If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!

After an accident resulting in serious or fatal injuries you and your family may have questions about what to do next. Do I have to take my claim to personal injury court? Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company? How much money is in a fair settlement? Who can give qualified advice on how to win your personal injury claim? For answers to these questions and more, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help.

At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.

When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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  • Can I Get Compensation for Disfigurement From an Accident?

    Yes, you can recover compensation for disfigurement from an accident. You may be entitled to compensation for both your financial and emotional losses.

    What Can I Recover for My Disfigurement?

    Determining how much you can claim in damages for your disfigurement depends on a few factors. Those factors include the nature of your accident and the type of injuries you incur. Disfiguring injuries can leave permanent scarring, physical limitations, or both. Common car accident disfigurements include:

    • Facial fractures: Broken jaws, noses, and more
    • Amputations
    • Burn injuries and road rash: Road rash is more common in motorcycle accidents, but both motorcyclists and drivers are at risk for these injuries. Road rash is especially common on the arms, legs, and face.
    • Soft tissue injuries: Ligaments, cartilage, tendons, muscles, and more can sustain injuries considered to be disfiguring depending on the severity.

    Medical Damages

    Medical damages factor heavily into your compensation, which is understandable because medical care represents a significant expense if you were involved in a disfiguring Atlanta accident. And receiving treatment and obtaining pertinent documentation of your injuries and medical records is essential to collecting damages owed to you.

    The following are among the damages you can claim:

    • Ambulance fees
    • Hospital bills
    • Appointments with specialists
    • Necessary medical equipment (crutches, neck braces, wheelchairs)

    Of course, the costs of disfigurement do not end when you exit a hospital. Many disfiguring accidents require surgery or physical therapy. This plays a role in how much your scars and disfigurement are worth in an injury claim. For example, if you suffered severe burns, the cost of plastic surgery, skin grafts, etc. would be a large part of your claim. The same applies for amputees who require prosthetics. Maintaining documents listing these costs in your medical expenses is essential.

    Lost Wages

    While reimbursing lost wages is important in any car accident, it is particularly important after a disfiguring accident. Lost wage compensation usually covers victims in two respects:

    • Lost short-term income: This covers the immediate losses victims suffer. It is a basic calculation of your hourly wage and time missed at work.
    • Lost earning potential: Accidents leave many victims unable to work or require career changes. If your injury forces you to stop working, reimbursing lost wages covers your current salary, expected career trajectory, and the amount of time you expected to continue working. If your injuries require a career change, lost earning potential could cover the cost of training for a new job. And if that new job pays less than your current job, you could be due the long-term salary difference as well.

    Disfigurement is a life-changing event. And a person’s career often represents a significant portion of his identity. But disfigurement does not only have finite financial impacts. A disfiguring Atlanta accident leaves deep emotional scars as well.

    Noneconomic Damages

    The economic losses associated with car accident disfigurement are significant. In many cases, victims receive more for their noneconomic damages than they do for their economic. These losses include the psychological effect of your injuries on yourself and your family members.

    Noneconomic damages you can claim in a disfigurement claim might include:

    • Pain and suffering: Recovering from significant injuries is a physically and emotionally taxing process. And you deserve compensation for it. Pain and suffering is not a straightforward damage to quantify and varies depending on the length of your recovery and the extent of your injuries. For example, if your disfigurement limits your ability to walk without pain, you will likely receive more in pain and suffering than someone whose disfigurement left them with a slight limp.
    • Loss of self-confidence, social anxiety: A disfiguring injury can have detrimental effects on a person’s self-confidence. If the disfiguring injury is one that is especially apparent (e.g., facial disfigurement), it can cause the accident victim to suffer from anxiety in social situations or feel humiliation due to how their injury has affected their appearance.
    • Loss of consortium: Disfigurement often leads to more than medical expenses and inability to work. In many case, it leaves victims unable to interact with friends and family as they did prior to their accident. For example, if you are unable to show your spouse or your children affection because of your disfiguring injuries, you can recover compensation for loss of consortium on their behalf.

    Call an Atlanta Accident Attorney Today

    Every accident is a traumatic event. But accidents resulting in disfigurement take the trauma to another level. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident recently, we hope you reach out to S. Burke Law. Serving you is our only goal, and we hope we can provide the legal guidance you need. Call us at 404-842-7838.

