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!
  • Page 1
  • What Do Personal Injury Lawyers Do?

    Personal injury lawyers do several things:

    • Determine the validity of your case
    • Investigate your accident
    • Gather evidence
    • Establish the value of your damages
    • Build your case and prove negligence
    • Negotiate a settlement
    • File a lawsuit

    What to Expect from a Personal Injury Lawyer During the Initial Consultation

    During the initial consultation, you explain what happened, and the lawyer assesses the strength of your case and explains your potential options to recover compensation. During or after this initial consultation, you decide whether to hire the lawyer. Most injury attorneys offer these consultations for free.

    What the Personal Injury Attorney Will Do After Accepting Your Case

    What a personal injury attorney will do after accepting your case can differ depending on the type of case you are filing. For example, the approach may differ between a slip and fall case and a car accident. However, many of the following remain the same regardless of how you suffered injury:

    Investigating the Incident and Interviewing Witnesses

    An attorney and their team will investigate your accident to determine exactly how it happened. The attorney may also interview eyewitnesses to obtain an unbiased point of view of the accident. An attorney may also look for surveillance video from nearby businesses to bolster your account of how the accident happened.

    Gathering Records and Documents

    The attorney will gather records and documents such as:

    • Police or accident reports
    • Medical records to substantiate your injury claim
    • Employment records to show you missed work because of your injuries

    Hiring Experts to Conduct Tests or Give Opinions

    The attorney may also hire experts to support your case, such as the following:

    • A mechanic or other expert can check your vehicle for signs of a defect, such as a brake problem.
    • An accident reconstructionist can recreate the accident.
    • A medical expert can look at your medical records or examine you to show a connection between your injuries and the accident.
    • An economist can estimate your lost earning capacity.

    Researching the Law and Developing a Strategy

    An injury attorney may also research the law relevant to your case. They can locate similar cases, note any issues raised, analyze the results, and apply the principles of the previous cases to yours. The lawyer will also weigh the strengths and weaknesses of your case and then decide what strategies to use when negotiating a settlement in your case.

    Negotiating a Settlement of Your Case

    Most cases end out of court with a settlement, rather than a trial verdict. Parties often settle cases to avoid litigation costs.

    Once the insurance company has considered your case, it will offer you a settlement. In many cases, this offer is much lower than you deserve. If you do not want to accept the offer, your injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company for a higher amount. The lawyer tells you if they think the offer is reasonable, but you decide whether to accept it.

    If you accept the offer, the case is over, and you get your money. If you refuse the offer, the negotiations resume. If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, the attorney may suggest filing a lawsuit. Negotiations can continue after you file a lawsuit. The lawyer lets you know the highest offer they expect you to receive, and you decide whether to take it or continue with the lawsuit.

    Filing a Suit to Recover Compensation for Your Injuries

    If the parties cannot reach a settlement, your lawyer files a lawsuit against the responsible parties, for example, the other driver, the store, or the manufacturer.

    Court Procedures and Deadlines in a Lawsuit

    A personal injury lawyer files a complaint to start the suit. The attorney knows the deadlines for filing pleadings and motions, and they will keep you informed of the progress of your case.

    Conducting Discovery and Filing Motions

    Each side in a lawsuit engages in the process of discovery to get information from the other side about the case. The attorney files and answers interrogatories (a list of questions about the case). The attorney requests documents and records from the other side and takes depositions during which the involved parties, experts, and other witnesses answer questions under oath.

    Trying the Case in Court

    When your day in court comes, your lawyer will present your case. Your lawyer prepares you for your testimony. Witnesses for each side will testify, and the attorney sums up your case.

    You may agree for a judge to decide your case. If a jury hears the case, the judge instructs the jurors on the law. Either side can appeal the judge's decision or the jury's verdict.

    Learn More About What an Injury Attorney Will Do for You — Schedule a Free Consultation Today

    Did you suffer an injury in an accident? Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation to learn more about how an injury attorney can help you. We can answer any questions you may have about the process of recovering compensation.

  • Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover Personal Injury?

    Yes, homeowner’s insurance does cover personal injury. However, like any other personal injury case, collecting a settlement requires proving the homeowner was liable for the accident and your injuries.

    Most people typically think homeowner’s insurance only covers disasters like fires and floods. But most homeowner’s insurance policies cover injuries in a home with their personal injury liability coverages as well. Personal injury liability covers a variety of injuries around the house and, in some cases, outside the home.

