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!
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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How Do You Get a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement?
To get a fair motorcycle accident settlement, you must:
- Prove who is liable
- Have the evidence to show your damages
- Negotiate for the settlement you deserve
At S. Burke Law, we will investigate your motorcycle accident, establish who was at fault, gather the evidence to prove your losses, and negotiate directly with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to find out how we help our motorcycle accident clients.
How We Can Hold Someone Responsible for Your Losses
Duty of Care
We must prove that the person who caused your motorcycle accident had a legal duty toward you. All drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicles in a careful manner. If the person who caused the accident was another driver, that person automatically has a legal duty toward you.
Sometimes a person who is not driving causes an accident. Let’s say that a passenger in the car in front of you opened their door into the path of your bike.
Breach of Duty of Care
We will track both scenarios through the four elements. Let’s say that the driver of the car that hit your motorcycle was driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. That driver violated the legal duty of care in two ways: driving while impaired by drugs is illegal and is a failure to operate the vehicle with caution. Breach of the duty of care is negligence.
In the second situation, the passenger opened their door without looking and doored you. This action is negligent.
The at-fault person’s negligence must be the direct cause of your injuries. Both situations meet this test. The carelessness of the at-fault parties caused the wrecks, which in turn, caused the injuries.
In the first situation, the drug-impaired driver changed lanes without looking because the drugs affected his ability to make sound judgments. Since operating a vehicle while in an impaired state is negligence, his negligence caused the wreck.
In the second example, the passenger opened their door into your path causing you to collide with it. This fact satisfies the causation requirement.
You must have suffered economic, physical, or emotional damages. These include things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Types of Compensation Available in a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Once we establish who is responsible for your damages, we will build a case for the compensation that is appropriate in your case. There are two different types of damages that might be available after a motorcycle accident.
Some of the typical economic damages in a motorcycle accident case include:
- Medical expenses: You can recover damages for all of the reasonable medical care you needed as a result of the crash. Some examples are ambulance transportation, emergency room, surgery, doctors, prescription medication, diagnostic testing, hospital, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: You can collect compensation for the income you lost because of the wreck, including wages, salary, and self-employment.
- Reduced earning capacity: Motorcycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that can diminish your ability to make a living. For example, a severe head injury might cause you to have permanent cognitive challenges that could take away your ability to perform your previous job. If you cannot earn as much money as you did before because of your injuries, the difference in your income is compensable.
- Disability: Because a motorcycle rider has very little protection in the event of a collision, sometimes the severe injuries make it impossible for a person to work at all. If you are permanently disabled because of a motorcycle accident, we can seek damages for your loss.
- Long-term care: We can include the cost of long-term care in your damages claim if your injuries leave you in need of daily medical attention and personal care assistance.
Although they are not out-of-pocket losses, these damages represent legitimate harm you experienced. Some of the noneconomic losses from a motorcycle accident can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological distress, depression, and anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Our Team Can Help You Get a Fair Motorcycle Accident Settlement
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact S. Burke Law for help getting a fair settlement. Just call us at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation.
I Was Struck by Falling Merchandise at a Store. Can I Sue?
If you were struck by falling merchandise at a store, you may be able to sue the store. Other parties can also be responsible.
How Merchandise Can Fall on a Customer in a Store
There are endless possibilities for how goods can fall on a person in a store. Here are some common scenarios:
- A store employee improperly stacked the items on the shelf. In this situation, the merchandise shifts and falls because an employee did not place the items on the rack correctly. Crooked or leaning stacks of boxes or cans can fall over on a shopper and cause injury.
- Someone installed the shelves improperly. If display shelving units were not put together correctly, the shelves can collapse or fall over on customers. Any merchandise on the shelves can also land on shoppers when the shelves fall.
- The shelves were inadequate for the weight of the merchandise. All shelves have weight limitations. Let’s say that a store had shelving units designed for lightweight items, like facial tissue and napkins. An employee loaded up the shelves with car batteries which were much heavier than the shelves could hold for the long-term. A shopper strolling through the store’s aisles sustained severe injuries when the shelves gave way and dumped dozens of car batteries on her.
- Someone moved previously stacked items on the store’s shelving. Another shopper pushed other items aside to reach what he wanted. In doing so, he left a stack of goods teetering precariously. These items could fall on another shopper.
