Personal Injury Lawyers in GA
Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been hurt as a result of someone’s carelessness, you probably feel a lot of different emotions – anger, frustration, worry, and anxiety are common. That is not abnormal, and it is certainly understandable. A Georgia personal injury lawyer at The Sessions Law Firm can. One of our goals is to provide you with information that will help you identify a personal injury lawyer that can get clarity and the compensation that you deserve from the person that caused your injury.
We’re focused on getting to the heart of your case. It’s really easy to get bogged down in the details of any given case and to get held up with procedural problems. When delays occur, evidentiary problems arise with the loss of evidence and an inability to locate witnesses. Our goal is is to make this process as simple as possible as we can for you and to help you understand what is going to happen with your case – it is your personal injury case. We want you to know what actionable steps we’re taking to make sure that we help you get the maximum recovery out of your case as quickly as possible. Those are our goals and everything that we do going forward should be with those goals in mind.
Whether you have been hurt in a car accident or suffered as a result of the negligence of a doctor, a qualified and experienced injury attorney can help you understand the legal process and your rights. Call The Sessions Law Firm, LLC, today for a free consultation.
How Much is Your Personal Injury Case Worth?
You’ll frequently hear people discussing the valuation of personal injury cases talking about value enhancers. Value enhancers are facts in the case that increase what the case is perceived to be worth. Things that increase the value of your personal injury case can take many different forms. Value enhancers may be an extreme or graphic injury caused by the party. It could be exceptional cases of recklessness or negligence by the defendant. For example, a DUI driver in a car accident is a real value driver in most cases. It could also be a repeated pattern of failure to properly maintain a truck, for example. All those things are facts that we can look at as potential value drivers in personal injury cases, and they are by no means an exclusive list of value enhancers or value drivers. We certainly want to look for those things and, particularly, actions on behalf of the defendant or things that the defendant failed to do that could be real value drivers or enhancers.
For many of our clients, their injury severely and even catastrophically impacted the financial wellbeing of their family. The financial strain of an injury can be overwhelming, so it is not surprising that many clients are concerned with how much their personal injury case is worth.
Be careful of only valuing your personal injury case based upon a multiple of your medical expenses. It is very common for lawyers to take the total of your medical expenses and to recommend that clients settle cases for 1.5 to 3 times that amount without giving consideration to other important value drivers in a case.
Know What Will Be Paid From Your Personal Injury Settlement
There’s hardly a week that goes by where I don’t receive a call from someone who’s been involved in a personal injury case, had their case settled up, received a check, and then they start getting calls from a hospital, a doctor, even a health insurance company about monies that are owed to them out of the settlement. That is a very frequent problem. And one that is completely preventable. If you just have a lawyer, who’s willing to have one. I came to the conversation with you about what your actual recovery is about the case. And two is willing to actually take the time to figure out what monies are still owed, whether or not you owe any reimbursement to an insurance company. So before you settle a personal injury case, you need to make sure that you’re having a really hard conversation with the lawyer. One before you even agreed to the amount that’s being offered to you by the insurance company, but two at the time that you’re actually signing the documents to know, Hey, are you in fact, taking care of all the bills? Am I going to receive any calls from a doctor in the future, a health insurance company in the future to say, Hey, you owe me this money reimbursement for this. Make sure you know that because honestly it will be a very difficult thing to do to strike a check out of your own account that for that money that’s already been spent or already been allocated towards something else in the future. I hope this is helpful. Um, you guys have any questions, feel free to drop them below. Thank you so much. Have a good weekend.
Don’t Downplay Your Injuries in Your Personal Injury Case
One of the most important things that we can do as your personal injury lawyers is to get to know you and help you prepare to interact with medical professionals and the insurance company’s lawyers. Obviously, every person has unique personality traits and ways of dealing with injuries. Some people tend to belittle their injuries and downplay the significance of their injuries on their life.
You probably would not recognize this trait from today’s pop culture, but we, as Americans, tend to want to reject the idea that we need help from anyone else. We have a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality that is engrained in us from birth. However, it is really important to understand the impact that statements reflecting this trait can have on your personal injury case.
We have to acknowledge the severity of the injuries. We have to acknowledge the impact that the accident has had on your life and your family. We have to acknowledge that you cannot make it back without the help of others. We have to acknowledge that you have been really changed by virtue of the carelessness of the other person.
So, getting beyond the invincible exterior that many of us try to carry is really important to your ability to recover following your car accident.
Practically speaking, what does this mean? When you speak with your doctor or anyone concerning your medical problems, do not downplay the significance of your injuries. However, you also should not overstate the injuries. Explain to them in as much detail as possible how the accident and your injuries from the accident have affected your life. It is critical to recognize that the insurance company will have all of your medical records. In fact, they will probably have records from doctors that you I do not even recall seeing. Inconsistencies in the timing of reports of injuries or inconsistencies in the types injuries reported can severely impact the value of your case.
Your Personal Injury Lawyer Should Not Be the Cause of Delays in Your Case.
One of the most frustrating aspects of a personal injury case for many clients is the time delay that’s associated with getting a settlement or judgment in their case. Far too many lawyers wait too long to begin actually investigating and pursuing your claim. That is a real concern in our office. We work diligently to try to avoid this problem in each and every one of our cases. When delays occur, problems creep into the case and it puts off your recovery. A delay could also compromise your ability to get recovery. Let’s say for example, that your lawyer sits on your case for 16 months, does virtually nothing to pursue the claim until about 16 months after the date of the accident. If that were the case, and if that were to occur, then your ability to interview witnesses that may have seen the accident or talk to people who may have information about the accident is virtually gone.
