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 Are Punitive Damages in Georgia?
In addition to the standard types of damages a person can receive, like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, in a personal injury case, Georgia law provides for punitive damages under specific circumstances. The vast majority of personal injury cases do not receive an award of punitive damages. In some situations, however, punitive damages can be appropriate.
Other terms for punitive damages include "vindictive damages" and "exemplary damages." If the judge awards additional damages to punish, deter, or otherwise penalize the defendant, because of aggravating circumstances, those are also punitive damages.
An Example of Punitive Damages
Let’s say that a corporation manufactures a product that the company knows is dangerous. The company does not correct the defect, because it decides that it is less expensive to pay the claims of people the product injures rather than to re-engineer the product to make it safe.
When an injured person brings a lawsuit against the corporation, the judge can award the plaintiff (injured person) compensation for her financial losses, like medical bills, loss of income, and decreased earning potential. The judge can also award money for intangible losses, like disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and the spouse's loss of consortium.
In addition to these standard damages, the judge can order the company to pay an additional sum, above and beyond the typical categories of damages, to deter the corporation from making that kind of business decision in the future.
What We Have to Prove to Win Punitive Damages
Georgia law only allows punitive damages in tort cases, like personal injury cases, when we can provide the judge with clear and convincing evidence that what the defendant demonstrates:
- Intentional malice
- Purposeful misconduct, or
- Such extreme carelessness that would indicate a conscious disregard for how the actions would affect other people
Who Gets the Money When the Judge Awards Punitive Damages
Because Georgia law views punitive damages as strictly a means of punishing, penalizing or deterring defendants, the compensation does not go straight to the plaintiff. Most of the money goes to the government.
Under our punitive damages statute, the state will receive 75% of punitive damages awards for product liability cases, after deducting reasonable attorneys’ fees and other proportionate costs of litigation. There is no statutory limitation on the amount of punitive damages a judge can award in a product liability case. A dangerous product that hurts someone is one example of a product liability claim.
Limits on the Amount of Punitive Damages a Judge Can Award
As already stated, Georgia law does not limit punitive damages in product liability cases. There is also no limit on the punitive damages that a court can order a defendant in a case that is not a product liability case, when the court found that defendant guilty of:
- Intentionally causing harm by acting or failing to act
- Being under the influence of alcohol when the defendant acted or failed to act
- Being under the influence of lawfully prescribed drugs that were not taken according to the prescription, when the defendant acted or failed to act
- Acting or failing to act when his or her judgment was significantly impaired by any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor.
In all other situations, a court cannot award punitive damages of more than $250,000 in a tort case.
Additional Requirements for the Award of Punitive Damages in Georgia
Georgia law requires that we jump through several hoops to have the judge or jury order punitive damages in a tort case. The usual steps include:
- We must specifically ask for punitive damages in our complaint, also called the petition. The complaint is the document that we file at the beginning of the case, telling the court who the plaintiff is, who the defendants are, why we are suing them, and what we want the court to do. Courts in Georgia are not allowed to award punitive damages if the plaintiff did not ask for them.
- At the end of the trial, the judge or jury must decide whether the facts of the case satisfy the requirements for an award of punitive damages.
- The trier of fact must specify the decision reached, whether to award punitive damages or not, using an appropriate verdict form and making all the required findings to support the decision.
- In cases in which the trier of fact decides that punitive damages are appropriate, the trial must continue so that the court can hear relevant evidence as to the amount of punitive damages it will take to punish, penalize, or deter the defendant, in that particular situation.
- The trier of fact will then use the information gained in the trial and this additional evidence to determine the amount of punitive damages to award.
Like many things in the law, the rules about punitive damages can be complex. You do not have to figure this out on your own. We will be happy to answer your questions about punitive damages when we talk with you about your case.
You can call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 today to set up your free consultation. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.
What Constitutes Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering are things that fit into the category of “non-economic damages” in personal injury cases. These losses do not always have a bill, receipt, or other documentation that measure the loss in terms of dollars. These damages are, nonetheless, legitimate losses for which injury victims should receive compensation.
At S. Burke Law, we work hard to show the court the extent and value of your economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Usually, you must sustain a physical injury to be eligible for non-economic damages. The term “pain and suffering” encompasses both your physical pain and your psychological suffering.
You can recover compensation for the physical pain and discomfort you endured from the injury itself, as well as the physical pain and discomfort from things like:
- Surgery that you needed to repair the damage, such as orthopedic surgery to install metal plates and screws to stabilize a shattered bone;
- Physical therapy to regain your strength, flexibility, range of motion, and complete your recuperation;
- Other treatments, like wound debriding, skin grafts, and changing dressings;
- Subsequent surgery to lessen scars and disfigurement;
- Chronic pain that you continue to experience after your injury heals;
- Scar tissue pain from significant burns and other injuries.
