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What Should I Do If I Have Been Involved In A Car Accident?

What should you do if you have been in a car accident in Georgia? Do I need a personal injury attorney? Who should pay for your medical bills resulting from the auto wreck? Who should talk to your insurance company when they start calling you? Should you talk with the other party involved in the accident if they call you?

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Hindsight is 20/20. All too often, by the time a lawyer gets involved in your personal injury case, a number of mistakes have already been made which can hinder your recovery. Because a claims adjuster, and ultimately, if necessary, a jury, will be looking at the totality of circumstances involved in your claim, it is important to act responsibly from the time of the accident forward. Here are some tips to follow.

1) First and foremost, obey the law. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, do not leave the scene of the accident. Dial 911 if you have that ability or ask someone else to do so;

2) Document as much information as you can about the accident. Get the names of the parties involved in the accident. Get names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses. Get the name and badge number of the police officer involved. Get the name, address, telephone number, insurance provider and policy number of any other person involved in the accident. Obtain the vehicle identification information regarding all of the vehicles involved in the accident, such as make and model and tag number of the automobiles involved;

3) Make sure your treatment provider understands that your injury resulted from the automobile accident. If you are injured or think you may have been injured, inform the 911 dispatcher and law enforcement as soon as possible. If law enforcement asks whether or not you have been injured, do not rush to conclude that you have not. Often during an automobile accident, you will experience a rush of adrenaline which could mask the symptoms of your injury until hours and sometimes days afterwards. If you have been injured or think you may have been injured, seek medical attention immediately. Usually this means a trip to the emergency room. However, if you don’t begin experiencing pain until some time later, it may be appropriate to follow up with your primary treating physician. Either way, don’t delay;

4) Contact us as soon as possible. Do not contact the insurance company or talk to a claims adjuster until you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney. Do not sign any documents or other paperwork presented to you by the insurance company or other persons involved in the automobile accident. After we have been contacted, we can guide you through the claims process as well as assist you in making sure that your medical bills are paid by the appropriate party, that your automobile is repaired, that you get the full value of the damage to your vehicle and that you get appropriate transportation pending the repair of your vehicle.

Who Should Pay For My Medical Bills, My Car Repair And A Rental Car?

You are involved in an auto accident or car wreck, who is going to pay for your hospital bills, car repair, and other damages? Should I accept my insurance company’s offer for damages to my car?

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There are a number of different potential sources of funding to resolve your property and injury claims. If either you or the at fault driver have med pay with your motor vehicle insurance, med pay is often the primary source of payment for medical treatment. Most people, however, do not have a large amount of med pay, if any, with their coverage. Often med pay caps out at $5,000.00 per person. If med pay is exhausted, or if med pay is not available, then your health insurance should pick up the cost of additional medical treatment. Sometimes the medical treatment provider will not accept your medical insurance when they find out that your injuries were the result of an automobile accident. If this occurs, contact us immediately.

There are a number of reasons your doctor, hospital or other treatment provider may not accept your insurance:

  • Fear of being involved in litigation
  • Desire to obtain more money from other sources, such as med pay
  • A general misunderstanding of the insurance payment process in cases involving third party liability.

An experienced attorney can often assist in getting your medical bills paid through the appropriate source. If you are unable to pay for the treatment you need through your health insurance or you have no personal health insurance or med pay available to pay your medical bills, we may be able to help you find medical providers who are willing to provide the treatment you need at no cost to you.

You may be asking yourself, shouldn’t the other driver’s insurance be paying for my medical bills anyway? The answer to this question is of course, yes, if the other driver was at fault. However, typically, it is difficult to get the insurance company of the at fault driver to pay the full value of your medical bills as well as other related damages you are entitled to receive. Often the insurance company will attempt to negotiate a quick settlement, before your injuries have fully resolved. However, it would be a terrible mistake to settle your case before you have finished treatment, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, until you have completely recovered you won’t know what all of your medical bills will be as a result of the accident. You may also ask yourself the question, why should my insurance pay the medical bills when the other driver was at fault? The answer to this one is simple and two-fold. First, you paid for that insurance and it is obligated to pay for your medical bills. Second, your insurance company has the right of subrogation against the insurance company for the party at fault. Subrogation is an important issue in almost every personal injury claim and in almost every case you would benefit from the extensive experience our attorneys have gained in negotiating subrogation issues to maximize your recovery.