What We Have to Prove to Hold the Store Liable for Your Injuries
Georgia law says that the landowner is responsible for injuries to people if all three of these things are true:
A Dangerous Condition Existed on the Property
An employee noticed a shelving unit was broken but did not have time to remove all the merchandise from the shelf.
The Owner Knew or Should Have Known About the Hazard
The employee notified the store manager immediately about the broken shelf. To prove this criterion, we can talk to the employee and get their testimony. We can also look through any notes the store manager or owner made about needing to fix the shelf.
The Owner Did Not Take Reasonable Steps to Correct the Situation
The store manager told the employee that they would remove the merchandise and fix the shelf, but they never did. The merchandise on the shelf fell as you walked by, causing you to suffer serious injuries.
What to Do if Merchandise Falls on You in a Store
If you suffered injuries after being struck by falling merchandise, your first priority should be getting medical care. You will increase your odds of a positive medical outcome with prompt professional treatments and evaluation, but the benefits do not end there. We will use the medical records as proof that you sustained your injuries from the accident in the store and to establish the severity of the harm you suffered.
If you are able, report the accident to the store manager. Do not let your embarrassment keep you from filing a report. This could be the crux of your injury claim. Ensure they write up a report and issue you a copy. Write down their name and contact information. You may also want to discuss your case with any eyewitnesses. If you had a friend with you at the time of the incident, have them write down anything they saw.
Once you have received medical care, talk with a personal injury lawyer who handles premises liability injury claims. At S. Burke Law, we help people who sustain injuries on the property of other people. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to learn more about how a premises liability lawyer can help with your case.
What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident?
There are a few things to do if you witness a car accident in Georgia. While the law does not require you to take any immediate action, it can help save a life or protect an accident claim. If you feel compelled to help, it is important to do it in a way that protects both your own safety and the safety of those involved in the crash.
Below is a list of guidelines for what to do after witnessing a motor vehicle crash. If you feel the need to speak with a car accident attorney, Sheryl Burke and the S. Burke Law team are happy to help. We offer a free consultation. Call us today at 404-842-7838.
Note: If You Decide to Assist the Accident Victims, Georgia’s Good Samaritan Law Protects You from Liability
Some people hesitate to lend a hand because they worry about liability. We have all heard horror stories about people who saved someone’s life by performing CPR, only to turn around and face legal action for breaking a rib.
In Georgia, the Good Samaritan Law protects you from such a nightmare scenario. It states that any citizen who, in good faith, intervenes in an emergency situation is protected from liability for any injuries that occur.
Do Not Put Yourself in Danger
If you stop to help, do not make a bad situation worse by putting yourself in danger. It is natural when adrenaline gets flowing to go full steam ahead and try to save the day. But keep a cool head about you and avoid taking any action that could put you in harm's way. If the situation is dangerous, do not attempt to intervene.
Pull Over and Park Your Car Out of the Way
If the crash is severe, you can expect emergency vehicles to materialize on the scene in short order. Make sure you are not impeding their ability to get to the crash and its victims. Pull your vehicle to a safe location and activate your hazard lights.
If you cannot safely pull over to help, consider calling 911 when you are able to pull over or have a passenger call.
As soon as you can do so safely, pull out your phone and call 911. If you are in heavy traffic, or if cars are swerving every which way to avoid the accident scene, keep your eyes on the road and avoid reaching for your phone until you can pull over to a safe location. When you get a dispatcher on the line, calmly explain your location and describe the accident as best you can.
Take as Many Photos and Videos as You Can
Once you have stopped your vehicle in a safe location, try to take photos and videos of the accident scene — but only if it is safe to do so. These can help the police piece together what happened, which makes it easier for them to hold the responsible party accountable.
If You Can Do It Safely, Help Those Involved
The driver and passengers involved in the accident may need help getting out of the car. If you can do it safely, try to assist in extracting them. Deployed airbags can make this task difficult, and if the car is a hybrid or electric vehicle, there is an added danger of fire or shock that you should consider. If you have any doubt about the safety of approaching the vehicle, wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
If someone appears injured, DO NOT move them. You could worsen their injuries. The only time you should move an injured person is if they are in immediate danger (e.g., you smell gas, the vehicle is smoking, etc.)
