establish what insurer is really on the hook for damages first, the insurance companies will constantly say that the other one needs to pay up first. You will basically be in a constant state of limbo and the insurance companies will really jerk you around.
CAR WRECKS INVOLVING RENTED VEHICLES CAN CAUSE CONFUSION OVER THE FIRST RESPONSIBLE INSURANCE COMPANY.
One instance in which the order of insurance liability can really be a problem is when you are involved in auto accident with a vehicle that is rented.
Fortunately, Georgia law is really helpful in clarifying the order of applicable liability against insurers (and the rental company if it is self-insured):
OCGA § 33–34–4 still requires car rental companies to insure the cars they own, but they enjoy special treatment in terms of coverage priority on cars rented to the public under OCGA § 40–9–102. Under OCGA § 40–9–102, the renter’s liability insurance coverage is primary, and the rental company’s liability insurance coverage is secondary *371 or excess. Code section 40–9–102, therefore, reverses the usual order of liability coverage inasmuch as the renter’s coverage is primary and the owner’s coverage is secondary.(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Gen. Car & Truck Leasing System, 258 Ga.App. 733, 735(2), 574 S.E.2d 914 (2002).
Hix v. Hertz Corp., 307 Ga. App. 369, 370–71, 705 S.E.2d 219, 221 (2010).
One of the most frustrating events for a person who is been injured in a car accident is dealing with the at fault party’s insurance company. Most people recognize that the at fault party’s insurance company it’s not working for them and the insurance company is in fact trying to minimize its expenditures. In addition to minimizing expenditures, the insurance company will sometimes take the position that they are not responsible for the injuries and damages you have suffered because there is some type of condition under the policy which excludes coverage. Many people are led to believe that because of an insurance coverage issue, they cannot recovery for the injuries they suffered in a car accident.
YOU MAY BE ABLE TO OBTAIN A RECOVERY FOR YOUR CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES DESPITE AN INSURER’S INITIAL DENIAL OF COVERAGE BASED UPON A POLICY EXCLUSION.
A coverage exclusion means that at-fault driver’s insurance company is not going to pay anything for your personal injury voluntarily. In order to obtain any recovery for your injuries incurred as a result of a car accident where the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses coverage based upon a policy exclusion, your lawyer generally must file a lawsuit.
After you file a lawsuit against their insured, they will be responsible for answering and defending their insured and, possibly, filing a declaratory judgment action to determine their responsibilities under the insurance policy. Obviously, all these actions by the insurance company requires them to expend funds and depending upon the potential exposure of the insurance company, the injuries to you, and the overall costs of defending the claim, you may be able to obtain a decent recovery despite the potential insurance coverage issue.
UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE IN YOUR INSURANCE POLICY MAY PROVIDE HELP EVEN IF THE AT-FAULT PARTY ESCAPES FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.
Most auto insurance policies include, at least, minimum uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the event that the party that caused a wreck and your injuries does not have any or sufficient coverage.
If you have questions about insurance coverage following a car accident or if an insurance company has indicated that they are refusing to provide coverage for a car wreck in which you were hurt, call Sessions & Fleischman. We welcome the opportunity to speak with and to offer advice about how you may be able to get through this difficult situation and obtain the recovery that you deserve.
What’s uninsured motorist coverage and what type should you have?
Medical payments coverage is available to you whether or not you are or not at fault for an accident. This form of insurance coverage can help you pay your health insurance deductible after an accident. Now, medical payments coverage does a lot of things, but it does not help you in any way, shape or form pay for your pain and suffering, lost wages, future medical expenses and other losses. For those types of economic damages, you will either need to recover compensation from the at fault party’s insurance policy, or from your own uninsured motorist coverage.
So, what is uninsured motorist coverage and what type should you have?
If you are injured in an accident by another driver who does not have insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage will help you recover from economic and non-economic losses that you may have experienced. While you may not be able to control whether or not other drivers are insured, you do have control over your own insurance coverage and the extent that insurance will compensate you for your losses.
First, you should review your insurance policy to understand the limits under your current uninsured motorist policy. Look for what is called an “Add On” policy. Under this type of coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage is “added on” to any at-fault liability coverage the other driver has.
Let’s say for example that the at fault party has $25,000 in insurance, and you have $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. For all practical purposes, your insured motorist policy isn’t going to add any additional coverage to you in the accident. But let’s say that you have $25,000 in what’s called add on coverage or added on uninsured motorist coverage. In that event, you will have the possibility of recovering up to $50,000 in damages.
The type of uninsured motorist coverage that you have will make a big difference in the compensation that is available to you after an accident. If you have been injured in an accident and have questions about your insurance policy, call Sessions & Fleischman today.
KNOWING YOUR UNINSURED MOTORIST POLICY LIMITS IS REALLY IMPORTANT
All too frequently, I consult with people that have been involved in a car accident that has left them seriously injured, but they are unable to recover the money they are entitled to because the person that caused their injuries had insufficient insurance coverage, or even worse, no insurance coverage at all. Do not put your financial future at risk by continuing to ignore your uninsured motorist coverage options. The long-term costs of ignoring your Underinsured/Uninsured coverage can be financially catastrophic.