For many people, the psychological trauma can be as excruciating and debilitating as the physical injuries. Some examples of psychological suffering include:
- Terror at the time of the injury. For example, you were stopped in a traffic jam and saw that the tractor-trailer behind you was not slowing down. You had to sit there and watch the massive truck crash into you.
- Fright and worry over whether you would live through the accident.
- Stress in the ambulance and emergency room about how severe your injuries would be, whether you would be able to continue working to support yourself and your family and whether the injuries would be debilitating. Worry about whether, for example, you would be able to walk again, live independently, and engage in the activities that you enjoy.
- Physical and mental exhaustion during the recuperation process. Recuperating from a significant injury can drain your energy.
- Financial stress from missing wages while you are in the hospital, rehabilitation center, or at home recovering from your injuries. While you are hurting and trying to heal, you are also stressing over whether you will have the money to buy groceries, pay the electric bill, or your medication. Without a paycheck, you might get evicted from your home.
- Inconvenience the injury created. For example, having to drive to physical therapy two or three times a week for several months can take away a significant portion of those days, impeding your ability to work and take care of your family.
- Sadness if, for example, you missed attending your child’s graduation or some other significant event because of the injury. You can experience grief from the loss of experiences and time that you can never get back.
- Depression about things like your immediate physical condition, ongoing pain, decreased quality of life, and financial losses from the injury.
- Sleep disturbances like insomnia or nightmares can follow an injury.
- Disfigurement from your injuries, such as scar tissue from burns and lacerations.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If you can no longer do things that you enjoyed before the accident, like walking or hiking, you have sustained a loss of enjoyment of life. People with life-changing injuries like paralysis, head trauma, and loss of vision often experience this condition.
- Anger over your injuries and how they have impacted your life.
- Humiliation, particularly if you experience disfigurement that causes others to stare at you.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Panic attacks, uncontrollable outbursts, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fear, and personality changes can linger for years after an injury. For example, some people cannot ride in a vehicle again after a car accident that involved severe or fatal injuries. They might have panic attacks at the very thought of getting back into a car.
- The economic consequences of PTSD can be significant since many people with this condition have difficulty maintaining employment.
- Relationships can deteriorate because of PTSD. It can be challenging to live with someone who suffers from this condition. PTSD can lead to divorce and the loss of lifelong friendships.
- Other emotional distress. Mood swings, irritability, and loss of control of one’s emotions are but a few examples of how a personal injury can cause you emotional distress.
How We Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages
We can use your medical records and the accident report to show the extent of your injuries and all the medical treatment you had to endure because of the injury. Your doctor’s file should indicate whether you complained of pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other aspects of pain and suffering.
Records from your treating health care professional will help to document your emotional distress. Sometimes people close to you, like your family, friends, and co-workers can provide additional evidence of how the injury has affected you.
How to Get Help for Your Personal Injury Claim
A phone call to S. Burke Law is all that it takes to get things started on your personal injury claim. Call us today at 404-842-7838, to line up your free consultation. We will explain your legal rights and evaluate your economic and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. We do not charge legal fees until you win.
What is Loss of Society?
Loss of society is a non-economic loss for which the loved ones of a victim in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can seek compensation. When your spouse or parent suffers significant injuries or dies, you also experience a loss. That person is not available to be with you in the same way as before.
“Loss of society and companionship” is not the same as “loss of consortium.” A surviving spouse can seek compensation for both types of loss. Loss of society is available to surviving spouses and other close family members. These damages honor the fact that the wrongful or negligent act of someone took away the love, care, affection, guidance, and protection they used to receive from their catastrophically injured or deceased loved one.
Loss of Society and Companionship Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Loss of society damages usually take place in wrongful death cases, but in some personal injury lawsuits, it is possible to get an award of these damages. Here is an example:
Comatose victim in a personal injury lawsuit. The victim survived the car crash but sustained severe head trauma, leaving him comatose and on long-term life support.
He can no longer take the kids to school, play with them, attend their school events, nurture or raise them. His wife faces an uncertain number of years without her closest companion. His surviving spouse and children have, in most meanings of the term, lost their dad, even though his body is not yet dead. They have lost his society and companionship.
Loss of Society and Companionship Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In wrongful death cases, it is a straightforward matter to establish the loss of society of your deceased loved one. Georgia law provides for damages for the “full value of the life” of the person who died as a result of someone’s negligent or wrongful act.
