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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  • What Are Punitive Damages in Georgia?

    In addition to the standard types of damages a person can receive, like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, in a personal injury case, Georgia law provides for punitive damages under specific circumstances. The vast majority of personal injury cases do not receive an award of punitive damages. In some situations, however, punitive damages can be appropriate.

    Other terms for punitive damages include "vindictive damages" and "exemplary damages." If the judge awards additional damages to punish, deter, or otherwise penalize the defendant, because of aggravating circumstances, those are also punitive damages.

    An Example of Punitive Damages

    Let’s say that a corporation manufactures a product that the company knows is dangerous. The company does not correct the defect, because it decides that it is less expensive to pay the claims of people the product injures rather than to re-engineer the product to make it safe.

    When an injured person brings a lawsuit against the corporation, the judge can award the plaintiff (injured person) compensation for her financial losses, like medical bills, loss of income, and decreased earning potential. The judge can also award money for intangible losses, like disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and the spouse's loss of consortium.

    In addition to these standard damages, the judge can order the company to pay an additional sum, above and beyond the typical categories of damages, to deter the corporation from making that kind of business decision in the future.

    What We Have to Prove to Win Punitive Damages

    Georgia law only allows punitive damages in tort cases, like personal injury cases, when we can provide the judge with clear and convincing evidence that what the defendant demonstrates:

    • Intentional malice
    • Fraud
    • Purposeful misconduct, or
    • Such extreme carelessness that would indicate a conscious disregard for how the actions would affect other people

    Who Gets the Money When the Judge Awards Punitive Damages

    Because Georgia law views punitive damages as strictly a means of punishing, penalizing or deterring defendants, the compensation does not go straight to the plaintiff. Most of the money goes to the government.

    Under our punitive damages statute, the state will receive 75% of punitive damages awards for product liability cases, after deducting reasonable attorneys’ fees and other proportionate costs of litigation. There is no statutory limitation on the amount of punitive damages a judge can award in a product liability case. A dangerous product that hurts someone is one example of a product liability claim.

    Limits on the Amount of Punitive Damages a Judge Can Award

    As already stated, Georgia law does not limit punitive damages in product liability cases. There is also no limit on the punitive damages that a court can order a defendant in a case that is not a product liability case, when the court found that defendant guilty of:

    • Intentionally causing harm by acting or failing to act
    • Being under the influence of alcohol when the defendant acted or failed to act
    • Being under the influence of lawfully prescribed drugs that were not taken according to the prescription, when the defendant acted or failed to act
    • Acting or failing to act when his or her judgment was significantly impaired by any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor.

    In all other situations, a court cannot award punitive damages of more than $250,000 in a tort case.

    Additional Requirements for the Award of Punitive Damages in Georgia

    Georgia law requires that we jump through several hoops to have the judge or jury order punitive damages in a tort case. The usual steps include:

    • We must specifically ask for punitive damages in our complaint, also called the petition. The complaint is the document that we file at the beginning of the case, telling the court who the plaintiff is, who the defendants are, why we are suing them, and what we want the court to do. Courts in Georgia are not allowed to award punitive damages if the plaintiff did not ask for them.
    • At the end of the trial, the judge or jury must decide whether the facts of the case satisfy the requirements for an award of punitive damages.
    • The trier of fact must specify the decision reached, whether to award punitive damages or not, using an appropriate verdict form and making all the required findings to support the decision.
    • In cases in which the trier of fact decides that punitive damages are appropriate, the trial must continue so that the court can hear relevant evidence as to the amount of punitive damages it will take to punish, penalize, or deter the defendant, in that particular situation.
    • The trier of fact will then use the information gained in the trial and this additional evidence to determine the amount of punitive damages to award.

    Like many things in the law, the rules about punitive damages can be complex. You do not have to figure this out on your own. We will be happy to answer your questions about punitive damages when we talk with you about your case.

    You can call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today to set up your free consultation. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.

  • What Is an Unmarked Crosswalk in Georgia?

    An unmarked crosswalk is a place where pedestrians can cross the street at intersections, located at the point between one side of the roadway and the other. A marked crosswalk has painted white lines to designate the pedestrian pathway, but an unmarked crosswalk does not.

    An unmarked crosswalk can only exist at an intersection. Unmarked crosswalks can be at four-way intersections as well as other types of intersections. In contrast, a marked crosswalk can exist at an intersection, in the middle of a city block, or at some other location that is not an intersection.

    How to Identify an Unmarked Crosswalk

    Unmarked crosswalks do not have pedestrian crossing signs or flashing lights. These crossing points also do not have lines, images, or words painted on the surface of the roadway. While it can be difficult to identify or notice an unmarked crosswalk as opposed to a marked one, the pedestrian has the right-of-way in both types of crosswalks, marked and unmarked.