  • What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

    Being involved in a motorcycle accident can be a traumatic event. It can be difficult to even consider your next steps when you are likely suffering from very serious injuries. However, knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident can protect you both physically and financially.

    1) Seek Medical Attention

    If you did not receive medical attention at the scene, do so as soon as possible — even if you do not think you are badly injured.

    There are a few reasons for this, but your overall well-being is the primary one. Many motorcycle injuries do not manifest themselves immediately following a motorcycle injury. Some symptoms may take hours or days to develop.

    Victims of motorcycle accidents often suffer road rash as well. Many motorcycle accident victims may think this injury is minor and feel they can treat their road rash injury and manage the pain themselves. However, road rash is susceptible to infection and other complications if it does not receive proper medical attention.

    It also helps your injury claim to receive immediate medical attention. If you wait days or weeks to obtain medical attention, the other party’s insurer might claim you are exaggerating your injuries or that they occurred after the accident.

    2) Watch Who You Speak to After the Accident

    Like most people involved in an accident, you will probably call your insurance company to notify it about your accident. You will also probably exchange information with the other motorist even if you were not at fault. This is all standard practice following an accident.

    However, even if the police report states that you were not at fault, you want to avoid speaking to the other driver’s insurance company or its insurance adjuster. The adjuster might seem compassionate and willing to help; however, her job is to get you to say something that might jeopardize your claim or to accept a settlement that is much too low.

    If the adjuster calls you asking about the accident, supply her with only the basics:

    • Time and date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Type of accident

    If she asks if you are okay or if you suffered any injuries, let her know that you are waiting to hear back from your doctor. Direct any other questions to your lawyer. Sheryl Burke worked as an insurance adjuster, so she knows all the tricks. When you trust your case to her, she will protect you and your claim from any of the insurer’s tactics.

    Note: This can also apply to your own insurer. While your insurance company’s number one goal should be protecting you, it rarely is. Instead, it wants to save as much money as possible. This often means giving its policyholders less compensation than they deserve after an accident.

    3) Keep Track of Any Bills or Receipts

    It can be difficult to get organized after an accident; however, it is essential to ensuring you get every cent you deserve. Keep all the following in a folder in a safe place:

    • Medical bills
    • Time-off requests
    • Parking fees
    • Gas receipts
    • Body shop receipts
    • Any other accident-related costs

    4) Do Not Repair Your Bike Until You Have Documented the Damage

    Many people make the mistake of repairing their bike immediately after an accident. However, the bike can be a source of evidence for the accident. If you can, avoid repairing your motorcycle until all the insurance adjusters and any accident reconstruction experts or investigators have examined it.

    5) Keep Up with Your Medical Care

    It is not enough to simply get medical care after the accident. You must continue to attend appointments and obey your doctor’s orders. Any deviation from your treatment plan could allow the insurer to claim that you are falsifying or contributing to your injuries. Because Georgia follows a comparative negligence law, this could leave you partially responsible for your injury costs.  

    6) Call an Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

    Motorcycle accidents are usually more serious than other vehicle accidents. Because of the lack of protection, injuries are often catastrophic, and you might need to take months off work. You might never return to your old job. You might need to retire from the workforce completely.

    It is possible to collect damages following an accident on your own. However, it can be difficult to handle a motorcycle accident alone in the best of health; when recovering from severe injuries, it can seem impossible.

    Over the past two decades, Sheryl Burke has dedicated herself to collecting damages on behalf of accident victims. We want to help you too. And we know you likely cannot afford any more expenses. That is why our consultations are free. We also work on a contingency basis. This means we do not receive compensation unless you do. Reach out to us at 404-842-7838.

  • Can a Slip and Fall Cause a Bulging Disc?

    Yes, a slip and fall can cause a bulging disc. Read on to learn more about how it occurs.

    What Is a Bulging Disc?

    There are discs located between your spinal vertebrae that absorb shock and help you move. A disc can swell (or bulge) through the crevices in your spine. This swelling or bulging often occurs over a long period of time but can also occur following traumatic physical accidents such as slip and falls.

    Note: A bulging disc is not the same as a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when the disc tears and the jelly-like nucleus pushes through the crack, placing pressure on nearby nerves and often causing intense pain.

