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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What Happens If I Was in a Car Accident on the Way to Work?
If you were in a car accident on the way to work, you likely have questions about who must pay for your losses. You might wonder if your boss has any responsibility for the damages or whether you will have to shoulder these expenses all on your own.
Sometimes another driver causes the wreck. You need to know whether that negligence lets your employer off the hook or if you can make a claim for compensation against both the at-fault driver and your boss. In general, Georgia’s “going and coming” rule says that your company does not have to pay your damages if you have a crash during your commute. There are, however, some exceptions to note.
When a Boss Is Liable for Employees’ Car Accidents
These cases are fact-driven, meaning that the circumstances of your accident will determine whether your employer will have to pay you compensation for losses such as medical bills or lost wages. These are some of the situations in which a company can have liability for an employee’s crash on the way to work:
The employee was performing a task for the employer. Let’s say that you work for a home remodeling company, and your boss asked you to pick up something from the hardware store on your way to the job site.
If you experienced a crash on your way to the hardware store or on your subsequent trip to the job site, your employer can be responsible for your injuries. You would not have been there but for the boss directing you to go to the hardware store for job-related items.
Multiple job sites rather than one fixed location. Your employer can be liable for your collision damages if your work requires you to travel to multiple locations during the day and your crash happened on the way to a job location. For example, if you are an electrician and you go to various buildings throughout your shift making repairs and doing installations, the employer can have liability when you are on your way to a job site.
Traveling on business. When you are on the road as part of your job, such as attending a conference or going to a meeting out of town, your boss can be responsible during your entire trip.
Driving a company car. Your employer is usually responsible for your injuries if you had a collision while you were operating a company car.
Driving is an essential component of your job description. Some workers spend much of their shifts operating vehicles. Examples of these workers include cab and bus drivers, delivery personnel, and other people whose jobs involve a significant amount of regular travel. The boss is usually responsible for the employee’s injuries in these situations.
What Happens if You Were Also Negligent?
In some circumstances, your mistakes can reduce the amount of money you can receive as compensation for your injuries. We will explain this legal concept, called comparative negligence, when we meet with you.
Getting Legal Help for Your Car Accident On The Way To Work
There is no need for you to figure out these legal issues because we can handle the legal components for our clients. Just meet with us, and we will evaluate your situation and let you know who might be liable for your injuries. You can set up your free consultation by calling S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838.
What Happens If I Was Hit by a Company Vehicle?
If you were hit by a company vehicle, you need to know who is liable to compensate you. Depending on the facts of your case, the company or a third party might be responsible for your losses.
Our personal injury law firm evaluates these scenarios on a case-by-case basis and can walk you through that analysis when we discuss your injury claim.
When a Boss Is Liable for a Company Vehicle Hitting an Employee
These injuries are usually matters for workers compensation benefits. In the state of Georgia, workers compensation is defined as:
“a benefits program created by state law that provides medical,
rehabilitative, income, death and other benefits to employees and
dependents due to injury, illness and death resulting from a
compensable work-related claim covered by the law.”
If a company vehicle struck you while you were performing your job duties during your work hours, under Georgia law your injuries would constitute a compensable claim. You will have to follow the strict regulations about:
- Quickly reporting the incident to your employer
- Getting treatment from an authorized treating physician
- Cooperating with your employer and the approved physician to get medical evaluations, treatment, rehabilitative services, and claim investigation.
You can receive free medical care and cash disability benefits to replace a portion of your regular income through workers compensation.
When Workers Compensation Does Not Cover an Employee Hit by a Company Vehicle
Workers compensation in Georgia only covers you for injuries you sustain while working. If the company car strikes you while you are on your lunch or other breaks, workers compensation will not pay you benefits. In a situation like this, you will have to look to other sources for compensation, such as:
The driver of the company vehicle. Let’s say that the company truck hit you because the driver was texting someone on her cell phone while operating the vehicle. The driver’s negligence from texting while driving caused your injuries, so she can be liable to you for damages.