    An unmarked crosswalk is usually the space between the sidewalk on one side of a street and the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, in other words, from curb to curb. When there are no sidewalks or curbs, an unmarked crosswalk can be the space from the edge of the road on one side of the street going over across the traffic lanes to the edge of the road on the opposite side of the street.

    Why the Term "Unmarked Crosswalk" Is So Confusing

    An "unmarked crosswalk" can cause confusion because the lack of white lines or other indicators makes it appear as though a crosswalk does not exist at that location. From a legal standpoint, however, there is no difference between a marked crosswalk in an unmarked crosswalk.

    The Legal Responsibilities of Pedestrians at Marked or Unmarked Crosswalks

    The law designates crosswalks as the locations where pedestrians are supposed to cross streets. Pedestrians are not supposed to step out into the street in areas that are not crosswalks. A common term for crossing the street in a place that is not a crosswalk is "jaywalking."

    When a pedestrian is not in a crosswalk, the pedestrian is supposed to yield the right-of-way to drivers. This concept means that you must wait until traffic has cleared to cross the street if you are not in a crosswalk.

    Pedestrians have the right-of-way when in a marked or unmarked crosswalk (in a marked crosswalk they must have the walk sign), but even this rule has limitations. A walker is not allowed to dart out into the path of a moving vehicle, even in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, if the car will not be able to stop in time safely. This rule means that if you get hurt because you step out into oncoming traffic, even in a crosswalk, the driver might not have to pay for your damages.

    What Motor Vehicle Drivers Must Do at Marked or Unmarked Crosswalks

    Whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked, motorists have to stop and remain stopped when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. The driver is not allowed to proceed until the pedestrian has cleared the driver's side of the road.

    In other words, if there are two lanes of traffic going north and there are two southbound lanes, a driver going north must stop and remain stopped until pedestrian in the crosswalk has cleared both northbound lanes. The northbound drivers do not have to wait until the pedestrian also crosses the southbound lanes and reaches the far sidewalk.

    Georgia law prohibits motorists from passing or going around drivers who have stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This rule applies to both marked and unmarked crosswalks.

    Because they can be hard to spot, as they lack painted lines, flashing lights, or signs, unmarked crosswalks are often the site of pedestrian accidents.

    What to Do if You Were Hurt in a Pedestrian Accident in a Crosswalk

    If you were injured in a pedestrian accident while crossing the street, you may be entitled to compensation. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation with us. Our car accident lawyers can explain how crosswalk laws can affect your injury claim and answer any questions you might have about your legal right to compensation.

  • How Does MedPay Work in Georgia?

    Medical payments coverage, also called MedPay, is a type of motor vehicle insurance available in Georgia. MedPay works similarly to health insurance but only applies after a car accident.

    Georgia law does not require you to purchase this optional coverage as part of your automobile insurance policy. If you get hurt in a car accident, however, you could find this coverage to be immensely valuable.

    MedPay coverage can be useful in situations like these:

    • The person who caused the crash was uninsured (in other words, did not carry valid or current automobile liability insurance that would have paid for your medical expenses).
    • The insurance company of the at-fault driver is disputing the driver’s liability or for some other reason is not paying your medical expenses promptly.
    • Your health insurance agrees to pay some of your medical expenses from the wreck, and the MedPay coverage can help with the co-pays, coinsurance, and deductible.

    If you were at fault in the accident, MedPay coverage can help to pay your medical bills, since MedPay usually provides coverage regardless of fault.

    Your MedPay Benefits Can Vary

    An insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. In general, the insurer only has to provide the benefits stated in the policy. We will have to review your automobile insurance policy before we can say definitively how your MedPay coverage will work.

    Your insurance company can deny coverage under MedPay if it deems that your medical treatments were unreasonable or unnecessary. Georgia law requires that the insurance company reimburse you for reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses caused by a motor vehicle accident.

    Who MedPay Covers

    A MedPay policy does not provide any benefits to people in other vehicles. MedPay coverage generally provides help with the medical bills of the policyholder, passengers in the covered car, and someone who drives the vehicle with the permission of the owner.

    By way of example, you carry MedPay coverage on your automobile policy. You are driving to work, carpooling with two coworkers. The driver of another vehicle runs a red light and T-bones your car, injuring you and your passengers. Your MedPay coverage can help pay the medical bills for you and your passengers, but it will not cover the driver of the other vehicle.