When the Police Arrive, Give Them a Report
If you witnessed the accident happen, the police will probably want to talk to you and take a statement about what you saw. Even if you came upon the scene shortly after the crash, the police may still have questions. The information you give them offers a lot of value as they write up their report and deal with the aftermath of the crash. Eyewitness testimony can also be very important to an accident case.
Have Questions About a Car Accident in Georgia? S. Burke Law Can Help. Call 404-842-7838 for a Free Case Evaluation.
The S. Burke Law team can help if you were involved in a car accident in Georgia. Our team fights to help accident victims recover the damages they deserve. For a free case evaluation, call our office at 404-842-7838.
Do I Have a Case if There Was No Damage in a Car Accident?
You may have a case even if there was no damage in a car accident. There could be damage under the hood, especially if your car starts making noises. It is important to take your vehicle to a mechanic to get it checked out right away. This will help you establish any potential damage.
You may also develop physical injuries days or weeks after the seemingly “no-damage” car crash. However, you may have difficulty proving your case if there was no visible damage to your car. Should this happen, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer.
At S. Burke Law, we can investigate your car accident and help you build a claim to pursue compensation for your injuries or damages, regardless of the damage to your vehicle. Call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation with a member of our team.
Types of Hidden Damage Your Vehicle Might Have After a Crash
Not all vehicle damages are visible right away. Your vehicle may have damage to its frame, or your battery may fail because of the impact of the crash.
Your car’s mechanical components may have been damaged or you may have an oil or another type of fluid leak.
You Still Want to Report an Accident Even If There Was No Damage
Be sure to call the police to report the crash to get an official record of the accident, even if you do not believe there is damage to your vehicle. An officer may not respond to a non-injury car accident, so you may have to go to the police station to report the accident.
You should also exchange personal and auto insurance information with the other driver in case you need to file an injury claim in the future.
Report the Accident Even If the Other Driver Asked You Not To
If you do not report the crash, you may leave yourself unprotected if the other driver files a claim against you or your insurance company. For instance, what if the other driver claims they suffered injuries from the crash? The driver may even blame you for causing the accident and demand that you pay all the damages.
On the other hand, what if the other driver caused the crash and you later develop physical injuries? By failing to report the crash, you may be unable to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
What to Do if The Other Driver’s Insurer Claims You Did Not Sustain Injuries in the Crash
It is not uncommon for an auto insurance company to question whether you can sustain injuries from a crash with no visible vehicle damage. In other cases, they may claim you sustained no injuries. Insurers use a variety of strategies to save money and one strategy is to minimize claims.
To prove your claim, you could provide your medical records to prove your injuries. Even in a crash with minor damage, you could suffer a:
- Back injury
- Neck injury
- Brain injury
- Head trauma
- Internal injury
We can help you collect evidence to prove that your injuries were a result of your car accident.
Types of Evidence You Should Collect for a Car Accident with No Visible Damage
Evidence that supports a claim for injuries and damages may include:
- Your medical records
- A police report of the accident
- Eyewitness statements
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Your lost wages
- Video footage of the accident
If you were in a vehicle accident, we can help you recover damages. Call a car accident attorney at 404-842-7838 for a free evaluation of your case.
Recoverable Damages in a Car Accident Case
The damages you can recover primarily depend on the severity of your physical injuries and financial losses. The most common damages accident victims sustain include:
Medical expenses include costs for your visits to your doctor and medical specialists, surgeries, prescription medications, and more.
Lost wages include the amount of income you lost because you could not work after the accident.
This includes the damage to your car, laptop computer, camera, smartphone, and other personal property you lost in the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering involves the physical, mental, and emotional damages resulting from an accident.
Let Us Help You with Your Car Accident Case
You may still have a case if there was no damage in a car accident, as long as the other driver’s negligence contributed to the crash. S. Burke Law can help you pursue the compensation you deserve from an accident.
Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free case evaluation.
Can I Sue an Amusement Park for Slip and Fall?
Yes, you can sue an amusement park in Georgia if you got hurt from a slip and fall injury, but the park is not liable automatically for every incident that happens on its premises. The facility must have been negligent, and that carelessness must be the thing that caused your injury.
What We Have to Prove to Show That the Amusement Park Was Negligent
There are three elements to negligence, and we have to prove all three to hold the park responsible for your injuries. These factors are:
- The amusement park had a legal duty of care toward you. The reason that you were on the property will determine how careful the facility had to be. For example, the park has to take more steps to protect an invitee or licensee than a trespasser.