Your personal injury lawyer may have a very difficult time finding and locating witnesses if he/she delays the pursuit of your case. Beyond that, your lawyer may be unable to pursue the claim because they cannot find and serve the defendant with the complaint because of the delay. Now, if your defendant can’t be located and your lawyer can’t serve them with the complaint through a marshal or through an appointed process server, then you’re not going to be able to maintain a lawsuit against them. If you can’t settle the case within the statute of limitations, it is not uncommon at all for insurers to recognize that your lawyer has procrastinated on the handling of the case and to refuse to settle the case. Then, you’re in a position where a lawsuit must be pursued in order to obtain a settlement or a judgment against the defendant. However, if they refuse to settle the case up against the statute of limitations and you can’t serve the defendant, then you’re in a position where you can’t obtain a recovery. And the case is for all practical purposes, worthless, despite the fact that you may have had clear liability and very real injuries after the accident.
It makes sense to most of us: your personal injury case will not be resolved (and you will not receive a check) unless your attorney will commit time to working, developing, and pushing your case. Nothing will happen in your case unless your injury lawyer actually commits the time and effort towards resolving your case.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE WILLINGNESS OF YOUR INJURY LAWYER TO COMMIT TIME TO YOUR CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
The time that your personal injury lawyer can commit to the pursuit of your recovery should be one of your primary concerns as you try to determine whether the lawyer is a good fit for your injury case. As it turns out, the larger the size of a law firm may actually hurt the amount of time that your injury lawyer can or will spend on your case. If a lawyer begins the case by delegating it off to multiple paralegals or secretaries, you should know that you’ll most likely be not not be dealing with the lawyer throughout the case. The reason why it is essential for your lawyer do you have time to pursue your recovery is that there are certain tasks involved in the development of your personal injury case that can cause severe bottlenecks or roadblocks to successfully resolving the claims. For example, if there is a delay in seeking certain medical records or billing statements from a provider after your injury, that can cause the ways of two and three months before a settlement demand can be sent to the insurer for the at fault driver. Another example is reimbursements to Medicare or Medicaid. If your lawyer waits until after a settlement amount is reached in order to contact Medicare or Medicaid for reimbursement amounts, your payment will be significant delayed.
WHY IS TIME THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN YOU GETTING PAID FOR YOUR INJURIES?
Getting paid in your personal injury case requires attention to detail and focus. Unfortunately, many lawyers that handle personal injury case do not give the cases the attention and focus required. This is not because they are incapable of focusing. The problem is that most lawyers do not have the time required to focus upon their cases. Many personal injury lawyer are simply always focused on getting the next and, hopefully, larger case.
Most clients simply do not recognized that many personal injury attorneys are engaged in this constant sales process, and that they (the client) are part of a process. The client does not recognize that their case will likely be handed off to a paralegal or secretary and that they will have very real difficulty speaking with the lawyer again.
The problem is this: you, as the client, want to get paid as quickly as possible. If you are like most of my clients, you money in order to get back on your feet. However, your case will likely never be resolved without attention for your attorney.
It is difficult but you need to be aware of the business environment that you are stepping into. You need to know how and by whom your case will be handled.
If you would like to discuss your personal injury case with us, please call us today.
Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions
How do I know how much I’ll recover from my personal injury case? Generally speaking, knowing what your total medical expenses are gives us a good and very rough estimate of what the possible recovery is in your personal injury case. However, there are many factors in addition to medical expenses that should be considered in valuing a case.
Q: I was hurt, but I am worried about suing someone personally. Why can’t I just sue their insurance company? If you’ve been hurt by another driver or at someone’s home, Georgia law requires you to make a claim against the person that is responsible for causing your injuries. Our law does not permit a direct against a liability insurance company except in very limited cases, such as in some trucking cases.
Q: Will I be responsible for attorney’s fees and/or costs if we do not win? No, our Firm does charge a fee or seek reimbursement of costs in personal injury cases if our client does not obtain a recovery.
Q: My total medical expenses are $30,000.00. Will I have to pay back all of that amount out of my personal injury settlement? Almost certainly no. First, if an insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid paid expenses to medical care providers, you may have to reimburse the insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid some amount, but it will almost certainly be much less than the originally billed amount.
Q: It is someone else’s fault that I was hurt. Why should I use my health insurance to pay the medical expenses? If you have been hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault, we almost always recommend that you use your health insurance policy to pay medical expenses. The short answer for this is reason is that using your health insurance policy will almost always result in a great net recovery for you.
Q: I was hit by a drunk driver, but I wasn’t injured. Do I have a claim? Yes, you have a claim if you were struck by a drunk driver and it may shock you how much that claim is worth.
The trial lawyers at The Sessions Law Firm represent people that have been seriously injured and loved ones seeking to pursue a wrongful death claim or a claim for catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an auto accident, trucking accident, medical malpractice incident, or any other incident involving negligence by another person or company, call the Macon personal injury attorneys at The Sessions Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation. You will never pay us a fee unless we obtain a recovery on your behalf. This contingency fee basis insures that we bring real value to injury victims.
- What is negligence and why does it matter in my Georgia personal injury case?
- Can I change lawyers in my Georgia personal injury case?
- Can I settle my personal injury case myself?
- Should I be cautious about referrals from medical care providers to a lawyer?
- Will I be responsible for attorney’s fees or costs if we do not win?
WHY DO LAWYERS KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF “DAMAGES” IN MY CASE?
