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

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

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

When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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  • Do Insurance Adjusters Have a Right to Use What I Post on Twitter Against Me?

    Yes, an insurance adjuster can probably use the things that you post on Twitter or other social media accounts against you. If the insurance company can authenticate the account, the courts will likely allow the insurer to use your postings if they are relevant to your case.

    A savvy insurance adjuster will likely check out your Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter accounts when reviewing the details of your case. The adjuster or insurance defense attorney might even look at social network accounts you forgot that you had.

    Expectation of Privacy

    When people post things on social media, there is little expectation of privacy. Your post could “go viral” at any time, and millions of people could view it. Even if you are careful about your privacy settings and limit who can see your postings, the people who do see it could share it with others, who could send it on to more people, and so on.

    There Is No Such Thing as Deleted

    Once you upload or type something online, the item or information is no longer under your control. Let’s say that you posted an embarrassing photo, then deleted it the next day after realizing that posting it was a mistake.

    It is extremely difficult to delete that picture from the Internet entirely. Even if you remove it from your social media accounts, it may still exist on the hard drive of anyone who saw it, in the cloud, or on the social media service’s backup server.

    Anyone who viewed the photo could have downloaded it or taken a screenshot. That person could then share the photo with others without any input from you. It is important to never post anything you would not be comfortable being broadly seen.

    Out of Context

    An insurance adjuster can take your social media posts out of context and use them to justify paying you less money for your accident claim. Here are a few examples:

    • While stuck at home and bored during recuperation, you post a photo of yourself running a marathon a week before your accident. The upload does not state that the photo was before your injury – it only gives the date on which you uploaded the item. The adjuster will use the photo and upload date to claim that you were running marathons after the accident, so you must be faking your injuries.
    • You post a joking or self-deprecating comment about the wreck, like calling yourself clumsy or describing your significant injuries as “a little boo-boo.” The adjuster will claim that you are lying about the severity of the injuries or that you admitted being at fault in the wreck.
    • The insurance company’s defense lawyer can paint a negative portrait of you to the jury by using unrelated information harvested from your social media accounts. For example, comments or photos about drug or alcohol use can make the jury less sympathetic toward you. Also, it can cause problems if you “like” or “follow” certain inflammatory organizations or celebrities.

    Things that seem innocent or personal could come back to reduce the settlement value of your case. Talk with your lawyer about what you should and should not post on social media.

    The Bottom Line

    If you have suffered an injury in an accident, the best practice is to stay off social media until after the case. An insurance adjuster has a right to use what you post and may twist it into something you never intended.

    For example, because an old friend visited you while you were recuperating from extensive injuries, you might post “Having a wonderful day.” The adjuster might claim that you were feeling fine and deny pain and suffering damages from that point forward.

    Georgia law allows parties to a lawsuit to obtain almost anything that is relevant to your lawsuit through the discovery process, even if they could not use the item in court. The insurance company can get a treasure trove of information from social media since many people let their guard down when posting.

    How to Navigate Social Media During Your Accident Claim or Lawsuit

    The earlier you talk with your lawyer about how social media can affect your case, the better. Your personal injury attorney can advise you about what, if anything, to post. Many people deactivate their social media accounts while they have a pending accident claim, but we can explain the rules that control these cases.

    At S. Burke Law, we can answer your questions about social media and your injury case. Just call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. We will discuss your case and let you know if you might be eligible for compensation.

  • Can I Get Compensation for a Permanent Scar From a Car Accident?

    Yes, you can get compensation for a permanent scar from a car accident. Scarring is not something people commonly associate with vehicle accidents, but it occurs more often than we realize, particularly in motorcycle accidents. While all accidents are expensive and traumatic, permanent scars often place even more stress and anxiety on victims.

    One of the issues victims with permanent scarring face is that treatment is not as simple as visiting a doctor and undergoing rehabilitation. It involves living with a life-altering feature. You deserve compensation for the financial burden and emotional toll your scarring has placed on you.

    Collecting Medical Damages for a Permanent Scar

    Medical bills and other related damages are typically the first things people consider after an accident. As with every car accident, you may be entitled to all of the following:

    • Hospital bills
    • Ambulance costs
    • Appointments with specialists
    • Rehabilitation and chiropractors

    However, the difference between permanent scars and most car accident injuries is that your needs are not simply met with simple doctor’s visits and rehabilitation. Permanent scarring often requires extensive surgeries, skin grafts, and more. These procedures are as important for helping return your life to normalcy as the previously mentioned medical costs are. But these cosmetic procedures are often more expensive than your initial treatments and rehabilitation.