- The park breached its duty of care to you. Failing to meet one’s standard of care is negligence.
- The facility’s negligence caused you to suffer measurable harm. The carelessness of the park must be what caused your accident. Also, the park is not liable for a “near miss” or “close call,” even if the park was negligent. You must sustain a physical injury to hold the facility responsible.
What Is Carelessness of the Part of the Amusement Park
Amusement parks are not legally on the hook every time someone gets hurt. If a park visitor gets hurt solely because of his own carelessness, the facility is seldom responsible. For example, if a park guest went into an unauthorized area to take a selfie, lost her footing and fell, the park might not have to pay her any damages.
Negligence by the park, in the context of a slip and fall injury, usually consists of a scenario like this:
- There was a dangerous condition in the amusement park or its approaches (like sidewalks or parking lots). Let’s say that an employee in one of the popcorn booths spilled a container of cooking oil. The oil flowed onto the walking path where patrons walk up to buy popcorn. It was difficult to see the oil while walking on the path, and the oil made the walkway slippery.
- The park knew or should have known about the hazard. The employee who spilled the oil knew about the dangerous condition but did not clean up the mess or call for maintenance to correct the situation. When asked later, the worker said that it was not her job to clean up the grounds and that she was too busy making and selling popcorn to call maintenance.
- The park did not take actions to fix the hazard or post sufficient warnings before someone got hurt. A guest at the amusement park slipped and fell on the oil, breaking her arm. The park could have prevented this injury by cleaning up the oil spill or blocking off the slick area and warning of the danger.
How the Duty of Care Varies for Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers
Your legal status, for purposes of the landowner’s duty of care toward you, depends on why you came onto the property. By way of further explanation:
Invitee. You are an invitee if the landowner or tenant (the amusement park) invited you onto the property, either expressly or by implication. To be an invitee, your reason for being on the premises must be lawful. For example, if you were a paying visitor at the park, you were an invitee.
Under Georgia law, the facility must use ordinary care to keep the premises and approaches reasonably safe for invitees.
Licensee. A licensee is on the property strictly for his own benefit and not for the owner. For example, you are a licensee if you walked up to the entrance of the park and asked to use the restroom, even though you were not going to buy a ticket to visit the park.
Georgia law forbids owners from intentionally injuring licensees, but the law does not require the park to keep the premises safe for people in this category.
Trespasser. Someone who is on the property illegally is a trespasser. People in this category enter the property without the invitation or consent of the owner. By way of example, if someone cuts through a chain link fence and sneaks into the park to avoid paying an entrance fee, that person is a trespasser.
Georgia law does not allow the park to “booby trap” the premises to harm trespassers or to cause intentional injury by other means. The law does not, however, impose any additional duty of care on landowners concerning trespassers.
Getting Legal Help for a Slip and Fall at an Amusement Park
The rules can seem complicated when you get hurt on someone else’s property. Do not worry. At S. Burke Law, we will explain the law and answer your questions. Just call us at 404-842-7838, and schedule your free consultation. We do not charge legal fees until you win.
What Are Some Tactics Insurers Use to Lower My Recovery?
According to its own reports, the insurance industry in America rakes in over $1 trillion a year in net premiums. They are supposed to pay valid claims out of those premiums.
The business reality is that the less that insurers pay on claims, the more money they get to keep as profit. As a result, insurance companies have a significant financial incentive to try to lower the amount of compensation you receive when you get hurt. Every company is different, but overall, the industry uses a variety of tactics to achieve this goal.
The Danger of Written or Recorded Statements
If you have been in a car accident, you will probably get a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company. The claims adjuster will ask you to give a recorded or written statement to them.
Although they describe the statement as an opportunity to tell your side of the story, the claims adjusters use these writings or recordings to reduce to amount of money they have to pay you for your injuries. The insurers can take your words out of context or twist them into something you did not intend. Giving a written or recorded statement is not for your benefit – it is to the advantage of the insurance company.
You should not talk with the insurance company for the other driver without your personal injury lawyer being involved in the process. When the claims adjuster contacts you about giving a statement, tell him to talk to your lawyer.
When “Quick Money” Is Really a Rip-off
Sometimes the insurance company will make you feel as if you have won the lottery. They wave a check under your nose soon after an accident. Thousands of dollars of free money would come in handy right now, since you are not able to go back to work yet.