Typically, the insurance company for the party at fault will pay you directly for the damage to your motor vehicle. However, don’t just accept their offer. You should have your vehicle independently evaluated by a mechanic that you trust. Make sure your mechanic is familiar with warranty issues related to your vehicle and how they are affected by the accident. For instance, many vehicles will not warrant their seatbelts after an automobile has been involved in an accident. Therefore, replacement of your restraint system may be required. Furthermore, you should make sure that the insurance company for the at fault driver fully compensates you for the diminished value of the vehicle. Once again, you may wish to consult with an expert in this area to make sure that you maximize your recovery in this regard. Because we have extensive experience with automobile litigation, we will be more than happy to assist you in finding an expert who can make sure that you receive full and adequate compensation for the diminished value of your vehicle. Often this is the difference of thousands of dollars in your pocket. Likewise, the insurance company for the at fault driver should provide you with a rental car. If they do not, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can make sure you have the transportation you need pending the repair of your vehicle.

If I Am Injured In A Car Accident, Do I Need An Attorney?

Do I need an attorney for a personal injury case? What are your rights under the law in Georgia? Should I accept a settlement from my insurance company? What should I do if I have damage to my car due to a wreck? Whom should I call if my automobile was hit by a tractor trailer?

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In most cases an attorney will maximize your recovery, putting more money in your pocket at the end of the day. First and foremost, a lawyer can advise you of your rights and obligations under the law. Make no mistake about it, insurance companies, hospitals, and most medical treatment providers are businesses first. They are concerned with the bottom line and are looking to maximize their profits and minimize their losses.

Unless you fully understand your rights and how to assert them, you will not receive the full value of your property loss, damage to your car, and the injuries you sustained. Worse, you may not receive the actual medical attention you need to be as healthy as possible again.

All too often injured persons are short-changed by quick settlement without fully understanding all that they are in need of and entitled to. If you have a skilled attorney representing you, the at fault party will recognize this and you will get better results more quickly.

All too often injured persons are short-changed by quick settlement without fully understanding all that they are in need of and entitled to.

Furthermore, a lawyer can help you negotiate complex issues such as determining which insurance policies may be applicable and how you can potentially stack those policies, negotiate medical liens and subrogation issues and ultimately settle your claim in a way that will maximize your recovery.  Most importantly, however, you need a lawyer with trial experience who can try your case to a jury, if necessary, in a professional way that is designed to achieve the best possible result. Hiring an attorney will usually get you the best possible result in and out of court.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, a tractor trailer wreck, a slip and fall or an on the job injury, don’t hesitate. Contact the personal injury attorneys at SWWW today.

What Are My Money Damages?

Can I get compensation for lost wages? Who pays for my medical expenses? I have a permanent injury from an accident, what should I do?

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If you have been injured as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, you are entitled to the following money damages:

1. Medical Expenses: You are entitled to the actual medical expenses that were incurred as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person. This includes doctors’ bills, emergency room bills, ambulance bills, bills for diagnostic tests such as X-RAYS, MRI’s, CT scans, etc., bills for medicine, bills for equipment such as cervical collars, braces, walking devices, etc., bills for physical therapy, home health care or any other cost associated with your medical treatment, including future medical bills.

2. Lost Wages: You are entitled to compensation for time that you have lost from work as a result of the accident (including future lost wages) for medical treatment, rest, physical therapy for other causes associated with the accident that may follow the accident.

3. Pain and Suffering and Lost Enjoyment of Life: How much would you pay if you no longer had to experience the pain associated with your injury? While there may be no scientifically based mathematical formula for computing this number, there is no doubt value associated with having to endure pain. No matter how great or how small the pain is, the truth is that it is there, and it usually persists for some time, often a lifetime.