It’s incredibly frustrating for people learn after they’ve been involved in an accident that the other party who caused the accident, who caused her injuries, doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover whatever losses it is that they’ve incurred, whether or not as property damage or personal injuries. The only way that you can ensure that you do in fact have enough insurance coverage to cover your injuries. Your property damage is to make sure that you have what’s called uninsured motorist coverage, and that you do have enough to actually take care of your injuries. Unfortunately, it’s the reality of our world that some people don’t actually have insurance who don’t have enough insurance to take care of you if they actually cause injuries to you, what you need to do is make sure that your policy has both uninsured motorist coverage. And that is what’s called add on coverage. That means that whatever the other person’s limits of insurance are, that your uninsured motorist coverage adds on to that limit as opposed to being reduced by. Um, it’s a really simple thing that you can do to make sure that you’re taking care of that you’re taking care of you and your family. If you are in fact hurting accident, if you guys have any questions, feel free to drop them below. Thanks so much. Hope you have a great week.
Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage is the way that we protect ourselves from motorists that do not carry sufficient insurance coverage. If you are legally entitled to recover from another person that causes an accident and that person does not have sufficient insurance to pay for the injuries you suffer, an Underinsured/Uninsured motorist policy can help you. You cannot control the amount of insurance that anyone else has, but you can control the amount of Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage available to you.
Unfortunately, most people do not know whether they have uninsured motorist coverage and, perhaps most importantly, do not understand what the limits of their coverage are. The “limit of coverage” available under the policy is the amount of money available to you under the terms of the policy. Multiple different variations of Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage are permissible under Georgia law, and you may have elected not to have Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage. Adding Underinsured/Uninsured coverage is relatively inexpensive, and the benefits can be tremendous should a situation arise where the person who injured you had insufficient insurance on his/her policy.
Please take a moment to contact your agent and request a copy of your insurance binder, including your uninsured motorist policy. Make sure that you understand how much uninsured motorist coverage is available to you. You want to make sure that you have an “add on” policy, which allows you to add your uninsured coverage to any insurance that an at-fault driver might have. This is very useful in situations where the at-fault driver has insurance, but it is less than your medical bills. If you are having difficulty determining what coverage is provided under your uninsured motorist coverage policy, call Sessions & Fleischman at (470) 225-7710 or (478) 254-2665. These few moments can make a world of difference for the future of your family.
WERE YOU HURT IN A CAR ACCIDENT WITH SOMEONE WORKING AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH?
If you have been involved in a car accident with a vehicle driven by a person in a company-owned, a primary concern must be whether that person is driving within the scope of his/her employment. If an employee is driving within the scope of his/her employment, then the employer is responsible for the acts of the employee.
When an employee is involved in a collision while operating a vehicle owned by his employer, a presumption arises that he is acting within the scope of his employment. International Business Machines v. Bozardt, 156 Ga.App. 794, 794–795, 275 S.E.2d 376 (1980). The burden then shifts to the employer “to rebut the presumption by evidence that is clear, positive and uncontradicted and that shows the servant was not in the scope of his employment.” (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Id. If the employer presents evidence that the employee was not acting within the scope of his employment,
[t]he employer is thereafter entitled to summary judgment unless “other facts” are proffered—that is, additional evidence other than the fact that the vehicle was owned by the employer—from which a jury could reasonably infer that the employee was acting within the course and scope of his employment when the accident occurred. Where the “other facts” are direct evidence, such is sufficient for the case to go to the jury. Where the “other facts” are circumstantial, however, such evidence will not defeat the employer’s motion for summary judgment, unless it is sufficient to support a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.
(Footnotes omitted.) Littlefield Constr. Co. v. Bozeman, 314 Ga.App. 601, 603–604(1), 725 S.E.2d 333 (2012).
CGL Facility Mgmt., LLC v. Wiley, 328 Ga. App. 727, 730, 760 S.E.2d 251, 255 (2014).
If you were hurt in a car accident involving a person that may have been working, it is frequently very difficult to find out with certainty whether the person was on the job and for whom they were working at the time of the crash. One of the things that that your car accident lawyer must do is to file a lawsuit with sufficient time to add the employer if that is necessary.
UBER ACCIDENT INSURANCE COVERAGE: UBER ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
Since 2012, the ride sharing industry has grown from nothing to more than a $1 Billion a year. Uber and its business plan has become a shinning light for new start ups around the country. There is no end in sight for the success of Uber and its competitors like Lyft. To date Uber and Lyft have more than 8.5 million users spanning more than 400 cities in 60 countries. These two giants have an estimated combine worth of more than $52 Billion, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. They are averaging more than 1 million rides a day, and with that many rides crashes are inevitable. Being injured as a result of an incident involving an Uber of Lyft driver makes recovering damages a tedious and difficult task.
Lawsuits that result from an Uber of Lyft vehicle present important, but difficult issues for insurance coverage and the future of coverage as these companies continue to expand.