What they do not tell you is:
- You have to pay all of your medical bills out of that check.
- That is all the money you will ever get from them for this wreck, no matter what.
The insurer might try to reach a quick settlement with you even if you have not yet recuperated from your injuries. You do not know what the future will hold. You might end up missing more work and having massive medical bills with no way to pay them.
You could have long-term problems from the injury. In this situation, the settlement check is not fair compensation for your loss.
When you accept a settlement check from an insurance company, you have to sign papers. These documents release the insurance company and the person they insure from any future liability for your injuries. You can never go back to them and ask for more money. You should not settle with an insurance company until you have completed all of the medical treatment and achieved 100 percent recuperation from your injuries.
Missing the Deadline
After an injury, you try to work things out with the insurance company. The adjuster strings you along for months by negotiating back and forth and asking for more documents.
Just when you think that you are about to reach an agreement with the adjuster, she stops returning your phone calls. When you finally reach her, she says that the time for filing a lawsuit has passed, so they have no obligation to pay you anything for your injuries.
Defense Medical Experts
The insurance company wants to send you for an examination and evaluation by a physician of their choosing. This “expert” will contradict what your treating doctor says and claim that you are exaggerating your injuries for profit. The defense doctor will minimize your injuries and state that you should achieve full recuperation, despite your ongoing medical issues.
There are entire directories of people who do nothing but testify in lawsuits, and some of them only work for the insurance companies. If the insurance company tries to send you to someone for an evaluation or exam, tell them to contact your personal injury lawyer.
Try to Pin the Blame on You
The insurance company can try to slash the amount of money they have to pay by sticking you with some of the blame for the accident. The adjuster might even say that you owe money to the other driver. The insurer might tell you that both you and the other driver were at fault, so your damages offset each other and no one has to pay any money to anyone.
These tactics might be entirely false statements of the law and the facts of your case.
Once you get a lawyer on board, the insurance company will have to deal directly with your attorney. At S. Burke Law, we will protect your right to recover compensation.
Refusing to Negotiate in Good Faith
One of the tactics some insurance companies use is to deny your claims for damages and refuse to make a reasonable settlement offer. They do this to pressure you to accept a low-ball offer.
You are in a vulnerable position after an injury. You are dealing with the pain and inconvenience of being hurt. You might not be able to work for a while as you are recuperating. Your bills are piling up, and you do not have any way to pay them. The electric company is sending you past due notices, and your rent is late.
You are worried about getting evicted and wonder how you will pay for groceries. The late payments will lower your credit score, which will hurt your financial status for years. Even when you can work again, you will not get back-pay for the time that you missed, so the bills that those paychecks would have covered will sit unpaid.
Having a personal injury lawyer serving Georgia on your side will protect you if the insurance company uses tactics to try to reduce the amount that you collect for your damages. The team at S. Burke Law is here to help injured people get their lives back. Call us at 404-842-7838, to set up your free consultation.
Can I Sue for Child Care Costs After a Car Accident?
You can usually sue the person who caused your injuries in a car accident for the reasonable and necessary expenses you incurred because of the wreck. If you incur extra child care costs as a result of your injuries, you might be able to collect that expense, but you need to be aware that child care costs are not standard damages after a car accident.
Your situation must be out of the ordinary for you to recover child care costs. If you already pay for child care, you will not be able to recover those expenses after a car accident.
Here are some situations in which you might be able to get compensation for child care costs after a wreck. Each scenario assumes that you have very young children, no spouse or significant other whose work schedule allows him or her to take care of the children, and no nearby family members or friends who could take care of your children for you.
- You already pay for part-time child care, but you had to pay for full-time child care after the crash because your injuries made you unable to take care of your children.
- You had to pay for round-the-clock child care because you had to stay in the hospital after the wreck.
- You are a stay-at-home parent who provided all the child care for your children before the collision, and you had to pay for child care while you recuperated from your injuries and medical procedures.
What We Have to Prove to Make Someone Pay Your Damages
Georgia law requires that we establish four factors before we can hold someone responsible for your losses from a car accident. These elements are:
Duty of care. All drivers must operate their vehicles with caution, keep a proper lookout, and obey the rules of the road.
Breach of the duty of care. If another driver failed to meet the standard of the duty of care, he is negligent. Let’s say that the other driver ran a red light because he was texting while driving. Both acts, texting while at the wheel and running a red light, are negligence.