If you have been speaking with personal injury attorneys about your accident, you are probably wondering “why do lawyers keep talking about the amount of damages in my case”? Damages are just part of “lawyer speak”. Real people don’t talk about damages in the way that lawyer do. When real people talk about damage, they are usually talking about their car being damaged in an accident or something like that. When lawyers talk about damages, what they are talking about is the amount of compensation you would like receive as a result of your injuries following an accident. “Damages are given as pay or compensation for injury done.” O.C.G.A. §51-12-4.
The law (obviously) tries to provide a person injured by virtue of another person’s carelessness with fair compensation following the accident. The law tries to provide the injured person with an amount of compensation sufficient to compensate them for the injuries that they have suffered as a result of the negligence:
When one party is required to pay damages to another, the law seeks to ensure that the damages awarded are fair to both parties.If you believe from a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff is entitled to recover, you should award to the plaintiff such sums as you believe are reasonable and just in this case.
The problem with all of the definitions is that they are vague. No where in our law does it say that the measure of compensation should be 2.5 times the total of your lost wages and medical expenses. However, despite that, what you have probably heard from insurers and other personal injury lawyers alike is that your damages should be measured by your medical expenses and lost wages.
Now, it is up to you whether you will accept such a measure of compensation. However, whether you decide to accept an insurers offer of settlement or not, I would encourage you to think about the value of you injuries in different terms. Consider how this event has changed your life. Consider whether a multiple of 1.5 to 2.5 your medical expenses and lost wages adequately reflects the value of the charge in your life following this accident.
Can multiple people or companies combine to cause your injury and each be held responsible for your injuries?
Yes, Georgia law anticipates that there will be personal injuries caused by multiple people, and the law provides for what is called apportionment of the damages and liability amongst the responsible parties.
Where an action is brought against more than one person for injury to person or property, the trier of fact, in its determination of the total amount of damages to be awarded, if any, shall after a reduction of damages pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section, if any, apportion its award of damages among the persons who are liable according to the percentage of fault of each person. Damages apportioned by the trier of fact as provided in this Code section shall be the liability of each person against whom they are awarded, shall not be a joint liability among the persons liable, and shall not be subject to any right of contribution.
(c) In assessing percentages of fault, the trier of fact shall consider the fault of all persons or entities who contributed to the alleged injury or damages, regardless of whether the person or entity was, or could have been, named as a party to the suit.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33.
WHY DO WE ALLOW MULTIPLE PEOPLE OR COMPANIES TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES THAT WERE PRIMARILY CAUSED BY 1 PERSON OR COMPANY?
The purpose of the apportionment statute is to have the jury consider all of the tortfeasors who may be liable to the plaintiff together, so their respective responsibilities for the harm can be determined. After determination of any fault on the part of the plaintiff which might reduce the plaintiff’s reward, OCGA § 51–12–33(b) provides that
the trier of fact, in its determination of the total amount of damages to be awarded, if any, shall after a reduction of damages pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section [reflecting a plaintiff’s responsibility], if any, apportion its award of damages among the persons who are liable according to the percentage of fault of each person.
Can You Recover Against Insurance for Intentional Injuries at Someone’s Home?
In the vast majority of personal injury cases, the injured person seeks to recover from the at-fault party’s insurer. Most people usually do not have the financial resources to pay for the injuries and medical care they cause. That is unfortunate but true. That is the reason that most people try to collect against the at-fault party through the person’s insurance.
In order to collect against the person that caused injuries through the person’s insurance, the injury and the cause of the injury must be covered by the terms of the insurance policy. In almost every type of insurance policy, there are certain exclusions from coverage. The exclusions are used by insurers to limit their “exposure to risk”. “Exposure to risk” is really the amount of help that they will give to injured people.
One of the most significant limitations upon the ability of injured people to recover for injuries caused by others is the “Criminal Act Exclusion”. The “Criminal Act Exclusion” was recently addressed in a case by the Georgia Court of Appeals.
At some point, Welker submitted a claim to Trustgard to recover her medical expenses resulting from the shooting. Trustgard denied coverage under three exclusions from personal liability protection expressly set forth in the Policy. The pertinent sections of the Policy provide that Trustgard’s coverage for personal liability and for medical payments to others does not include:
6. Bodily injury … caused by the willful, malicious, or intentional act of any person.****
8. Bodily injury … expected or intended by any insured person. This includes bodily injury …:a. caused intentionally by or at the direction of an insured person; orb. which results from any occurrence caused by an intentional act of any insured where the results are reasonably foreseeable.(collectively, the “Intentional Acts Exclusions”).****
18. Bodily injury … arising from a criminal act or omission which is committed by … an insured person. This exclusion applies regardless of whether the insured person is actually charged with, or convicted of a crime.(the “Criminal Act Exclusion”).
Trustgard Ins. Co. v. Herndon, No. A16A0585, 2016 WL 3854710, at *2 (Ga. Ct. App. July 14, 2016).
HOW DO YOU SETTLE AGAINST A SINGLE INSURANCE CARRIER WITHOUT HURTING YOUR CASE?
Settling part of your personal injury case with a single insurer without hurting your ability to seek recovery from other insurers that may provide coverage for the same accident is a really important right.
In any instance where a claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident is covered by two or more insurance carriers, one such carrier may tender, and the claimant may accept, the limits of such policy; and, in the event of multiple claimants, the settling carrier may tender, and the claimants may accept, the limits of the policy pursuant to a written agreement between or among the claimants. Such claimant or claimants may execute a limited release applicable to the settling carrier and its insured based on injuries to such claimants including, without limitation, claims for loss of consortium or loss of services asserted by any person.
O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1.
Particularly in car accidents resulting in serious injury, this is an important right. What if you were involved in an accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries to you, the insurer for the driver that hit you only provided $50,000.00 in coverage to their insured, so they offered to pay that amount to you.