Currently, Uber and Lyft require their drivers to have auto insurance, and if you are injured during the course of your interaction with these ride sharing companies the at-fault driver will be held liable. However, there are two tricky issues associated with this situation.
First, determining which driver is at fault. In order to determine fault in a car accident in Georgia, you must apply proportional comparative fault. Proportional comparative fault is also know as modified comparative negligence 50% bar rule, and it is used to calculate how much each party will be compensated for injuries following a car accident. For instance, if you are involved in an accident where it is determined that you were 30% at fault for the accident and the other driver was 70% at fault, you will be compensated 70%. This rule can be very confusing, which is why you should enlist the help of an experienced attorney from Sessions & Fleischman.
DOES UBER PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR MY INJURIES FOLLOWING AN UBER ACCIDENT?
The second issues is if the uber or lift driver is found to be at fault but does not have a non-commercial insurance policy, their own personal policy may not necessarily give you coverage. Many insurance policies state that if an accident occurs while driving for pay the policy may not cover any damages. Uber or Lyft could attempt to deny the drivers claim leaving the driver without any coverage. Once again, if you find yourself in this difficult situation, you will need the help of an attorney to seek the compensation you deserve.
Uber does provide a $1 million insurance policy to cover driver liability. However, there are instance where a driver might not officially be “on the clock” (have a customer in the car) when an accident occurs, if this is the case Uber has shown in the past that they will deny responsibility for the drivers actions, leaving their personal insurance policies responsible for paying the damage.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN AN UBER ACCIDENT WHILE BEING DRIVEN BY AN UBER DRIVER?
Regardless, if you are an Uber/Lyft driver or passenger, if you have been involved in an accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney. The issues in a case of this nature are very complex and with out the right person representing you, you may not be able to obtain the monetary compensation you need.
We are here to serve you and your family.If you have been injured in an accident involving Lyft or Uber do not hesitate, contact Sessions & Fleischman today for a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our experience personal injury lawyers.
I WAS HURT IN A CAR ACCIDENT, BUT I DON’T HAVE A HEALTH INSURANCE. WHAT DO I DO?
All too often, people suffer serious injuries in car accidents, but do not have health insurance to pay for their medical treatment. So, we have to really evaluate the various alternative means of funding treatment available to them.
ALTERNATIVE 1 WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE TO PAY FOR CAR ACCIDENT INJURY TREATMENT: MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE
Make sure that you know whether medical payments coverage is available to you under your car insurance policy. Medical payments coverage can be used to pay for medical treatment regardless of whether you are at fault.
ALTERNATIVE 2 WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE TO PAY FOR CAR ACCIDENT INJURY TREATMENT: GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM
If you do not have health insurance and you are in serious pain, go to the emergency room. Do not put off causing further serious damage to yourself by delaying treatment. Go to your local emergency room.
ALTERNATIVE 3 WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE TO PAY FOR CAR ACCIDENT INJURY TREATMENT: GET MEDICAL TREATMENT ON A LIEN
Some medical car providers will treat you on a lien. That means that you agree to pay them out of the settlement proceeds. A lot of doctors will treat car wreck victims on a lien, but you have to know that a premium will be paid for the services.
There are some other options for funding medical care that may be available to you, and we are happy to discuss them with you. If you have questions about your car accident case, call Sessions & Fleischman today for a free consultation.
How Will My Medical Bills be Paid After My Car Wreck?
After you have been in an auto accident you may be wondering how your medical expenses will be paid. Far to often, people fall victim of to a trick played by medical providers to overcharge for medical care and then collect their profits from the pain and suffering settlements of their patients. You deserve all the money that has been awarded to you following an automobile accident. No lawyer should allow their client’s settlement to be poached by greedy healthcare providers. Luckily there is a strategy that will save your settlement from being unjustly reduced by medical providers, that strategy is to file your settlement with your health insurance rather than your auto insurance. Far to often, lawyers underutilize the ability to file an auto insurance claim directly to the healthcare insurance company instead of with the auto insurance company. This move can save clients thousands of dollars in the long run. At first glance this move may seem counter intuitive, however, upon further investigation you will realize this can save you thousands of dollars and it will prevent healthcare providers from poaching your settlement.
For example: following your car accident you make your way to a health care provider who states your medical costs are $2,500.00. But, your health insurance believes the work the provider has done is only valued at $1,500.00. This creates a situation in which the healthcare provider would rather wait to file their claim until after your settlement has been finalized in order to collect the $2,500.00 they have been seeking all along. They do this because they know there is insurance money out there, and they would rather poach your settlement after it has been completed for $2,500.00 instead of receiving payment from the health insurance company for the actual value of their work, which was $1,500.00. Having a lawyer who knows how to file your claim with your healthcare provider will save you thousands of dollars and keep your settlement safe from healthcare providers who are looking to make a profit off of your misfortune.
Medical Payments Coverage in your car insurance policy is a crucial part of protecting your family.