    How Does a Bulging Disc Occur?

    The discs between your vertebrae must be strong to absorb daily impacts on the spine. However, they are not impervious to damage. Discs suffer wear and tear and begin to bulge for a variety of reasons. This bulging typically occurs over an extended period of time. However, sudden impacts, such as slipping and falling on your back can also cause a disc to bulge.

    What Are the Symptoms Associated with Bulging and Herniated Discs?

    While it is not possible to know for sure whether you suffered a bulging or herniated disc without visiting a doctor for an X-ray or MRI, there are some symptoms to look out for.

    While not as painful as a herniated disc, a bulging disc can be problematic because it can cause a narrowing of the spinal canal. Known as spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on nerves and cause:

    • Pain and tingling in your hands, fingers, arms, shoulders, and/or neck
    • Pain the upper back. An additional sign to look for is if that back pain extends to your chest or stomach
    • Lower back pain
    • Muscle spasms (Bulging discs can cause your reflexes to overrespond to stimuli, leading to muscle spasms.)

    There is some overlap between the type of symptoms you expect with bulging and herniated discs. But there are key differences. The symptoms for herniated discs are as follows:

    • Pain and numbness on one side of your body.
    • Pain extending through your arms and legs.
    • Sudden and unexpected weakness in your muscles.
    • Tingling, aches, and pains originating from the point of impact.
    • Pain when walking short distances.
    • Pain which worsens when standing or sitting for too long.
    • Difficulty completing certain movements
    • Pain that worsens in the evening or overnight

    The type of pain and limitations you experience vary from person to person. If you recently slipped and fell, S. Burke Law recommends visiting a doctor immediately, even if you do not feel any pain following your fall. Medical examinations often reveal injuries that have not manifested. And diagnosing the injuries and their cause early greatly aids a potential personal injury claim.

    Can I Recover Damages for My Bulging Disc?

    Yes, you can recover damages for your bulging or herniated disc. What you recover depends on how your injury affected you. Some bulging discs resolve in a few weeks with no complications; other people can feel the effects for months or even years. You might be entitled to:

    • Medical bills (You might need an MRI to determine whether you will require treatment. Treatment might include pain medication, physical therapy, epidural injections, or surgery.)
    • Lost wages (If your profession requires a lot of movement, you might need to take time off work.)
    • Lost earning capacity (If your bulging disc will not go away for some time, you might need to move to another job. You are entitled to compensation for the difference in salary of those two jobs.)
    • Pain and suffering (A bulging disc can cause considerable pain and make it difficult to do physical activity, sleep, or even get comfortable. You deserve compensation for the pain and suffering you endured.)

    Call S. Burke Law for Help Recovering the Damages You Deserve

    To recover these damages, you must prove your slip and fall stemmed from another party’s negligence. A slip and fall on someone else’s property makes  premises liability a significant factor in a potential claim. Premises liability laws hold owners responsible for your injuries if they invited you onto the property.

    We can help you determine whether you might have a valid case for damages.

    Call us now to discuss your case during a free consultation: 404-842-7838.

  • What Is the Difference Between an Invitee and Licensee?

    Invitees and licensees are both welcome guests of a property owner. While they do share similarities separating them from trespassers, there are distinct differences.

    The main difference between an invitee and licensee is that an invitee has been invited for business purposes while a licensee is someone there for social purposes or a reason unrelated to business.

    Examples of invitees include:

    • Shoppers at a grocery store
    • Contractors performing work on a house
    • A delivery person

    Examples of licensees include:

    • Someone who came into a grocery store to use the restroom
    • A guest visiting her friend’s house
    • A guest at a party

    While these distinctions may not appear wholly significant, they play an important role in Georgia’s premises liability laws.

    How Do Invitees and Licensees Relate to Premises Liability?

    Premises liability laws dictate that owners have a duty of care to maintain safe conditions on their properties. While duty of care does not apply to trespassers, it does apply to a property’s welcome individuals.

    It is important to note that it applies in different ways to invitees and licensees. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 states:

    “Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”

    This means that the property owner has two responsibilities:

    • He must remedy any hazards or warn invitees of their existence; and
    • He must routinely survey the property for any hazards

    This duty of care applies only to people who are invitees. While this does not mean there is no applicable duty of care to licensees, the standard is lower.