Causation. The other driver’s negligence must be the thing that caused the wreck. If the driver t-boned your car because of his negligence, the facts satisfy the requirement of causation.
Damages. The negligence must cause both the wreck and your injuries. If you got physically hurt when the inattentive driver crashed into your car, you have damages, and he will have to pay for them.
In this example, the negligent driver might have to pay for your child care costs if:
- His carelessness caused the wreck, and
- His negligence caused your physical injuries, and
- Your physical injuries render you unable to take care of your young children, and
- You do not have an appropriate adult nearby who could help with the children, and
- Your resulting child care costs are reasonable and necessary.
Typical Damages from a Car Accident
Regardless of whether you can recover child care costs, once you establish liability, depending on the facts of your case, you can seek compensation for these more common damages after a car accident:
Medical expenses. Any reasonable bills you have for the treatment you needed because of the wreck can be compensable. Some examples are the ambulance, emergency room, hospitalization, diagnostic laboratory work and imaging (like x-rays and CAT scans), prescription drugs, surgery, physical therapy, and equipment like crutches or a wheelchair.
Lost wages. This category includes income you missed out on because of the collision, including wages, salary, and self-employment.
Diminished earning capacity. These damages address the situation in which you cannot earn as much money after the accident as you did before. If you have permanent impairment from the wreck that causes you to work fewer hours or take a lower-paying job, the at-fault driver can be liable for your loss. For example, if you worked a high-paying skilled construction worker job but you can no longer lift heavy objects, you might have to work a job that pays less.
Long-term care. In the case of catastrophic injuries, a person might need daily medical and personal care assistance. This expense is compensable.
Pain and suffering. Merely paying your medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses from the accident does not honor the physical pain you suffered, your inconvenience, and your emotional distress. Pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for these intangible losses.
Loss of enjoyment of life. For some people, depending on their injuries and recuperation, life after a wreck is never the same again. If you have a residual impairment that robs you of abilities that you used to have, like walking or being independent, you might not enjoy life as much as before.
Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, to set up your free consultation. We will not charge legal fees until you win.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Distributed?
A settlement from a wrongful death action, to recover the value of the decedent's life, goes to the decedent's spouse and his or her children in equal shares. This equal parts distribution of the settlement is only provided if the surviving spouse receives at least one-third of the whole settlement.
Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia
In Georgia, two sets of claims can arise out of the wrongful death of a decedent, caused by the criminal or negligent act of another person or caused by a defectively manufactured product:
- A traditional wrongful death claim to recover for the value of the decedent's life
- A claim filed by the estate to recover financial losses
Settlement of a Traditional Wrongful Death Action in Georgia
Who is responsible for filing a wrongful death claim?
- If the criminal or negligent conduct of another causes a death, the decedent's surviving spouse can bring a traditional wrongful death action.
- If the decedent has no surviving spouse, the decedent's children can file the claim.
- If the decedent has no surviving spouse or children, the decedent's parents can file the action.
Recovery in a Traditional Wrongful Death Action in Georgia
A traditional wrongful death claim seeks to recover the full value of the decedent's life. The recovery includes the following:
- Lost wages: How much would the decedent have earned if he or she had lived? Factors used to determine the amount include the decedent's age and what type of work the decedent performed before his or her death.
- Lost companionship: Family members can recover for the loss of companionship with the decedent.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Distributed?
As with other types of claims, most wrongful death claims are settled before they go to trial. Who gets the settlement funds? The surviving spouse and the children split the funds equally, but the spouse must receive at least one-third. If a child does not survive the decedent, that child's children receive that child's share.
Special rules apply for minor children:
- If the amount of the settlement going to the child is less than $15,000, the child's natural guardian holds the funds for the child.
- If the amount of the settlement going to the child is $15,000 or more, the guardian of the child's property holds the funds for the child.
The settlement recovery is not subject to the debts of the decedent.
Settlement of the Estate's Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
Who is the personal representative?
- The personal representative is the executor designated in the decedent's will.
- The personal representative of the decedent's estate can work with an attorney to file a claim for financial losses.
- If the decedent has no will, the personal representative will be the administrator whom the court appoints to handle the decedent's estate.
Recovery in an Estate's Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
What can the personal representative recover in a wrongful death claim?