    MedPay Coverage Outside of a Vehicle

    An interesting aspect of the coverage your MedPay policy can provide is that you do not necessarily have to be in a vehicle to receive MedPay benefits. Let's say that you carry MedPay coverage on your car. If a car, truck, or another motor vehicle hit you while you were walking or riding a bike, the MedPay coverage of your automobile insurance policy can kick in and cover some of your medical bills, up to the limits of your policy's coverage.

    MedPay Only Reimburses Expenses

    MedPay coverage is usually reimbursement only. This means that if you have $5,000 MedPay coverage on your automobile insurance policy, and your out-of-pocket medical expenses were only $3,500, your MedPay will reimburse you for the $3,500 that you paid, and not the full $5,000 of the policy limits.

    If some other source of insurance or funding paid your medical bills, your MedPay coverage will not pay you benefits. Also, if you have unpaid medical bills, your MedPay insurer is likely to send a check directly to the healthcare provider instead of to you.

    MedPay Benefits in the Event of a Fatal Accident

    If a person who is eligible for MedPay benefits under your auto insurance policy dies from the injuries sustained in the car accident, your MedPay coverage can cover some of the funeral expenses for that person, up to the limits of the MedPay coverage. Depending on the specific terms of your policy, however, the policy limits, might not be sufficient to pay all of the medical bills and funeral expenses of the people your policy covers.

    Time Limit for Medical Bills and Funeral Expenses

    The Georgia statute that defines medical payments coverage states that the expenses must be for services received within three years of the wreck. The statute does, however, allow an insurance company to specify a longer time period.

    We understand how confusing insurance and coverage issues can be. Also, since insurance coverage is a contract, the terms of your policy might be different than the general coverage discussed in this article.

    Call S. Burke Law Today for Help

    You do not have to become an expert on insurance or accident law to navigate through MedPay coverage for your car accident. We will be happy to review your automobile insurance policy with you and explain your legal rights. Our car accident lawyer can also help you file a claim against the other driver if they contributed to your accident. Just remember there is a time limit to file a lawsuit.

    Give us a call at 404-842-7838 today, and we will set up your free consultation at S. Burke Law. There is no obligation.

  • Can I Sue a Stadium or Arena for Negligent Security?

    If you suffered injuries because a stadium or arena failed to provide adequate security, the property owner can be responsible for your losses. Georgia law requires landowners to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crimes and to keep people safe on their premises.

    What We Have to Prove in a Negligent Security Case

    We will have to prove all four of these factors to hold the stadium or arena responsible for your injuries from negligent security:

    1. The arena or stadium owed you a legal duty. If you were at the stadium or arena as a paying customer or authorized guest, the property owner had a legal responsibility to take reasonable measures to keep the venue and its approaches safe. The landowner also owes this duty to anyone else who is on the property for a legal purpose, such as an employee, vendor, or someone whose job requires them to perform a function on the grounds, like reading the water meter.

    The premises include the stadium or arena. The approaches can include things like the sidewalks, parking lot, or a parking garage that a visitor to the property would be likely to use when accessing the facility.

    Let’s say that there had been several muggings and assaults in the parking lot of the arena. The landowner must provide reasonable security to keep visitors safe in the parking lot.

    2. The stadium violated its legal duty. If the stadium did not provide adequate security for the situation, it breached its obligation to you. It is negligence when one fails to meet the requirements of a legal duty of care.

    The stadium could have taken reasonable measures like these to prevent future muggings and assaults:

    • Assigning security guards to patrol the parking lot.
    • Installing security cameras in the parking lot.
    • Posting warning signs in the area to put customers on notice.
    • Requesting extra patrols from the local police.

    If the stadium did not take reasonable measures to address the crime, the stadium was negligent.

    3. The negligent security caused your injury. Negligence by itself does not subject the arena to liability, but when the negligence causes someone to get hurt, the owner is responsible to that person. If someone assaulted or mugged you in the parking lot of the arena because of the arena’s negligent security, the arena will have to pay for the harm their carelessness caused.

    4. Adequate security would have prevented the crime. Georgia law does not require landowners to prevent every crime. Even the police cannot prevent all crimes. The law does, however, make owners take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable crimes.

    Because there had already been several muggings and assaults in the stadium’s parking lot, it was foreseeable that there would be future criminal acts there. The stadium should have used adequate security measures to prevent the crime you experienced. If the stadium failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeable crime, the owner is responsible for your injuries on the grounds of negligent security.

    Damages for Injuries from an Arena’s Negligent Security

    Every case is different, so the amount of your damages will depend on your unique set of facts. The damages in these cases can usually include things like:

    Medical expenses, for all the reasonable medical care you needed as a result of your injuries. These costs can include the costs of an ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, lab work, x-rays, surgery, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.