    Collecting Lost Wages

    A permanent scar can also lead you to miss work. Some of this missed time may be part of your initial recovery. Some of the lost wages may be due to doctor’s and rehab appointments you needed to attend.

    You are entitled to compensation for any effect your injuries have had on your ability to make a living.

    Lost Wages

    These damages reimburse you for your immediate lost income. It is essentially a calculation of your hourly wages and time missed at work.

    Lost Earning Capacity

    This is a bit more complex to calculate. In some cases, your injuries and scarring may require a career change or prevent you from working at all, depending on your profession.

    For example, a model with a permanent facial scar will likely need to find a new line of work. A carpenter with contractures (i.e., a rigid scar that limits mobility) on his hands might need to consider a new trade.

    Lost long-term income is essentially a calculation of your lost earning potential. If you must change careers, you would be due the cost of training for your new career and the difference in salaries between each job.

    Collecting Noneconomic Damages

    Unlike many car accident injuries, scarring is life-altering. In some cases, you may be due some noneconomic damages due to the lifestyle changes associated with permanent scarring. Unlike the previously mentioned damages, these damages are not easily quantifiable.

    • Pain and suffering: If you suffered permanent scarring, you likely experienced a great deal of pain at the time of injury and throughout the recovery process. Depending on the type of scar, you might feel pain for years to come.
    • Loss of confidence, social anxiety, and depression: Permanent scarring causes many people to feel self-conscious or even humiliated when engaging in previously routine social activities.
    • Loss of consortium: Your injuries may leave you unable to interact with your spouse and loved ones in the same ways you did previously.

    How to Determine the Value of Permanent Scars

    Determining the value of permanent scarring is usually not as simple as it is with other injuries. There are a variety of factors to consider when determining how much they are worth.

    Insurance adjusters are in the business of controlling costs. This means the way you value your scars often differs greatly from how they value your scars. And the way they value permanent scars varies from person to person.

    The insurance company might value a permanent scar on a 22-year-old differently than the same permanent scar on a 75-year-old. In addition, permanent scars on your face tend to have more value than they would on your leg, for example.

    Other factors which influence the value of your scars include:

    • The size, visibility, and coloring of the scarring
    • The location of the scar
    • The victim’s marital status
    • The victim’s gender

    For example, a 25-year-old single woman with a permanent facial scar will likely receive more than a 60-year-old married man with a permanent facial scar. We can help you determine what a claim for permanent scarring might be worth.

    Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney

    The impact permanent scarring has on victims is immense. And the process in which you can seek settlements for this physical and emotional scarring is complex and difficult. But the team at S. Burke Law might be able to help you. Call us today for a free consultation: 404-842-7838.

  • Who Is Liable for an Accident in a Swimming Pool?

    In most cases, property owners are liable for an accident in a swimming pool. This is the case whether the accident occurred at a private residence, public pool, or private club. However, this does not suggest that all accidents are the fault of property owners. Whether the property owner was liable depends on the circumstances of your accident, how well the pool was maintained, and why you were on the property.

    But your poolside accident could very well allow you to collect damages due to Georgia’s premises liability laws. Premises liability is complex, and something we could help walk you through with a consultation. Our firm has represented Atlanta citizens in personal injury cases for over 20 years and collected thousands of dollars in that time. Call us to discuss your case with an Atlanta premises liability lawyer: 404-842-7838.

    Rule Violations That Could Make a Pool Owner Liable for Your Pool Accident

    Premises liability laws require property owners to ensure the safety of visitors to their property. Specifically, premises liability requires that property owners exercise “ordinary care” when guests are on their property. And that extends to public and private pools as well.

    As it relates to pools, property owners must meet and maintain certain safety standards. If they fail to meet these standards and you or a loved one suffers an injury, they may be liable for those injuries.

    For example, owners must ensure their fencing meets certain standards, keep the pool clean and ensure the chemical levels are correct, and ensure that the pool deck is free of hazards.

    However, it is important to note that the pool owner simply failing to meet these standards does not entitle you to compensation. Your status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser will affect whether you might be able to recover compensation.