    Common Types of Home Accidents  

    Accidents can happen anywhere, and a residential home is no exception. Homeowner’s insurance protects you from recourse to those accidents. And, as we mentioned above, this protection occasionally extends beyond the person’s physical home.

    Like a private property owner, homeowners have a duty of care to their guests. Owners must maintain the safety of the premises for any guests visiting their property. And they must also warn their guests about any potential dangers which may raise the risk for injury on the premises. The following are the most common types of home accidents:

    Slip and Fall Accidents

    Slip and falls are common residential accidents. A homeowner may be liable for your slip and fall injuries if it occurs in the following situations:

    • Rugs (particularly without proper grip pads or holes)
    • Wet floors
    • Ice or snow
    • Cracks in the floor or concrete on the property

    Accidents on Staircases

    Accidents on stairs are another common occurrence. And they often lead to severe injuries because you may roll down them rather than falling in one swoop like most slip and fall accidents. The following are common causes of staircase accidents:

    • Missing handrails or poorly placed handrails
    • Water, grease or any other foreign substances on the handrails
    • Poorly placed carpets and rugs on the stairs
    • Shallow steps

    Swimming Pool Accidents

    Swimming pools offer a great form of recreation but are often the cause of serious accidents. And in many instances, you may have a case for wrongful death if someone drowns in your pool. However, one thing to note is that homeowner’s insurance only covers you if you were injured when after an invite to the pool. Coverage does not include trespassers.

    Dog Bites

    Homeowners are also liable for your injuries if his or her dog bites you. A dog is part of your home, and a homeowner must keep you safe from a potentially dangerous dog. But one thing to note is that homeowner’s insurance covers your dog bite injuries even if the dog bite did not occur on the owner’s property.

    Proving Liability after Residential Accidents

    An accident occurring in someone else’s home is only part of the puzzle when seeking damages from homeowner’s insurance. You must also prove that the homeowner was liable for your injury. Accomplishing this requires proving negligence on the part of the property owner.

    A premises liability lawyer may be of great help if you got hurt one somebody’s property.

    For example, if you suffered a slip and fall, you must prove that the accident was preventable. You must demonstrate that the homeowner was aware or should have been aware of potential risks. If you fell because there was a conspicuous hole in the homeowner’s lawn, you may be able to prove the homeowner was negligence in not fixing or warning of the hole.

    Potential Compensation for a Personal Injury in Atlanta

    Everyone feels a bit of uncertainty when deciding to file a personal injury claim. You are likely wondering if it is worth it and what damages you can collect. While S. Burke Law cannot guarantee you any specific amount of damages, we can seek the following on your behalf:

    • Medical expenses: This includes ambulance bills, hospital stays, medication, therapy and more.
    • Lost wages: Any time you miss at work can be a portion of your reimbursement.

    Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

    If you or someone you care about is need of compensation after a residential accident, we encourage you to reach out to S. Burke Law. Our team dedicates itself to representing the victims of serious accidents. Our service begins with a free consultation. Call us at 404-842-7838 today to schedule your free consultation with a member of our legal team. 

  • Can a Personal Injury Case Be Reopened?

    No, generally you cannot reopen a closed personal injury case. Once you sign a release to settle the case, you are essentially signing away your right to pursue further compensation for the accident.

    However, there are a few circumstances in which you may be able to reopen the case.

    Nevertheless, it is important to build a solid case that accounts for all your current and future damages so you are not left in a position looking to reopen a closed case.

    Signing a Release Ends Your Personal Injury Case

    Signing a release is the moment you officially end your personal injury case. A release typically presents a settlement offer for a certain amount of money. But what many people do not realize is that you are also signing your right to pursue further damages away for a certain amount of money and other damages. Only you can sign a release, not your attorney.

    Most releases usually dictate terms for what your claim and damages are worth including:

    • Medical expenses: Based on the cost of medical bills, such as ambulance bills, medication, therapy and projected costs of long-term medical care if necessary.
    • Lost wages: Reimbursing you for losses when you miss time at work and can include the time missed because of scheduled doctor’s appointments. Occasionally, it includes lost earning potential.
    • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is not part of all settlements, but it is not uncommon. If you receive damages for pain and suffering, it varies depending on the extent of your injuries and length of your recovery.

    Why You Might Want to Reopen a Case

    Most people who want to reopen their claims do so because they believe they did not receive enough compensation for their damages.

    One example would if you suffered a leg injury and discovered that you would require long-term medical assistance for the rest of your life. You rightly believe that you deserve a more substantial settlement to satisfy these costs, but unfortunately, you probably cannot receive one because you already signed a settlement agreement.