I have made several other videos in which I talk about uninsured motorist coverage and why that is important. That is something that, as a car accident attorney, I try to share with as many people as possible because I see so many people who are injured in car accidents and the at fault party doesn’t have enough insurance to cover their injuries. Similarly, medical payments coverage is something you should consider adding to your insurance policy if you do not already have it.
Many of my clients don’t have knowledge about medical payments coverage, why it is important, when it is used or even how much it costs. This is not their fault. In fact, many insurance agents fail to make consumers aware of medical payment coverage as an option.
What is medical payments coverage?
Many cases we handle involve a client being injured by another person’s negligence. In those cases, the person who was at fault for the accident pays the injured party for their losses.
But what if you are the driver responsible for the accident? Who will pay for your medical bills? Medical payments coverage will help cover the cost of medical treatment for your injuries even if you are the person responsible for those injuries.
Whether or not you are responsible for your accident injuries, medical payments coverage will kick in and help you pay your medical bills.
What are the benefits of medical payments coverage?
For many of my clients, the biggest hurdle they experience after an accident is getting treatment for the accident and paying the deductible under their health insurance plan. Most of us have deductibles that are fairly high, and we probably are not planning to pay out that deductible as the result of a random accident.
When reviewing your insurance policy, you should consider adding medical payments coverage to cover the deductible. This will ensure that you have enough funds to pay for emergency medical treatment following an accident.
The best part? Medical payments coverage is not expensive and may only be an additional $10-$15 per month. It is a great way to offset the cost of your deductible under your health insurance plan and cover your medical payments whether you are responsible for your accident or not.
“Gaps” in Medical Treatment Following Your Car Accident
Be very careful about the “gaps” in treatment following your car accident. Gaps in treatment are spaces in time in which you are not being treated by or seeking treatment for injuries arising from your car accident.
GAPS IN TREATMENT CAN BE THE DEATH KNELL TO YOUR CASE.
When we when we begin working your case, you will see that the insurer does everything possible to deny your claim. They will look at your criminal history, prior accident or incidents, prior medical history, prior claims, and whether you followed your medical care providers’ directions for your care following your care accident.
Insurers attempt to use the gaps in medical care in two ways:
- Insurers attempt to use the gap in treatment from medical care providers to argue that you were not really following your car accident, and
- Insurers attempt to use the gap in treatment from medical care providers to argue that you did not do everything possible to mitigate your injuries or damages following the car accident.
AVOIDING “GAPS” IN MEDICAL TREATMENT FOLLOWING YOUR CAR ACCIDENT
In many cases, there are gaps in medical treatment following car accidents because people are fearful about incurring medical expenses that they will be personally liable for or people do not understand how to get the treatment that they need.
We can help you address both of these concerns. We can help you understand how your medical bills will be paid following your car accident and we can help you arrive at treatment providers that will actually help you get better.
We look forward to the opportunity to help you successfully resolve your car accident case and obtain the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
What’s the role of medical expenses in recovery from accidents?
The short answer is that medical expenses play a tremendously important role in determining the amount of recovery that you receive following an accident. Georgia law states that “[i]n all cases, necessary expenses consequent upon an injury are a legitimate item in the estimate of damages.” O.C.G.A. § 51-12-7. Our law recognizes that medical expenses are a proper consideration for the jury
In all cases, necessary expenses resulting from the injury are a legitimate item of damages.As to medical expenses, such as hospital, doctor, and medicine bills, the amount of the damage would be the reasonable value of such expense as was reasonably necessary.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-7.
Any effort to settle a personal injury case will necessarily include medical expenses – for better or worse. If medical expenses are great, an offer of settle will most likely be a multiple of that expense if liability is clear. On the other hand, if medical expenses are minimal, the settlement proposal will necessarily be diminished on the basis that, if medical expenses are not great, the impact was not great.
Our Macon personal injury lawyers are experienced in maximizing the recovery in all varieties of personal injury cases, not simply those cases in which there is clear liability and a high level of medical expenses.
Were You Hurt in an Accident Involving a Georgia State Agency?
If you were hurt in an accident involve a Georgia state agency, you must be certain that your lawyer complies with the terms of the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The Georgia Tort Claims Act has very specific requirements that must be complied with or the State will not be held liable for your injuries.
WHAT IS TIMELY NOTICE OF THE CLAIM UNDER THE GEORGIA TORT CLAIMS ACT? WHAT IF THE NOTICE IS MAILED WITHIN THE 12-MONTH PERIOD BUT IS RECEIVED AFTER THE 12-MONTH PERIOD?