The company. The employer can have responsibility under a couple of legal theories, including negligence. Examples of negligence include:
- Negligent hiring for failing to perform an adequate background check on the driver, if that research would have discovered information that the driver had been careless with company vehicles in the past
- Negligent supervision if the firm did not create and enforce a policy that prohibited employees from texting while driving company vehicles
- Negligent training if the company did not train drivers on the safe operation of company vehicles.
An employer can also be liable under the legal theory of respondeat superior, which states that an employer can be liable for some of the acts of its employees. For example, but for the boss putting the driver in the position of operating the company vehicle, you would not have sustained the injury.
How We Prove Negligence
There are four factors to negligence, and we have to prove each one to win a lawsuit in which we allege that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. The four facets are:
- The defendant had a legal duty toward you. Like all drivers, the driver of the company vehicle had a duty to operate the truck with caution.
- The defendant breached her duty toward you. Breach of a legal duty of care is negligence. The defendant violated her duty of care by texting while behind the wheel.
- The negligence caused your injury. The defendant’s negligence caused the company truck to hit and injure you.
- You suffered measurable damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Physical injuries are measurable in that we can calculate the damages in dollars. Your medical bills will be proof of your quantifiable damages.
What Happens If You Were Partly to Blame
Let’s say that you were somewhat at fault in the accident. For instance, perhaps you were in an “out-of-bounds” area on the job site when you were hit by a company truck. Although the driver’s negligence in texting while behind the wheel was the primary cause of the wreck, the judge assessed 10 percent of the responsibility for the accident to you for being in the wrong place.
Do not worry – you can still recover compensation for your damages as the rule of comparative negligence is applied in Georgia. This law deducts an amount equal to your proportion of the total negligence, and you get to collect the remaining award. For example, if your losses were $200,000, your 10 percent of the negligence will reduce your compensation by 10 percent, which is $20,000. You can recover $180,000.
Getting Legal Help After a Company Vehicle Strikes You
You might have several different legal options if a company vehicle hit and injured you, but you do not have to figure out this issue by yourself. The team at S. Burke Law will evaluate your case you can focus on getting well. Call us at 404-842-7838 to arrange a time to discuss your case. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation.
What Happens If I Was in a Car Accident While on the Job Clock?
If you were in a car accident while on the clock, you probably have questions about who will pay your losses if you sustained injuries. You might think that your boss is automatically responsible for all your damages, but in some situations, both your employer and third parties share the liability. In other situations, third parties alone must compensate you.
When an Employer Is Liable for Car Accidents of Employees
Your employer’s liability will depend on the facts of your individual case, but companies are often liable for the losses of employees when they get into collisions during a work shift. Here are some examples of when your employer will be liable:
- Your job is to drive a delivery truck, and you get into a wreck while making deliveries for your company.
- You are installing appliances at houses throughout the day, and your wreck happens when you are driving from one installation location to the next.
- You are on a business trip attending a convention in another city. You get into a car accident while on this business travel.
- You are driving the company car when you collide with another vehicle.
When an Employer Might Not Be Liable for Car Accidents of Employees
There are some situations in which your boss might not have to pay for your car accident damages even if the accident happened during your ordinary work hours. Here are a few:
- An employee is supposed to be at work, but she leaves the job site without permission, goes to a bar, drinks alcoholic beverages while there, and then gets into a wreck.
- An employee is delivering a package for the boss, but on the way, leaves the intended route to go to the casino and has a crash while driving to the casino.
- An employee intentionally crashes a vehicle.
A car accident lawyer can determine fault and help you recover damages caused by your accident.
Other Parties Who Can Be Liable
Whether your boss is responsible for your injuries or not, sometimes, depending on the facts of the situation, other people can have to pay compensation for your damages. Here are some examples:
- You were riding the company shuttle from the parking lot to the hospital where you work. On the way, the shuttle driver, who was intoxicated, crashed into a tree. In addition to seeking damages from your employer, you can also pursue compensation from the shuttle driver for his negligence in driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- You drive a delivery truck. While making your usual rounds, another driver ran a red light and t-boned your delivery truck. Both your employer and the negligent driver can be liable for your damages.
- You are driving a company car. The brakes failed, causing you to plow into a building. The party whose negligence is to blame for the faulty brakes can be liable for your damages. The third party could be the company mechanic who maintained the company fleet, the installer of the brakes, or the brake manufacturer.