    A release is a legally binding document that most courts will uphold barring specific circumstances.

    Unfortunately, signing a release prematurely or discovering unexpected medical costs do not typically qualify as circumstances that allow you to reopen most personal injury claims.

    It is for these reasons that it is imperative to have a personal injury lawyer on your side who can help you value your case and can advise you on when to accept a settlement offer.

    Personal Injury Case Settlements Made in Bad Faith

    One of the rare instances in which you can reopen a personal injury claim is if you believe the settlement is in bad faith. While it is difficult to prove, it is possible.

    A settlement made in bad faith requires demonstrating that the defendant or insurance company defrauded you or your attorney at the time, which led you to settle.

    If fraud is at play in your initial settlement, it may be possible to void the settlement. From there, you may be able to reopen the case and pursue further compensation for your damages.

    Call a Personal Injury Attorney at S. Burke Law for a Free Case Review

    Getting compensation for your injuries the first time you file a personal injury claim can be challenging. Attempting to reopen a previously closed claim is nearly impossible.

    That is why working an attorney dedicated to getting you the money you deserve the first time is vital. When execution of your first personal injury case is correct, there should not be a need to reopen the claim.

    Our legal team thoroughly examines the circumstances of your accident but also ensures that your diagnosis of injuries is accurate. If you or someone you care about recently suffered an injury in an accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law for a free consultation. Schedule one today at 404-842-7838.

  • Can I Get Sciatica From a Car Accident?

    Yes, you can get sciatica from a car accident. However, you must be able to prove this was the cause of your injury in order to successfully win a personal injury lawsuit. This requires proper documentation and possible hassles with the insurance company.

    What Is Sciatica?

    Sciatica typically develops because of herniated discs in your lower spine. Most people develop herniated discs due to natural wear and tear on and deterioration in their spines. Most people diagnosed with sciatica are between the ages of 30 and 50. However, herniated discs can also develop due to traumatic spinal cord injuries, including those sustained in car accidents.

    If you or someone you care about was involved in a car accident recently, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law, especially if you are experiencing pain in your lower back extending through your upper legs. Our team has represented personal injury victims in a variety of cases. Call us for a free consultation, and we will walk you through your legal options. You can reach us at 404-842-7838.

    Symptoms of Sciatica

    The most common symptom indicating sciatica is radiating pain in the lower back and buttocks. How pronounced the pain is often depends on your age, overall health, and how you developed the ailment. The following is a list of additional sciatica symptoms.

    • Constant pain in your lower back and buttocks
    • Muscle weakness and numbness
    • Difficulty with motor function in legs, feet, and toes
    • Pain that worsens when you sit for extended periods of time
    • Sharp pain when walking or standing

    Like we mentioned above, sciatica generally manifests from long-term wear and tear. Depending on your age at the time of your accident, the opposing driver’s insurance company may attempt to argue that your case of sciatica developed naturally. Or they could argue you suffered a prior injury which was the true cause of your sciatica. It is situations like this where having someone fighting on your behalf can be valuable.

    How Car Accidents Cause Sciatica

    To prove your case and eventually collect damages, our firm can help you prove that your accident is the direct cause of your ailment.

    Like we mentioned earlier, insurance companies may attempt to argue that your ailment was the result of long-term wear and tear. While it is true that most sciatica injuries occur because of wear and tear, they can originate from a single event.

    Blunt force trauma is a common cause of sciatica. Many bicyclists and pedestrians involved in accidents with cars report sciatica.

    No Prior Medical History of Back Issues

    If you never had a history of back issues, S. Burke Law will point to your clean bill of health prior to your accident. We would compare this to the symptoms associated with sciatica.

    That said, even if you do have a history of herniated discs, this does not mean you cannot prove that your car accident was the catalyst for your symptoms. Some people have herniated discs without dealing with the painful symptoms. If you had a herniated disc prior to your accident that did not cause you pain, you can still seek legal representation to fight for your case.

    Damages You Can Collect After Your Accident

    Sciatica injuries can be very serious. In some cases, they are life-changing ailments. Such serious injuries may require award more compensation. S. Burke Law can help you fight for compensation to collect the following damages on your behalf:

    • Medical expenses: This can include ambulance trips, medication, specialist visits, and hospital stays.
    • Lost wages: Sciatica injuries often require significant rehab which forces you to miss time at work. In some cases, you may be unable to work at all. In either case, we can help you will seek compensation to meet your needs.

    Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

    If you were injured in a car accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. If you or someone you love is battling an injury as debilitating as a sciatica injury, we can help you prove that sciatica resulted from your car accident. Suffering such an injury forces you to make lifestyle adjustments in addition to being a tremendous financial burden.

