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Every personal injury case is unique, but many have several variables in common. Liability, negligence, causal relationship between the negligent act and an injury, medical expenses, insurance claims, evidence, attorneys, negotiations, trials and settlements all shape a case’s duration and outcome. And all personal injury cases share the same goal – complete restitution and compensation for the injured party.

One of the most important factors in any personal injury case is documentation of the injury itself. On your own, it can be difficult to determine the extent of any injury and whether you need legal advice. It’s human nature to take pride in taking care of yourself, and sometimes that keeps us from admitting we’re hurt – even to ourselves. But there are times when rubbing a little dirt on it and walking it off sets us up for trouble. Don’t let your pride get in the way of asking for help right away. It’s imperative for your well-being (not to mention loved ones who depend on you at home), and it has legal implications for any personal injury claim.

In this blog, we’ll help you gain an understanding of what’s considered a personal injury, how to assess the severity of an injury, your legal rights and how an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process.

But first, there’s one point we need to make abundantly clear: If you have suffered an injury, even a minor one, your first step is to seek medical care. We’ll happily advise you how to find a trusted doctor or healthcare provider if you aren’t sure where to go.

Now, let’s dig in.

 

What constitutes a personal injury?

Personal Injury Law covers physical harm that occurs due to the negligence, carelessness, or wrongful conduct of another person or entity. “Physical harm” is a broad term encompassing everything from broken bones, herniated discs, muscular injuries, burns, and other severe injuries to permanent disability or even wrongful death. Most injury victims often also suffer related emotional and/or mental trauma which is also compensable.

In order to achieve the goal of complete compensation for the injured party, documentation of the harms suffered is crucial and it begins with medical records.

In personal injury lawsuits, the most common types of injuries occur from:

  • Car accidents: Injury caused by collisions or by drivers who don’t adhere to the rules of the road or drive recklessly.
  • Slip and fall: Harm sustained due to unsafe conditions on someone else’s property.
  • Medical malpractice: Injury suffered due to improper care by a healthcare professional.
  • Product liability: Injury resulting from the use of a defective or unsafe product.
  • Workplace accidents: Injury caused by unsafe working conditions.
  • Dog bites: Owners can be held liable if their pet causes injury to another person.
  • Wrongful death: Death caused by the negligence or misconduct of another.

Each of these types of injuries carries their own unique set of circumstances. For those that don’t result in death, consider the following:

A doctor must assess the severity of your injury.

Initially, certain injuries may seem harmless. For example, a slip-and-fall accident could result in what at first seems no more serious than a few bumps, bruises, and some soreness. A minor fender bender could cause temporary backaches and neck pains. But it’s important to consider the potential long-term effects of those injuries. Bumps and bruises from a slip-and-fall could be symptoms of joint damage, ligament damage, or possibly a herniated disc. Backaches and neck pains may be early indicators of damage to the spine. Seemingly harmless injuries could lead to chronic health problems that impair your ability to function normally, complete tasks at work, maintain your standard of living, and live a happy life.

It may seem obvious, but only a doctor can accurately assess the extent of your injury and recommend the proper medical treatment needed for your immediate and long-term recovery. Whether recovery involves medication, chiropractic care, surgery, physical therapy, prolonged treatment, or just simple rest, you’ll never fully know the impact an injury can have on your life without a doctor’s consultation. For example, although being symptom free, most people show degeneration in the spine in their 30s or 40s. A simple X-ray or MRI standing alone usually doesn’t show the acute relationship between an injury and the natural degenerative process of the body.

A clinical correlation is required.

What is a clinical correlation? Doctors and chiropractors do an initial evaluation to try and determine the cause of a patient’s pain. As stated above, the body’s natural aging process can show changes in the physical condition of the body, but this isn’t usually painful. A clinical correlation involves taking a patient’s history, performing a physical exam, and usually some kind of diagnostic exam. If the three correlate, then the treatment provider can correlate the symptoms with the event.