    How Your Status at the Time of the Accident Affects Your Ability to Recover Compensation

    Pool owners owe a specific duty of care to each person who visits their property. Your status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser determines the duty of care the pool owner owed you.

    Invitees: If you were a patron of a public pool (whether you paid entrance or not), you were an invitee. A pool owner owes invitees the highest duty of care. Premises liability laws require the pool owner to maintain safety standards, remedy any hazards he finds, and to also perform regular inspections of the property to find any potential hazards. If the property owner fails to perform maintenance or property inspections and an injury results, he can be liable for any injuries that occur.

    Licensees: Licensees are on private property for social reasons. So, if you were a guest at a pool party, you would be a licensee. In this case, the property owner is required to warn you about any potential hazards which are not obvious to those on the property. If the property owner failed to warn you of a hidden hazard that caused you to suffer injuries, you may be entitled to compensation.

    Trespassers: The only duty of care property owners owe trespassers is to refrain from purposefully causing the trespasser injury (e.g., owners cannot set traps for trespassers). This means trespassers typically cannot sue for injury. However, in some cases, property owners must warn known trespassers of hidden hazards. For example, if a pool owner knows his neighbors regularly break into his backyard to use his pool, he must warn trespassers about the broken diving board.

    Trespassing rules often do not apply to children as pools are well-known attractive nuisances.

    What is an Attractive Nuisance?

    An attractive nuisance is a manmade condition on an owner’s property which is attractive to children. This includes things like pools, trampolines, abandoned vehicles, and discarded appliances (e.g., washers, refrigerators). Georgia’s Supreme Court established the state’s attractive nuisance laws in Gregory v Johnson.

    Attractive nuisance laws hold that young children are unable to comprehend the risks involved in trespassing upon property. Property owners must prevent access to these nuisances to help protect children from injury. To protect children from pool accident injuries, pool owners must install fences that meet the following criteria:

    • The fence must be four feet tall or higher.
    • The openings in the fence cannot be any larger than four inches.
    • The gates must be self-closing and self-latching.
    • The latch must be 54 inches off the ground.

    If a child is able to enter a pool and suffers injury, the property owner would likely be liable.

    Recovering Compensation When You Are Partially At-Fault for a Pool Accident

    Liability for swimming pool accidents is not always cut-and-dried. If you were partially at-fault for an accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. However, you must have been 49 percent or less responsible, and any percentage of fault will decrease your compensation.

    For example, say an investigation found you 30 percent at-fault for your injuries. You would be able to recover 70 percent of your demand. If you requested $20,000, you would be entitled to $14,000.

    A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You with Your Pool Accident Claim. Call Us Today.

    Premises liability is a complicated area of law. It can seem almost impossible to understand if you are recovering from injuries, taking care of an injured child, or mourning a loved one who drowned. S. Burke Law has an intimate understanding of Georgia premises liability laws and can represent your case. We will stand against insurers and fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

    Give us a call today to see how we can help you: 404-842-7838.

  • Can I Sue If I was Injured on an Escalator?

    Yes, you can sue if you were injured on an escalator. However, you can only file a claim or lawsuit if another party’s negligence caused your injury.

    Parties That Might Be Liable for an Escalator Injury

    Anyone who might have contributed to your injury may be liable. This might include:

    • The property owner
    • The escalator maintenance company
    • The escalator manufacturer

    What We Must Do to Hold the Negligent Party Liable for Your Injuries

    To hold the negligent party liable for your escalator injuries, we must prove it violated its duty of care to you by behaving negligently. Examples of negligence on the part of an escalator maintenance company, manufacturer, or owner might include:

    • Failure to maintain and inspect the escalator regularly
    • Improper maintenance
    • Defective or improper escalator design
    • Failure to place signs indicating defective or broken escalator
    • Failure to check on a poorly functioning escalator
    • Failure to follow building codes or regulations
    • Overcapacity

    Duty of Care for Each Potentially Negligent Party

    Duty of care differs by individual.

    Property Owners

    O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 states: “Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”

    In short, that means property owners must maintain a certain standard of safety. And that includes ensuring all equipment on the premises functions appropriately. And that responsibility extends to maintaining functional escalators. So, if your injury occurred on a poorly functioning escalator, or one without warning signs prominently displayed, this would be a case of negligence which would leave the property owner liable for any injuries that result.

    Manufacturers

    Manufacturers have a duty of care to create safe products. If the design or production of the escalator was faulty in any way, you can hold the manufacturer liable for any injuries that result.

