Our attorneys answer frequently asked questions on topics such as personal injury cases, motor vehicle accidents, insurance claims and settlements, as well as general legal questions. Browse our extensive list of questions to find the answers you are looking for.

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  • What can I expect if we have to file a lawsuit in my Georgia case?

    A lot of clients ask me, “What’s involved in a lawsuit?” The lawsuit process can be lengthy. It can take, sometimes, months or years.

    What initiates the lawsuit process is the filing of the complaint. That’s where the plaintiff files it in court. Then the defendant has a period of time to file an answer where they either admit or deny the allegations, and they’ll assert certain defenses.

    At that point, we’ll engage in what’s called “discovery” where both sides will exchange written questions. They’ll also request documents from each other. They’ll also do depositions where the witnesses and parties will give statements under oath about what happened, while an attorney questions them.

    At any point in that process, the case could settle, but it may not settle. If it doesn’t settle, then the case will proceed to a jury trial where both sides will present evidence and ask a jury to return a verdict in their favor.

  • Will we automatically have to go to court if we file a lawsuit in Georgia?

    A frequent question that I get from clients is, will they have to go to court if they file a lawsuit? The answer to that question is no. Most cases settle. Some settle before a lawsuit. Some settle after it. Some even settle after a trial. But the best way to put your case in the best position possible for settlement is to actually be willing to file a lawsuit and go to court.

    If the insurance company and their lawyers know that, that your attorney is willing to fight for you, you’re going to get a much better result. We do file a lot of lawsuits at this law firm because we don’t take what their offer is, because a lot of times it’s not fair. In order to get the best possible result, we will file a suit, and sometimes we will have to go to court.

  • How Much Will it Cost Me to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia?

    A lot of clients who come to us are concerned about whether they can afford to hire a personal injury attorney. Our clients don’t have any upfront costs or any out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever.

    Our fees are calculated on a percentage of the money we ultimately get for you. If we don’t get you any money, you don’t owe us any money.

    There’s also going to be out-of-pocket expenses associated with pursuing a case. We’ll have to pay for medical records. We’ll have to pay for filing fees if the case goes to court. There may be travel expenses if we have to fly out of state to depose a witness or something. Those costs are all paid upfront by us. If we get you money, we get that back.

    If we don’t get you any money, you do not have to pay us back for that, and so you have no out-of-pocket expenses and no upfront costs.

  • Should I File a Lawsuit in Georgia? Is It Worth It?

    A lot of people come to us who are a little bit apprehensive about contacting a personal injury attorney. They often say, “Well, I’m not the type of person to sue,” or “I don’t want to get rich off this accident.”

    I try and put their mind at ease and make sure that they know it’s not about taking advantage of anybody. It’s about making sure that they’re properly compensated, and that they’re made whole for what’s happened to them. The law says that if you are injured because of somebody else’s negligence, you’re entitled to compensation for things like your medical bills, for any missed time from work. You’re entitled to lost wages, and you’re entitled to pain and suffering as well.

    What we strive to do is to protect our client’s legal rights, and to make sure that they are adequately compensated and not taken advantage of. We make that process as smooth as possible by pursuing the case aggressively. Keeping the client updated so that it doesn’t drag on for years, and it’s not a huge inconvenience for the client in their life.

  • What Factors Are Considered When Determining The Value of My Case in Georgia?

    People often wonder if it's worth it to hire a personal injury attorney after a car accident or other injury. While some cases are straightforward and don't require an attorney's expertise, that's not always the case. In this video, Smyrna personal injury attorney Darl Champion talks about some of the nuances of dealing with different insurance providers, whether you'll have to pay back health insurance, and other factors that could impact your case.

    How much is my personal injury case worth? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that my clients have. There is almost never a clear-cut answer to this question because there is not a magic formula or calculator that can be used to determine a case’s value. Every case is different, and the value of a case depends on a variety of factors. Some of those factors include whether the other driver was clearly at fault or whether liability is in question, whether you share any blame for causing the accident, the amount of property damage to the cars, the amount of your medical expenses and lost wages, the nature and severity of your injuries, the extent of your pain and suffering, the amount of available insurance coverage, whether there are any aggravating factors in the accident, and the credibility or likability of the parties involved. Based on all of these factors, as well as any others that may be unique to your case, an experienced personal injury attorney can generally come up with a range for the settlement value of your case and determine how to approach settlement discussions with that range in mind. To evaluate a case’s value, it is important to understand the types of damages you are entitled to claim. Broadly speaking, damages fall into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

    Economic Damages

    Economic damages, also known as special damages, are the economic losses you sustained because of the accident. The most common types of economic damages are medical expenses and lost wages. Under the collateral source rule, you are entitled to claim the full amount that your medical provider bills, regardless of whether they have been paid by health insurance or some other source. This is important to remember because many people believe they can only claim the bills they actually pay out of their own pocket, such as their portion of the co-pay and deductible.