That seemed reasonable enough, so you accepted the insurer’s $50,000.00 and you executed a general release for the insurer and the at-fault driver.
When you signed that document, you have almost certainly barred any recovery that you may have obtained from your uninsured motorist carrier. So, that $1,000,000.00 uninsured/underinsured motorist policy that you have been paying towards for the last decade will go unused by virtue of the general release.
Be careful. Consult with a qualified car accident attorney before you execute any release in any accident.
Have you been harmed in a Bird scooter accident?
The Sessions Law Firm is here to represent you and help guide you through the process of your case. Visit our page on Bird Scooter accidents for more information.
Fire Injuries and an Insurer’s Expert Strategy
Injuries in fires are heavily scrutinized by insurance companies, and you have to be very aware of the level of strategy that they employ in their efforts to avoid paying out for personal injuries and property loss resulting from fires. Once you gain some level of insight into the level of planning and strategizing that insurance companies undertake to avoid responsibility for making payments to people that have paid for policies, you will quickly understand why it is crucial that you retain an experience injury and insurance attorney to help protect your rights.
The quote below is from the Claims Journal, which is an insurance industry publication. This article was produced following an insurance industry seminar in which a presentation was given on expert witnesses in fire-related cases:
“Fire Experts in Today’s Courts: A Dramatization Legal Update”, was presented last month during NASP’s annual conference held in Reno, Nevada. The panelists included subrogation attorneys Ken Levine, Michael Munger and Raymond Mack, all with de Luca Levine and David Klitsch, the owner of Technical Fire Analysis.
The experts cautioned against receiving a written report too early in a claim in that it could hinder subrogation efforts later.
The session touched upon Daubert factors that apply to fire expert testimony. Daubert refers to the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. The Daubert decision defines when expert witness testimony will be permitted. The federal expert witness standard states that expert witnesses are only allowed to testify based on sufficient facts and reliability of testing methods in coming to their conclusion. The factors include:
- Whether the expert theory or technique can be tested;
- Whether the theory or technique can be measured;
- Whether the theory or technique is generally accepted among peers;
- Whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication.
The panel experts said that the plaintiff in a case has the burden to prove an expert is qualified. Once expert testimony is submitted, the court may make its decision solely on submitted briefs, sometimes just on testimony and sometimes on both.
I emphasized this statement: “The experts cautioned against receiving a written report too early in a claim in that it could hinder subrogation efforts later.” So, if an insurer’s witnesses are being candid about their observations, why would providing a written statement “too early” be a concern?
What do you do when an insurance company makes an offer to resolve your case that you believe is just completely unreasonable?
What should you do when an insurance company makes an offer to resolve your case that you believe is just completely unreasonable? This is a common question and a common problem that clients have to deal with in personal injury cases.
From the outset of your case, you should know that it is very likely that an insurance company is going to make an offer that will appear downright offensive when it comes to valuing your case and your claims. The question is how will you, and your lawyer, respond to that initial offer?
When a client comes to our office, I like to talk to them about low settlement offers from the beginning of their case. I will ask them whether or not they would be willing to reject low settlement offers and take their case to court if necessary. What I want to know is if they really believe in their case and will be willing to pursue it all the way until the end. Understanding my client’s willingness to fight against unreasonable settlement offers allows me to fully commit time, money and resources to getting the recovery they deserve.
So when you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, know that you will likely receive a low offer from the insurance companies. That is expected. With the help of your attorney, you can respond to the offer and continue building the strength of your case.
What You Focus on After You Have Been Hurt in An Accident
Video: “What you focus on after you have been hurt in an accident”
If you were to ask me what it is, the one thing that someone should focus on if they’ve been hurt in an accident, I would tell you really simply, that the focus of every person that’s hurt in any type of accident, whether that’s a car accident, a work-related accident, an accident that relates to a slip and fall in any type of store, the one thing that those people should really focus on is getting better. That is, getting the very best medical care that they can receive in their set of circumstances. So, focus on yourself, and everything else will sort of take care of itself. If you have questions about your injury case, feel free to call me.
The Impact of Medical Expenses on Your Personal Injury Case
Video: “The Impact of Medical Expenses On Your Personal 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’d like for you to do if you’re in this situation, is focus on the actual quality of care that you’re receiving. Don’t worry about the numbers necessarily. What I’d like for you to focus on is getting the best treatment that you can form the most qualified medical professionals that you can find. Follow the course of treatment very, very rigidly 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, and making a recovery as well as you can, and following the course of treatment that the doctors recommend from you, from well-qualified doctors, it — the most well-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 — that you’re going to recover, based on the treatment that you may or may not get. Instead, focus on getting better, and focus on getting the best treatment that you can. I believe that long term, you’ll get the value out of the case that you should. If you have any questions about your case, please feel free to call me.
Importance of Understanding Personal Injury Lawyer Fees
Transcript – Importance of understanding personal injury lawyer fees
One of the things that I would really encourage you to do, as you’re deciding upon which lawyer it is that will actually represent you and your case, is have a firm understanding of how it is that the fees that the attorney will charge you at the conclusion of the case will actually be calculated. That is, you wanna understand where it is they’re gonna take the money out of, how much it is they’re gonna charge you in each phase of the case, and you wanna understand when they actually move from each phase, whether or not that’s going to be something that will actually net you more money, most likely. So, evaluate those decisions, and understand your fee agreement really well, before you actually engage in the lawyer for representation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
One of the primary factors that an insurance company or a jury eventually may look at in evaluating what the value of your case is whether or not you have any sort of future pain and suffering or future limitations on your enjoyment or of life or, or future limitations on your ability to earn income. That is very important, what we call the value driver in your case. And we need to make some real efforts to make a decision as to whether or not you do have any limitations on your life going forward as a result of this accident. It’s very important. Firstly, your lawyer recognizes how important that is in driving the value of your case. And second that your lawyer has the resources to actually put you in a position where you’ve got an expert witness who can testify to those things that they exist in your case.