    Maintenance Companies

    Maintenance companies have a duty to perform satisfactory maintenance to ensure the safety of those who use the object. If the maintenance company failed to properly maintain the escalator, you can sue it for any injuries you suffer.

    What Is Necessary for a Successful Escalator Injury Suit

    The approach we use will depend on the liable party.

    For property owners, our Atlanta premises liability attorney must establish the following:

    • The property owner knew or should have known about the broken escalator.
    • The property owner did not fix the escalator or did not place warning signs around the escalator.
    • You suffered injuries.

    For manufacturers, we must prove:

    • There was a defect in the design or manufacturing process.
    • The defect caused you to suffer injuries (e.g., There was a defect in the escalator that caused it to jerk back and forth when there is a certain amount of weight on the escalator. When the escalator jerked, you fell.).

    For maintenance companies, we will prove the maintenance company failed to perform adequate maintenance and that this lack of adequate maintenance caused your injury.

    Filing Suit When You Contributed to the Accident

    Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence law when it comes to determining fault for injuries. This law holds that you can recover compensation for your injuries if you contributed 49 percent or less to your accident (if you contributed more than this amount, you are not entitled to compensation).

    While you can recover compensation, your percentage of fault will decrease your available compensation. Let us say you were texting when you stepped onto the escalator. The escalator was broken and caused you to fall and suffer a head injury.

    Had you been paying attention, you would have seen the escalator was broken. The investigation determines that you are partially at-fault because you were distracted. It determined you were not fully at-fault because the property owner failed to place an out of order sign on the escalator. The investigation determined you were 35 percent responsible for your injuries. You requested $10,000; you would be eligible for $6,500 (65 percent of $10,000).

    Why You Should Discuss Your Case with an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

    Escalator accidents and injuries are as unexpected as accidents come. If you or someone you love was involved in an escalator accident, give S. Burke Law a call. Our firm has represented Atlanta victims in injury cases for over 20 years, and we hope to be able to help you in the same way.

    We believe in compassionate representation, and our primary concern is ensuring you get the care you deserve. This is why we offer free consultations to help you gather all the information you need to make the best possible decision.

    Call us now at 404-842-7838 to case your case with our team.

  • Should I Take an Ambulance After a Car Accident?

    Whether you should take an ambulance after a car accident depends on several factors. However, we recommend you always take an ambulance if any of the following apply to your situation:

    • You or a passenger has open wounds.
    • You or a passenger broke a bone.
    • You have any large cuts or lacerations.
    • You are having chest pains or difficulty breathing.
    • You or a passenger was unconscious at any point.
    • You feel any type of pain that was not there before the accident.
    • The EMTs suggest you take an ambulance to the hospital.

    Take an Ambulance Even If You Are Unsure You Suffered Injuries

    We recommend you take an ambulance if you feel any type of discomfort or feel disoriented or if your passenger complains of any discomfort or confusion.

    Any type of discomfort could be a sign of a serious injury. If you do not remember how the accident occurred or are experiencing any confusion, you may have a concussion or another type of traumatic brain injury.

    Factors That Determine Whether You Have to Pay Your Ambulance Costs

    One of the primary worries car accident victims face is paying medical expenses — including the ambulance trip. And this is a very real concern. According to CostHelper.com, ambulance rides can cost, on average, between $400 and $1,200 plus mileage costs.

    Whether you will have to pay your ambulance costs yourself depends on a few factors:

    • Where you live: In some areas, taxes pay ambulance fees. However, this is not the case in DeKalb County where you could pay more than $750 for ambulance transport, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
    • Whether you have insurance: If you do not have insurance, you will likely need to pay the entire ambulance fee out-of-pocket. If you have health insurance, you might only need to pay a copay or deductible.
    • Whether you were at-fault (and your percentage of fault): If you were at-fault for the accident, you will be responsible for your ambulance fees. If another party was at least partially at-fault (more than 49 percent), we can add ambulance fees to your settlement demand. If your insurance covered the ambulance fees, we will need to pay back your insurance, but we can also include your copay or deductible in your demand.