Along with a proper diagnosis of the severity of your injury, doctors provide official documentation to help substantiate a personal injury case. This documentation serves as a legal record of the extent and impact of your injuries and is a crucial factor in pursuing fair compensation. Timely medical attention also helps close any loopholes insurance companies might exploit to question the severity, and even cause, of your injury. Your medical records serve as solid evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries and provide a comprehensive indication of the medical issues you may be facing.

Get to know your legal rights.

Understanding and documenting the full extent of your injuries is crucial to your personal injury case, but it’s only part of the equation. There are many legal complexities and factors involved in a personal injury lawsuit, and the outcome of your case can have far reaching and long-term effects on your life and the lives of the other parties involved. Consulting the expertise of a personal injury attorney can help with your case, but here’s a general overview of your legal rights if you’ve suffered a personal injury in the state of Georgia:

  • Right to compensation: Under Georgia law you have the right to seek compensation for damages in the event of personal injury, including medical bills, lost wages, workers’ compensation, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses.
  • Statute of limitations: There is a time limit from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit, which again highlights the need for proper, timely medical diagnosis. In Georgia, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, often two years from the date of injury. Failure to file within this time could forfeit your right to compensation. More importantly, if you wait to get treatment or consult with an attorney, evidence can be lost that is crucial to your claim.
  • Comparative negligence: Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule. If you are less than 50% responsible for your injury, you may still receive compensation, but the amount may be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are 50% or more responsible, you may not receive any compensation.
  • Damage caps: In Georgia, there is no limit on the amount of compensatory damages in personal injury cases. There is a $250,000 cap on punitive damages in most cases. In simple terms, compensatory damages compensate you for your losses, while punitive damages are primarily used to punish the offender (usually in instances of extreme, reckless, or even willful negligence). In some cases, like product liability, cases where the at-fault party acted with specific intent to cause harm, or cases involving a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there is no cap on punitive damages.
  • Auto insurance: Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning the person who caused a car accident is liable for damages. As an accident victim, you have the right to file a claim with the at fault party’s insurance, your own insurance provider, or against the at-fault party directly. The priority of filing claims may vary depending on the circumstances of your case.
  • Uninsured motorists: In Georgia, drivers are not required to have uninsured motorist coverage, however most do. This coverage provides some compensation in the event the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance. However, uninsured motorist coverage usually has strict reporting requirements. If the injured party waits too long to put his or her carrier on notice they can deny the claim.
  • Wrongful death: In instances involving wrongful death, the deceased’s family members, and/or estate, may seek compensation for the “full value of life” lost, among other damages.

How a personal injury attorney can help.

Personal injury cases can be complex and nuanced. With offices along the I-75 and I-85 corridor south of Atlanta (Henry County, Fayette County, Spalding County, Lamar County, and Butts County,) our firm has extensive experience handling a variety of personal injury and wrongful death claims. Whether the claim is a seemingly minor auto accident, a slip and fall, or a collision with a tractor trailer, cases may involve longstanding personal or professional relationships. For example, a slip-and-fall accident can have different implications depending on the setting. Getting hurt in a store you rarely visit is one thing, but what if it was a restaurant you go to every Friday and know the staff on a first-name basis? What if you got injured at your next-door neighbor’s house? What if you were hurt at the job you’ve had for more than ten years and you go to church with your boss? These instances can make personal injuries very “personal” and might even influence how you pursue your recovery.

 

Regardless of how, where, or with whom your injury occurred, an experienced personal injury attorney can offer you legal guidance and counsel. But picking the right attorney for your case can be a daunting task. There’s no shortage of personal injury law firms in Georgia, and you’ve undoubtedly seen plenty of billboards, commercials, and social media posts pushing free consultations and all-but-guaranteeing quick, easy settlement offers.

At Southside Injury Attorneys, we believe there’s a better way to handle your personal injury case. We support your case with a personalized approach and honest, big-picture guidance focused not just on your financial recovery, but your emotional and physical recovery as well. Our tailored advice can help you navigate through every complex issue of your injury. We’ll also keep working for you after your case is resolved to help guide you through medical bills, Medicaid, and insurance to help you get past your injury and move forward with your life.

If you’ve suffered a personal injury or need legal representation or guidance, please contact us or call 866-533-1646 to request a free case evaluation.

Southside Injury Attorneys