And that we understand how important going through an evaluation like that is because it can make a tremendous difference in terms of, of your ultimate recovery and whether or not you are made whole as a result of this case. So, um, if you have any questions about the future value, um, of your injury or whether or not you do in fact face a, an injury that could possibly have future impairment on your ability to enjoy life or your ability to earn.
Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
This weekend, I was finishing up reading a book called the art of choosing truly. He is a fascinating book about how it is that we make decisions, both in our personal life, professional life, business, life, investing, that type of thing. Um, it really is pretty interesting and thinking about how it is and my clients ultimately decide which lawyer to choose for their case. And I think there are a couple of traits that you can really key on if you’re trying to choose between lawyers first, look at the actual lawyer’s intelligence and whether or not you’d feel comfortable with that person standing up in front of a group of strangers and speaking on your behalf for some reason, so many clients neglect this as probably the most important characteristic that they’re using in evaluating a lawyer they’re misguided by something like numbers that the lawyer gives them, the lawyer has supposedly written all this sort of thing that really has nothing to do with the end result of, Hey, am I comfortable with this person representing me in court, in front of the group of strangers? So first look at that second look at whether or not the lawyer appears to be organized and together all together. Often I see lawyers who are really disheveled, who appear really overwhelmed and disliked. Like either they have got too much on their plate or they just can’t handle what it is as their, um, uh, whatever the reason is that client really needs to be conscientious of whether or not the lawyer has the ability and the time to focus on their case. And that is a much more subjective thing that you need to look at, but it truly is very important. And then look at whether or not the lawyer actually wants your case. So whenever they’re communicating with you about it, do they appear as though they actually want to represent you in it? I think the, if you’ll look at those three characteristics, those three traits, um, and kind of use them in the process as you’re moving through it, it’ll help you a lot. And getting someone who is both motivated to help you and that you feel comfortable with in dealing with throughout the entirety of the process
REFERRALS TO MEDICAL CARE PROVIDERS FROM PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
Be very cautious about referrals to medical care providers from personal injury attorneys. It is critical that you receive medical care that you need following any accident. However, the validity of any claim for compensation that you make following an accident can be compromised, in whole or part, based upon the type of medical care that you receive and how you arrived at that provider.
TOO CLOSE OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS AND MEDICAL CARE PROVIDERS IS NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD THING
Many people mistakenly believe that the closer that doctors and lawyers are, the better it is for their personal injury case. The problem with this sort of view is that it disregards the fact that medical care and expenses will be viewed skeptically by an insurer at some later time. How you arrive a particular medical care provider will be reviewed by an insurer, and they will examine the relationship between a lawyer and a medical care provider. If you arrive at a care provider through your lawyer, one of the issues that will be raised by the insurer is that “this is all an effort by the personal injury lawyer and the plaintiff to create expenses and a case”. The point is this: Your care medical care needs to occur organically/naturally.
Many personal injury lawyers overlook these concerns at the outset of the case. They forget that small mistakes at the beginning of a case can have a significant impact on the balance of the case. The devil is truly in the details, and it is important that your personal injury attorney understands the impact that his/her direction can have on your case and the ultimate recovery that you obtain from the case.
WHAT YOUR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY PROBABLY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO ASK
It is an unfortunate reality of the current personal injury practice that many of the lawyers engaged in it have very little actual trial experience. Many have taken multiple course and seminars on jury trials, many regularly participate in mock/fake trials, and many regularly engage in pre-trial litigation, but very few have actually spent any real time in front of juries. Most personal injury lawyers are worried over the notion that their client might ask them how many jury trials they have handled. That isn’t a concern for us.
The irony of personal injury attorneys not really having any trial experience is that on their advertisements, personal injury attorneys generally hold themselves out as “trial attorneys”.
That is really unfortunate because if you have little actual jury trial experience being up there and actually doing it can be scary as hell. I know. I remember those days. The problem is that you don’t want a lawyer doing this for the first time on your case, and you don’t want a lawyer that is learning what a trial is like with your future on the line.
If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer that has actually tried cases to a jury, call The Sessions Law Firm. Ben Sessions has individually tried more than 50 jury trials. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN A BIG AND A SMALLER PERSONAL INJURY FIRMS?
THE PERSONAL ATTENTION THAT YOU RECEIVE WITH A SMALLER PERSONAL INJURY FIRM CAN BE A TREMENDOUS ADVANTAGE.
It is easy to be confused by the glut of advertising put out by large personal injury firms. Many people are mistakenly led to the conclusion that because larger personal injury firms advertise more, they are better. This could not be further from the truth for most clients.
THE DIFFERENCE IN BIG AND SMALL(-ER) IS USUALLY IN THE ABILITY OF SMALL(-ER) FIRM PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS TO ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO YOU AND YOUR CASE
In smaller personal injury firms, you will typically find that your lawyer has the ability to spend personal time on you and your case. Your lawyer will have the ability to call you every now and then to see how you are doing and to see if you have questions. Imagine that! A lawyer actually calling you to see how you are doing? That is virtually unheard of amongst larger firm personal injury lawyers. That is because when you are represented by a smaller firm, you have the ability to build a relationship with your attorney. Your attorney will actually get to know you and your case, and that can yield real returns for you at the end of your case. If you personal injury attorney is personally connected to you and your case, he/she is more likely to take the resolution of the case as a personal matter, not a business transaction.