Fortunately for claimants, the Georgia Supreme Court has relieved some of the former requirements for strict adherence to the terms of the Georgia Tort Claims Act and permitted claimants to mail their notices within 12 months and the notice is valid even if it is received after the expiration of the 12-month period:
In concluding that receipt of the notice of claim within the 12 month period was required under the statute, the Court of Appeals relied on Hardy v. Candler County, 214 Ga.App. 627, 448 S.E.2d 487 (1994). Hardy acknowledged that the Georgia Act does not define the terms “given”2 and “presented,”3 but it applied federal authority interpreting the Federal Tort Claims Act, Barlow v. AVCO Corp., 527 F.Supp. 269 (E.D.Va.1981), and interpreted our statutory language as meaning actual receipt by the state within the requisite statutory time. A critical distinction, as noted in Barlow, is that federal regulations specifically provide that “ ‘a claim shall be deemed to have been presented, when the Department receives…’ such a claim. 29 C.F.R. § 15.4” Barlow, supra at 273. Applying such a definition to the Georgia Act is neither authorized nor required because the plain language of OCGA § 50–21–26(a)(2) provides as an alternative to actual delivery that notice of claim is given upon mailing. Because the Act specifies mailing and does not require receipt, it places an equal burden on all claimants. To hold the sender responsible for ensuring actual receipt of the notice within the statutory time would create a harsh and unreasonable rule because a document which is placed in the mail is no longer within the sender’s control. The mailing requirement, therefore, comports with the stated legislative intent of achieving fairness and uniformity in the application of the Act. Since Norris mailed his ante litem notice in the manner specified by OCGA § 50–21–26(a)(2), and within the statutory time frame, he complied with the provisions of the Act. To the extent that Hardy v. Candler County, supra, states otherwise, it is expressly overruled.
Norris v. Georgia Dep’t of Transp., 268 Ga. 192, 193, 486 S.E.2d 826, 828 (1997)
THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURER SAYS THAT I AM AT FAULT FOR AN ACCIDENT AND REFUSES TO PAY. IS THAT THE END?
Many insurance people mistakenly believe that when an insurance company says that they are at fault fault for an accident and refuses to pay for their injuries, they do not have any recourse. In fact, this is completely not the case. If you have been in an accident and the insurer and the other driver’s insurer believes that you are at fault, they have every right to refuse to settle your claim, but you do not have to accept their refusal as the final decision.
When an insurance company refuses to pay, you do have another course of action. Your car accident lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and ask that a jury determine who was at fault for the accident. The insurance company’s decision has absolutely no bearing on the trial, and jurors will never even know that the insurance has taken this position, even if the decision was completely unreasonable. If an insurance company’s decision to deny payment to you and their insured is found liable at the trial and the verdict is beyond the available policy limits, the insurance company may ultimately be responsible for the amount of the judgment. This type of unfounded decision by an insurer is addressed by Georgia’s insurance bad faith law.
Mentally, it can be very difficult to continue on with your claim when an insurer decides that you are at fault for an accident. You should be prepared for an insurer to take this type of position. Do not let an insurer intimidate you into not pursuing a valid personal injury claim by taking a position that is not correct.
When a Traffic Violation Leads to Serious Injuries and is no Longer an “Accident”
When is a traffic violation that results in catastrophic injuries and, even, death an accident? When it is something more? Perhaps, reckless or intentional? These are difficult questions, and surprisingly enough, these questions can have significant impacts upon your ability to recover following a car accident, truck accident, or other incident in which insurance coverage is potentially at play.
This is an excerpt from a post on the National Coalition for Safer Roads:
Published by Arizona’s Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance and titled, Carelessness Is No Accident is dedicated to all innocent victims of red-light running related traffic crashes. The writers tell their own account of how a driver ran a red light and left their families broken forever. They share their personal story with the hopes of preventing similar tragedies from occurring, and to remind elected officials of their responsibility to safeguard our streets every day.
“Red-light running is a negligent and arrogant act that can take our most precious loved ones in less than a second. Our laws are flawed and people are not held accountable,” Melissa writes. “The motorist that caused the crash that took Mark’s life got a $500.00 fine, community service and had their points adjudicated after completing a driver’s improvement course for the fourth time.”
Through her advocacy and outreach Melissa has worked over the years to educate the public about the dangers of red-light running. By her determination, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, named in memory of her husband, was passed in 2010 enabling the use of red-light safety cameras at Florida intersections to help change driver behavior and combat red-light running. Since then, she has become the President of NCSR and a dynamic traffic safety advocate committed to changing highway safety.
“I am honored to be able to share my story in this book and hope it will provide relief to those who have experienced a loss. Most of all I hope it will help prevent another Mark Wandall story by reminding drivers how important it is to obey the law and stop on red,” said NCSR President, Melissa Wandall.”
When you step back and consider every unintended act that results in harm to others, you see that there is always some very conscious and pre-meditated decision that led to this horrible consequences. Obviously, the person did not intend for the ultimate act to occur, but their prior decisions led to the car accident that caused horrible injuries.
We have to be careful calling accidents something more. The consequences of making an accident something more can be catastrophic for our clients’ ability to recover, particularly from insurers that may provide coverage for the incident.
How Will COVID-19 Impact My Car Accident Case?
As shelter-in-place orders persist in Georgia, reduced driving has led to fewer accidents and even fewer car accident injuries. But even as more drivers stay at home, there are many individuals who are either suffering from injuries incurred prior to COVID-19 or have experienced an injury during the pandemic.
For car accident victims, COVID-19 presents a number of challenges that could stand in their way of pursuing financial recovery. Insurance companies may attempt to delay claims, diminish the value of car accident cases, or simply outright deny claims during this time. By taking a proactive approach to dealing with your car accident injuries, these challenges can be overcome.