    Future medical care, if your injuries will cause you to need ongoing medical intervention.

    Long-term care, if you suffered devastating injuries that render you dependent on assistance with daily medical treatments and personal care.

    Lost income, to compensate you for the wages, salary, self-employment, and other income you missed because of the crime.

    Decreased earning potential, if you cannot make as much money as before because of your injuries.

    Disability, if you cannot support yourself through employment because of your injuries.

    Pain and suffering, to compensate you for the physical discomfort, psychological distress, and inconvenience you experienced because of the crime.

    Psychological harm, if you sustained ongoing emotional harm from the crime, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger, depression, or fear of leaving your home.

    Other non-economic losses, if the crime and injuries cause you to suffer things like disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.

    Getting Help for a Claim of Negligent Security Against a Stadium or Arena

    If an arena or stadium failed in its legal duty to protect you from foreseeable harm and this negligent security caused you to get hurt, you can sue the stadium or arena and might be able to get compensation for your injuries. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, and we can set up a free consultation for you. We can talk with you about your situation, answer your questions, and let you know if you might have a negligent security injury claim.

  • How Do I Stay Safe as a Pedestrian in Georgia?

    Every situation is different, so the steps you should take to keep yourself safe as a pedestrian in Georgia can vary from these suggestions. Be sure to evaluate what you need to do on a case-by-case basis.

    Assess the Risk of Injury as a Pedestrian

    People going around on foot have little if any physical protection from injury. If something crashes into you when you are out walking, you could sustain severe injuries. Let’s say that a car jumps the curb and hits a walker. The pedestrian could suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries, and the people in the vehicle could come through the accident without a scratch.

    People on foot should assess their risks at all times. Some of the common dangers that pedestrians face includes

    • Drivers of motor vehicles who do not notice people on foot walking along the street, crossing the road, or in a crosswalk.
    • Drivers who leave the roadway and come up into the sidewalk because of a medical emergency, mechanical failure, collision with another vehicle, trying to avoid an accident, inattentiveness, or driving drunk.
    • People riding bicycles, mopeds, or motorcycles.
    • Animals, like stray dogs or pets not wearing a leash.
    • Hazards on the walking surface, like uneven pavement, debris, slick spots, and open utility hole covers.
    • Other pedestrians, including people who are running, riding skateboards, or not looking where they are going.

    Staying Safe While Walking

    In addition to knowing the risks pedestrians face when out walking, there are additional things you can do to stay safe as a pedestrian in Georgia:

    Be vigilant. Put away the cell phone. This is no time to be texting, talking on the phone, taking photos, or playing with apps or games. You cannot take evasive action around a hazard if you are oblivious to it.

    Be sober. Many pedestrians who get hurt are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and fall or walk out into the street, where they get hit by a car.

    Use crosswalks and traffic signals, especially after dark or around dawn or dusk. You are more likely to become an injury statistic during those times. If you have to be on foot then, assume that drivers and other people cannot see you.

    What to Do if You Get Hurt as a Pedestrian

    After you get immediate medical attention, call a personal injury lawyer to protect your right to compensation. We investigate every pedestrian accident injury case we handle. We can collect the evidence we need to build and prove your claim.

    The insurance company might try some sneaky tactics, like offering you a quick check for a paltry amount that does not begin to cover your losses. That check can be tempting, but it could cost you in the end.

    If you have not yet completed all of your medical treatment and healed entirely, you do not know if you will need additional medical procedures, like surgery. Once you accept the settlement check, the insurance company will not pay you any more money, even if you have a stack of medical bills from later treatment.

    Your personal injury lawyer can protect you by:

    • Dealing directly with the insurance adjuster so that you do not have to.
    • Protecting you from lowball settlements that can ruin you financially.
    • Gathering the documents like police reports and talking to witnesses.
    • Reviewing settlement documents to make sure that they are fair and reasonable.

    Damages in Pedestrian Accidents

    Every pedestrian accident is different. Your damages will depend on the facts of your situation. The damages in these cases can include things like:

    Medical expenses: for the treatment you needed because of your injuries, including the ambulance, emergency room, surgery, hospital, doctors, diagnostic testing, and physical therapy.

    Lost wages: to replace income that you lost because of your injuries, including wages, salary, self-employment, and other income.

    Decreased earning potential: if your injuries cause you to be unable to make as much money as before the accident.

    Disability: if you cannot maintain employment to support yourself because of the harm you sustained.

    Long-term care: for people whose catastrophic injuries leave them in need of daily medical treatment and assistance with personal care.