    What Duty of Care Do Property Owners Owe to Licensees?

    Georgia law dictates that property owners are only liable in accidents if they “wantonly” or “willfully” injure a licensee.   

    This means the property owner must:

    • Assume the presence of licensees;
    • Remedy hazards that make the property unsafe; and
    • Warn licensees of hazards that are not clearly visible

    The main difference between the duty of care for invitees and licensees is the added responsibility of scanning the property for hazards that might injure invitees.

    How Can a Licensee Collect Damages After an Accident?

    Licensees must prove that the property owner had knowledge of the risks and hazards present on the premises. Proving knowledge can be difficult, but S. Burke Law has represented many personal injury victims in premises liability cases. We use that experience to prove the property owner’s knowledge of hazards in one of the following ways:

    Actual knowledge: The property owner discovered the risks previously or was informed of them (e.g., a property manager received multiple complaints about a broken handrail).

    Constructive knowledge which comes in two forms:

    • The property owner knew the licensee might encounter the hazard.
    • Evidence that the hazard was present for an extended period of time (e.g., the property owner did not receive complaints on the broken handrail; however, it was broken for a long enough time that the property manager should have known about it). Georgia laws state that property owners have legal knowledge of the hazard when this is the case.

    We Can Help With Your Premises Liability Case

    Few people think of the context of their trip when visiting public or private places. And even fewer think about suffering an injury as we go about our day. But, unfortunately, injuries do happen. And your reasons for being in the place where you suffered your injury factor heavily into your ability to claim and collect damages.

    Our team at S. Burke Law understands these nuances, and compassionately fights on your behalf. Call us now for a consultation at 404-842-7838. You can walk us through the circumstances of your accident, and we can lay out your potential options. Our consultations are free of charge.

  • How Do I Calculate Lost Wages in an Injury Claim?

    Lost wages are often a big part of personal injury claims for victims of serious accidents. While recovering lost wages may appear to be as simple as multiplying your daily wage by the number of days you missed, it usually is not. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, there could be more factors to consider. Below, we explain more on how to calculate lost wages in an injury claim.

    How to Calculate Lost Wages

    Calculating the sum of your lost earnings is the simplest way in which you can recover wages. That makes it an ideal starting point for guiding you through your wage recovery calculation. Let us assume the following apply to your case:

    • You work 40 hours per week. You make $25 an hour ($1,000 per week).
    • Your accident caused you to miss four weeks of work.
    • Your doctor provided documentation of your injuries, and a note advising you to take four weeks off from work.

    In this case, calculating your compensation is as simple as multiplying $1,000 by four weeks, which is $4,000.

    This process can be much more complicated if you work at a job in which much of your income is tips or commission. If this is the case, we will work with an expert to determine what you might expect to recover.

    What Happens If I Was Involved in a More Serious Accident?

    Victims involved in more serious accidents deal with more complications. If your accident left you with more serious injuries, you may find yourself missing months of work or working less hours each week. You might also need to change jobs or even retire from the workforce.

    Determining Your Losses if Your Injury Resulted in a Job Change

    Looking for new work is an unfortunately common outcome of serious injuries. In such cases, S. Burke Law seeks the following on your behalf if your injuries require a lower-compensated career change:

    • Compensation for the time it took you to find a new job
    • The lost income you incur from taking the lower paying job (if you made $60,000 in your previous position but now only make $45,000, you are entitled to that $15,000 difference)

    Calculating Your Lost Earning Potential If Your Injury Caused You to Retire

    This is the worst-case scenario, but not one S. Burke Law has not encountered in the past. If you are unable to work, our firm will introduce an expert witness to assess your long-term financial losses. And we will consider the following for your damages:

    • Employment history to determine your career trajectory
    • Your age to determine how much longer you expected to work
    • Education to determine earning potential
    • Relevant skills to determine earning potential
    • Salary history

    For example, let us say you are a 50-year-old financial professional. You make $50,000 a year. You expected to retire at 65. You could be entitled to $750,000 in lost wages.

    Determining lost wages and lost earning capacity can be complex and will likely require bringing on an expert witness to calculate.

    Can I Only Recover Compensation for My Lost Wages?