    How Taking an Ambulance Can Help You and Your Personal Injury Claim

    While no single element can swing a personal injury claim in your favor, taking an ambulance can be helpful in a variety of ways. The following are ways taking emergency transport can help you and your claim:

    • An ambulance will get you to the right hospital: Depending on your injuries, it may be better to get you to one hospital rather than another (e.g., a trauma center instead of a regular hospital).
    • An ambulance will help get you there more quickly: Cities like Atlanta are known for their heavy traffic. If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a crash, an ambulance will help get you to the hospital faster and more safely than you would if you were driving yourself or your loved one.
    • A doctor will be able to identify your injuries quickly: Symptoms associated with many injuries (particularly soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains) often do not manifest themselves for a few hours or days. Sometimes it can take close to a week.
    • Insurance companies may dispute your claim if you wait: Insurance adjusters construct timelines of events and treatments when evaluating your claim. If you wait a day or two before seeking medical attention, insurance companies could use this as proof that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. If you take an ambulance right to the hospital, the insurance company will have a hard time dismissing the severity of your injury.

    Note: The team at S. Burke Law recommends that you always receive medical treatment after an accident, regardless of whether you take an ambulance or not. This will prevent insurers from claiming your injury is unrelated to the accident.

    Discuss Your Case with an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today

    If another party’s negligent behavior caused you to suffer injuries in a car crash, you deserve compensation for all of your accident-related expenses, including your ambulance ride if you chose to take emergency transport to the hospital. Dealing with an insurance company after an accident is often difficult. A car accident lawyer at S. Burke Law will negotiate with the insurance company and ensure you receive compensation for all your accident-related losses.

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

  • How Do I Calculate Medical Expenses in an Injury Lawsuit?

    How you calculate medical expenses in an injury lawsuit depend on whether they are current or future losses. Below, we detail how to calculate current and future medical expenses.

    Current Medical Costs

    You may be entitled to compensation for any of the following current medical losses:

    • Ambulance transportation
    • Emergency room visits
    • Hospital stays
    • Physical therapy appointments
    • Referrals to specialists
    • Medical imaging, e.g., X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, etc.
    • The costs of traveling to and from medical appointments (e.g., gas purchases, parking fees, etc.)

    Determining the value of these damages is usually straightforward. It starts with you saving all your bills and receipts related to your injury. We recommend placing them all in a folder and keeping them in a safe place. Once you have gathered all your receipts and medical bills, we simply add up all your losses to determine the value of your current medical bills.

    Long-Term Medical Losses

    Of course, not all accidents result in relatively simple injuries which can be resolved with a few doctor’s appointments or a few months of therapy. In some cases, your injury may require lifelong, even round-the-clock maintenance. To determine the costs of long-term care, we can work with medical and financial experts.

    For example, if your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, your loved one might face the effects of that injury for months, years, or even for the rest of her life. We can work with your doctor to determine how long the brain injury might continue to affect your loved one and your family.

    For example: your loved one suffered a severe brain injury. Your doctor determined the injury would affect your loved one for the rest of her life. She will need long-term, round-the-clock care. Now that we have a prognosis, to determine how much this might cost you and your family over time, we can work with a financial expert.

    Are There Any Factors That Might Affect the Calculation of My Medical Expenses?

    Yes. Several factors may affect your calculations:

    • The costs of medical care in your area
    • The costs of medical attention over time (If your injury will affect you for the rest of your life, you must ensure you consider inflation or the rise of the costs of medical care over time.)
    • The severity of your injuries and your prognosis

    Is There Anything that Might Affect What I Can Recover for My Medical Expenses?

    Yes. Once you have determined the value of your medical expenses, you must prove another party was at-fault for the incident that caused your injury. If the other party was 100 percent at-fault for the incident, you may be entitled to 100 percent of your damages.

    However, per Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, if you contributed to an accident or your injuries, you may receive less than you hoped for. For example, say you slipped and fell in a puddle at the grocery store, hitting your head and sustaining a spinal cord injury.

    An investigation found the store itself 80 percent at-fault for the accident as an employee ignored the spill and never placed a wet floor sign near the spill. However, surveillance video showed that you were texting when you fell. The investigation determined you might have been able to avoid the accident had you been paying attention. It found you 20 percent at-fault for your injuries.

    If you requested $50,000 for your injuries, you might only be able to recover $40,000 (a 20-percent decrease).

    Why Is It Important That I Know How to Calculate Injury Expenses?

