Distracted Driving is a Real Problem in Kennesaw, GA

distracted driving accidents deadly

Automobile Accidents are a Real Problem in Cobb County, GA

According to Georgia Automobile Crash Data published by the Georgia Department of Transportation (“GDOT”) on its crash data portal, there were 25,716 accidents in Cobb County, Georgia during 2022. 10,603 people were injured in those accidents and 77 died.  These statistics are alarming but they are down right scary when we break them down further. These statistics suggest that in 2022, on average, 70.45 accidents occurred every day in Cobb County. Again, on average, 29.04 people are hurt in these accidents every day and someone died every 5.18 days.

Distracted Driving is a Dangerous Habit for Many Georgia Drivers

A major cause of deadly traffic accidents is distracted driving. In today’s high paced world, drivers can be distracted by many things ranging from cell phones to kids arguing in the back seat. 52,149 of the 57,605 distracted driver convictions reported to the Georgia Department of Driver Services in 2021, were for violations of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c) Unlawful Use of Wireless Device. Of all the counties in Georgia, Cobb County had the third most convictions for violations of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c). The only Georgia counties with more convictions for Unlawful Use of a Wireless Device were Fulton and Gwinnett Counties. Detailed distracted driver data reports for Georgia can be found on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website.

Despite extensive research showing just how big of a problem distracting driving is, drivers continue to engage in behavior that causes them to lose focus on the road. People often underestimate the risk of talking on the phone, text messaging, eating while they drive, or overestimate their ability to multitask. But with lives at stake, practicing safe driving habits is crucial.

Careless Tractor Trailer Drivers Drive While Distracted

Just a few years ago, this author was contacted by a potential client after he was rear-ended by a tractor trailer driver on Interstate-285 outside of Atlanta. At first glance, the case seemed to be fairly routine but things got interesting when I filed suit and obtained the tractor-trailer driver’s cell phone records.

During the lawsuit, I served written discovery on the tractor-trailer driver, his employer, and his insurance company. Initially, they vehemently denied that he was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. Specifically, the driver claimed he was checking his mirrors as a safety measure prior to the crash:

His cellular provider’s records told a different story. The driver was, in fact, engaged in a lengthy text messaging conversation during his trip and at the time of the crash. This was easily proven by comparing the Georgia Crash Report – Crash Date & Time to the driver’s cell phone records as shown below:

When this tractor trailer driver was texting and driving, he knew that his actions were dangerous. He said so in his deposition testimony:

6         Q.  Did you know at the time of this
7.    wreck and did you believe at the time of this —
8.    that this wreck occurred that texting and driving
9.    was, as on this video we just watched, one of the
10.  most dangerous things you can do while driving a
11.  vehicle?
12.       A.  Yes, I was aware.
13.       Q.  And did you it anyway?
14.        A.  Yes.

This driver’s dangerous choice to text and drive caused significant injuries to my client that resulted in a very expensive and risky neck surgery. As a consequence of this driver’s choice to text and drive, my client will never be the same. He has internal hardware to stabilize his spine and he will never again be the same father and husband he once was. In addition to my client’s serious injuries, this driver’s employer had to pay a large amount of money to settle this claim.

Nobody “won” in this situation. A man’s life was forever altered and a company lost a lot of money due to its driver’s dangerous choice to text and drive. We should all keep this lesson in mind so we don’t make the same dangerous mistake.

Common Bad Habits to Avoid While Driving in Georgia

  1. Texting. This is a bad and dangerous habit in Georgia and throughout the country. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous. Some research shows that the dangers of texting and driving can be as profound as those associated with drinking and driving. Texting and driving should always be avoided for safety reasons. Moreover, it is illegal to do so in Georgia and punishable by a fine. 
  1. Using apps or other phone functions. Equally dangerous is using your phone to access apps, music, or any other functions. For instance, one study suggested that the rising popularity Pokemon Go was causing more accidents on the road because game-obsessed drivers sometimes try to play as they drive. Like texting, using smartphone applications while driving should always be avoided.
  1. Talking on the phone. Some studies show that even hands-free cell phone conversations present a significant risk. Although hands-free calling is a safer way to communicate than texting, you should be aware that it still presents a risk on the road.
  1. Eating and drinking. Some people eat and drink when they drive. In fact, at one time or another most people have probably tried to grab a bite or sip on a soda while behind the wheel. While there are some circumstances where this might be safe, you should never eat or drink anything that takes both hands, is messy, or can be easily spilled.
  1. Any other multitasking. There are countless other ways a person can be distracted trying to multitask as they drive. Anytime you are taking attention away from your driving to do something else, it can be a problem and a safety hazard.