    No. You are entitled to compensation for all lost benefits and contributions related to your profession. This might include:

    • Commissions in addition to your salary
    • Tips
    • Bonuses you might miss out on by being unable to meet your yearly goals
    • Potential promotions
    • Pension benefits
    • Fringe benefits
    • 401(k) contributions

    We will discuss your case with vocational and financial experts to determine exactly how much your injury cost you in work-related benefits and contributions.

    Get Help from the Team at S. Burke Law

    Inability to return to work is a devastating outcome for anyone recovering from a personal injury. And while you deserve to receive compensation for every cent you lost due to your injury, insurance companies often do not share this view.

    Insurance companies are businesses and, as such, will likely do whatever they can to avoid paying you what they owe you. Fortunately, S. Burke Law’s founder, Sheryl Burke, worked as an insurance adjuster before opening her firm.

    This means she knows not only what tactics the insurers might use to devalue your claim but also how to protect you and your claim from them. Sheryl Burke and her team will handle your case, obtaining your W-2s and paystubs and discussing your case with economic and vocational experts to determine exactly what your injury cost you in lost wages, benefits, and contributions.

    Call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.

  • What Is an Expert Witness?

    An expert witness is someone qualified to shed light on the circumstances of an accident or its effects. These experts bring knowledge and expertise greater than an average person or witness could.

    What Qualifications Must Expert Witnesses Have?

    According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, an expert witness must meet the following qualifications:

    • “The expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.
    • The testimony is based on sufficient facts or data.
    • The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.
    • The expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.”

    Personal injury cases involve establishing how an accident occurred and how the accident will affect the involved parties. S. Burke Law knows how valuable an expert witness can be in helping your claim.

    What Are the Different Types of Expert Witnesses?

    Personal injury claims hinge on proving liability. Expert witnesses contextualize your claim to prove liability and establish any short- or long-term effects. Broadly, there are two types of expert witnesses who we may call upon to support your case:

    • Consulting experts: A consulting expert explains the issues and facts relevant to your case. However, they do not testify in court. They help explain complex issues to your attorney.
    • Testifying experts: A testifying expert speaks in front of a judge and jury. Consulting experts can also be testifying experts, but they must be able to effectively communicate their findings on your behalf.

    Whether S. Burke Law calls on one or both of these experts depends on the details of your case. However, both types of experts can make a huge difference when proving your case and establishing the damages to which you are entitled. In more than 20 years of practicing, Sheryl Burke has built numerous valuable relationships with expert witnesses in the community.

    How Can Expert Witnesses Help My Claim?

    The type of witness the team at S. Burke Law would call upon for you depends on the nature of your personal injury case. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, Sheryl Burke could call an accident reconstructionist to help prove that you were not at fault.

    If you suffered a whiplash injury, a doctor demonstrating how your injuries are consistent with the type of accident you were involved in would greatly help your case. Expert witnesses contribute to personal injury cases in a variety of ways, and their testimonies generally provide some of the following:

    • Medical evaluation
    • Projected medical costs
    • Loss of earning potential
    • Accident reconstruction or assessment
    • Opinion of liability for an injury

    Discuss your case with the team at S. Burke Law. Once you enlist our help, we can determine whether your case might benefit from expert witness testimony. If so, we will work with our pool of experts to get you the testimony your case needs.

    Call S. Burke Law for a free consultation today: 404-842-7838.

  • What Should I Do If I Am Hurt At Work?

    Knowing what to do if you are hurt at work can protect both your physical health and your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. After a work injury, you should:

    1) Inform Your Supervisor Immediately.

    Submit an accident report in writing. Include the time, place, and circumstances surrounding your accident. If you took any photos of the area, keep those handy in case your employer needs proof of how the accident occurred. You should also detail what noticeable injuries you suffered in your accident.

    If you are unable to report your accident immediately, Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation allows you up to 30 days to report your accident to a superior. Do this as early as possible. It is easy to step over this 30-day time limit.

    2) Get Medical Attention.

    As soon as you are able, you should get medical attention. You can visit your own doctor for treatment immediately following your workplace injury. However, if you want your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to pay your medical bills going forward, you will have to visit a doctor within your employer’s approved medical care providers. These doctors will be from Georgia’s workers’ compensation panel of doctors.