    If you do not know how to calculate your injury expenses, you might find you are missing out on thousands of dollars. Most injury settlement offers from an insurance company only include your current medical bills. Consider the following: You accept an injury settlement offer. You did not realize it did not cover all your injury costs. Your injury will require round-the-clock care for the rest of your life. You must now pay for decades of care out-of-pocket.

    Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

    Dealing with a serious injury is difficult enough without having to worry about the nuances of personal injury law. A personal injury lawyer at S. Burke Law can handle your case, determining the value of your medical expenses and any other losses your injury caused you. Once we have determined your case’s worth, we will negotiate with the insurance company, fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.

    And because we know you likely do not need any more expenses at the moment, we handle your case on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay us unless we recover compensation for you.

    Call us at 404-842-7838. We can walk you through what your options are in hopes of making the best decision for your family.

  • What Is a Wrongful Death Beneficiary?

    A wrongful death beneficiary is someone, usually an accident victim’s surviving loved one, who can recover compensation in a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death settlements compensate surviving family members for their losses when their loved one died in an accident due to negligence, recklessness, or criminal behavior.

    Who Can Be A Wrongful Death Beneficiary?

    Who can be a beneficiary depends on who died in the accident as well as who remains. But, in general terms, we can say that wrongful death beneficiaries are the next of kin.

    Georgia established the following hierarchy into law to determine priority:

    • Spouse: Spouses are the first party who can benefit from a wrongful death claim.
    • Children: If there was no surviving spouse at the time of the death, the right to file a wrongful death claim and collect damages falls to the children.
    • Parents: Parents can file a wrongful death claim for the loss of their unmarried, minor children.
    • The estate: If no immediate family members survived the wrongful death victim, the estate holds the right to file a wrongful death claim. From there, compensation is distributed to the next of kin as determined by probate law.

    Per Georgia’s wrongful death law, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim must divide the settlement evenly between each person (e.g., if the wrongful death settlement totaled $60,000 for a spouse and two children, each would receive $20,000).  

    Can the Wrongful Death Beneficiary Change?

    In most cases, no, the beneficiary cannot change. However, the one instance in which the beneficiary can change is if the family member at the top of the hierarchy dies.

    For example, if a husband and wife were involved in a serious accident, the wife could file a wrongful death claim if the husband died in the accident. If the wife, who also suffered injuries in the accident, succumbs to those injuries, the claim “shall survive to the child or children of the decedent.” The same applies if a child dies while filing a wrongful death claim. The claim will transfer to the next surviving child.

    What Damages Can You Collect in a Wrongful Death Claim?

    There are a variety of damages you can collect as a wrongful death beneficiary. Depending on your loved one’s circumstances, you might be entitled to any of the following:

    • Medical bills: Wrongful death beneficiaries should receive compensation for everything from ambulances to the cost of the loved one’s hospital stay and specialists.
    • Funeral costs: Funerals are expensive ceremonies; your wrongful death claim should cover these costs.
    • Loss of income: These damages depend on the victim’s current salary, earning potential, inflation, and life expectancy (e.g., a wrongful death claim for a 50 year old who makes $80,000 a year will have a higher income value than a 60 year old who makes $60,000). Your settlement should include this when awarded.
    • Loss of benefits: In addition to loss of income, the victim’s family may have expected additional benefits from their lost loved one. Your settlement should compensate you for expected Social Security income, health care, pensions, 401(k)s, and more.
    • Child care: If the victim had children, the settlement should include the expected cost of raising the child until age 18.
    • Pain and suffering: You are entitled to compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering between the time of the accident and death.
    • Noneconomic losses: Arguably the most difficult part of a loved one’s death is the emotional impact. You deserve compensation for your emotional losses, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and other damages.

    Call an Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer

    Losing someone close to you is never easy. Especially when it is a sudden loss due to another party’s negligent behavior. There are no easy answers and no amount of compensation can replace your loss.

    But you can — and should — hold the negligent party liable for your losses. Let us shoulder the burden for a while. We can handle your claim, giving you the opportunity to grieve and spend time with your family. Call the wrongful death team at S. Burke Law for a free consultation whenever you are ready for our help: 404-842-7838.

  • Who Is At Fault for a Texting and Walking Accident With a Car?

    A pedestrian will be at-least partially at fault for a texting and walking accident with a car.

    Like drivers, pedestrians must act responsibly and exercise duty of care when sharing the road with other drivers and pedestrians. And texting while walking is among the ways in which pedestrians can be at-fault for an accident.