Settling a Car Accident Case During COVID-19
The full financial impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen, but already individuals and businesses are experiencing hardship caused by the State’s shelter-in-place orders. This may create unusual pressure for victims, defendants and insurers to settle cases in the coming months.
For car accident victims, settling a personal injury case during COVID-19 may bring much needed financial relief. If you recently lost your job, for example, money from a settlement could alleviate monetary concerns in the face of an uncertain financial future.
However, insurance companies may try to use this situation to their benefit, looking for quick settlements that do not cover the full extent of your losses. COVID-19 may also create a more litigious atmosphere where insurance companies are motivated to diminish the value of personal injury claims in an effort to protect their profit margins.
I always look for ways to leverage my clients’ situation to maximize their financial recovery under the law, and COVID-19 is no different. This is a time of opportunity for car accident victims to pursue their claims. Although the Coronavirus has caused courts to close and cases to be delayed, now is the time to be proactive and ensure that your rights to financial recovery are protected.
It may be tempting to accept a quick settlement offer from an insurance company during this time, however, you should always consult with an attorney prior to signing any documents to ensure that you receive compensation for the full extent of your losses.
Receiving Medical Treatment for Injuries During COVID-19
Seeking and receiving medical treatment after a car accident is critical to maintaining the viability of a personal injury claim. I always advise my clients to seek medical treatment for their car accident injuries and follow any ongoing treatment recommendations that their doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist recommends.
Seeking and receiving proper medical care for your injuries will help you maximize the financial compensation you are due after an accident. Medical documentation, for example, will help your attorney prove the extent of your injuries and financial loss.
During COVID-19, you may be reluctant to seek medical treatment for your car accident injuries or visit your healthcare provider for ongoing treatment. In some cases, seeking treatment may not be possible due to current shelter-in-place orders. You may even be experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, and dealing with a car accident injury is not a priority at this time.
If possible, I encourage all car accident victims to keep their current medical appointments and continue to follow recommended treatment plans while maintaining safe social distancing. In many cases, telehealth is possible where visits with medical professionals can be virtual. You may be able to continue physical therapy sessions via teleconferencing as well.
If you are unsure of how you can continue your treatment plans during COVID-19, you should reach out to your healthcare provider to see what options are available to you.
Lapses in Auto Insurance Coverage During the Coronavirus
As more individuals lose their jobs, experience pay cuts and struggle to pay monthly bills, some drivers may fail to pay insurance premiums – putting you and other drivers at risk of great financial loss. Fortunately, many insurance companies are providing premium refunds to drivers during this time, or choosing to waive premium payments during COVID-19 altogether.
If you are injured in a car accident by an uninsured or underinsured driver, then you will need to seek compensation either from the at-fault driver’s personal assets or, more likely, from your own insurance company under your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Remember that even your own insurance company has every incentive to minimize the amount due to you. Seeking the assistance of a car accident attorney will help you maximize the financial recovery you receive.When a Traffic Violation Leads to Serious Injuries and is no Longer an “Accident
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
During COVID-19, it is important to continue to seek medical treatment, follow treatment plans, and work with your attorney to develop a strong personal injury case. If you have been recently injured in an accident, you should seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible and speak with a car accident attorney about how a personal injury case can help you recover compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Contact Sessions & Fleischman Today for A Free Consultation Regarding Your Georgia Car Accident Case.
If You Have Been Injured in A Car Wreck, contact us today for a free consultation. Information is power, and we are always more than willing to give away tons of information. We strive to provide the highest level of legal representation and legal service to injury victims throughout Georgia. Whether you are seeking an Atlanta car accident lawyer, Macon car accident lawyer, Milledgeville car wreck attorney, or Columbus auto accident lawyer, we can help. We serve clients throughout the Atlanta area (Fulton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Marietta, Decatur, Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Duluth, Brookhaven, Paulding County, Dallas, etc.), middle Georgia (Macon, Bibb County, Tifton, Tift County, Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Madison, Morgan County, etc.), and south Georgia (Valdosta, Albany, Ashburn, Americus, etc.). Call us to schedule a meeting today, and we are certain that you will walk away feeling a lot more empowered about this unfortunate situation.
Generally, we meet with each of our clients in person before we agree to represent them with regard to their car accident case. In some cases, we can arrange to represent you without an in-person consultation.
Disclaimer: Our website and the information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Do You Want a Settlement in Your Car Accident Case?
Do you want to obtain a settlement in your car accident case? The overwhelming majority of clients that come into my office that have been hurt in an accident want their case to be settled as quickly as possible for as much money as possible. They also frequently believe that almost any lawyer can put together a demand package, negotiate their case and get almost the same result. That might be [inaudible] be the case that sort of lower levels of, uh, cases that are never going to trial. Um, but if you actually have a valuable case and you think that almost any lawyer can put together a demand package and get the same value out of the case as any other, you’re probably really mistaken. What you need to recognize is that there is very real value in having a lawyer that will spend the time, spend the resources that are necessary in order to prepare that case for trial.