Elements of Negligence
If we are to seek compensation from someone other than your employer, we must demonstrate that their negligence led to your injuries. Negligence has four elements, all of which we must prove to hold someone liable:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have had a duty of care toward you. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles cautiously. In the example of the shuttle bus crash, the driver had a duty to be sober when at the wheel.
- Breach of the duty of care. Negligence is when a person violates a duty of care toward you. When the driver drove while drunk, he violated his duty of care.
- Causation. The negligence must be a cause of your injuries. Since the driver’s intoxicated state caused the smash-up in which you got hurt, the facts satisfy the causation element.
- Measurable damages. If you suffered physical injuries in the wreck, you satisfy this final element of damages. In addition, having physical damages opens the opportunity to claim non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
What Happens if You Were Also Negligent?
In many crashes, more than one person made a mistake that led up to the wreck. If you were partly to blame for the car accident, you can still recover some of your damages. Georgia follows the law of comparative negligence, which allows you to collect compensation, but reduces it to account for the percentage of your fault.
Let’s say that your damages were $100,000 from an accident. If the judge found you to be 10 percent at fault, you could still get $90,000 for your losses, after the law deducts your proportion of the total negligence.
How to Get Help for a Car Accident That Happened During Work Hours
You might have questions about who is responsible for your injuries if you got hurt in a car accident during your workday. The team at S. Burke Law will be happy to answer your questions and explain your right to compensation. Just call us at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you win.
Are Negligent Security Cases Hard to Win?
You can win a negligent security case if you can prove all four elements of negligent security as required under Georgia law. In Georgia, property owners must take reasonable measures to keep people safe on their premises and to prevent foreseeable assaults and attacks. If you get hurt because a landowner failed to provide adequate security, the property owner can be liable for your injuries.
Elements of Negligent Security
Georgia law requires that we prove all four of these factors to hold a property owner responsible for negligent security:
- The landowner (defendant) had a legal duty toward the injured person (plaintiff). Property owners must take reasonable measures to keep their premises and its approaches safe for people who enter the premises lawfully. Approaches can include things like sidewalks, parking lots, parking garages, and entryways. A landowner has no duty to keep the premises safe for trespassers. Let’s say that a shopping center has had a problem with purse snatchers. The center must provide reasonable security so that customers can shop, enter and exit the center, and safely walk to and from their cars without someone stealing their handbags.
- The defendant failed in its legal duty to provide adequate security. If the landowner did not provide adequate security for the circumstances, it violated its duty of care. It is negligence to breach a legal duty. If the shopping center failed to take reasonable measures to protect patrons from theft, the company is guilty of negligent security. Reasonable measures could include things like installing security cameras, posting signs to warn shoppers, and hiring security guards.
- The shopping center’s negligent security caused the injury. If the company was negligent, but no one got hurt, the “no harm, no foul” rule will apply. On the other hand, if the center’s negligent security resulted in harm to someone, the facts satisfy the causation element of negligent security. For example, imagine that the shopping center did not take adequate security measures appropriate for the situation. A shopper was on their way to the center’s main entrance when a thief grabbed her bag. The shopper fought back, but the thug pushed her down to the ground and ran away with the purse. The shopper sustained a broken arm. The center’s negligent security caused the injury.
- Adequate security would have prevented the harm. Property owners in Georgia are not responsible for every crime that takes place on their premises, but they do have to put in place reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crime. If adequate security would have prevented the harm, the landowner is liable. Having security guards, installing security cameras, and posting warning signs for shoppers are reasonable security measures at a shopping center with a history of purse-snatching. Taking reasonable security measures could have prevented the crime, so failure to take reasonable measures makes the center liable.
