Personal Injury Lawsuit & Claims Process in Georgia
The injury claims and lawsuit process should not be undertaken alone.
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Georgia Personal Injury Claims
After being injured, you will likely have several types of expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and various others. Depending on the law and other factors involved, you may need to file a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company. Here are the steps you should take:
Get Medical Treatment
Always get immediate medical treatment after an injury-causing accident. This establishes a base level for the severity of your injuries.
Your emergency medical treatment records will be used as the basis for your insurance claim. You should also continue seeing your doctor as recommended.
If your doctor refers you to a specialist, physical therapist, or other ongoing treatment, you need to attend that as well.
Contact an Attorney
Before calling the other person’s insurance company, talk to a lawyer. The insurance company will want a statement from you, and they will use anything you say against you.
Your personal injury lawyer can help you develop a statement that protects you and adequately conveys precisely what happened in the accident and the nature and extent of your injuries.
Gather the Evidence
Collect as much information as possible about the incident that caused your injuries. That should include any available police report, photographs and videos taken at the scene, eyewitness statements, and anything else that helps prove exactly what happened.
You should also keep all your medical bills, employment records, property repair receipts, and anything else that proves your damages. Take photographs of any visible injuries. You will need evidence supporting your claim to determine precisely how much your case is worth.
You should keep a post-accident diary that tracks your healing process and how the injuries impact your life. You can also write down the names of medical treatment facilities and doctors you see. This journal can be used as a basis for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you were involved in a car accident, you would also need to contact your own insurance company. Your attorney can usually handle this on your behalf.
Your insurance company may cover some of your damages while waiting for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay you what you deserve.
File an Insurance Claim
You can also let your personal injury attorney file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. This process is usually available online or via phone. Your attorney will also present your evidence regarding fault and damages to the insurance company.
Send a Demand Letter
A demand letter is a document to the at-fault person’s insurance company specifying how much you want for your damages. It is unlikely that the insurance company will accept your initial demand. They may respond with a lowball settlement offer.
You should never accept the insurance company’s initial offer or sign anything without talking to your attorney first.
Negotiate a Settlement
It will usually take some back and forth to secure fair compensation for the losses associated with your injuries. More than 95% of all personal injury claims are settled before trial.
The negotiation process is usually successful. However, if the insurance company refuses to make an acceptable settlement offer, you may have to file a lawsuit. This tells the insurance company that you mean business.
Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you have to file a lawsuit and eventually go to a personal injury trial, you should always work closely with an attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure you get what you deserve.
File a Complaint and Serve the Defendant
To initiate a personal injury lawsuit, you must draft a “Complaint.” Your Complaint describes your injuries and explains how the other person or company is at fault.
You (the injured person) are called the “Plaintiff.” The person who is at fault is called the “Defendant.”
Once you file the Complaint with the court, you must serve it on the Defendant. That usually requires physically delivering it to their home or serving them personally wherever they may be found.
In Georgia, lawsuits are generally filed where the Defendant “resides.” The determination of a Defendant’s residence varies depending on the type of Defendant. For example, there are very specific rules on where corporations and other entities are deemed to reside.
If there are multiple options for the venue, an experienced personal injury attorney can select the best venue to file the lawsuit.
The Defendant Files an Answer
In response to the claims you made in your Complaint, Defendant will file an Answer. The Answer will deny or admit the allegations you made about what happened during the accident.
The Discovery Process
Pre-trial discovery involves both parties sending information about the case to the other side. All evidence that the parties have must be disclosed. Even if evidence does not support their claim, they must send it to the other party.
Depositions are also held during the discovery process. Depositions are interviews with eyewitnesses and parties to find out exactly what happened. Depositions take place in an office in the presence of a court reporter, who creates a transcript of the testimony.
Deposition transcripts are often used in court to avoid calling all witnesses to the trial to testify. The transcripts can also be used to contradict (or impeach) a witness’s testimony.
Your personal injury lawyer will likely file many pre-trial motions ahead of your final court date. These motions will attempt to exclude specific evidence or achieve a summary judgment in your favor. A summary judgment occurs when there are enough facts for one party to win on an issue without submitting it to a jury.
Going to Trial
If you do go to trial, you need an attorney by your side. The defendant and their insurance company will likely have a team of attorneys next to them. Most trials take several days to complete and involve statements from attorneys, the testimony of witnesses, and the introduction of evidence.
After the Trial
If you don’t get the result you want at trial, you may be able to appeal to a higher-level court. The appeals process can take months to several years. If you recover compensation, the jury will decide how much your case is worth, and the Defendant and their insurance company will be ordered to pay you.
Personal Injury Process FAQ
How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?
Depending on whether you settle your claim or go to trial, a personal injury case can take anywhere from several months to multiple years to resolve.
Is There a Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Yes. In Georgia, you generally have two years after the accident or the date when you discovered your injuries to file a lawsuit. This deadline is called a “statute of limitations.”
Certain circumstances may extend this deadline, and some cases may have other deadlines shorter than the two-year period. This is why it is important to talk to a top-rated personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Should I Talk to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?
No. Even seemingly innocent statements to insurance adjusters can be used against you. They may be used to diminish the severity of your injuries, cast doubt on their policy holder’s degree of fault, or otherwise reduce what they owe.
It’s always wise to consult a lawyer and have your attorney handle the communications between you and any insurance company regarding your claim or lawsuit.
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Call The Champion Firm
If you have been injured and aren’t sure what to do next, call The Champion Firm. Our legal team, located in Marietta, Georgia, will explain the personal injury claims process and help you decide if a lawsuit is necessary. Our focus will be on helping you recover and get your life back to normal.
Schedule your free, no-risk, no-obligation consultation at 404-596-8044 or complete our contact form. There’s no fee unless you win.