    This is why we offer free consultations to everyone inquiring about our services. We understand that deciding to file personal injury claims is not an easy decision, especially when you have no extra funds to spend on legal representation. During this free consultation, we can determine if you have a case and walk your through the stages of filing a Georgia personal injury claim. We hope you call S. Burke Law so we can explain in further detail how we can help you collect the compensation you need after your sciatica injury. Call us at 404-842-7838.

  • What Are Some Long-Term Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury?

    Spinal cord injuries are among the most painful and physically limiting you can suffer. An Atlanta car accident or even a slip and fall can leave you at risk for spinal cord injuries. Lots of accidents and injuries leave you with medical expenses and other unexpected financial losses. But spinal cord injuries can be particularly expensive and require long rehabilitation periods, especially because there are expenses related not only to your spine, but additional injuries which stem from it. Unfortunately, there are some long-term implications of spinal cord injuries.

    Long-Term Implications of Spinal Cord Injuries

    Long-term implications of spinal cord injuries include several different complications that affect various parts of your body. Pain can be a persistent long-term result of spinal cord injuries. That pain and discomfort manifests itself in a variety of different ways. The most common long-term complications include:

    Respiratory Complications

    Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries often have difficulty breathing. The extent of how difficult it is to breathe depends on how severe your spinal cord injury is. This difficulty of breathing does not only manifest itself in shortness of breath. In addition to shortness of breath, people with spinal cord injuries often experience the following:

    • Reduction in vital capacity, which is the greatest amount of air you can expel after taking a deep breath
    • Ineffective coughs
    • Excess oxygen cost of breathing, which is the rate our respiratory muscles consume oxygen

    In addition to the above, many spinal cord injury victims suffer from sleep apnea. While not as common as above, sleep apnea is a serious condition, with often fatal results. Sleep apnea is when someone suddenly stops breathing for moments at a time while sleeping.

    Cardiovascular Complications

    Heart problems are a common result of spinal cord injuries as well. Specifically, the two heart conditions related to spinal cord injuries are:

    • Orthostatic hypotension
    • Autonomic dysreflexia

    Orthostatic Hypotension

    Orthostatic hypotension is essentially a drop in blood pressure. And while you cannot feel your blood pressure drop, there are a few symptoms you can look out for.

    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Headaches
    • A pale appearance
    • Yawning
    • Sweating
    • Muscle weakness
    • Fatigue

    Autonomic dysreflexia

    Autonomic dysreflexia is a serious medical emergency and is life-threatening. It is essentially the reverse of orthostatic hypotension in that it involves a sudden increase in blood pressure. The following are the associated symptoms:

    • Intense headaches
    • Profuse sweating
    • Redness in your face
    • Goosebumps
    • Stuffed nose
    • Blurred vision
    • Feelings of apprehension

    Urinary Complications

    Spinal cord injuries often result in urinary dysfunction. Specifically, it causes a bladder dysfunction called neurogenic bladder dysfunction. A central nervous system disease causes this ailment, which is often the result of spinal cord injuries.

    Though most of us do not realize it, your central nervous system controls bladder functions. And damage to your spinal cord can directly impair your central nervous system. This often makes using the bathroom difficult. Many people suffering from spinal cord injuries experience trouble urinating. In fact, some accident victims may not be able to urinate at all.

    Urinary issues are at best discomforting and in many cases debilitating. In addition to a physical ailment, it also hurts a person’s psychological well-being. Many people experiencing this use catheters to urinate. But there are available treatments which facilitate emptying the bladder.

    Bowel Complications 

    Your bladder functions are not the only thing spinal cord injuries affect. Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries experience bowel complications as well. The name of the ailment is neurogenic bowel dysfunction.

    Like your urinary functions, your central nervous system also controls your bowel movements. As a result, your spinal cord injury could lead to a spinal cord disease that impairs your central nervous system’s ability to regulate bowel movements. This impairment causes the abdominal musculature to not function appropriately. This dysfunction often leads to constipation.

    Like the urinary issues, bowel complications are discomforting and debilitating. And in addition to the physical impairment and discomfort, it has negative psychological effects.

    Spasms

    Spasms are one impairment you might expect from a spinal cord injury. It is the most common ailment people with spinal cord injuries report. According to the National Center of Biotechnology over two thirds of people with spinal cord injuries experience spasms. Spasms from spinal cord injuries often cause the following:

    • Hyperactive reflexes: This occurs when actions that usually cause a reflex cause a spasm instead.
    • Involuntary movements due to muscle contraction: This often results in sudden jerking motions. 