What Can Constitute Negligent Security
Many factors will control the level of security needed at any given location. These considerations can include things like:
- The neighborhood
- The history of crime on the premises and in the surrounding area
- Recent changes in criminal activity
- Other known risks or security factors
With those issues in mind, it can be negligent security if a property owner does not:
- Warn visitors of foreseeable dangers
- Respond appropriately to warnings, threats, or other facts that would give a reasonable person concern for safety
- Provide adequate lighting
- Fix broken or faulty fences, gates, windows, doors, locks, or alarm systems
- Improve security measures after a criminal event
- Install security cameras where needed for safety
Preventability and Foreseeability
Even though it is impossible to prevent every crime, a landowner must try to protect people on the premises. If a property owner does not lift a finger or spend any money on reasonable measures to keep people safe, Georgia courts will be likely to impose liability on the owner when people get hurt.
Callous disregard for the safety of others, mainly when those people are your customers or business guests, can expose a company to liability. When people get hurt because a corporation puts profits ahead of people, juries can punish the company financially.
It is important to remember that the harm must be foreseeable. In other words, if a business is in an area with a meager crime rate, the burden to provide security will be lower than for a company in a high crime area, because one would expect criminal activity in a place with high rates of crime.
How to Protect Your Right to Compensation for a Negligent Security Injury Claim
Taking on a company that failed to keep you safe can be daunting, call the team at S. Burke Law to have a premises liability lawyer on your side. We can explore the facts, determine who is liable, gather the evidence to build your case, deal with the insurance company, and file a lawsuit for your losses.
Call 404-842-7838 today, to arrange your free consultation. We do not charge legal fees until you get compensation.
Can I Sue a Movie Theater for Negligent Security?
A movie theater can be liable to you if you sustained an injury on the premises because of the property owner’s failure to provide adequate security. Georgia law mandates that landowners must take reasonable measures to keep people safe while on their property and to prevent foreseeable attacks or assaults.
Required Elements to Prove Negligent Security at a Movie Theater
We have to prove all four of these factors to hold the movie theater responsible for your injuries:
- The movie theater (defendant) had a legal duty toward you (plaintiff). If you are on the premises legally as a customer, employee, vendor, or another lawful guest, the movie theater must take reasonable measures to keep the theater and its approaches safe. Approaches can include such things as sidewalks, entryways, parking lots, parking garages, and other approaches. Suppose people must walk through an alley to get from the overflow parking lot to the movie theater. The theater must provide reasonable security so that customers can walk safely from the cars to the theater.
- The movie theater breached its legal duty of care toward you. The theater failed in its legal duty toward you if it did not provide adequate security. If the company did not take reasonable measures, like installing bright lighting and security cameras and having security guards patrol the area, the theater was negligent. Negligence means that someone breached a legal duty.
- The movie theater’s negligent security caused your injury. If the theater’s failure to provide adequate security resulted in harm to you, the theater is liable. The theater refused to spend the money on bright lighting, security cameras, or guards. If someone assaulted you while you were walking through the alley between your car and the theater, the company’s negligence caused your harm.
- Adequate security would have prevented the crime. Property owners do not have to pay damages for every crime that happens on their premises. Georgia law recognizes that it is impossible to prevent every possible crime. The law does, however, require landowners to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable crimes.
It is foreseeable that a person could become a victim of crime while walking through a dark alley. Bright lighting, security cameras, and security guards are reasonable security measures in this situation and could prevent crimes from happening. Since adequate security measures could have prevented the harm, the movie theater is liable for the harm its negligent security caused.
What Negligent Security at a Movie Theater Can Look Like
Every case is different. What might be necessary for security in one neighborhood could be superfluous in another. With that in mind, it can be negligent security if a property owner fails to:
- Provide and maintain sufficient lighting (replacing burned-out bulbs, having enough bright lights to illuminate the area and deter criminal activity)
- Fix malfunctioning or damaged locks, doors, fences, gates, or alarm systems
- Warn customers of foreseeable risks
- Improve security measures after criminal events
- Install security cameras where appropriate
- Respond appropriately to incidents that would make a reasonable person have safety or security concerns
Foreseeability of Crime
If the movie theater is in a location that has a low crime rate, the law will impose less of a burden on the company to provide adequate security for patrons. Let’s say that the theater is in a suburb that historically has some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the entire state. The movie theater is ten years old and has no reported incidents of violent crime. Adequate security measure for that theater might be merely having adequate lighting and some security cameras.