By virtue of doing that, what’s you’re going to do is very clear signals that are going to be sent to the other side that we’re serious about this and we’re not going away until we get the value that’s actually deserving on the case. It will make a true difference on your case if we’re having someone who is willing to prepare the case and go the distance if necessary, in order to get value for you. Um, so while you might want to settle the case and almost everyone does, you need to be preparing for the launch longer haul if necessary. And by virtue of doing that preparation, a lot of times you will be able to get the value that you need much earlier on. If you have any questions about your case, feel free to call me. My name is Ben sessions. My phone number is (470) 225-7710 again, (470) 225-7710. Thank you.
Notice of a Claim to an Insurer After a Car Accident
One of the responsibilities that we have following an accident in which our client is attempting to recover from another person’s insurance company, is to give the insurance company on the opposing parties insurance company, notice of the claim. That is, they have received notice that they’re insured have been involved in an accident that could be covered under that policy. If the insurance company has not given an appropriate notice of the covered event then they can attempt to reject coverage for that event. So, that means that you could be sort of left out in the cold with the insurer who did not give notice to their insurance company of the accident.
One of the things we try to do is pro-actively actually give that insurance company notice so they can’t later all reject coverage or attempt to reject coverage of that person. If you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to give me a call.
Can You Allocate a Settlement to Your Spouse to Avoid a Hospital Lien Payment?
It appear as though a hospital lien payment may be avoided by allocating the settlement proceeds to a spouse. However, this is a very questionable strategy and one which is not likely to be successful based upon established Georgia case law.
In their first and second enumerations of error, the Hollands contend that the trial court should have awarded the entire proceeds of the policy to Ruby Holland in satisfaction of her loss of consortium claim. The Hollands contend that State Farm did not allocate the proceeds between Ruby Holland and David Holland, and therefore, the liens did not attach. However, the record shows that State Farm did in fact allocate the insurance proceeds to David Holland’s claim. In its complaint for interpleader, State Farm asserted: “State Farm wants to pay out [its] policy limits coverage of $25,000.00 to cover the cost of Holland’s medical treatment. However, State Farm may not do so without exposing itself to liability due to the existence of the hospital lien filed by FMC and possible liens filed by the [DMA].” As State Farm paid its policy limits for the cause of action asserted by David Holland, the liens attached to the insurance proceeds.
The Hollands erroneously contend that the insurance payment is not associated with David Holland’s claim and is not subject to the liens asserted by the DMA and FMC. They argue that since David Holland agreed to forego his cause of action, Ruby Holland’s loss of consortium claim is the only independent claim, and it is not subject to the liens. However, as David Holland’s claim was pending at the time State Farm filed the interpleader and is still pending, this argument has no merit. The trial court did not err in awarding the insurance proceeds to the DMA and FMC.
Holland v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 236 Ga. App. 832, 833–34, 513 S.E.2d 48, 49–50 (1999).Under Holland, it appears that even if the injured party never asserted any claim and only the spouse asserted their claim for loss of consortium, the insurer would still likely be responsible for payment of the settlement proceeds to a valid hospital lien holder.
We have previously written about how important medical payments coverage can be if you are injured in any car-related accident. Medical payments coverage (or medpay benefits) under your auto insurance policy are not health insurance and they are benefits that you should unquestionably have under your policy. Most people mistakenly believe that because medical payments coverage benefits are so helpful, and available in a variety of different situations if you are hurt in a car-related incident, the coverage must be expensive. So, let’s talk about how much does medical payments coverage cost under your car insurance coverage.
HOW MUCH DO MEDPAY BENEFITS TYPICALLY COST?
Medical payments coverage is extremely inexpensive. Given that the operation of cars is one of the most dangerous activities we engage in regularly, you would expect that medical payments coverage would be really expensive. That is not the case. In fact, medical payments coverage is so cheap that, even if the coverage was not good, you would probably still want to add it on. Medical payments coverage (or medpay benefits) under your car insurance policy costs about $20 A YEAR for $10,000.00 in coverage.
In other words, for about $20 a year, you could receive coverage for the most dangerous activity you engage in regularly and it will cover the vast majority of injuries and treatment that you might receive in an accident.
If you do not have health insurance, medical payments coverage is a great way to minimize some of the risk associated with not having health insurance. Also, you will not need to be worried about an inability to pay your co-pay under your health insurance. There is no co-pay that is due under your medical payments coverage.
HAVE YOU BEEN HURT IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND NEED HELP DETERMINING WHETHER MEDICAL PAYMENTS BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU?
If you have questions about your medical payments coverage (how much medpay coverage you should have or how to use it after a car wreck), call our injury attorneys today. We are happy to help and the consultation is free. Identifying potential sources of medical payments coverage, providing notice of potential claims, and using medpay benefits to obtain the maximum benefit from the coverage are important problems that a qualified car injury attorney can help you with.
We help people injured in car accidents throughout Georgia.
What is the impact of medical expenses on your injury case?