    Each of these symptoms are painful and make you feel uncomfortable. In addition to general pain, spasms cause many other ailments. Those ailments include:

    • Functional impairment
    • Ulcers
    • Contracture in spine
    • Poor posture

    There are a variety of medications available to people suffering from spasms related to spinal cord injuries. However, in some cases, you may require surgery.

    Call An Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

    There are not many injuries more painful and limiting than spinal cord injuries. These injuries can demonstrably change your quality of life. This makes receiving the care you need important. Especially since the care you need may involve months and years of treatment as well as medication.

    If you were involved in an accident, an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer may be able to help. The costs of recovering from a spinal cord injury are expensive, and you may need help in recovering the damages you need and deserve. S. Burke Law has represented clients with a variety of injuries in the past 20 years. We offer Atlanta personal injury victims free consultations. We want you to gather all the information you need before making any decisions. If you believe S. Burke Law can help you, feel free to give us a call. You can reach us at 404-842-7838.

  • Is There a Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases?

    Statute of limitations ranges from one to six years depending on the state. In Georgia, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is generally two years, but there are several exceptions to this rule.

    It is a good idea to seek damages as soon as possible after an injury. Aside from the statute of limitations, there are several reasons to do so:

    1. It often makes for a stronger case. For instance, eyewitness accounts can fade over time, and a witness's recollection of events might be hazy after two years.
    2. Personal injury cases can take some time; the sooner you pursue damages, the sooner you can get paid.

    What is the statute of limitations?

    The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. In other words, if you got injured in Georgia on June 1, 2017, then, in most cases, you have until June 1, 2019, to file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties.

    If you wait until the statute of limitations has passed, your lawsuit has a near certain chance of being dismissed on those grounds, though you may be granted an exemption in certain unique situations.

    How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia?

    The standard statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Georgia is two years. For property damage, you have four years, and for cases involving reputational damage, you have only one year. In one specific type of personal injury case – that in which loss of consortium is a factor – the statute of limitations in Georgia extends to four years.

    What are the exceptions to the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Georgia?

    In certain personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations does not apply, or it can be extended. Here are the most common cases:

    The Discovery Rule

    The discovery rule comes into play when the injured party discovers new information that sheds new light on the case. It is most commonly invoked when the injured party did not previously know about:

    • The injury
    • The fact that the responsible party was to blame for the injury

    A common example involves exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos. Decades ago, people had no idea of the causal link between asbestos and lung cancer. So it would be unreasonable to expect someone to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of diagnosis when they had no way of knowing the actual cause of their condition.

    In discovery rule cases, the statute of limitations still applies, but the clock begins running on the day the injured party learns of the relevant information.

    The Responsible Party Leaves the State

    Another situation that triggers an extension of the statute of limitations is when the responsible party leaves the state. If this happens, the statute of limitation is effectively paused during the time the responsible party is out of state.

    For instance, if your injury occurred on June 1, 2017, and the responsible party immediately fled the state the same day, not to return until June 1, 2018, then the statute of limitations would be effectively paused for that one year. Rather than having to file a lawsuit by June 1, 2019, you would have until the same date in 2020.

    The Case Involves a Minor or a Disabled Person

    If the injured party is under the age of 18 or is intellectually disabled, mentally ill, or insane, the state will typically still hear their lawsuit even if it is filed after the two-year statute of limitations. This situation can be subjective, which is why it is important to get a skilled personal injury lawyer involved in the process as early as possible.

    Call 404-842-7838 to Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer

    The statute of limitations is just one of many facets of personal injury law that can affect the outcome of your case. At S. Burke Law, our team fights for the rights of our injured clients with compassion and conviction.

    Call our office today for a free consultation. You can meet your attorney, get all your questions answered, and receive free legal advice on how to proceed. We look forward to putting our knowledge and resources to work for you. Call now for an appointment: 404-842-7838.

  • Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable?

    Most proceeds from a personal injury taxable are not taxable. But, like most IRS issues, the situation is never cut and dry. Situations exist in which some or all of your personal injury settlement could be subject to tax.

    Speak with an accountant for help with questions about taxes. You can also discuss settlement options with a lawyer at S. Burke Law. 

    When Are the Proceeds from a Personal Injury Settlement Taxable?

    The tax treatment of personal injury settlement proceeds depends in large part on what you received the settlement for. In other words, was it for physical injuries or physical sickness, emotional distress or mental anguish, or punitive damages?