On the other hand, a similar movie theater located in a high crime part of the city might have a history of many assaults, gang activity, robberies, and other crimes in the surrounding area. That theater will have to install a much higher level of security equipment and safety measures to satisfy the requirement of adequate security.
The movie theater in the city might have to install more security cameras, have a security guard to patrol the premises, and have someone monitor the live feed from the security cameras whenever the theater is open. If the theater does not provide the level of security that is reasonable for the circumstances, they can be guilty of negligent security, even if their security measures exceed those of other theaters in a safer neighborhood.
Getting Legal Help for Negligent Security at a Movie Theater
If you sustained an injury at a movie theater because of negligent security or you think the company failed to protect you from harm, you might be eligible for compensation. You do not have to investigate the facts or understand the legal theories that control this area of the law. A premises liability lawyer can do all of this for you.
We can explain your legal rights to you and answer your questions. To arrange your free consultation, call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838.
Can I Sue a Hotel for Negligent Security?
If you get hurt because a hotel failed to prevent foreseeable assaults or attacks or did not take reasonable measures to keep you safe while you were on their premises, the property owner can be liable. Georgia law dictates that landowners are liable to people who sustain injuries as a result of the failure to provide adequate security.
The Elements of Negligent Security
We have to prove all four of these factors to hold a hotel responsible for your injuries from negligent security:
- The hotel (defendant) owed you (plaintiff) a legal duty of care. If you were present on the premises for a lawful purpose as a hotel guest, visitor, vendor, employee, or for another allowed reason, the hotel owner has to take measures to keep the hotel and approaches (sidewalks, entryways, parking garages, parking lots, and other approaches) reasonably safe. The hotel has no such duty toward trespassers. Suppose that the hotel is in a downtown area known for random muggings. The hotel must provide reasonable security so that the guests can safely enter and leave the hotel and be free from assaults while in the hotel, parking garage, and parking lot.
- The defendant hotel failed in its legal duty toward you. If the hotel did not provide adequate security for the circumstances, it breached its duty toward you. Breach of a legal duty is negligence. If the hotel failed, for example, to install security cameras in high-risk areas in and around the hotel or failed to have working locks on the hotel guest room doors, the hotel is guilty of negligent security.
- The hotel’s negligent security caused harm to you. Mere negligence without harm does not make a case for compensation, but if the hotel’s failure to provide adequate security resulted in harm to you, the hotel is liable. Let’s say that the hotel knew that its guest room doors did not lock, despite exhibiting red or green lights when a person used a key card. The hotel decided to wait to buy and install new door locks. In the meantime, an intruder entered a guest room and assaulted someone staying in the hotel. The hotel’s negligence caused the harm, satisfying the causation element of negligent security.
- Adequate security would have prevented the crime. Georgia law does not charge property owners with preventing every crime on their premises. Some crime is not preventable. If adequate security would have prevented the harm to the plaintiff, the hotel is liable.
Having functioning door locks on the guest rooms would have prevented the intruder from being able to walk right into the room and assault the guest. Working door locks are reasonable security measures at a hotel. Since appropriate security would have prevented the crime, the hotel is liable.
Examples of Negligent Security at a Hotel
The facts of each case are different, but general principles can apply in many situations at hotels. A hotel can be liable to people who suffered harm as a result of criminal activity if the hotel failed to:
- Install security cameras after criminal activity
- Provide and maintain bright lighting in and around the hotel and approaches
- Repair broken or damaged security equipment and doors, locks, fences, gates, and alarms
- Warn people of foreseeable dangers
- Upgrade existing security (like hiring security guards) after criminal activity
- Respond appropriately to any facts that would give a reasonable person concern about safety
Foreseeability Determines What Security Measures Are Adequate
Every negligent security case is unique because every situation varies. Measures that might be more than adequate at one hotel could be insufficient at another. We cannot say without talking to you about the facts of your incident whether the hotel provided sufficient security. The law will require the hotel to provide the level of protection that is reasonable and adequate for the circumstances.
A hotel in an upscale resort community with almost no violent crime may only need to provide bright lighting and some security cameras to protect patrons from harm. Another hotel in the same hospitality chain might need several security guards, exterior doors that only open with a room key, many more security cameras, and a security professional constantly monitoring the live feed from the security cameras.