WE ONLY ACCEPT YOU INJURY CASE IF WE ARE WILLING TO PUT IN THE TIME NEEDED TO HELP YOU.
In a lot of the larger personal injury law firms, cases are accepted with no real expectation that any lawyer will actually commit the time and resources required to help the client. Those personal injury firms simply plan to delegate the case(s) out to a paralegal that will basically work to settle the case when they have the time. Clients are truly penalized in these arrangements. They don’t get advice, and they don’t get a time commitment from an attorney necessary to obtain the recovery that they deserve.
When we accept an injury case, we commit to the client that we (the lawyers in our firm) will commit the time and effort necessary to help the client throughout the case.
CAN I SETTLE MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE BY MYSELF?
If you have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, more than likely the other driver’s insurance company will make some effort to settle your claim. When they try to settle your case, they will require that you sign a “release”. A release is a contract in which the injured party agrees to give up certain legal claims in exchange for a settlement. In Georgia, when you find yourself dealing with a release following an accident, you will see two types of releases: GENERAL RELEASES and LIMITED LIABILITY RELEASES. If you have been involved in a serious car accident, it is really important that you understand how these different types of releases can affect your ability to obtain a full recovery of the money that you are entitled to.
Absolutely, you can show the insurance company your medical expenses you have incurred after a car accident, and you can attempt to resolve your case on your own. Generally speaking, however, people that represent themselves in car accident claims, receive less money than those that are represented by qualified car accident lawyers.
HOW DOES HAVING A LAWYER CHANGE THE WAY THAT THE INSURANCE COMPANY HANDLES MY CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
It is critical recognize that not all lawyers are qualified, and there some lawyers that may actually do more harm than good in handling your case. However, hopefully you will end up with a good lawyer that will commit the time and effort required to aggressively pursue your injury claim. A qualified injury attorney will understand how to present you case to the insurance in a manner that they can digest, so that (hopefully) they will offer you a fair resolution of the case. If they do not, then your injury attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
DO INSURERS ACTUALLY TREAT LAWYERS DIFFERENT THAN NON-LAWYERS IN RESOLVING CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS?
It is estimated that in car accident (personal injury) cases that settle for less than $15,000.00, people represented by personal injury lawyers recovery about 2 times as much as people that are not represented by injury attorneys. In cases where the recovery is greater than $15,000.00, the recovery is exponentially greater for people that are represented by an injury attorney.
HAVING A QUALIFIED CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER WORKING FOR YOU CAN QUICKEN THE RESOLUTION OF YOUR CASE, RELIEVE STRESS, AND INCREASE YOUR RECOVERY.
Qualified car accident attorneys understand that there are some steps that we can take that almost instantly increase the recovery that our clients receive. For example, it is critical that we speak with lien holders to negotiate the reimbursement amounts that they receive from any settlement. Many people mistakenly believe that they cannot negotiate with lien holders regarding the payments that they will receive from an injury settlement and, as a result, leave money on the table.
If you have questions about your car accident case, call The Sessions Law Firm today for a free consultation.
GENERAL RELEASE OF LIABILITY
When you sign a general release, you give up any and all rights to ever sue the person who injured you in exchange for compensation. After this release has been signed there is no turning back. A general release will bar you from obtaining compensation if there is other liability insurance covering the person who injured you. Unknowingly signing a general release could cost you and your family a substantial amount of money.
LIMITED LIABILITY RELEASE
A limited liability release allows people who have suffered serious injuries to settle part of the case with the at-fault party’s insurance company, as well as pursue their own uninsured motorist insurance. A limited liability release provides you and your family with a greater opportunity to obtain full compensation following an accident.
OTHER DANGERS OF SIGNING A RELEASE WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
One of the main dangers associated with releases are indemnity provisions. Indemnity provisions can prove to be dangerous for you and your family. Indemnities can be drafted too widely and needlessly expose you and your family. Having legal representation when dealing with the potential ambiguous provisions within a release can make a world of difference in the long-term outcome of your case.
A second danger when signing a release is a subrogation clause. Subrogation is defined as “[t]he principle under which an insurer that has paid a loss under an insurance policy is entitled to all the rights and remedies belonging to the insured against a third party with respect to any loss covered by the policy”. A subrogation clause could lead to the uninsured motorist insurance company to argue that the limited liability release defeats their right to sue the driver at-fault driver for subrogation.
Be very careful when considering an insurer’s proposed release. Consult with a qualified accident attorney before you sign any release. We look forward to helping you and your family.
WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Without negligence, you do not have a personal injury case in Georgia. Georgia law requires that a personal injury case/claim include a duty and that the duty or standard care be broken. In most cases, the allegation is that the at-fault party was simply negligent. Negligence – ordinary negligence – is defined as:
In general, ordinary diligence is that degree of care which is exercised by ordinarily prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances. As applied to the preservation of property, the term “ordinary diligence” means that care which every prudent man takes of his own property of a similar nature. The absence of such diligence is termed ordinary negligence.
O.C.G.A. § 51-1-2.