    Assistive equipment: that you need because of your injuries, for example, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, home modifications like wheelchair ramps, and adaptive vehicles.

    Pain and suffering: for the physical discomfort, emotional distress, and inconvenience you experienced because of the accident.

    How to Get Help for Your Pedestrian Injury Case in Georgia

    We know that the laws about negligence, liability, and damages can be confusing. Do not worry. We will be happy to explain these legal issues and answer your questions. Just call the office of S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, and we will line up a free consultation for you. There is no obligation. Because our legal fees come out of the settlement or verdict, there are no upfront legal fees.

  • How Do I File for Workers’ Compensation?

    Time is of the essence when filing a claim for workers’ compensation in Georgia. You must follow the required steps within the deadlines and use the proper forms to preserve your eligibility for benefits. Below, we discuss how to file for workers’ compensation benefits.

    Filing the Workers’ Compensation Claim Form

    You have to use the correct document, Form WC-14, to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. You complete the form and send it to:

    • The Georgia State Board of Worker’s Compensation (the original form)
    • Your employer (a copy of the form)
    • Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier (a copy of the form)

    Information for the WC-14 Form

    WC-14 is a Notice of Claim form. It puts the state board, your employer, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company on notice that you got injured on the job and will be filing a claim for benefits. The form asks for information about:

    • You: including your name, mailing address, email address, and date of birth.
    • The injury: including the date of the injury, the county where it occurred, the part of the body injured, description of the accident, first date of disability, and, if it was a fatal injury, the date of death and names and addresses of all claimants for death benefits.
    • Your employer: including the company’s name, mailing address, and email address.
    • Other parties: including your attorney, your employer’s attorney, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

    How to Verify Your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage

    Every business that employs three or more workers is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. It does not matter if the employees are full-time or part-time. You can check online to see if your boss maintains the required coverage. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides a look-up tool you can use to check on your employer’s insurance coverage.

    What Happens After Your Notify Your Employer of an Injury

    The notification that you give to your boss sets the wheels in motion for a process that begins with medical care and can provide benefits like medical care and compensation for lost wages. These are the initial steps:

    1. Your employer gives you information about a panel of doctors or a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization (WC/MCO) where you can go for medical services to treat your injury. You must use the approved health care providers. If you go to your regular doctor or someone who is not on the list of authorized providers, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will likely refuse to pay for your medical care.
    2. You go for medical care to an approved health care provider. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company pays for this treatment, as long as the injury happened on the job.
    3. If you cannot work for more than seven days, you can get weekly income benefits. If you are unable to work for more than 21 days in a row, you will also get compensation for the first missed week. The first income check goes into the mail within 21 days of the first day that you could not work because of the injury.

    Income Benefits for an On-the-Job Accident

    If you qualify, you can receive income benefits while you are unable to work because of the injury. Most people receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, but the maximum is $575 per week. You can get these benefits for up to 400 weeks.

    You can collect a reduced benefit for up to 350 weeks from the date of the accident if you can go back to work, but your injury causes you to make less money than before the accident. In this situation, your benefits cannot exceed more than $383 a week.

    Catastrophic injuries can entitle you to lifetime benefits. Also, if your injury results in a permanent disability, you might be eligible for weekly benefits.

    In the event of a fatal on-the-job accident, the dependents can receive two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average wage, up to $575 a week. A widowed spouse with no children can receive up to $230,000, but if they remarry or live with a significant other, the benefits can stop.

    Hearings on Claims

    Sometimes people do not receive benefits after they file for workers’ compensation. When this happens, you can request a hearing before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Your employer will likely have an attorney at the hearing. An administrative law judge will listen to both sides of the claim and decide if you should receive benefits and if so, how much.

    How to Get Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

    The team at S. Burke Law has helped many people get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. Call us today at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation. There is no obligation.

  • Can I Sue a Nursing Home for Negligent Security?

    You might be able to sue a nursing home for negligent security. If your loved one suffered injuries because a nursing home failed to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crimes or to keep them safe while they were on the property, the facility could be liable for your losses. Under Georgia’s premises liability law, landowners are responsible for any injuries that occur because of the owner’s failure to provide sufficient security.

    Why Negligent Security Is an Issue at Nursing Homes

    Nursing home residents are usually quite vulnerable because of physical frailty and other aspects of aging, so they are the natural targets of criminals. As a result, the facilities have a greater duty to keep the resident safe than, for example, an apartment complex.

    Crime is not the only risk to nursing home residents. One foreseeable risk is that a nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia will wander away from the nursing home. Nursing homes must take reasonable measures to prevent this behavior.