How to Get Legal Help for an Injury from Negligent Security at a Hotel
If you got hurt because a hotel failed to keep you safe, the company might have to pay you money for the harm you suffered. Do not worry – you do not have to figure out who is liable or wade through the legal issues. A premises law attorney can assist you.
We will be happy to explain your right to compensation and answer your questions. Just call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to line up your free, no-obligation consultation.
Is Eyewitness Testimony Important for a Car Accident Case? | S. Burke Law
Sometimes eyewitness testimony can be valuable after a car accident, but only if the witness’s account is accurate. A factually incorrect eyewitness can do more harm than good in a lawsuit. Contact our firm at 404-842-7838 to learn more about eyewitness testimony and how it is typically important for car accident cases. You can also find out additional information such as how fault is determined in a car accident and what’s considered negligence in a Georgia car accident.
When Accurate Eyewitness Testimony Can Be Vital
An eyewitness can help to prove your case when there is contradictory evidence. For example:
- The police report gets the facts wrong. Let’s say that you were driving west in the late afternoon and the sun was in your eyes. Someone ran between two parked cars on the side of the road into your path. Because the sun impaired your vision, you did not see the person in time to stop. The police report incorrectly says that you were driving east. If an unbiased third party, such as a person on the sidewalk, testifies that he saw you driving west, what he says can bolster your argument. Find out if you’re required to call the police if you’re involved in a Georgia car accident.
- Settling a “he said, she said” situation. Some people try to lie their way out of situations to avoid having to pay for the harm they cause. If you were in a wreck and the person who ran the red light tells the officer that you caused the accident, the testimony of an eyewitness who saw the driver crash into you can be valuable. Judges hear so many people lie that they almost expect people to fabricate stories if doing so helps their cause.
Reasons That Eyewitness Testimony Can Be Flawed
Eyewitness testimony is often important for car accident cases, but some inaccurate testimony of eyewitnesses is intentional. But other times a witness can sincerely believe that he is describing what happened, even if he is mistaken.
Intentionally false testimony because of a bias. When a witness deliberately says something that is not true, he usually has one of these motives:
- He wants to help someone else involved in the accident. If, for example, the eyewitness was the spouse of the other driver, riding in the same car, she will have a motive to relate the story in a way that is favorable to her spouse.
- He wants to harm your case. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. Let’s say that you happen to have a crash at the moment your former spouse is walking along the sidewalk. If the divorce was less than amicable, he might take pleasure in painting you in a negative light.
The eyewitness did not see the entire event. Either the person did not observe what happened from start to finish, or her angle on the scene was incomplete. If the witness turned to look because she heard the crash, she did not see what led up to the accident. Anyone who watches instant replay in football games knows how much the angle from which you see something can affect the accuracy of the information.
Imperfect memory or understanding. The brain cannot tolerate a vacuum, so it will fill in tiny gaps in our recollection with information, even if it has to create the data. This concept is reconstructed memory, which can be flawed or flat-out wrong. Hundreds of people get wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness testimony, only to be set free years later because of DNA and other forensic evidence.
If you suffered an injury in a car accident, call S. Burke Law. We will discuss with you whether you might be eligible for compensation and also answer any questions that may arise about eyewitness testimony and the important role it can play in car accident cases. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation.
Are Lost Wages Compensatory Damages? | S. Burke Law
If you miss work and do not get paid because of an injury, the wages you lost can be compensatory damages. It will depend on the facts of your case, but the team at S. Burke Law will sit down with you and review your circumstances to see if you are entitled to recover your lost income. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 if you have any questions about lost wages being compensatory damages.
Georgia Law on Lost Wages as Recoverable Damages
The Georgia Code provides that lost wages in a tort case (in which someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional act harmed you) are “special and consequential damages.” Special damages are losses that the tortious act causes. We must prove special damages for you to recover them. Your employer’s records are a common way to prove your lost income.
Georgia classifies losses in tort cases as either:
- Direct damages, “which follow immediately upon the doing of a tortious act,” or
- Consequential damages, “which are the necessary and connected effect of a tortious act, even though they are to some extent dependent upon other circumstances.”