You are entitled to compensation for time that you have lost from work as a result of the accident (including future lost wages). In addition, you are entitled to compensation for those things that you can no longer do as a result of your injury that change your lifestyle such as recreational activities, gardening, golf, tennis, hiking, jogging, etc. Many people would gladly pay to play a round of golf or have someone to tend to their yard. Well, what if you can’t, certainly there is value in that loss. The bottom line is that pain and suffering is a very real injury that deserves real compensation.

4. Permanent Impairment: It may be that your injury has resulted in a permanent partial loss of your physical abilities. For instance, you may no longer be able to lift anything more than twenty pounds, perform household chores, laundry, cooking, cleaning, yard work, caring for your children or other loved ones, or run or walk the way you used to. This is a distinct and separate injury from pain and suffering and also has value for which you are entitled to recover.

5. Property Damage: Obviously you are entitled to have your car repaired or replaced if the loss was caused by the negligence of someone else. However, once a vehicle has been in an accident it loses value and you are also entitled to the diminished value of your vehicle. If your vehicle was damaged due to the negligence of another it is important to make sure your vehicle is properly repaired, that your warranty is not negatively impacted, that the repair shop uses the right replacement parts and that you get full compensation for the diminished value of your vehicle.

For negotiating your injury claim, it is important to have a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced enough to properly document and demand compensation for all of your damages.

What Are Some Common Mistakes That Could Hurt My Case?

If I am in an auto accident, what happens if I say “I have no injuries”, but later I need medical treatment? Is it a mistake to wait months after the auto wreck before getting an attorney? What if I have gaps in my medical treatment?

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There are a number of potential pitfalls that well meaning persons fall into in the prosecution of their personal injury claim. One of the most common mistakes is telling the police officer at the scene that you have not been injured in the automobile accident. Due to the natural adrenaline rush that occurs when you have been involved in car wreck, it is not uncommon for your injuries to go unnoticed for several hours and sometimes even days following the accident. While not fatal to your claim by any means, stating to anyone that you were not injured in the auto accident will surely be raised by the insurance adjuster as a defense to your claim.

Another common mistake that can hurt your case is a delay in treatment or a gap in receiving medical treatment. The longer you wait to see a medical provider following an automobile accident, the greater the likelihood that the insurance adjuster for the at fault driver will claim the automobile accident is not the cause of your injury. Likewise, if you begin medical treatment but you do not continue the medical treatment, or there are gaps in the medical treatment for several weeks or months, the claims adjuster for the at fault driver will often raise that as a defense to the causation element of your claim.

Another common mistake you should avoid is failing to document all of your injuries. It is not uncommon for an injured person to tell treatment providers about the injury that is causing them the most pain at the time, to the exclusion of other injuries which are relevant to their claim. It is not at all uncommon for a car wreck to cause you to suffer multiple injuries which can affect you in varying degrees over the course of your treatment. For instance, your primary concern might be your neck and back while a secondary concern may be your knee, shoulder or some other part of your body. It is important that you make your treatment providers aware of all of your injuries on each and every visit. It is also important for your medical treatment provider to document as much as possible about your injuries, your limitations, and how they are related to the automobile accident.

However, the most common mistake we notice occurs when an injured person waits months or even years before contacting an attorney. An experienced attorney can help you negotiate the treatment and claims process from the beginning, minimizing potential pitfalls, gaining valuable information before it is lost and most importantly, protecting your right to receive the full value of your losses. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, please contact one of our attorneys as soon as possible.

Personal Injury

Do I have a strong case? I have fully recovered from my injuries. Do I still have a case? How does my attorney get paid? How long will my lawsuit take? What is my role in the lawsuit?

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Do I have a strong case?

Whether or not you have a strong case depends on a variety of factors, including the nature and extent of your injuries or property damage, who is at fault and whether the defendant has sizable assets or adequate insurance coverage, and how long ago the accident or injury occurred. An attorney can evaluate your case in light of these and other factors and give you a realistic assessment of what you can expect.

I have fully recovered from my injuries. Do I still have a case?