    Your employer should have posted a list of approved providers somewhere at your workplace, usually in a breakroom. If there is no visible list, ask your employer before continuing with medical care.

    Note: In some cases, your employer might require you to undergo an Independent Medical Examination. If you decline this exam, you may be unable to recover the compensation you need.

    3) Document Your Injuries and Any Time You Need to Take Off Work.

    Be sure to take note of any injuries you suffered. Keep all receipts and take any time you needed to take off. Workers’ compensation pays for all necessary medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. If you do not document your injuries or the time you take off, you might not receive compensation for those losses.

    This will also help if your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer claims that you are falsifying your injuries.

    4) Fill Out Any Required Forms.

    To receive workers’ compensation benefits, you need to fill out Form WC-14. The form is fairly simple, but a small mistake can jeopardize your right to workers’ compensation benefits. For example, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation requires you type the answers on the form or print them in black ink.

    5) Continue with Your Doctor’s Appointments

    It is very important that you continue on with your doctor’s appointments and obeying your doctor’s orders after you submit your form. If you ignore doctor’s orders, you risk worsening your injury and jeopardizing your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

    6) Discuss Your Case with a Lawyer. 

    Unfortunately, getting the benefits you need from workers’ compensation is not always easy. Your employer or its insurer might claim that your injury never happened or that your injuries fall into one of the workers’ compensation coverage exceptions (e.g., you purposefully caused your injury, your injury resulted from horseplay or intoxication, etc.). The insurer might also claim that you did not meet the applicable deadlines to qualify for benefits.

    Sheryl Burke knows how insurers operate because she began her career as an insurance adjuster. She has insider knowledge of the tactics insurers use to deny valid claims. This knowledge allows her to anticipate and prevent denials. If you receive a denial, the S. Burke Law team can also help you appeal the denial.

    Note: In some cases, employers do not carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer is not insured, you can sue him for your injury. This is a complicated process, but the team at S. Burke Law can handle it from start to finish.

    S. Burke Law has represented many Atlanta residents in workers’ compensation cases for over 20 years. In that time, we have fought on behalf of the community, helping injured workers receive the compensation they deserve. Call us now at 404-842-7838.

  • Can a Trespasser Sue for Injury?

    A trespasser can only sue for injury in a few limited circumstances. For example, if you trespass on someone’s property and suffer injuries in a slip and fall, you likely will be unable to recover compensation. However, there are certain circumstances that might warrant an injury claim.

    Does it Matter Why a Person is on the Property?

    Yes. Georgia law imposes different duties of care on landowners, depending on whether the person on their property is:

    • An invitee (i.e., a person invited or induced to enter the property for a lawful purpose, such as a contractor or a shopper going into a store): Property owners must remedy or warn invitees of any hazards on the property. They must also perform regular searches of the property to ensure there are no hazards present.
    • A licensee (i.e., someone who is on the property strictly for their own benefit, such as a social guest or a person who goes into a store to use the restroom): Property owners must remedy or warn licensees of hazards.
    • A trespasser (i.e., someone on the property without express or implied permission): A landowner has very little legal responsibility to a trespasser.

    When Can a Trespasser Sue for Injuries?

    Landowners do not have any legal responsibility to go out of their way to keep trespassers safe. However, there are certain circumstances that could make a homeowner liable for injuries that result:

    Intentional injury. It is illegal in Georgia for a landowner to injure a trespasser intentionally. This legal prohibition includes laying traps to injure trespassers. Homeowners are also not allowed to shoot trespassers, unless the trespasser is presenting a credible threat of harm.

    If you posed no credible threat of harm and the property owner purposefully injured you, you might have a valid assault and battery claim.

    In limited cases, you might be able to file a negligent security case if you were the victim of assault or battery by a third party while trespassing.

    For example, say you were cutting through an apartment complex while walking home from work. You do not live there so technically you are trespassing. However, the apartment complex owners know people who do not live on the premises commonly walk through there. While walking through the complex, a group of people beats you up and takes your wallet. You may be able to file a claim against the complex.

    Child Trespassers. Homeowners have a higher duty of care to protect young children from potentially attractive objects on their property (e.g., swimming pools, trampolines, abandoned vehicles). For example, Sally has an unfenced swimming pool on her property. She knows young children from the neighborhood commonly walk by her house on the way home from school. If a child injures herself trying to swim in the pool, Sally might be liable for those injuries.