Lost wages are usually consequential damages, since they depend on other circumstances, such as:
- Whether your employer pays sick leave.
- Whether you had any available sick time or had already used it for other events.
- Whether your recuperation time exceeded your available paid sick leave such that you went without pay during part or all of this period.
Compensatory Damages in Georgia
When someone injures you, Georgia law provides that you can collect damages as compensation for your injury. Compensatory damages are usually things that you can estimate in dollars, for example:
- Lost income, which you can calculate or estimate using your average wages.
- Medical expenses, which you can determine by adding up your medical bills.
Find out more about what types of damages you can recover through a Georgia personal injury claim.
How to Determine the Amount of Lost Wages
The kind of income you earn will control how we calculate the amount of your damages for lost wages. For example:
Hourly workers: We will add up the total number of hours you missed and multiply that by how much you earn per hour. If you work 40 hours a week at $25 an hour, your gross wages are $1,000 a week. Your lost wages are $3,000 if you missed three weeks of work because of your injury.
Salaried employees: We take your regular salary times how long you were out of work. If you earn $4,000 a month and you missed two months of work, your lost wages are $8,000.
Self-employed persons: We have to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis, since taxable income does not always reflect actual income, due to the many business expenses and deductions for the self-employed.
Irregular income: We typically use the average of your earnings if your income varies from one week or month to the next. For fields with a “high season,” however, we have to use a different approach. An accountant who makes much more money during tax season is one example of when we have to apply different formulas.
Learn more about how you calculate lost wages in an injury claim.
Duty to Mitigate Damages
An injured person has a duty under Georgia law to mitigate damages through ordinary care and diligence. The court can reduce your compensation if it feels that your damages were excessive. For example, if a person stayed out of work for 10 years for a sprained wrist, the court will likely award him only the amount of lost wages that it feels is reasonable for that type of injury.
How to Get Help for Your Lost Wages Claim
If you lost wages from an injury and seek compensatory damages and would like to find out how much your case is worth, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Child Injury Case? | S. Burke Law
The statute of limitations controls the amount of time a person must file a lawsuit. If you do not file your case by the deadline, you lose the right to seek damages, no matter how severe your injuries were. When a child is the one injured, the statute of limitations can be different than for an adult. The law often allows children more time than adults to pursue legal action in the interest of fairness. Contact our firm today at 404-842-7838 so we can answer any questions you may have about the statute of limitations for a child injury case.
The Rule on Tolling (Delaying) the Statute of Limitations for Children
In general, when an injured person is under the age of 18 at the time of the incident that causes the harm, the statute of limitations for a child injury case will not start to run until the person turns 18. In other words, if a person must file a lawsuit within two years of the injury, but that person is a minor, she will have two years from the date she turns 18 to bring the legal action.
The Georgia Code says in Section 9-3-90 (2017) that:
“Individuals who are less than 18 years of age when a cause of action accrues shall be entitled to the same time after he or she reaches the age of 18 years to bring an action as is prescribed for other persons.”
The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Children
The deadline for filing a personal injury case (for people injured when they are adults) is two years from the date of the injury. These specific actions, however, have different timelines:
- Injury to reputation has a filing deadline of one year.
- Personal injury cases that include a claim for loss of consortium (which involves damages to the injured person’s spouse) have a filing deadline of four years.
Applying the tolling of statutes of limitations laid out in Section 9-3-90 would start the clock running for these periods of time once the child turns 18.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations for Children
An adult who is injured or killed by medical malpractice in Georgia has two years to file a lawsuit. Under some circumstances, this deadline can be as long as five years. For children, however, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims can vary from this general rule, depending on how young the child was at the time of injury. Find out if there is a cap on medical malpractice damages in Georgia and if parents can sue for wrongful death.
The Statute of Limitations for Children Injured by Deficiencies in Improvements to Real Property
If the plaintiff sustained an injury because of negligence in the planning, supervising, or constructing improvements to realty, the timeline for filing a lawsuit is much longer than for a typical personal injury case. The reason for the additional time is that it can take years for defective construction to fail and injure people.