    Physical Injuries or Physical Sickness

    Personal injury settlement proceeds for physical injuries or physical sickness are non-taxable. This includes physical injuries from auto accidents, slips and falls, truck accidents, construction accidents, premises liability, and so forth. It also includes physical sickness from events such as toxic chemical exposure or medical malpractice, or harmful prescription drugs.

    These proceeds are usually safe from taxes because the settlement is simply repaying what you had to pay out of pocket for your medical care. The one exception is if you have taken itemized deductions on past tax returns for medical expenses related to your injury or illness.

    For instance, your injury occurred in 2015, and throughout 2016 you received medical care to treat it. At year-end 2016, you still had not reached a settlement. To save on that year's taxes, you took deductions for your medical bills. If the subsequent settlement includes compensation to cover those medical expenses, you are liable to make up the difference in taxes you did not pay the previous year.

    You would do this by reporting the tax benefit you received in 2016 as “Other Income” during the year in which you receive your settlement. At S. Burke Law, we work with accounting professionals to make sure our clients file correctly and receive the most favorable tax treatment for their settlements.

    Emotional Distress or Mental Anguish

    If you receive a settlement for emotional distress or mental anguish, its tax treatment depends on whether your condition originated from a physical injury or sickness. If it did, then this part of your settlement is also non-taxable.

    If your proceeds for emotional distress or mental anguish are unrelated to any physical condition, then you will probably have to pay taxes on it. However, you can deduct the cost of any medical expenses you incurred for your emotional distress or mental anguish as long as you have not previously deducted those expenses.

    Once again, you would report the total amount of your settlement paid for emotional distress or mental anguish, minus your deductions for related medical expenses, as “Other Income” on your tax return for the year in which you receive the settlement.

    Lost Wages

    If you received compensation for wages you lost after having to take time off work, you must pay taxes on that compensation. The IRS treats this compensation the same as it would treat typical wages, which means they are taxable in every circumstance.

    Punitive Damages

    In cases which the defendant displayed a wanton disregard for your safety or performed an intentional act such as assault or battery, you might receive punitive damages as part of your personal injury settlement.

    Punitive damages, regardless whether received for physical or emotional damages, are always taxable. You must report them as “Other Income” on your tax return for the settlement year.

    Settlement Interest

    Sometimes, your settlement will accrue interest between the time the insurer or court issues it and the time you receive it. If so, you must declare the interest portion as income and pay taxes on it, even if your settlement was entirely for a physical injury or sickness.

    Paying Taxes on Settlements

    Generally, you pay taxes on settlements the year in which you receive them by declaring the taxable portion as “Other Income” on your tax return. However, if you estimate that your tax liability from the settlement will exceed $1,000, the IRS asks you to make estimated tax payments. 

    Call S. Burke Law at 404-647-4111 to Speak with an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

    Please direct any questions about taxes to an accountant. If you need legal help with your personal injury case, call us.

    Personal injury cases can be complex, and taxes can throw an added wrinkle into the confusion. At my firm, we take the outcomes of our clients' cases personally, and we pride ourselves on providing skilled representation along with unmatched customer service.

    Ready to get started? I look forward to meeting you, answering all your questions, and fighting for your rights. Call S. Burke Law today for a free consultation: 404-842-7838.

  • Can You Sue Someone for Assault?

    Yes. You can sue someone for assault.

    Who Can I Sue for Assault?

    Anyone who perpetrated or contributed to your assault might be liable. This can include:

    • The actual perpetrator
    • The business owner (such as a bar or restaurant) if the assault resulted from negligent security or negligent hiring)

    It is important to note that assault and battery are two different things. Assault is the threat of physical harm while battery is actual physical contact against someone’s will. You can sue the above parties for both.

    What Do I Need to Do to Sue Someone for Assault or Battery?

    To hold another person liable for threatening you or intentionally causing you injury, that person must have owed you a legal duty. When it comes to the actual perpetrator, this is not difficult to figure out. The rules of our society prohibit us from threatening or physically harming another person except where it might be necessary to do so, such as in self-defense.

    In other cases, establishing a “duty” is not so clear. Sometimes third parties, such as business owners, may owe a duty to prevent others from threatening or harming you. For example, if a business owner does not hire security for his bar, he can be liable if a fight breaks out and patrons suffer injuries.

    One of the aspects of a successful assault lawsuit is a thorough review of all potential parties who may have contributed to an assault. My team and I will look into your assault and determine any parties that might have played a part in your assault.