The full value of the life can include such things as the economic support, services, consortium, society, and companionship that the deceased person provided to the family. The “society and companionship” aspect of these damages can cover such things as advice, guidance, protection, care, and assistance.
What We Have to Prove in a Loss of Society Damages Claim
We must show that the defendant (at-fault party) caused the harm to your catastrophically injured or deceased loved one through a negligent, intentional, or otherwise wrongful act. The elements of liability in negligence are:
- The defendant had a legal duty toward your loved one. For example, the defendant was driving the vehicle that crashed into your loved one. Like all drivers, the defendant had an obligation to drive his car in a careful manner and observe the laws and rules of the road.
- The defendant breached his legal duty. The defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol. His blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded the legal limit in Georgia. By breaking the law about driving while impaired, the defendant violated his legal obligations. Failing to meet the standard of care is negligence.
- The negligence caused the injury. Because of his intoxication, the defendant lost control of his vehicle and struck the victim, causing his severe or fatal injuries. The defendant is responsible for the personal injuries or wrongful death of the victim.
Getting Help with Your Loss of Society Damages Claim in Georgia
When you have lost the society and companionship of a loved one, it means that your spouse or a close relative has suffered a devastating injury or death. In times like this, the last thing you need is to have to deal with things like figuring out your legal rights and what you should do.
At S. Burke Law, we understand. We can take these burdens off of your back so that you can focus on rebuilding your life.
What is Lost Earning Capacity?
Lost earning capacity is the effect on your ability to earn a living. You can still work, but you are not able to make as much money as before. The person who caused your injury might have to pay you for this loss.
What Might Constitute Lost Earning Capacity
Here are some examples of diminished earning capacity:
- You can no longer perform the same kind of work that you did before the accident. For instance, because of a back injury from a car accident, you can no longer lift heavy objects, which means that you cannot do the tasks your warehouse job requires. You have to look for a different line of work.
- You can still work at your job, but you cannot work as many hours as you did before the injury. Let’s say that you worked a full-time job prior to your injury. After recuperation, you are able to return to the same job, but because of the pain involved with your injury, you can only work 25 hours a week.
- You have to switch to a different position because of the injury. For example, you used to work a lucrative sales job that required you to be on your feet all day. Because of the injury, you are unable to be on your feet for long periods of time. Your boss offered you a clerical job where you could sit at a desk to work, but the clerical position paid less than the sales job.
Long-term or Permanent Impairment
It is common to need some time to recuperate and get your strength back after an injury. A short-term decrease in your earnings belongs in the category of lost wages, not lost earning capacity. You can still get compensation for the loss, but the impairment is temporary.
To get compensation for lost earning capacity, the injury must affect your ability to earn income for a long time or permanently. For example:
Temporary impairment: a salesperson at a car dealership breaks her leg and has to stay off of her feet for a few months until the fracture heals and she completes physical therapy. During that recuperation time, she works at a lower-paying position at the dealership. She has a claim for lost wages.
Permanent impairment: a salesperson at a car dealership fractures her back in a car accident. After the injury heals as much as it is going to, she experiences chronic pain when she is on her feet for more than a few minutes. The orthopedic surgeon expects the situation to get worse as the patient gets older. The worker has to take a lower-paying job so that she can sit while she works. She has a claim for lost earning capacity.
Decreased Earning Capacity
The injury must cause a decrease in your earning potential.
Let’s say that a construction worker could no longer perform physically demanding labor on job sites after a severe injury. His employer offered him a management position that paid more than the labor job. The worker has not suffered a decrease in his earning potential.
On the other hand, if the worker had a high-paying job that he could no longer perform because of the injury, he might have to take a job that pays less money. In that situation, he has a claim for lost earning capacity.
How We Prove Diminished Earning Ability
Our injury lawyer will prove that the at-fault party’s negligence caused your injury and that the injury adversely affected your ability to earn as much money as you did before or took some career options away from you. We might have to hire experts to show the jury that you deserve compensation for deceased earning potential. Some of the experts we can use in these cases include:
Medical experts who can testify about the severity and permanence of your injury, such as your regular doctor or a specialist, like an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist.
Economic experts to explain to the judge how the impairment will affect your future earnings.
Vocational experts can connect your injuries to specific job skills and let the judge know how the impairment will affect your current job or restrict your future career choices. Some of these experts can also calculate the dollar amount of the anticipated diminished earning capacity.