Defining ordinary care and ordinary negligence are exceptionally difficult and really easy. It is hard for some people to put into words what negligence is, but one thing is for sure: almost all of us know it when we see it. Below is the definition/description of ordinary care/negligence found in Georgia case law:
Exactly what constitutes “ordinary care” varies with the circumstances and the magnitude of the danger to be guarded against. Prosser, Law of Torts, 4th ed., §§ 31 and 33 (1971). “Since it is impossible to prescribe definite rules in advance for every combination of circumstances which may arise, the details of the standard must be filled in each particular case.” Id. at § 37, p. 207. Lowe v. Atlanta Masonic Temple Co., 79 Ga.App. 575, 54 S.E.2d 677 (1949). But, to be negligent, the conduct must be unreasonable in light of the recognizable risk of harm. Pound, supra, 158 Ga.App. at 168, 279 S.E.2d 342. See also Prosser, Law of Torts 4th ed., § 31, p. 147.The particular standard of care to be applied and whether the owner breached that standard are usually issues to be decided by a jury.
Lau’s Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491, 493, 405 S.E.2d 474, 477 (1991) abrogated by Robinson v. Kroger Co., 268 Ga. 735, 493 S.E.2d 403 (1997).
In negligence cases (car accident cases, slip and fall cases, etc.), we usually are not fighting over whether the the acts would constitute negligence. Instead, we usually are fighting over whether we can actually prove the acts in the way that we believe they happened. For example, in a car accident case, we usually are arguing over how the accident actually happened. There usually is very little argument over whether the defendant was negligent if the accident happened how we believe it occurred.
What to do when you can’t speak to your personal injury attorney?
It is a common complaint among people with pending personal injury cases that they cannot reach their attorney to speak with them regarding their case. As a client, you deserve to have prompt communication from your lawyer regarding events in your case and, particularly, events that may affect the resolution of the case.
If I haven’t heard from my lawyer, is there a certain amount of time at which I should reach out to my attorney?
One of the most common reasons why people that already have a personal injury attorney contact our office is because they cannot reach their attorney. There is not a set amount of time or intervals at which you must speak with your attorney, and it is not uncommon for there to be long (6 months or longer) during which very little is occurring in your case. That being said, you absolutely want to speak to your lawyer if the case has not been resolved and more than 18 months has elapsed since your injury. In this instance, your statute of limitations is rapidly approaching and a lawsuit must be filed in order to prevent the claim from being barred by the statute of limitation.
How do We Work on Discovery in a Personal Injury Case When the Defendant Cannot be Served?
If your personal injury case cannot be settled for an amount of money that you find acceptable, the only recourse that you have is to file a lawsuit against the defendant. Frequently, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party and engaging in the discovery process can result in a greater settlement value being placed on your claim/case. However, an essential requirement of filing a lawsuit and beginning the litigation process in your personal injury case is properly serving the at-fault party with the complaint (lawsuit). As you can imagine, most defendants do not want to be served with the lawsuit. The at-fault wants the case to go away without having to go through litigation, depositions, etc., so many people attempt to avoid service of the complaint. And, beyond that, many insurance defense lawyers will attempt to avoid having to answer discovery requests when a defendant has been served by publication (as opposed to personal service).
Once a defendant has been served by publication and a judge has issued an order finding that there is sufficient information to suggest that the defendant is attempting to avoid service, we should be able to compel responses to discovery requests under this authority:
While it is generally true that service by publication does not confer personal jurisdiction on a defendant, a judge may order service by publication if it appears “by affidavit, to the satisfaction of the judge” that a defendant “conceals himself … to avoid the service of the summons.” OCGA § 9–11–4(f)(1)(A). Service must be properly published as set forth in OCGA § 9–11–4(f)(1)(C). If the defendant is a *447 resident who is actually present within the jurisdiction of the court, has actual knowledge of the suit, and “ wilfully secrets himself in order to frustrate all reasonable efforts to effect personal service,” then the service by publication affords sufficient due process and confers personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Melton v. Johnson, 242 Ga. 400, 403–404, 249 S.E.2d 82 (1978). See also Hutcheson v. Elizabeth Brennan Antiques & Interiors, 317 Ga.App. 123, 126–127(1), 730 S.E.2d 514 (2012) (trial court did not err in ordering service by publication based on evidence defendant was evading personal service, but actual publication invalid because court clerk did not comply with OCGA § 9–11–4(f) (1)(C)); Green v. Cimafranca, 288 Ga.App. 16, 18(1), 653 S.E.2d 782 (2007) (no abuse of discretion in implied finding that plaintiff failed to prove defendant wilfully concealed himself to frustrate personal service); Baxley v. Baldwin, 279 Ga.App. 480, 482(2), 631 S.E.2d 506 (2006) (affirming trial court’s finding that facts did not show wilful concealment); Southeastern Security Ins. Co. v. Lowe, 242 Ga.App. 535, 536(1), 530 S.E.2d 231 (2000) (service by publication insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction because plaintiff offered no facts showing wilful evasion of personal service).