    This is due to the attractive nuisance law which holds that younger children do not have the mental capacity to understand the dangers that trespassing on someone’s property might pose.

    Known Trespassers. While homeowners have no duty of care to unknown trespassers, they do need to warn known trespassers of hazards. For example, John knows high school students cut through his backyard on the way to and from school. If he allows his dangerous dog to roam the property and does not erect a warning sign, he might be liable for any injuries the students suffer in a dog attack.

    Call S. Burke Law to Discuss Your Injury Case

    If you or your child suffered harm on someone else’s property, the team at S. Burke Law wants to help you. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to discuss your case with us.

    During your free consultation, we will help you determine if you have a valid case and create a plan of action for getting the compensation you need to cover your injuries and other losses. We can determine your legal status at the time of your injury and create defenses against any accusations of trespassing.

  • What Insurance Covers Pedestrians Hit By a Car?

    Typically, the driver’s car insurance covers pedestrians hit by a car. However, this can change depending on who was at fault for the accident and whether the driver carried the necessary amount of insurance.

    How Much Can I Recover from the Driver Who Hit Me?

    In Georgia, drivers must maintain liability coverage for auto accidents. Drivers must carry at least $25,000 to cover any injuries they cause in an accident. You can recover injury and loss compensation up to this limit. If the driver’s policy limit is higher, you can recover up to that limit.

    What Other Options Do I Have to Recover Compensation?

    If the driver was uninsured or if he fled the scene, if your injuries eclipsed the driver’s liability coverage, or if you were at-fault for the accident, you have a few different options to cover your injuries:

    • Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: If you carry UM coverage on your vehicle, it will likely cover your injuries in a pedestrian accident as well. Double check your policy to make sure. UM coverage will also pay out if you were involved in a pedestrian accident where the driver fled the scene.
    • Medical Payments Coverage: Like its name suggests, medical payments coverage covers medical bills. If you have this policy for your car insurance, it will protect you in a pedestrian accident as well. If you do not have a medical payments policy, you may be able to use a family member’s policy. Discuss your situation with your family member’s insurer to determine your options.
    • Health Insurance: You may be able to use your health insurance coverage to pay for your accident injuries. However, many health insurance policies exclude car accident injuries from coverage. Call your health insurance company to determine whether your policy pays for accident injuries.

    Insurers must offer both uninsured motorist and medical payments coverage to all drivers purchasing car insurance. You must reject these coverages in writing. If you do not remember rejecting them, you likely have these to help you out after an accident. Check your car accident policies to see what your insurance covers.

    What Costs Does Insurance Cover in a Pedestrian Accident?

    Of course, medical payments coverage covers medical payments. Liability and uninsured motorist policies cover much more. You can recover any of the following from these policies:

    • Medical Bills: This includes ambulance fees, doctor’s visits, medication, physical therapy, and more.
    • Long-term Medical Costs: If your accident leads to long-term or permanent injuries, you should receive compensation for this as well.
    • Lost Wages: A pedestrian car accident can leave you unable to work for long periods of time. Calculating your missed hours/days at work and wages is often a big part of your settlement.
    • Diminished Earning Potential: Some accidents leave victims unable to perform their previous roles at work. If your Atlanta pedestrian accident left you unable to continue your career, you could claim compensation for lost potential income. Or, your compensation could cover the cost of training in a new field.
    • Pain and Suffering: The recovery process is physically taxing. You can recover compensation you any pain and suffering you endured.
    • Emotional distress: In addition to the physical stress, a pedestrian car accident is also emotionally stressful. This is also compensable.

    Should I Contact the Driver’s Car Insurance Company Myself?

    S. Burke Law does not recommend contacting the insurance company — yours or that of the driver — yourself. The insurance company will make every attempt to avoid paying you what you deserve for your injury claim.

    For your own insurance company, this might mean wrongfully denying or offering you less than your policy limit for your UM or medical payments claim.

    The other driver’s insurer will likely try to place the blame on you or get you to agree that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Both of these tactics can decrease your settlement or make you ineligible to recover any type of compensation.