Absolutely. Even if you have fully recovered from your injuries, you are still entitled to compensation for injuries caused by another’s negligence.

How does my attorney get paid?

Most personal injury attorneys work on “contingency,” which means that if they agree to take you case, they will take a percentage of the recovery, whether by settlement or a trial verdict. Many advance the court fees and other related expenses, while others expect the client to cover some or all of the costs. If the attorney advances costs, those are reimbursed from your eventual recovery.

How long will my lawsuit take?

This, too, depends on many factors. Most cases settle prior to trial, but if a settlement is not reached, your case will progress through discovery and trial which can take a year or longer in many jurisdictions. Additionally, you may not want to resolve your case too quickly if you are still seeking medical treatment and all of the related expenses have not yet been calculated.

What is my role in the lawsuit?

Your attorney will take care of all of the legal aspects of your case. You may be asked to participate in discovery by answering written questions or giving oral testimony in a deposition. If your case goes to trial, you will likely be expected to appear in court. Throughout the duration of your case, you must obtain appropriate medical care and make your doctor, physical therapy, or other appointments.

Automobile Accidents

What should I do if I’m in a car accident? I was in a minor accident and the other driver and I just exchanged insurance information without calling the police. My insurance company is now giving me a hard time for not having a report. Is a police report necessary for all car accidents? I was in a car accident and the other motorist’s insurance company just called me for a statement. Am I required to provide one? Who is responsible for my medical treatment and expenses?

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What should I do if I’m in a car accident?

If you are involved in a car accident, you should seek necessary medical treatment immediately. Even if you are not injured, it is important that you call the police and file a formal police report which can later assist with insurance claims and any lawsuits which may follow.

During this time, you will be required to show your driver’s license and documentation of your insurance coverage. It is important that you obtain this information from the other driver as well. If you have a camera, you should take a photo of the scene or soon after to show any damage to your vehicle. You should also contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible so they can instruct you on the necessary steps to file your claim.

To ensure that you receive the greatest settlement possible, contact a personal injury attorney who can initiate an investigation before witnesses forget their testimonials and evidence is lost.

I was in a minor accident and the other driver and I just exchanged insurance information without calling the police. My insurance company is now giving me a hard time for not having a report. Is a police report necessary for all car accidents?

It is always a good idea to call the police at the time of an automobile accident. Although all insurance carriers have different policies regarding the necessity of a police report when filing a claim, many will accept an auto insurance claim without one. Nonetheless, police reports are helpful in determining the involved parties and documenting who was at fault. This information will assist your insurance company in their investigation and may expedite the resolution of the claim.

I was in a car accident and the other motorist’s insurance company just called me for a statement. Am I required to provide one?

Absolutely not! More often than not, the other driver’s insurance company is calling to obtain information which can be used against you as you seek to recover losses. Respectfully decline their request and inform them that if they would like a copy of your statement, they may contact your insurance carrier directly.

Who is responsible for my medical treatment and expenses?

In most cases, the at-fault party and/or their respective insurance providers are responsible to pay for medical treatment and other expenses such as vehicle damage. However, fiscal responsibility for injury resulting from a car accident varies significantly from state to state. As a result, it is crucial that you contact a local law firm who can help you determine fault and recover any financial losses you’ve incurred.

Slip/Trip and Fall

I tripped and fell over an uneven sidewalk outside of my neighbor’s home. I sustained a back injury which kept me out of work for two weeks. He is aware of my injury but says it is my fault because I was talking on my cell phone and not paying attention at the time I fell. Do I have any liability? What should I do if I am injured on someone else’s property? As a homeowner, what am I required to do to ensure that I am not liable for damages should someone slip and fall on my property?

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I tripped and fell over an uneven sidewalk outside of my neighbor’s home. I sustained a back injury which kept me out of work for two weeks. He is aware of my injury but says it is my fault because I was talking on my cell phone and not paying attention at the time I fell. Do I have any liability?