    Elements of Negligent Security

    Nursing homes must put into place adequate protocols to protect residents, employees, visitors, and other lawful guests like vendors safe from foreseeable assaults and other crimes. The facility should anticipate that employees, visitors, other residents, and outside intruders could commit crimes against people on the premises.

    We have to prove all four of these factors for the nursing home to be liable for your loved one’s damages:

    The Facility Owed Your Loved One a Duty of Care

    The nursing home has a responsibility to use reasonable measures to keep everyone who is on the premises for a lawful purpose safe while they are on the premises. In a nursing home, these areas can include the buildings, the immediate areas around the buildings, the sidewalks, and the parking lot. A nursing home must have working locks on all exterior doors.

    The Nursing Home Failed to Satisfy Its Legal Duty

    An act of negligence could constitute a breach of duty. If the facility did not, for example, repair or replace a broken lock on an exterior door, the home is guilty of negligent security.

    The Facility’s Negligent Security Caused Your Loved One to Suffer Harm

    Negligence by itself does not mean that the nursing home will have to pay anyone compensation, but if the carelessness causes someone to suffer harm, the facility will be liable. If an intruder entered the nursing home through the door with the broken lock and assaulted someone, the nursing home will be responsible for the victim’s damages.

    4. Adequate Security Would Have Prevented the Incident

    Landowners are not required to prevent every crime that possibly could happen on their premises. Not even law enforcement can stop every crime. Georgia law does, however, require property owners to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crimes.

    If adequate security would have kept a crime from occurring and the facility failed to have sufficient security, the nursing home is liable for the harm that a victim suffers. Working locks on exterior doors are reasonable security measures at a nursing home, and this feature would have kept the intruder from walking right into the building and committing the crime. Since reasonable measures would have prevented the crime, the nursing home is responsible.

    How Foreseeability Affects the Nursing Home’s Liability

    Every situation is different, so what the law requires in each case is different. A judge might decide that certain security measures are an absolute necessity at one nursing home but find them to be expensive overkill for another facility. We will have to talk with you about the facts of your case to determine whether the nursing home provided adequate security.

    Georgia law requires the nursing home to provide the level of protection that is reasonable and sufficient given the circumstances of that particular facility. Even if two nursing homes are part of the same corporate ownership, one home might require more significant measures than one in another location to keep the residents, guests, employees, and other lawful visitors to the premises safe.

    The key is foreseeability. A nursing home with no history of attacks or assaults might need only minimal security measures. A facility in a high-crime neighborhood that has experienced multiple acts of violence might have to invest in security cameras, upgraded exterior door alarms, and other interventions to prevent crime. The bottom line is that if it is foreseeable that a crime is likely to occur, the nursing home must take reasonable measures to prevent the crime. Failure to do so is negligent security.

    Getting Help for an Injury Caused by Negligent Security at a Nursing Home

    The nursing home might have to pay your loved one compensation for the harm they suffered if they were hurt because a nursing home failed to keep them safe. You do not have to figure out the liability issues of your case. We will explain the essential components of your claim when we meet with you.

    We offer a free consultation for nursing home negligent security cases. There is no obligation. We do not charge legal fees until you win compensation when you sue a nursing home for negligent security. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to see how a negligent security attorney can help you.

  • Can I Sue a Parking Garage for Negligent Security?

    Landowners in Georgia must take reasonable steps to keep people safe on their property and to prevent assaults or attacks that are foreseeable. A parking garage can be responsible for a person who gets hurt because the parking garage owner failed to provide adequate security.

    Examples of Inadequate of Negligent Security in a Parking Garage

    Liability will depend on the facts of the individual case, but in general, a parking garage owner can be responsible if it fails to:

    • Provide sufficient lighting. Having to walk through dark areas of parking garages is unsafe.
    • Maintain functional lighting, in other words, repair broken light fixtures and replace burned-out bulbs.
    • Warn parking garage users of foreseeable dangers.
    • Repair doors, gates, fences, alarm systems, and fences.
    • Respond appropriately to alerts, warnings, threats, or other situations that would cause a reasonable person to have concerns about security.
    • After an adverse security event like a mugging or an assault, install security cameras.
    • Upgrade the existing security devices and protocols if multiple criminal acts happen in or around the parking garage.

    The Elements of Negligent Security

    We have to prove all four of these elements to hold the parking garage liable for your losses:

    1. The defendant parking garage owed you a legal duty. If you were in the parking garage for any lawful reason (as opposed to trespassing), the garage has a legal obligation to keep the garage and its approaches (like sidewalks, entries, and stairwells) reasonably safe.