    Can a Pedestrian and Driver Share Fault in a Texting and Walking Accident?

    Yes. Anyone whose negligent behavior contributes to an accident can share fault for it. For example, a pedestrian is texting and walking and walks across an intersection without looking. A driver turning right sees the pedestrian is distracted but does not make an effort to avoid a collision. In this case, both the driver and the pedestrian might be at-fault.

    However, it is important to note that, per Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, a pedestrian who is more than 49 percent at-fault for an accident will be unable to recover any compensation. For example, if you were texting and walking but another driver was speeding, an investigation might find you 75 percent at-fault for your injuries. This would render you unable to recover compensation.

    Can I Recover Compensation for a Texting and Walking Accident with a Car?

    Yes, you can recover compensation for your medical expenses even if you were texting and walking. However, you will only be able to recover compensation for some of your expenses due to Georgia’s comparative negligence law.

    In addition to preventing you from recovering compensation if you are 50 percent at-fault, the comparative negligence law also decreases your compensation in proportion to your amount of fault. If you were 40 percent at-fault for the accident, you can recover 60 percent of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related losses.

    If you were primarily at-fault (i.e., 50 percent or more) for the accident, you would have to turn to your own insurance coverage. This might include your medical payments coverage or your health insurance coverage. If you do not have medical payments coverage, you may be able to use the coverage of someone in your household. If none of these pedestrian accident coverage options apply in your situation, you might end up having to cover all your accident expenses out of pocket.

    Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

    Texting is something we all do every day. And while texting while crossing roads and intersections is something we should never do, no one is perfect.

    We understand that everyone from drivers to pedestrians makes mistakes on the road. We believe that even being partially at-fault for a pedestrian accident should not prevent you from receiving at least some amount of compensation. A pedestrian accident lawyer from S. Burke Law is here to help. Give us a call now for a free consultation at 404-842-7838. You can walk us through your pedestrian accident, and we can lay out your coverage options.

  • Can I Get Compensation for Aggravation of a Preexisting Injury?

    Yes, you can collect compensation for the aggravation of a preexisting injury. However, preexisting conditions can complicate your claim in ways most injury victims do not foresee.

    If you were involved in an accident recently, S. Burke Law can help guide you through the complications your preexisting injuries can create in your case. Dealing with the pain and inconvenience of an injury is stressful enough. Fighting with insurers about when and how you sustained the injury can be even worse. Call S. Burke Law now to discuss your case with our team for free: 404-842-7838.

    How Can I Recover Compensation for Aggravation of a Preexisting Condition?

    Most people believe they can only recover compensation for new injuries they sustain in a car accident or slip and fall. However, if the accident caused the aggravation of a preexisting condition, you deserve compensation for that.

    Consider the following: you broke your back six months ago. Your back had mostly healed, but when you were rear-ended two months ago, the impact refractured your weakened vertebra. As this impact exacerbated your broken back, you deserve compensation for any costs associated with the exacerbation.

    This might include ambulance transport, surgery costs, pain medication, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, etc.

    What If the Insurer Tries to Blame My Pain on a Preexisting Condition?

    In some cases, the insurer will claim that your current pain is entirely due to a preexisting injury and that you did not suffer injury in the accident in question at all.

    For example, say someone rear-ended your car a month ago. And you have experienced excruciating back pain since the incident. Your symptoms are the following:

    • Back pain
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle spasms
    • Tingling reaching your extremities

    If you recently suffered from a herniated or bulging disc, the insurer might claim your pain is due to that existing injury.

    If the insurer attempts to blame your pain on an existing injury, we can work with medical experts to prove that your preexisting injury was exacerbated by the impact of your car accident, slip and fall, or other accident.

    We can also interview friends, family, and coworkers who can attest to how the accident or slip and fall has affected your lifestyle. For example, you may have had a limp because of a preexisting knee injury prior to a car accident. If you now need to use a wheelchair after your accident, this is a very simple way of demonstrating your lifestyle change.

    In addition, change in your own behavior helps your case. If you played in a rec softball league prior to your injury that you can no longer participate in, this influences your case. Written or verbal testimonies from the people you participated in these activities with can help prove a significant, if not permanent, change in lifestyle.

    Is There A Way I Can Prevent the Insurance Company from Blaming My Pain on a Preexisting Injury?

    The best way to prevent the insurer from blaming your current pain on a preexisting injury is to keep them from finding out about the injury at all.