    We must also prove the breach of duty was the proximate cause of your damages. Proximate cause essentially means that but for someone’s acts or omissions, you would not have suffered injury. For example, if the bar owner had hired security, the perpetrator would likely not have been able to beat you up.

    Once we have established a liable party(s) and proved causation, we must establish you suffered damages. Damages include both out-of-pocket expenses and intangible injuries such as pain and suffering that lawyers work with victims to calculate to arrive at an amount that fully and fairly compensates them. How much you can recover depends on what the assault cost you.

    The Burden of Proof in an Assault Case

    The burden of proving that an assault was foreseeable or that the business could have intervened is on the victim. There are certain regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that may provide specific rules concerning a business’s standard of care. In the absence of published rules, regulations, or guidelines, however, it will be the victim’s responsibility to establish what the business could and should have done differently. 

    Establishing a standard of care and the fact that a business’s conduct was substandard sometimes requires testimony from an expert witness. An expert witness can help provide evidence that reasonable safety measures could have prevented the conduct that caused the injuries or otherwise minimized the risk of injuries to the victim.

    Causation of damages is another area where expert testimony might help a victim’s case. If a business owner claims that injury would have resulted even if it had done what the victim claims it could have done, the business owner may not be responsible for the injuries. However, if an expert witness is able to dispute that claim, you may still be eligible to recover compensation.

    How to Sue for Assault

    The first step in a lawsuit for assault is to determine who is responsible. The direct perpetrator may or may not have faced criminal prosecution for the same incident. Regardless of whether a criminal court found the perpetrator guilty, you may still pursue a civil lawsuit.

    In addition to the perpetrator, there may be other parties responsible. Business owners may be liable for your injuries if the assault and battery was foreseeable and if the business owner could have made reasonable efforts to prevent what happened to you.

    Even if the assault was not preventable, businesses must take certain steps to intervene during commission of a crime to mitigate harm if possible. Insurance companies for these businesses put up a big fight when it comes to the responsibilities of these business owners. A skilled attorney can help you hold business owners responsible if they could have reasonably prevented an assault or otherwise minimized harm.

    At S. Burke Law, our team knows how insurance companies work. In fact, I used to work for an insurance company before dedicating my practice to pursuing the rights of victims.

    What Kinds of Assault Can I Sue For?

    Some of the common types of assault and/or battery are sexual assault, simple assault, simply battery, or aggravated battery.

    In cases of proving a third-party business owner, the following are some examples of businesses that might be responsible for your injuries for failing to provide reasonable security measures or remove potentially dangerous people:

    • Hospitals or long-term care facilities (whether an employee or another patient committed the assault)
    • Municipalities that operate public transportation (whether on a bus or train or at a terminal)
    • Landlords or condominium owners
    • Restaurant or bar owner (for acts of unruly patrons who should have been removed, unlawful force used by a bouncer, or negligent security)
    • Shopping or retail center
    • Hotel/motel operators
    • Colleges or universities
    • Employers (negligent hiring, supervision or retention that leads to co-worker violence)

    Depending on the circumstances, business owners may owe their guests a duty to protect guests both from those who lawfully enter the premises as well as from those who unlawfully enter.

    Make sure you understand who may be responsible for your injuries by discussing your case with a qualified attorney.

    Get Justice for Your Assault. Call S. Burke Law Today.

    As you can see, proving responsibility in assault and battery cases requires significant experience and knowledge of criminal and civil law. To discuss your case with an Atlanta assault attorney, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today. Your consultation will cost nothing and provides valuable information to you as you move forward.

  • How Much Can I Sue for After an Assault and Battery?

    How much you can sue for after an assault and battery depends on the circumstances of your case — the severity of the attack and how your injuries have affected (and continue to affect) you.

    What Factors Might Affect the Compensation I Can Receive?

    You can calculate the amount of money you can recover from another party (or parties, if there was more than one perpetrator) by using a variety of factors. These factors could include (but are not necessarily limited to):

    • Age of the victim at the time of the assault and battery
    • Nature of injuries
    • Length of time needed to recover from injuries, the permanency of the injuries
    • Extent of medical care required to reach maximum improvement
    • Lifestyle of the victim before and after the injuries
    • Average income and future earning potential of the victim
    • Impact on other immediate family members
    • The circumstances leading up to the assault and battery
    • Quality of evidence available to prove wrongdoing
    • Collateral sources of compensation
    • The amount of insurance coverage available and/or collectability of the perpetrator
    • Whether punitive damages are available

    Who you can hold liable may also affect how much you can sue for after an assault and battery. If you sue only the individual who attacked you, you are likely to receive a small settlement. However, if there was another party indirectly responsible for the attack, such as a bar for failing to provide security or replace a burnt-out streetlight, you might be able to recover a higher settlement.