    You are lawfully on the premises if you are a driver or passenger of a vehicle parked in the garage, a garage employee, a vendor (like someone refilling the soda machines), or another guest, like a tow truck driver entering the garage to help someone with a dead battery.

    2. The parking garage breached its duty to keep the property safe. If the garage failed to provide adequate security, the garage violated its duty toward customers and other lawful guests. Breaching a legal duty is negligence.

    Let’s say that, despite numerous recent assaults and car break-ins, the garage had no security cameras, no onsite attendants, and posted no warnings of the danger. These failures to act constitute negligence.

    3. The defendant’s negligence caused the harm to the plaintiff. If a third party attacked the plaintiff because of the lack of reasonable security measures made the plaintiff an easy target, the negligent security is partly to blame for the assault. The attacker is also responsible, but the victim’s best bet for collecting compensation is usually from the property owner, not the street criminal.

    4. Adequate security would have prevented the attack. The parking garage owner is not responsible for every crime that ever takes place on its premises. Preventing 100 percent of crimes is impossible.

    The parking garage owner is responsible for the crimes that happen because of negligent security. Failing to take any measures to keep the parking garage safe after numerous criminal acts is negligent security. Taking reasonable steps in this situation could have prevented the crime, so the garage is liable.

    Foreseeability of the Crime

    Whether a crime is foreseeable will turn on such things as the neighborhood and the history of criminal activity in the area. If the parking garage is in a high-crime, inner-city location where many attacks have taken place, the parking garage owner should have anticipated the likelihood of future attacks. On the other hand, if the parking garage is in a safe neighborhood of a small town that hardly ever sees violent crimes, an assault is less likely, and thereby, less foreseeable.

    The Parking Garage’s Responsibility

    Parking garages, like all other businesses, must provide security that is appropriate for the individual location. Satisfying this legal requirement starts with a risk and threat assessment. The owner must then develop and implement a security strategy to keep the people it attracts to its premises safe.

    Actual Harm

    A successful claim for negligent security requires an actual physical injury. If you have a close call but manage to escape the situation without physical harm, you cannot get damages from the parking garage. However, if the event leaves you with actual injuries, you can sue the owner of the parking garage for your losses due to negligent security.

    Getting Help After an Injury in a Parking Garage

    You do not have to figure out the legal issues – we can take care of that for you. If you sustained an injury in a parking garage and you think the garage owner failed to keep you safe, you might have a valid claim for compensation. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to arrange your free consultation.

    A negligent security lawyer will talk with you about what happened to you and explain your legal options such as whether you can sue a parking garage for negligent security. We do not charge for this service, and we do not get paid legal fees until you win a settlement or award.

  • Can a Pedestrian Hit by a Motorcycle File an Insurance Claim?

    Yes, a pedestrian hit by a motorcycle can usually file an insurance claim against one or more insurance policies. It can be confusing to try to make sense of several different kinds of insurance policies, but we can navigate through that process so that you do not have to. We deal with insurance companies every day.

    The Motorcycle Rider’s Liability Insurance

    If the motorcyclist was negligent and caused the wreck, you should be able to make a claim against their liability insurance policy for your damages. The purpose of liability insurance is to pay for the harm that a person causes when their negligence hurts someone else.

    The Pedestrian’s Uninsured or Underinsured Automobile Policy

    The pedestrian might be able to make a claim on their own automobile insurance policy if they carry uninsured coverage and the motorcycle rider does not have liability insurance. Another possibility is if the walker has underinsured coverage and the motorcycle rider does not have enough coverage to pay the pedestrian’s losses in full.

    The Motorcycle Rider’s Umbrella Liability Policy

    This insurance can cover amounts that the motorcyclist’s bike liability policy does not pay, or if they do not have liability insurance on their motorcycle. Not everyone buys “umbrella” liability policies, but if the motorcyclist who hit you does have this coverage, it can provide a high level of compensation.

    The Pedestrian’s Health Insurance Policy

    If there is no other insurance that can help with your losses, you might be able to get your health insurance to pay for some of your medical bills. Be aware, however, that many health insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for motor vehicle accidents.

    How to Determine Who is Liable for Your Injuries

    You cannot file a claim against someone’s insurance merely because they were in an accident with you. We must prove that the person is responsible for your injuries before we can pursue damages.

    We will have to satisfy all four of these elements of liability to seek compensation for your pedestrian vs. motorcycle accident:

    Duty of care: The motorcycle rider must have owed the pedestrian a duty of care. This factor is easy since every driver of a motor vehicle has a responsibility to obey the law and operate their car, truck, or motorcycle with caution.

    Breach of the duty: If the motorcycle rider does not live up to the legal duty of care, they are negligent. Let’s say that the motorcycle rider’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. Breaking the law that prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol is negligence.