    After an accident, insurers often request access to an injured party’s medical records, saying that they need them to substantiate the injury in question. What most people do not know is that a medical records release often gives the insurer access to your entire medical history. This allows them to examine your medical records in the hopes that you have a similar preexisting injury they can blame your pain on.

    To keep the insurer from finding out about your preexisting injury, we will ensure the medical records release stipulates that the insurer only has access to the medical records related to the accident. Without the record of an injury, the insurer cannot blame your current pain on it.

    Call An Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

    Dealing with accidents and injuries is something no one wants to do. But, unfortunately, it is often a part of life. S. Burke Law understands how difficult it is to collect damages even when you had a clean bill of health prior to your accident. Attempting to prove your pain stems from the accident in question instead of a preexisting injury is a frustrating task.

    S. Burke Law wants to take that burden off your shoulders. We have been fighting to prove clients’ injuries for over 20 years and we can help you, too. While we cannot guarantee you a set amount of damages in your preexisting injury claim, we can offer guidance and information as part of our consultations. And remember, our consultations are always free. Give us a call today: 404-842-7838.

  • What Happens If a Pedestrian Is At Fault for an Accident?

    If a pedestrian is at-fault for an accident, he will need to turn to his own insurance company or pay for their expenses out of pocket. If the accident caused the driver to suffer injuries, the pedestrian would also be financially liable for those injuries.

    If you were involved in an Atlanta pedestrian accident, do not hesitate in reaching out to a pedestrian accident lawyer at S. Burke Law. Our consultations are free, and we are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 404-842-7838.

    When Might Be Pedestrians Be At-Fault for Accidents?

    Knowing when pedestrians are at fault in accidents is key to knowing what happens when they are at-fault. Like drivers, pedestrians must exercise duty of care, and cannot behave in ways that put others at risk.

    The following are among the ways in which pedestrians can behave negligently and cause an accident:

    • Texting while walking
    • Talking on the phone
    • Talking to other pedestrians
    • Walking while intoxicated
    • Ignoring or disobeying street signs and crosswalk signals
    • Crossing the street outside of an intersection, crossing outside of crosswalks
    • Running into traffic, stepping in front of cars

    Can the Pedestrian and Driver Share Fault?

    Yes. Georgia’s comparative negligence laws allow parties involved in an accident to share fault. While pedestrians have the duty to yield right-of-way to vehicles and pay attention to their surroundings, drivers also have the responsibility to avoid accidents whenever possible — even if the pedestrian is behaving negligently. Common examples of shared-fault accidents include:

    • A pedestrian is crossing outside of a crosswalk. A driver has time to stop and avoid the accident, but he is not paying attention.
    • A pedestrian crosses at a crosswalk against a walk signal. A driver turning right on red and hits the pedestrian.
    • A pedestrian has the right-of-way (e.g., he has a walk signal), but steps in front of a driver already navigating a turn. While the driver should yield to the pedestrian, a pedestrian cannot simply walk in front of a car and expect it to stop.

    How Can I Pay for Accident-Related Damages?

    You might have a few coverage options available to you if you are hit by a car, depending on the circumstances. If you were primarily at-fault for the accident, your medical payments (MedPay) policy should cover you. If you do not have car insurance or did not opt for MedPay coverage, you can use a family member’s policy.

    If neither you nor a family member has MedPay coverage, you may be able to use your health insurance coverage. It is important to note that many health insurance policies exempt car accident injuries from coverage.

    If the driver suffered injuries, you may need to use your liability coverage to pay for the driver’s losses.

    If you were only partially at-fault, you may be able to get the other driver to pay for your injury costs. However, it is important to note that you will only be able to recover compensation from the other party if you were 49 percent or less at-fault for the accident.

    Consider the following: You were jaywalking. A drunk driver hit you. While you were crossing outside of a crosswalk, an investigation finds the driver could have avoided the accident had he been sober. The investigation finds you 40 percent at-fault and the driver 60 percent at-fault. You would be able to recover 60 percent of your settlement demand (e.g., if you requested $20,000, you would be entitled to $12,000).

    Call an Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Lawyer for Help Recovering Compensation

    Getting into an accident is an unexpected event no one can plan for. If you were recently involved in an Atlanta pedestrian accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to S. Burke Law. We will fight to get you the compensation you need to cover your injuries and other losses, even if you contributed to the accident.

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