    Likewise, you still get to claim lost wages if you miss time from work but still receive payment for your missed time. For example, you may receive payment from using accrued leave time, a disability policy, or workers’ compensation coverage if the accident occurred while you were working. In this scenario, the collateral source rule allows you to claim the missed time from work as lost wages.

    You may have additional out-of-pocket expenses you are entitled to claim. For example, you may have to make frequent trips for medical treatments. Or you may have to pay someone to perform tasks you normally performed, such as household chores, going to the grocery store, or doing yard work. It is important to keep an accurate record of any out-of-pocket expenses, including any documentation, such as receipts, that show what you paid.

    Non-Economic Damages

    Non-economic damages are also referred to as general damages. This category of damages includes things like pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, diminished capacity to labor, and bodily disfigurement. These damages are the most frequent source of disagreement in settlement discussions because there is no clear mathematical formula for determining them. Under Georgia law, the standard is the “enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury.”

    Because nobody knows for a sure what a jury will do in a given case, the amount of non-economic damages an injured person is entitled to receive can be a hotly contested issue. A common myth is that insurance companies offer injured people three times their economic damages as compensation for their pain and suffering. This is simply not the case as there are many factors that go into determining a case’s value. Although no two cases are the same, insurance companies and personal injury attorneys will frequently use their experience handling injury cases, as well as past verdicts and settlements that are similar to your own, to help determine the value of these damages.

    Punitive

    Punitive damages are awarded where there are aggravating circumstances that justify an award of damages to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant. They are only appropriate when there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care that would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences. In car accident cases, punitive damages are most common when the driver was drunk, under the influence of drugs, or texting at the time of the accident. Some insurance policies will exclude punitive damages.

    As stated earlier, damages alone do not determine the value of a personal injury case. There are other considerations that must be taken into account. For example, there may be a question as to whether the other person is liable. Or, you could have clear liability and significant damages, but there may not be a source of money to pay for your losses if the defendant has little or no money and inadequate insurance coverage.

    If you have a Georgia personal injury case, it is important you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options. The Champion Firm, P.C., is an experienced Atlanta personal injury law firm that offers free consultations to potential clients. Contact us today for a free consultation with a highly rated Atlanta personal injury lawyer.

  • Can You Sue After Signing a Waiver in Georgia?

    Can I still sue for a personal injury claim in Georgia if I signed a waiver? This is a common question that people have if they have been injured after they signed a waiver. The good news is that all hope is not lost if you signed a waiver. You can still potentially recover damages for your injuries, but a waiver does make things more complicated.

    What is a Waiver?

    A waiver is basically a document a person signs that says the person signing the document waives his or her right to pursue a claim or hold somebody else responsible for their injuries or other damages. Waivers can come in a variety of different types. Waivers are sometimes referred to as exculpatory clauses, hold harmless agreements, indemnity agreements, and pre-injury releases.

    The language in a waiver is important because it helps determine what is being waived and whether the waiver is enforceable in the first place. Many waivers contain very broad language that attempts to exculpate the wrongdoer from any and all responsibility for their conduct.

    Where are Waivers Used?

    Businesses are increasingly using waivers in an attempt to avoid any responsibility for their wrongful conduct. Waivers are commonly encountered at trampoline parks, amusement parks, theme parks, zip lines, canopy tours, go kart rides, sports leagues, and sporting and recreational events.

    Are Waivers Enforceable?

    The first question that must be answered anytime an injured person has signed a waiver is whether the waiver is enforceable. There are a number of Georgia cases that discuss the circumstances in which a waiver is unenforceable. Generally speaking, the parties have the freedom of contract and can waive their rights. However, a waiver cannot violate public policy. A waiver may violate public policy if there is a statute that says a waiver cannot be used. Or there might be Georgia case law that says a certain type of waiver violates public policy because it jeopardizes the public interest.

    A waiver may be unenforceable because of the subject matter it relates to. Examples of waivers that Georgia courts have held are unenforceable include a waiver in an agreement for the construction or maintenance of a building. Waivers in lease agreements that attempt to shield a landlord from any liability are also unenforceable. Georgia courts have also refused to enforce waivers and exculpatory agreements for medical professionals.

    Even if a waiver does not violate public policy, the language of the agreement still must be analyzed. A waiver must be clear and unambiguous. If the language is not prominent, clear, and unambiguous, then a court may decline to enforce the waiver.

    Waivers and Gross Negligence

    What if the waiver does not violate public policy and the language is clear and umambiguous? Does this mean the courthouse doors are locked when you try to seek justice for your injuries? The short answer is no. Regardless of whether you have signed an enforceable waiver, a person or business can still be held liable if their conduct amounted to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. These standards are higher than the ordinary negligence standard that normally applies in an injury case, but it is not an impossible standard to meet.