- The medical expenses of the decedent related to the accident resulting in the decedent's death
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
- The decedent's pain and suffering
Funds Recovered by the Personal Representative
Funds from the recovery by the personal representative go into the decedent's estate:
- The personal representative—the executor, if there is a will or the administrator, if no will exists—must administer the estate before the distribution of any funds.
- The personal representative will gather the assets of the decedent, give notice to any creditors, and pay the decedent's debts before any distribution of funds from the estate.
Distribution of Funds from the Estate
After the payment of the decedent's debts, any funds, including any funds recovered in the personal representative's wrongful death claim, are distributed as provided in the decedent's will. If there is no will, the funds pass in the following manner under Georgia's laws of intestacy:
- To the surviving spouse, if there are no children
- To the surviving spouse and the children: The spouse gets at least one-third of the property of the estate. If any child dies before the decedent, the decedent’s grandchildren receive that child's share.
- To the decedent's parents
- To the decedent's siblings
- To the decedent's grandparents
- To the decedent's uncles and aunts
- To more remote relatives
If you would like more information about how wrongful death settlements are paid out, call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.
Can I Get Compensation for Disfigurement from an Assault?
Yes, you can collect compensation if an assault left you permanently disfigured. If someone intentionally harms you and leaves lasting scars, that person is responsible for the damage. You can sue for your losses, including disfigurement.
Many people mistakenly think that when someone commits a crime, the victim cannot sue the perpetrator for their losses, but that assumption is incorrect. In your personal injury lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages from the attack.
Who You Can Sue for Disfigurement from an Assault
The person who assaulted you. In addition to facing criminal charges, the person who assaulted you can be responsible for all of the losses you suffer as a result, including disfigurement. Assault is both a crime and a tort. A tort is a legal term for a situation in which you can sue the person who hurt you through their intentional act (like an assault) or carelessness (like a car accident).
When someone hurts us, on purpose or accidentally, the law gives us a remedy to seek compensation for our losses. We do this through the civil courts in personal injury cases, also call tort cases.
Criminal courts handle the criminal charges of assault, but the criminal court’s purpose is to protect the public at large, not to make the harmed individual whole. To get monetary compensation, you need to file a personal injury case in the civil courts.
Additional liable parties. When we meet with you, we will evaluate whether someone else might also be responsible for the harm you suffered. For example, for an assault that happened at a mall, the shopping mall might be liable if they did not provide adequate security to prevent foreseeable crimes.
Also, if the mall hired a private security company, that firm might have some liability. Let’s say that the security company assigned a guard to patrol the parking lots in a security cart. At the time of your assault in the parking lot, the guard was taking a nap instead of making his rounds.
You might be able to sue the security company for negligence. If the mall knew about this problem before your assault but took no action to correct the situation, the mall can be negligent in this regard as well.
Damages You Can Get for an Assault
You can sue for your economic and noneconomic losses from an assault. Economic damages are things that you can readily measure in terms of dollars, like medical bills and lost wages. Noneconomic damages are things that are hard to directly quantify in dollars, like disfigurement and the amount of pain you experienced.
Economic damages. We will establish the amount of these losses by using your medical bills, employer records, and other documents:
- Medical expenses – which can include things like the ambulance, emergency room, doctors, surgeons, diagnostic testing, lab work, imaging tests like x-rays and CAT scans, hospital, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
- Lost income – to replace the wages, salary, and other income you lost because of the assault, medical treatments, and recuperation.
- Future medical care – if you will need ongoing medical attention because of the injuries from the assault.
- Long-term care – if the attack leaves you in need of daily assistance and medical care.
- Decreased earning capacity – to account for your future anticipated losses if you are unable to earn as much money after the assault.
- Equipment – to pay for things like wheelchairs, home modifications, and an adapted vehicle.
Noneconomic damages. We will use several factors, including the extent of your physical injuries, to calculate a fair amount for your non-economic losses, which can include such things as:
- Pain and suffering – which encompasses the physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience you experienced because of the attack.
- Disfigurement – if you sustained permanent scars from the assault. The amount of these damages will depend on factors like the size, appearance, and visibility of your scars. Lasting disfigurement of the face, throat, and hands fall into the category of highly visible scars.
- PTSD – Many victims of violent crime experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can make daily life difficult. It can be hard to maintain employment and personal relationships when suffering from PTSD.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – Depending on the facts of your case and your physical and emotional injuries, you might lose some of your enjoyment of life because of the attack.