Distracted Driving Poses Significant Financial Risks

Distracted driving poses significant financial risks, impacting individuals and society at large. Lets explore some financial consequences that may arise from this dangerous behavior:

  1. Increased Auto Insurance Premiums: Traffic violations related to distracted driving lead to higher automobile insurance premiums. When you receive a citation for distracted driving, your automobile insurance costs can increase significantly. According to The Zebra, a 2024 cell phone violation can increase your insurance premiums by 21.56%. Repeated offenses can compound these costs resulting in prohibitively expense automobile insurance premiums. 
  1. Insurance Claims and Payouts: Insurance companies are in the business of making money. Distracted driving accidents result in property damage and personal bodily injury payouts. An “at-fault” distracted driving accident will almost certainly increase the at-fault driver’s premiums. However, the financial fallout does not stop with that driver. When more distracted driving accidents occur, automobile insurers will have higher overall claims expenses. This means that those increased expenses will be passed along to the public in the form of higher premiums.
  1. Property Damage and Repairs: Distracted driving often results in crashes, leading to property damage. Repairing or replacing damaged vehicles can be expensive, especially in the modern world where vehicle maintenance and repair costs continue to rise.
  1. Medical Expenses: Distracted driving accidents can result in injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Medical expenses, including hospital bills and doctor visits can quickly add up.
  1. Legal Fees and Fines: Most states have enacted laws that impose monetary fines on individuals who plead guilty or are convicted of distracted driving. For example, in Georgia, the monetary fines can be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(f)(1).
  1. Lost Wages and Productivity: When distracted driving leads to accidents, the accident victims often miss time from work to deal with car repairs, doctor’s appointments, etc. This can result in lost income for the victims and lost productivity for employers when their employees are unable to perform their job duties efficiently.
  1. Vehicle Depreciation: Most of us know that the resale value of a damaged vehicle is much less than a non-wrecked vehicle. Even after repairs, potential buyers may hesitate to purchase a car with an accident history.
  1. Business Costs: When commercial vehicles are involved in distracted driving accidents, the businesses often face repair costs, insurance claims, and lost revenue. For example, when a tractor trailer driver is involved in a distracted driving accident, the trucking company will likely face several claims that include damaged cargo, property damage, worker’s compensation, and even third-party bodily injury. It may not end there. If the company has a history of distracted driving accidents caused by its drivers, it may face regulatory penalties and lose business from customers that hire it to transport goods.

Distracted Driving is a Top Concern for Automobile Accident Lawyers

Personal injury automobile accident lawyers are usually interested in whether the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the wreck that injured their client. There are many reasons for this but the primary reason is that injury claim and lawsuit awards are usually larger when the are aggravating circumstances that contribute to the wreck.

So, why are monetary awards typically larger when someone causes a wreck while they are distracted? In this author’s experience, it is because the distracted driver is less sympathetic than an attentive driver who simply made a mistake.

In most situations, a conscious choice must be made to take whatever action caused the distraction. For example, someone must choose to use their cell phone. They must choose to wear earbuds. They must choose to check their email. They must choose to play a game. They must choose to apply makeup. A conscious choice is much different from an innocent mistake where someone, for example, misjudges the distance between themselves and another driver.

Additionally, drivers that violate a distracted driving law may be negligent per se. This means the law presumes that the distracted driver breached their duty of care and is negligent as a matter of law. In negligence per se cases, the injured party (usually the Plaintiff) only needs to prove that the negligent acted “caused” their damages (and of course, what those damages are).

The lesson here is quite simple. Distracted driving exposes drivers to significant financial burdens so don’t do it.

Be Safe: Focus on the Road When Driving

Driving isn’t a time to lose focus. Every day, most Americans drive and it is easy to get complacent. Distracted driving not only jeopardizes lives but it also results in substantial financial burdens. By staying focused on the road, we can mitigate the risks of driving and promote safer driving practices for everyone.

If you’d like more information, or if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, feel free to contact the personal injury lawyers at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at (833) 534-2542 in Kennesaw, Cobb County, Georgia today.

$6,440,000 Personal Injury Verdict Awarded in Cobb County, GA

A judges wooden gavel is resting on top of the left side of a red hardcover book with the word LAW in gold writting writting with a white paper rolled into a scroll with the words Personal Injury wrtting on the scroll.

A Georgia jury in the State Court of Cobb County awarded a man post-apportionment damages of $3.45 million with an additional $1.84 million in attorney’s fees for injuries he sustained after falling into an unguarded concrete pit beside a golf course clubhouse in Hiram, Georgia.

Insurance Company Rejects Lower Settlement Offers

The verdict came after the Defendant’s insurer rejected numerous offers to settle for less than the insurance policy limits. Plaintiff’s counsel, Joel Williams of Williams Elleby Howard & Easter and Matthew Stoddard of The Stoddard Firm, said that multiple attempts to settle the case were made throughout the course of litigation, culminating with Plaintiff proposing a high-low agreement of $465,000 – $1.5 million after closing arguments (The high low agreement would have limited the Defendant’s exposure to $1.5 million [an amount within the insurance policy limits] if the verdict were for a higher amount but guaranteed the Plaintiff at least $465,000 if the verdict was for less). However, the Defendant’s insurance company declined all of Plaintiff’s offers to settle within its insured’s policy limits, forcing the case to trial and subsequent verdict.

The case was defended by Beth Bentley and Bill Casey of Swift, Currie, McGhee, & Hiers. Stoddard and Williams were complimentary of the professionalism displayed by Bentley and Casey. Williams’ stated, “Beth and Bill are excellent lawyers that did the best they could with a tough set of facts.”