    My team and I will look into your assault and battery and determine what parties we can hold liable.

    What Compensation Might I Be Entitled To?

    Assault and battery experiences can cause long-lasting scars, both physical and mental. I have helped clients recover compensation for a variety of damages that another person caused. These include:

    • Lost wages
    • Minimized earning ability
    • Loss of employment-related benefits
    • Hospital, doctor, and dental bills
    • Emergency transportation bills
    • Over-the-counter and prescription medication
    • Costs incurred to replace household labor that you can no longer do yourself
    • Child care expenses necessitated by the injuries
    • Emotional distress
    • Pain and suffering
    • Damages to spouse for loss of consortium
    • Punitive damages

    Assault and battery can lead to serious physical injuries and emotional trauma. Permanent disfigurement or disability can change a victim’s life forever. These incidents can also force victims to deal with intrusive thoughts about what happened and whether they could have avoided it. Fearful thoughts of future well-being can become a new way of life. This can all lead to a decreased enjoyment of life.

    When you meet with me and my team, we will go over your entire case to determine a fair compensation award for both your economic and noneconomic damages.

    What Do I Need to Prove to Recover Compensation?

    To recover compensation for assault and battery, you must prove that another party assaulted or physically attacked you or was responsible for the attack.

    Assault requires proof that another person intentionally caused you fear of immediate harm. For example, if someone threatens to punch you while raising his fist, he has committed assault. Threats and threatening behavior may be difficult to prove if there were no witnesses and the threats or threatening behavior were not typed, written, or recorded. However, we will look into your case to determine if there is any other way to prove assault took place.

    Battery requires proof of a physical contact without your consent. For example, if someone punches you at a bar, you have been the victim of battery.

    Because these are serious allegations, we must provide strong evidence the assault or battery took place. For example, surveillance video or testimony from a bouncer will be helpful in proving the assault or battery occurred.  

    What Can I Expect From an Assault and Battery Claim?

    While you are already struggling with a difficult situation, to add insult to injury, you may also be dealing with an aggressive insurance company that will try to limit your compensation by putting the blame for what happened on you as well as by minimizing your injuries. It is important to have an attorney build up your case to be sure that you do not leave any holes the defense can attack.

    Not having the right type of proof or saying the wrong thing can limit your compensation. It is very important, therefore, to review the details of your case with an attorney who has experience as an attorney and as an insurance adjuster. I am that attorney.

    Call S. Burke Law to Discuss Your Case Today

    Having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side after an assault and battery is critical. I would like to discuss your case with you to provide further information. Call me at 404-842-7838 today so that I can walk you through the steps of pursuing compensation. I will help you understand your options and provide you with an idea of what your case is worth. 

  • What should I ask a Georgia personal injury attorney before I hire him or her to handle my Atlanta car accident claim?

    There are several questions that you should ask a Georgia personal injury attorney before you hire him or her to handle your Atlanta accident claim. The first and most important question you should ask is how much experience he or she has representing clients in Atlanta car accident cases. The more experience the Georgia personal injury attorney has, the more likely you are to reach a successful resolution.

    Other Questions to Ask a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
     

    • What forms of documentation do you need from me?
    • Are you a member of any legal organizations?
    • Have you received any awards or honors?
    • What is your track record of obtaining winning verdicts and settlements in Atlanta car accident claim cases?
    • Do you take cases to trial, if necessary, or are all of your cases settled out of court?
    • Will you be handling my Atlanta car accident claim, or will it be assigned to another attorney?
    • What happens if I lose my case?

    You should also ask the Georgia personal injury attorney about the types of fees they charge. While some attorneys charge a contingency fee, which means they only get paid if you do, others may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. Understanding the types of fees that are required to take on your Atlanta car accident claim can help you avoid surprises down the road.

    Many Georgia personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation, during which you can ask the questions above and learn about how the attorney can help you.

    Contacting a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney

    Asking a Georgia personal injury attorney questions before hiring him or her to handle your Atlanta car accident claim can help you select the right person for your case. If you are the victim of someone else's negligence or carelessness, whether in a traffic accident or some other type of accident, you have certain rights guaranteed by law. To help you understand these rights and seek the compensation you may be eligible for to help get your life back in order, contact the Atlanta Law Offices of Sheryl L. Burke for a no-cost consultation on your injury case - 404-467-0909.