    What Should You Do If You Are Injured But You Signed a Waiver?

    If you are injured in Georgia, but you signed a waiver that says you waive your right to sue, you should immediately contact an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney. In any injury case, it is always a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney. If you signed a waiver, your case will likely be more complicated, which makes it even more important for you to contact an injury attorney as soon as possible.

    If you have questions about a waiver you signed before sustaining an injury in Georgia, call the Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorneys at The Champion Firm, P.C., for a free consultation.

  • How Accurate are Georgia Personal Injury Settlement Calculators?

    How Accurate Are Personal Injury Settlement Calculators? nn Lately we've heard some of our clients ask us if personal injury settlement calculators give an accurate appraisal of the value of the claim. The short answer is no. Personal injury settlement calculators do not work. Insurance companies don't use calculators, we don't use calculators, and if your case goes to trial there isn't going to be a calculator in the jury. There are a lot of factors that go into determining the value of the claim. If you do use a personal injury settlement calculator online, don't trust it. n

    Our Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorney, Darl Champion, discusses whether or not personal injury settlement calculators work and if they give an accurate appraisal of the value of their claim.

    For More Information

    For more information fill at the firm below and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys about your case. Our personal injury attorneys have recovered millions for victims of car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice claims, and more.

  • Is my Georgia Personal Injury Claim Worth Three Times my Medical Bills?

    Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth 3 Times The Cost of My Medical Bills? A common question we hear from clients who want to know what the value of their claim is, is whether their claim is worth three times their medical bills. This is a common belief that we have heard from clients, but there really is no such thing as a special formula or calculator for determining the value of a claim. And to state that a claim is worth three times the medical bills really ignores a lot of the different factors that go into determining claim value. There's so many different factors that include: the venue where the case might be pending, whether there's any aggravating facts associated with the defendant's conduct, what was the nature of the treatment, what's the prognosis for the injuries. For example: has the injured party recovered fully, are they going to need ongoing medical care, are there future medical bills in order, did they miss any work, what are their lost wages, are there future lost wages, is there any permanent disfigurement or scarring? Because of all the different factors that go into evaluating a claim and determining what it's worth, it would be impossible to create a universal rule that says "all personal injury claims are worth three times their medical bills." In our law firm, we don't use a 'one-size-fits-all' approach and we don't put claims into a box. We look at every case independently and evaluate it and determine what the value of the claim is based on all the relevant factors.

    A common belief amongst individuals filing personal injury claims is that their claim is worth three times the cost of their medical bills. Our Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorney, Darl Champion, explains why that’s not always true and discusses the variables that go into determining the value of your personal injury claim.
    For More Information

    For more information fill at the firm below and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys about your case. Our personal injury attorneys have recovered millions for victims of car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice claims, and more.

  • What to do if you’re in an accident with a police vehicle in Georgia?

    If you've been injured in an accident with a police vehicle, one of the most important things you should know is that the filing deadline may be significantly shorter than what you would find with a typical personal injury car accident claim. Generally in Georgia you have two years from the date of the accident to either file a claim and settle it, or file a lawsuit. With accidents involving police vehicles these deadlines can be significantly shorter because the police vehicle will either belong to the state, the city, or the county. For states and counties, you have one year from the date of the accident to file what is called an Ante Litem Notice. An Ante Litem Notice is simply a notice that is given to the appropriate government agency notifying them of the claim as well as providing other information that may be required by law. For cities, the deadline for submitting the Ante Litem Notice is six months. If these deadlines are missed, you may lose the right to obtain any compensation at all for your injuries. This is why it is very important that if you're involved in an accident with a police vehicle, you contact an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

    Having an accident is never a good thing but it can be especially problematic if you are in an accident with a police car. If this happens you have to know what to do to make sure that your rights are properly protected. In most cases this is going to mean that your first call will be to your lawyer. Our Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorney, Darl Champion, discusses what to do if you’re in an accident involving a police car (vehicle).
    For More Information

    For more information fill at the firm below and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys about your case. Our personal injury attorneys have recovered millions for victims of car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice claims, and more.

  • Will My Personal Injury Settlement Money Be Taxed?

    A common question that people have when they receive money in a personal injury settlement is whether they have to pay taxes on it. The good news is that money received in a Georgia personal injury case is generally not taxable. Under 26 U.S.C. sec. 104, damages received “on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness” are not counted as income. The key language in this law is “on account of personal physical injuries.” This means that the money you receive has to be paid to you for damages that result from a physical injury in order to avoid paying taxes on it. There are, however, some exceptions. You may have to pay taxes if you are receiving compensation for medical expenses you received a deduction for in a prior tax return. Punitive damages are generally taxable. Additionally, damages received for purely emotional injuries may be taxable if there was not an underlying physical injury.

    If you have any questions about whether you will have to pay taxes on money you will be receiving in a personal injury case, make sure you speak with an experienced accountant.