- Loss of consortium – Your spouse might have a claim for loss of consortium damages if the assault also damaged your relationship.
What is an Assault Under Georgia Law
Simple assault in Georgia is when someone tries to injure you violently or does something that would make a reasonable person afraid of immediate violent injury. Aggravated assault is when a person assaults someone with the intent to rob, murder or rape; uses a deadly weapon or a dangerous object; or there are any other aggravating circumstances. The term “assault” refers to the attempted violence. “Assault and battery” means that the person did harm you.
How to Get Help for Disfigurement from an Assault
Assault cases can be difficult to understand because the deed is both a crime and a tort, but you do not have to sort through all of that. Just give S. Burke Law a call at 404-842-7838, and we will set up a free consultation to explain your right to compensation and answer your questions. There is no charge for the meeting and no obligation.
Can I Get Compensation for a Permanent Scar From a Motorcycle Accident?
Yes, it is possible to get compensation for a permanent scar from a motorcycle accident, but each case is different. When we talk with you about your case, we will gather information to evaluate some of the factors that will determine how much compensation you might receive. These factors include:
The Location of Your Permanent Scar
The location of your scar will affect the compensation you can collect. By way of example, a mark left on your face will have a higher settlement value than an identical one on your lower back.
The visibility of your scar is an essential element of your damages. Noticeable skin damage is more disfiguring than hidden scars. Ask yourself whether the scar is in a location that could cause strangers to stare if you go in public under ordinary circumstances.
Internal vs. External Scars
Another component of the scar location factor is whether your scars are internal or external. While an internal scar is not noticeable to the public, internal scars can cause extreme pain and significant health issues. You can develop internal scar tissue from the original injury or from the surgical repair of your injuries.
If you have internal scar tissue, you have tough bands of tissue that grew between the organs and tissues inside your body. These fibrous bands can “cement” your organs to each other, resulting in organ malfunction and excruciating pain.
The Severity of Your Scar Affects the Settlement Value
Scars from motorcycle accidents can come in many different sizes, shapes, and forms. Here are some examples of how the scar’s presentation can impact the amount of compensation a person can collect:
Lower Compensation Higher Compensation
Small scar Massive scar
Heals to skin tone of the area Color changes
Painless after healing Causes lasting discomfort
Smooth and flat Lumpy or raised
Laceration Burns from a motorcycle accident
How the Scar Affects Your Life
In addition to cosmetic issues, scars can cause other long-term consequences that can impact your life on a daily basis. The level of impairment and discomfort you experience will be a factor in the amount of damages you might collect. Two of the more common types of severe scars include:
If your body grows keloid tissue in response to injuries, you can suffer both pain and loss of function. Keloids happen when your body produces more scar tissue than it needs to repair the damage. The excess scar tissue can build up and become lumpy and raised.
Adhesions happen when excess scar tissue “welds” two organs or two other areas of the body to each other.
Both keloid tissue and adhesions can restrict a person’s movement and cause pain when the person tries to move his body in everyday situations. The scar tissue can prevent the organs from performing their intended functions, which can create a medical crisis. Excess scar tissue can be particularly hard to treat, since surgically cutting the scar tissue can cause more scar tissue to grow, making the problem worse than before.
Some Scars Cause Pain
Some scar tissue lacks functioning sensory nerves, causing a loss of sensation in the area. In other situations, the scar tissue hurts.
Your Other Injuries
In a motorcycle accident that caused permanent scars you probably suffered multiple injuries. For example, if you sustained permanent facial scars, you might have also experienced a traumatic brain injury. Your total settlement will consider all of your injuries, not just your permanent scars.
We can evaluate your medical records and the police report to compile a list of all of your injuries. We can gather the evidence to build your claim and prove all of the damages you suffered. If your scar is small but you have significant other injuries, the value of your motorcycle accident settlement can be much higher.
Also, if you lost time from work because of the crash and your recuperation, we can add your lost wages to the damages. Your pain and suffering for the scars and your other injuries will be another component. Your spouse might have a claim for loss of consortium if the injuries harmed your relationship.
Getting Legal Help for Permanent Scars from a Motorcycle Accident
We can review your medical records and the police report to determine if you might be eligible for compensation for your scars and other injuries from a motorcycle accident. You can call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you get a settlement or award of damages.