    Sheryl Burke started her career as an insurance adjuster. This experience allows Sheryl to anticipate how an insurance company might attempt to railroad your claim. When you work with S. Burke Law, you can be sure our team will do everything it can to protect you from greedy insurers.

    Call S. Burke Law Today for Help with Your Pedestrian Accident Claim

    Sheryl Burke has represented countless clients in pedestrian accident cases over the last 20 years. In that time, she has fought for the rights of Atlanta’s citizens to recoup the compensation they deserve after all types of accidents. Call S. Burke Law now at 404-842-7838. We offer free consultations to give injured accident victims the answers they need. 

  • How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows truck drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours per day. 

    Other hours of service regulations cargo truck drivers must follow include:

    • A truck driver may only drive that maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of being off-duty.
    • A truck driver can only remain on-duty for 14 hours.
    • A truck driver cannot drive after 60/70 hours on-duty in seven/eight consecutive days and can only restart his next seven/eight-day work schedule after being off-duty for 34 or more consecutive hours.
    • Truck drivers can only get behind the wheel if has been less than eight hours since they were off-duty or spent at least 30 minutes in the truck’s sleeper berth.   

    The FMCSA enacted these regulations to promote driver safety. It found in a 2007 study that 13 percent of large truck crashes involved driver fatigue.

    Why Do Truck Drivers Stay Behind the Wheel Longer than Is Safe?

    There are many reasons why drivers may attempt to drive beyond these limitations. Two of the most common include:

    • The driver may want to complete his shipment ahead of schedule. In some cases, drivers receive payment per shipment, so they get more money if they can squeeze in another delivery.
    • The driver feels pressured by his employer to stretch himself a bit further. In some cases, employers force their drivers to skip breaks to stay on schedule.

    Why Is It So Dangerous for a Truck Driver to Operate a Rig While Fatigued?

    A large truck is ungainly and can weigh 80,000 pounds. Safely operating a truck requires the utmost caution and alertness. If a driver is fatigued, he may not be able to perform a necessary evasive maneuver or safely navigate the road. This could lead to a deadly accident.

    What Happens If a Driver Does Not Follow Regulations?

    If a driver fails to follow regulations and causes an accident, he can be liable for any injuries or losses.

    However, per Georgia’s vicarious liability laws, a trucking company can be liable for any actions its drivers take behind the wheel. If a truck driver chooses to drive longer than allowed, the truck driver will be liable for any accidents.

    The trucking company can also be directly liable if it pressured its drivers to operate their rigs past allowable hours of service.

    This is often good news for you because trucking companies have larger insurance policies than individual drivers. It also means you will be dealing with a large trucking company and an experienced insurance company. The team at S. Burke Law will not back down when faced with a trucking company and its insurer. In fact, Sheryl Burke used to work as an insurance adjuster so she knows how they operate.

    How Can I Prove a Driver Was Fatigued When He Caused My Accident?

    Most drivers will not readily admit they were fatigued or fell asleep behind the wheel. To prove a driver was drowsy, we can use:

    • The driver’s logbooks: All truck drivers must fill out logbooks detailing how long they spent behind the wheel, when they took breaks, and when they slept and for how long. Truck drivers can either keep a manual log in a notebook or they can use the truck’s electronic data recorder.
    • Surveillance video: Many trucking companies install cameras in the cabs of their trucks. If the truck involved in your accident was outfitted with a camera, we can watch the surveillance video and determine whether the driver was showing any signs of fatigue (e.g., yawning, rubbing his eyes, nodding off, or even falling asleep at the wheel).
    • Eyewitness testimony: If an eyewitness saw the driver swerving, yawning, or driving recklessly directly before the accident, we can use them to back up our allegation of fatigue.
    • Photos of the scene: We will examine photos of the scene for evidence of evasive maneuvers, such as skid marks. A lack of skid marks can show that the driver was asleep and did not attempt to brake or avoid the accident.

    Unfortunately, most of this evidence is in the hands of the trucking company. This is why we will send a spoliation letter immediately to preserve and obtain the evidence we need.

    Call Now for a Free Consultation

    If you suffered injuries in a truck accident in the Atlanta area, discuss your case with the team at S. Burke Law. If we believe the driver was fatigued, we will gather the evidence necessary to prove it.  

    Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.