An action for personal injury or wrongful death must start within eight years of the substantial completion of the improvement (construction). If the injury happens during the seventh or eighth year, however, the law allows two additional years, for up to 10 years, to file a lawsuit.
The Section 9-3-33.1 Exception to the General Rule on Child Injury Cases
Section 9-3-90 of the Georgia Code makes an exception to the general rule of tolling (delay or pausing) the statute of limitations for injuries covered by section 9-3-33.1 (2017), which addresses childhood sexual abuse cases. A person who suffered childhood sexual abuse must file a civil action to recover damages either:
- By the victim’s 23rd birthday, or
- Within two years of the date that the plaintiff realized or should have realized the abuse and injury, even if after the age of 23.
Why Children Have a Different Statute of Limitations Than Adults
Children do not have the right to file lawsuits because the law considers people under the age of 18 as lacking legal capacity. If a 16-year-old, for example, files a lawsuit for personal injuries, the court will dismiss the action as soon as the judge realizes that the plaintiff is underage.
Since a child cannot file a lawsuit for himself, he is at the mercy of others, usually his parents, to file an action on his behalf. If the parents do not take legal action, the child would lose his right to compensation if the typical statute of limitations passes before the child turns 18 and can file his lawsuit. This is why children have a different amount of time than adults.
Getting Help for a Child Injury Case in Georgia
We understand that all these statutory rules and exceptions to the rules can be confusing regarding the statute of limitations for a child injury case. You do not have to figure out which rules apply to your or your child’s injury claim.
Call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today. We will set up a meeting with you to talk about the injury and the procedural regulations that will control your case. We do not charge you for this service. In fact, we will not charge any legal fees until you get the compensation you deserve.
What is Diminished Earning Capacity?
Diminished earning capacity refers to a decrease in income as a result of an injury that affects your ability to continue doing your current job or robs you of career prospects for the future.
A person who sustains an injury might experience diminished earning capacity, for which he can collect compensation. You might have decreased earning capacity if you:
- Must reduce your hours or work a lower-paying job because of your impairment
- Cannot perform the same type of work that you used to do before the injury
- No longer have the option to do certain types of work because of the injury
Injury That Diminishes the Ability to Earn Money
The injury must impact your ability to earn money for you to get compensation for decreased earning potential. In some cases, the injury directly affects a person’s current job, but you do not have to be already doing the specific type of work to suffer a loss of earning capacity.
Let’s say that a person’s dream was to become a surgeon. He completed medical school and was in the second year of his surgical residency (surgical training program) when a car accident left him without sufficient use of his hands to work as a surgeon.
He has lost that employment option and suffered a significant financial loss as a result, so his diminished earning capacity is compensable.
Ongoing Nature or Permanence of the Impairment
If you break your leg and temporarily cannot stand for long periods of time, the injury could cause you to lose income in the short-term while you recuperate from the fracture and undergo physical therapy to rebuild the strength in your leg. There can be a claim for lost wages for your current time off from work, but if you heal completely without any residual impairment, you probably will not get damages for decreased earning potential.
On the other hand, some injuries can set you up for work-related problems for the rest of your working life. A severe back injury, for example, can leave you unable to lift heavy objects even after the back heals. In situations like this, the impairment eliminates the prospect of many types of work.
Judges often want to hear testimony from experts for claims of diminished earning potential. Some of the experts on this issue can include:
Doctors who can testify about the permanence of the injury. The judge needs to know how long the medical professionals expect the effects of the injury to last.
Vocational experts who can testify about how the injury impairs the plaintiff’s work options. These professionals can explain how particular injuries affect the plaintiff’s current job or limit his future job possibilities.
Economic experts who can testify about the economic impact of the impairment on the plaintiff’s potential future earnings. Often, the vocational expert also serves as the economic expert by calculating or estimating the financial value of the plaintiff’s decreased earning potential.
Getting Help After an Injury
You do not have to sort out what your damages are and how you will prove them. The team at S. Burke Law will take care of the legal process for you. Give us a call today at 404-842-7838, and we will schedule a time to sit down with you and talk about your right to compensation. The consultation is free.