    Causation: Their negligence must have caused the accident that injured the pedestrian. Because of their intoxication, the motorcycle rider lost control of their bike, running off the road and onto the sidewalk, where they struck the walker. This fact pattern satisfies the causation element of liability.

    Actual harm: The pedestrian must have suffered damages to file an insurance claim for the wreck. This can include medical bills, lost wages, etc.

    Damages in a Pedestrian-Motorcycle Accident

    Once we establish liability, we can pursue compensation for your damages. Every case is different, and the actual recovery you get will depend on the facts of your case, but here are some of the common damages in pedestrian accidents:

    • Lost wages: These damages compensate you for wages, salary, self-employment, and other income that you lost because of the wreck and recuperation.
    • Diminished earning capacity: You may entitled to compensation if you cannot make as much money as before because of your injuries.
    • Disability: In the event that your injuries leave you unable to support yourself through gainful employment.
    • Medical expenses: All of the reasonable and necessary medical bills you incurred because of the collision. These costs can include things like the ambulance fees, emergency room, hospital, diagnostic testing, x-rays, surgery, doctors, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
    • Ongoing or future medical care: For situations in which you will need additional or continuing medical services because of your injuries.
    • Long-term care: In a case involving devastating injuries, you might need daily assistance with medical treatments and personal care.
    • Pain and suffering: This category honors the physical discomfort and emotional distress you endured.
    • Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injuries make you unable to engage in activities that brought you joy before the accident, like walking or hiking, you might experience loss of enjoyment of life.
    • Disfigurement: This type of damage applies when the injuries caused significant scars or other disfigurement.

    Every case is unique, but it can be complicated for a pedestrian hit by a motorcycle to file an insurance claim after a motorcycle hits you. The multiple possibilities of insurance coverage that could apply to your losses can be overwhelming.

    You do not have to sort through all of those issues on your own. Just call S. Burke Law, and we will be happy to talk with you about your claim at no charge to you. Call us today at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation. We do not charge legal fees until you win.

  • How Long Will My Motorcycle Case Take?

    You might be quite motivated to settle your motorcycle accident case, but you cannot control all of the factors that can affect your claim’s timeline. Here are four of those items that can affect how long your motorcycle case will take:

    Your Medical Issues

    There are several medical facets to your injury, and each one can either speed up or slow down the pace of your case.

    Extent of Your Injuries

    The severity and complexity of your injuries can determine how much time it will take until you are back on your feet. You should never settle an injury claim before you finish all of the medical treatments and therapy and achieve the maximum level of healing that your doctor expects you to have.

    Accepting a settlement before that point exposes you to significant financial risk. Let’s say that you break a bone in your back in a motorcycle accident. Your doctor puts you on eight weeks of bed rest. After two months of physical therapy, your doctor decides that you need back surgery.

    If you have already accepted a settlement, you would have to pay for the surgery out-of-pocket. You will not get any more money from the insurance company, even if the operation does not go well and you can no longer perform your job.

    Recuperation Time

    Some medical treatments require a longer recuperation time than others. For example, if you need surgery and then physical therapy for your injury, your case will take longer than if you required only stitches and a few days of rest. Also, your age and general health can affect how long it takes for you to recuperate.

    Follow-up or Ongoing Treatments

    In some situations, your doctor might have to perform an initial medical intervention, and then wait and see what you need to have done at that point. If you sustained significant injuries or experienced complications, you might have to undergo additional procedures. This situation can push your case back by months or longer.

    Settling or Going to Trial

    If you settle your motorcycle case, it will likely be completed more quickly than if you go to trial. If the insurance company gives you the compensation you deserve, you can settle and get your money. If the insurance company refuses to give you a fair settlement, you can file a lawsuit.

    Pre-trial Discovery

    Once your lawyer files the lawsuit, both sides start searching for evidence to prove their cases and to discredit the other side’s arguments. We use interrogatories (written questions) and depositions (questions the lawyers ask in person with a court reporter present) as part of our pretrial discovery. We also gather and exchange documents like medical records and police accident reports.

    The discovery stage of the lawsuit typically takes a few months or longer. If we need to hire an expert witness for your case, doing so will add time and expense to the lawsuit, but since experts testify about critical issues, they can be worth it.

    Appeals from the Trial

    If there is an appeal, your case can go on for another year or two after the trial. Either side (the insurance company or you) can file an appeal if they disagree with the trial court decision.

    The S. Burke Law team will fight to get you a fair motorcycle accident settlement as quickly as possible. Call 404-842-7838 today for a free consultation regarding your motorcycle case.