The trial court relied on Moreno v. Naylor, 305 Ga.App. at 506(2), 699 S.E.2d 838 (2010), as support for the proposition that “service by publication alone is insufficient for the trial court to obtain personal jurisdiction.” To the extent that Moreno and the following cases hold that service by publication is never sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction against any defendant, they are overruled: Brasile v. Beck, 312 Ga.App. 77, 78(2), 717 S.E.2d 677 (2011); Long v. Bellamy, 296 Ga.App. 263, 267(1)(c), 674 S.E.2d 120 (2009); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Manders, 292 Ga.App. 793, 794(1), 665 S.E.2d 886 (2008); Wyatt v. House, 287 Ga.App. 739, 740(2), 652 S.E.2d 627 (2007); Costello v. Bothers, 278 Ga.App. 750, 752(2), 629 S.E.2d 599 (2006); Patel v. Sanders, 277 Ga.App. 152, 154(2), 626 S.E.2d 145 (2006); Cohen v. Allstate Ins. Co., 277 Ga.App. 437, 438, 626 S.E.2d 628 (2006); Williams v. Jackson, 273 Ga.App. 207, 209, 614 S.E.2d 828 (2005); Saxton v. Davis, 262 Ga.App. 72, 584 S.E.2d 683 (2003); Hawkins v. Wilbanks, 248 Ga.App. 264, 265, 546 S.E.2d 33 (2001); Wilson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 239 Ga.App. 168, 172, 520 S.E.2d 917 (1999). Winters v. Goins, 235 Ga.App. 558, 560(2), 509 S.E.2d 361 (1998); Bailey v. Lawrence, 235 Ga.App. 73, 508 S.E.2d 450 (1998); Smith v. Johnson, 209 Ga.App. 305, 306(1), 433 S.E.2d 404 (1993); Douglas v. Woon, 205 Ga.App. 355, 356(1), 422 S.E.2d 61 (1992); **341 Starr v. Wimbush, 201 Ga.App. 280, 282(2), 410 S.E.2d 776 (1991); and Norman v. Daniels, 142 Ga.App. 456, 459(2)(a), 236 S.E.2d 121 (1977).
Ragan v. Mallow, 319 Ga. App. 443, 446–47, 744 S.E.2d 337, 340–41 (2012)
If you have questions regarding your personal injury claim, contact The Sessions Law Firm today.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT IS NOT PROPERLY SERVED UPON THE DEFENDANT?
When a lawsuit in not properly served upon the Defendant, it is subject to dismissal. Most personal injury complaints are required to be personally served upon the Defendant in order for there to be valid service in the lawsuit. It is critical that service of the Complaint and process be properly performed.
When service of the complaint and summons are of questionable validity, you will almost certainly see a defend raised and alleging that service of process was insufficient. This defense simply means that the complaint and process were not properly served.
When an issue is raised as to the validity of service, the Defendant is questioning whether they properly received the complaint and process. The Defendant obviously has actual notice of the lawsuit because they are answering it. But actual notice is not the issue to be decided in evaluating the validity of service of process. A question as to the validity of service of process also does not question the form of the complaint for personal injury or the accompanying summons.
Personal jurisdiction over the Defendant in a lawsuit requires that the Defendant be properly served with the complaint and process. When the Defendant alleges that service is insufficient, expect to also see an allegation that personal jurisdiction is lacking.
How the Expert in Your Personal Injury Case can be Critical to the Outcome
We all recognize that the truthfulness of you really matters, but the truthfulness, credibility, and reliability of the witnesses in your injury case may make a real difference in the recovery (or lack of recovery) in your personal injury case. So, do you really know who the expert is in your injury case? That expert witness may very well be an essential part of the puzzle to getting you the recovery that you deserve as a result of this accident, but that expert witness may also be a tremendous liability as a result of an established history of questionable opinions.
Consider, for example, this recent case that was decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals on October 27, 2017:
We also take special note that another federal court has previously found Dr. Wardell’s testimony unreliable in a FELA case for similar reasons. Bowers, 537 FSupp.2d at 1354-59. The Bowers court first explained that Dr. Wardell had failed to demonstrate that his causation opinions were testable, had failed to offer any error rate for his opinions, had not shown evidence that his opinions have been peer reviewed or that he used a peer-reviewed source to reach his opinions, and had failed to show the general acceptance of his opinions. Id. at 1353-54. Turning to the five additional factors trial courts are permitted to use for testing expert opinions set forth in the advisory committee notes under Rule 702, the court found that Dr. Wardell was not testifying about matters growing naturally and directly out of research he conducted independent of litigation, but rather that he had developed his opinions expressly for purposes of litigation.10 Id. at 1354 (noting that plaintiff’s counsel sent him from his home in Savannah to Suffolk, Virginia to see Dr. Wardell, not for treatment, but to build his case for litigation). As in this case, the Bowers court concluded that Dr. Wardell had “unjustifiably extrapolated from an accepted premise to an unfounded conclusion.” Id. at 1355 (“Absent from this vague premise is any specific information about the amount of [movement] that is harmful to an individual, the length of time over which such harm normally occurs, and the nature of the resulting harm.”).11 “Expert testimony lacks ‘fit’ when a large analytical leap must be made between the facts and the opinion.” (Punctuation omitted.) Id. at 1351 (citing GE v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 147 (118 SCt 512, 139 LE2d) (1997)).
SMITH v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., No. A17A1201, 2017 WL 4856316, at *5 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 27, 2017).
There are many pieces that must all be present in order to successfully maximize the recovery in your personal injury case. We understand the importance of paying attention to the details (like know about a potential expert’s history of being rejected by trial courts). If you have been injured in a car accident or other incident that was not your fault, call The Sessions Law Firm today.
How Different Health Insurance Plans can Affect Your Personal Injury Recovery
It is important your lawyer understands how different types of health insurance plans can affect your recovery in a personal injury case. There is really nothing that we can do to change the type of insurance plan that you have after an injury. If you have a traditional health insurance plan, you do not have an obligation to reimburse the health insurer out of an insurance settlement or proceeds, but if you have an ERISA health insurance plan, there is most likely no requirement that you receive full compensation for your injury before you are required to reimburse the plan for its expenditures.
It is important to understand the type of health insurance plan that you have prior to accepting a settlement because it will impact the recovery that you receive. If it is not going to be possible to negotiate with the insurance plan provider over the reimbursement amount, you need to know.
If you have questions about the type of health insurance plan that you have and the plan’s right to seek reimbursement for expenditures made for your medical expenses, call The Sessions Law Firm today.