One of the questions that people frequently ask me is how is it that their medical expenses actually factor into the value of their personal injury case. What I would like for you to do if you’re in the situation is focus on the actual quality of care that you’re receiving, don’t worry about the numbers necessarily. What I’d like you to focus on is getting the best treatment that you can from the most qualified medical person professionals that you can find. Follow the course of treatment very, very, originally, that they recommend for you. Don’t deviate from that treatment. Follow that, take care of yourself, get better, and the value of the case will increase along with that.
As long as you’re doing the things that you should do on your end in terms of getting better, getting to feeling better, making a recovery as well as you can, and following the course of treatment that the doctors recommend for you. From well qualified doctors, the most qualified doctors that you can find. That will really help the value of your case in the long term. So, don’t worry necessarily about the amount of money that you’re going to recover based on the treatment that you may or may not get. Instead, focus on getting better, focus on getting the best treatment that you can.
Beware Accepting Medical Care Provider Referrals After Your Accident
One of the things that you need to be really skeptical about as you’re talking to lawyers about your personal injury case and the type of treatment that you should be receiving following your accident are lawyers that are referring you to a particular doctor or chiropractor could be compromising the value of your case. Because later on in your case, what you’re going to figure out is that your insurance company will be evaluating your treatment and whether or not your treatment was actually reasonable and necessary.
How does a referral relationship between an insurer and a car provider affect the value of your case?
If an insurance company recognizes there’s a relationship between a certain doctor or chiropractor or any other care providers, and your lawyer, they’re going to be much more skeptical about your treatment. They’re going to look at that as though you were simply trying to run up medical bills, run up your treatment, in order to recover more money. And that may ultimately be their theory of defense as or actually denying or trying to diminish the value of your claim. If you have questions about your treatment or about your personal injury cases, please feel free to call me. My name is Ben Sessions, my office number is 478-254-2665 and 470-225-7710. Again,478-254-2665 and 470-225-7710, thank you.
Would you like to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case today? Call us now.
Do I Have to pay Back Medical Bills out of My car Accident Settlement?
Many people want to avoid paying medical bills and reimbursing insurance companies out of their settlement. This is understandable. Because of the way that contingency fee agreements are structured for lawyers in car accident and personal injury cases, every dollar that is paid to medical care providers or health insurance companies is a dollar that is taken out of your settlement. (That is not unusual, and it should happen this way.) The lawyer is to be paid out of the settlement proceeds, so the money that is paid to healthcare providers or insurers is money that would have otherwise gone to you – the injured client. So, determining what bills need to be paid from a settlement is really important.
Be very careful with “hospital” liens, medicare/medicaid liens, and claims for reimbursement from insurers (particularly ERISA insurers).
Hospital liens are the most common type of liens upon car accident insurance proceeds that we encounter. The basic provisions are below:
(b) Any person, firm, hospital authority, or corporation operating a hospital, nursing home, or physician practice or providing traumatic burn care medical practice in this state shall have a lien for the reasonable charges for hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or traumatic burn care medical practice care and treatment of an injured person, which lien shall be upon any and all causes of action accruing to the person to whom the care was furnished or to the legal representative of such person on account of injuries giving rise to the causes of action and which necessitated the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice care, subject, however, to any attorney’s lien. The lien provided for in this subsection is only a lien against such causes of action and shall not be a lien against such injured person, such legal representative, or any other property or assets of such persons and shall not be evidence of such person’s failure to pay a debt. This subsection shall not be construed to interfere with the exemption from this part provided by Code Section 44-14-474.
O.C.G.A. § 44-14-470.
Before you settle your car accident case, know what must be paid from the proceeds.
Before you settle your car accident case, speak with a qualified car accident attorney so that you will have an understanding of what must be paid from the proceeds of the settlement. Remember: once you have agreed to a settlement amount, there is no going back – even if the settlement leaves you with no money for your pain and suffering.
Negotiating Medical Bills is an Important Part of Your Personal Injury or Car Accident Case
Anything that your lawyer can do to provide you with a greater recovery should generally be done. There are some limits to that: sometimes our clients tell us that they would rather receive a recovery sooner rather than later, and they may accept a lesser amount of recovery in order to receive funds earlier. That is a logical decision and, while I may disagree with it from time to time, that is a decision that my clients make. However, there are some things that a lawyer can do that will take very little time but can result in significantly greater recovery in a case. Negotiating the amount of outstanding medical expenses that will be paid from a settlement is exactly one of those things that create real value for a client. This video discusses the value that is created through negotiating medical bills.
Below is a sample medical bill reduction request letter:
Re: Your Client:
Dear Ms. ___________:
I am writing to request a reduction of the ______________’s outstanding bill in the above-referenced matter. The at-fault driver’s insurer, __________, has paid $________.00 to resolve the claims against their insured by __________.
Including your client’s bill, Mr. _________ owes approximately $_________ in medical expenses arising from this accident. He owes $_____.00 to __________, $______ to ___________, and $______ to ___________.
I am requesting a reduction of Mr. ________’s bill to $_____.00.
Mr. ___________ agreed to pay attorney fees of 33%.