Call S. Burke Law Today for Help with an Injury Claim: 404-842-7838
We realize that the issues surrounding lost earning capacity can be difficult to comprehend, but you do not have to worry about that. We will be happy to answer your questions. Just call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, and we will arrange a free consultation with you. There is no obligation.
What Are Some Tactics Insurers Use to Lower My Recovery?
According to its own reports, the insurance industry in America rakes in over $1 trillion a year in net premiums. They are supposed to pay valid claims out of those premiums.
The business reality is that the less that insurers pay on claims, the more money they get to keep as profit. As a result, insurance companies have a significant financial incentive to try to lower the amount of compensation you receive when you get hurt. Every company is different, but overall, the industry uses a variety of tactics to achieve this goal.
The Danger of Written or Recorded Statements
If you have been in a car accident, you will probably get a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company. The claims adjuster will ask you to give a recorded or written statement to them.
Although they describe the statement as an opportunity to tell your side of the story, the claims adjusters use these writings or recordings to reduce to amount of money they have to pay you for your injuries. The insurers can take your words out of context or twist them into something you did not intend. Giving a written or recorded statement is not for your benefit – it is to the advantage of the insurance company.
You should not talk with the insurance company for the other driver without your personal injury lawyer being involved in the process. When the claims adjuster contacts you about giving a statement, tell him to talk to your lawyer.
When “Quick Money” Is Really a Rip-off
Sometimes the insurance company will make you feel as if you have won the lottery. They wave a check under your nose soon after an accident. Thousands of dollars of free money would come in handy right now, since you are not able to go back to work yet.
What they do not tell you is:
- You have to pay all of your medical bills out of that check.
- That is all the money you will ever get from them for this wreck, no matter what.
The insurer might try to reach a quick settlement with you even if you have not yet recuperated from your injuries. You do not know what the future will hold. You might end up missing more work and having massive medical bills with no way to pay them.
You could have long-term problems from the injury. In this situation, the settlement check is not fair compensation for your loss.
When you accept a settlement check from an insurance company, you have to sign papers. These documents release the insurance company and the person they insure from any future liability for your injuries. You can never go back to them and ask for more money. You should not settle with an insurance company until you have completed all of the medical treatment and achieved 100 percent recuperation from your injuries.
Missing the Deadline
After an injury, you try to work things out with the insurance company. The adjuster strings you along for months by negotiating back and forth and asking for more documents.
Just when you think that you are about to reach an agreement with the adjuster, she stops returning your phone calls. When you finally reach her, she says that the time for filing a lawsuit has passed, so they have no obligation to pay you anything for your injuries.
Defense Medical Experts
The insurance company wants to send you for an examination and evaluation by a physician of their choosing. This “expert” will contradict what your treating doctor says and claim that you are exaggerating your injuries for profit. The defense doctor will minimize your injuries and state that you should achieve full recuperation, despite your ongoing medical issues.
There are entire directories of people who do nothing but testify in lawsuits, and some of them only work for the insurance companies. If the insurance company tries to send you to someone for an evaluation or exam, tell them to contact your personal injury lawyer.
Try to Pin the Blame on You
The insurance company can try to slash the amount of money they have to pay by sticking you with some of the blame for the accident. The adjuster might even say that you owe money to the other driver. The insurer might tell you that both you and the other driver were at fault, so your damages offset each other and no one has to pay any money to anyone.
These tactics might be entirely false statements of the law and the facts of your case.
Once you get a lawyer on board, the insurance company will have to deal directly with your attorney. At S. Burke Law, we will protect your right to recover compensation.
Refusing to Negotiate in Good Faith
One of the tactics some insurance companies use is to deny your claims for damages and refuse to make a reasonable settlement offer. They do this to pressure you to accept a low-ball offer.
You are in a vulnerable position after an injury. You are dealing with the pain and inconvenience of being hurt. You might not be able to work for a while as you are recuperating. Your bills are piling up, and you do not have any way to pay them. The electric company is sending you past due notices, and your rent is late.
You are worried about getting evicted and wonder how you will pay for groceries. The late payments will lower your credit score, which will hurt your financial status for years. Even when you can work again, you will not get back-pay for the time that you missed, so the bills that those paychecks would have covered will sit unpaid.
Having a personal injury lawyer serving Georgia on your side will protect you if the insurance company uses tactics to try to reduce the amount that you collect for your damages. The team at S. Burke Law is here to help injured people get their lives back. Call us at 404-842-7838, to set up your free consultation.
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.
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 AttorneyThe 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
Duty of Care for Each Potentially Negligent Party
Duty of care differs by individual.
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 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 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.