Your neighbor and all property owners have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to provide for the safety of visitors. However, the injured party must also show that he or she was exercising reasonable caution. If your neighbor can prove that you were being careless at the time of the accident, it may hinder your claim. To fully evaluate the situation and determine who is responsible and to what extent, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney.

What should I do if I am injured on someone else’s property?

If you are injured on someone else’s property, take note of the surroundings and the hazard which caused you to fall. If you have a camera or mobile phone with photo capturing ability, try to take photos of the hazard as this may serve as evidence of the condition of the property at the time of injury. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information or a written statement of the accident from their perspective. If you are in a business setting, the business will probably require that you submit an accident report at the time of the incident. Be sure to retain a copy of this report for your records. In the upcoming days and weeks, keep clear records of any medical treatment needed and document any missed work which occurred as a result of your injury. Most importantly, contact a personal injury attorney who can review your case and inform you of the best course of action to receive compensation for your suffering and lost wages.

As a homeowner, what am I required to do to ensure that I am not liable for damages should someone slip and fall on my property?

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe environment for all visitors to your property. If there is a defective condition, you must warn individuals of the hazard and correct it in a timely manner. Regular maintenance will ensure that you are aware of any unsafe condition and are able to fix it to avoid injury to others. The extent of liability, if any, can vary depending on each situation, so it is best to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the specific laws of your local jurisdiction.

Product Liability

I was injured when using a hair dryer. If I decide to seek compensation for my injury, who can be held liable for my injury? What is the most common defense used by manufacturers to avoid liability in defective product cases? I received notification from a law firm that I may be part of a class eligible to receive compensation for injury from a defective product, should I join the class action suit?

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I was injured when using a hair dryer. If I decide to seek compensation for my injury, who can be held liable for my injury?

In most cases, the manufacturing company is held liable for injuries caused by defective products. However, depending on the nature of the case, other parties may be held fully or partially liable. For example, if your product was repaired by an individual independent of the manufacturer, the repair technician may be held responsible. In other cases, the retailer of the product may be liable. To determine who is liable, you should contact an attorney who specializes in product liability matters.

What is the most common defense used by manufacturers to avoid liability in defective product cases?

In many cases, manufacturers will argue that the user misused the product and, as a result of this incorrect use, injury ensued. This defense may be valid in many cases; however, it is the manufacturer’s duty to provide notification of intended use and warn of dangers of misuse. If these warnings were not expressed on the product prior to use, the defense may not hold as much weight in court.

I received notification from a law firm that I may be part of a class eligible to receive compensation for injury from a defective product, should I join the class action suit?

When a product causes widespread injury to its users, class action suits is often initiated by a group of plaintiffs. When contemplating whether or not to join this class of harmed users, be sure to consult a personal injury attorney because doing so may compromise some of your rights. Our law firm can help evaluate your case and advise on the best course of action.

Medical Malpractice

What is medical malpractice? Can you file malpractice case against someone other than a doctor? Can misdiagnosis be considered malpractice? What is “informed consent”? What is a statute of limitations?

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What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse or technician treats a patient in a manner which departs from a standard of care provided by those with similar training and experience, resulting in injury, ailment or death.

Can you file malpractice case against someone other than a doctor?

A medical malpractice suit can be initiated against any professional or facility that provides health care. This includes doctors, nurses, technicians, hospitals and nursing homes.

Can misdiagnosis be considered malpractice?

Yes! In fact, misdiagnosis is one of the primary reasons why medical malpractice cases are filed. A patient can suffer significant injuries or even death when a doctor fails to properly diagnose an injury or ailment, delays diagnosis or fails to provide any diagnosis at all.

What is “informed consent”?

Informed consent refers to the consent a patient gives to the doctor to proceed with a medical procedure based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications and future consequences of such procedure.

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations refers to the period of time during which a potential medical malpractice victim can initiate a lawsuit. Depending on the state and the procedure in question, this period can start from the time at which the malpractice occurs or alternatively, from the time which the victim discovers that malpractice was the cause of his or her injury. Determining the exact period of statute of limitations can be complex depending on your particular circumstance so it is important to consult a qualified medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect and maximize your interests.

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