Facts Leading to Fall from Unguarded Concrete Pit

The case initiated from an incident on February 6, 2021, when Plaintiff was invited to a country club in Hiram, GA to pick up his girlfriend who was the bar & grill manager at the club. The Plaintiff arrived at the bar and had some drinks while waiting for his girlfriend to finish her shift. As the bar was closing, Plaintiff’s manager/girlfriend asked him to go put some DJ equipment in his truck. The plaintiff walked outside and put the equipment in his truck. It was a cold and rainy night, so Plaintiff wanted to get back inside. He tried to re-enter the bar & grill, but the Defendant’s employees had locked all the doors and turned off all exterior lights. Plaintiff attempted to call his girlfriend to open the door.

When Plaintiff’s phone calls went unanswered, he decided to walk around the building and see if any other doors were unlocked. He made it around one side of the building when he fell nearly 12 feet from an unguarded retaining wall and into a concrete pit where he landed on his head, broke multiple bones, and sustained a brain injury. In this picture, emergency worker’s can be seen attending to the injured Plaintiff at the bottom of the dark and unguarded pit:

A white building with a deck, without any lights on, in the night.

Plaintiff’s Injuries

Plaintiff was rushed to the emergency room where he spent nearly a week in the hospital. Upon release, he began treating with an orthopedic surgeon who eventually recommended that he undergo a cervical fusion surgery. He had the procedure and recovered well. However, his life was forever changed by the seriousness of his permanent injuries. Plaintiff’s past medical bills at the time of trial were about $362,000.00.

Defendant Failed to Act on Warnings

Testimony revealed that approximately four months prior to the fall, the Defendant hired a landscaping company to remove bushes and trees that acted as a natural barrier around the edges of the concrete pit. The bushes can be seen in this photo (sorry, the picture quality is poor but it is the best picture available):

Picture of bushes and trees in front of a building.

At the time of removal, the landscape company warned Defendant that the pit was dangerous and that they should install a fence to guard the pit. There was also evidence that the unguarded pit violated municipal safety codes previously adopted by the City of Hiram. In additional to violating safety codes, the evidence showed that the Defendant had another concrete pit on the opposite side of its building that was guarded by a metal railing as shown in this photograph:

There is a railing beside a paved concrete slab in front of a white building with a deck.

Furthermore, one of Defendant’s employees testified that she observed children playing tag near the pit. Another employee testified that Defendant discussed concerns about a drunk person falling into the pit at a management meeting prior to the fall. The Defendant’s owner, testified that safety was the company’s number one priority and that the Defendant intended to place a fence along the pit due to safety concerns. Despite all this, a fence was not installed before Plaintiff’s fall because it remained on a to-do “list” while the company completed other projects during its “slow season.” Shockingly, some of those other projects included installing decorative split rail fencing around other areas of the golf course.

The Defenses

Stoddard and Williams said the Defense asserted a plethora of defenses. The defense argued that Plaintiff was a trespasser who never paid for his drinks (despite testimony from the club manager that he saw a tab with Plaintiff’s name on it); that Plaintiff was drunk at the time of the fall; that Plaintiff should have used his phone’s flashlight to see where he was going; that Plaintiff was not allowed on the part of the property where the fall occurred; that Plaintiff left a path and walked through the woods to reach the pit; and finally, that Plaintiff’s spinal injuries were degenerative and not caused by the fall.

Trial Begins

Trial began on December 18, 2023, before Judge Jane Manning in the State Court of Cobb County. Plaintiff’s counsel relied on testimony from Plaintiff, his ex-girlfriend/bar manager, the landscaper, ex-company employees, and Plaintiff’s treating physicians. Defense counsel called two of the Defendant’s employees, along with a code expert, toxicology expert, and neurologist to dispute liability and causation.

In the lead up to trial and throughout, Plaintiff continued to make offers within Defendant’s policy limits to resolve the case. However, Defendants declined all of Plaintiff’s offers, never offering more than $585,000. After a four-day trial, the jury spent about five hours deliberating before returning a verdict for $4,600,000 in compensatory damages. The jury apportioned 25 percent of the fault to Plaintiff, reducing the total compensatory award to $3,450,000. The jury also found there was bad faith in the underlying transaction and awarded $1,840,000 in attorney’s fees pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11. In awarding attorney’s fees, the jury found that the Defendant’s conduct demonstrated a conscious indifference to the consequences of its actions (i.e. failing to act on its admitted knowledge of the danger, its failure to heed warnings from its landscaping contractor, its failure to comply with code, and other things).

Stoddard and Williams agree that this is a very sad case involving serious life altering injuries and that this tragedy is made worse by the fact that the Defendant is now facing a judgment that exceeds its insurance limits due to its insurer’s refusal to accept multiple settlement offers within its insurance limits. Plaintiff’s counsel, Joel Williams, explained, “This is the perfect example of what happens when insurance companies refuse to protect their insureds. Insurance companies readily accept our premium payments but they often fall short when we need them to do what we pay them to do: Protect us, and our assets, when we face liability claims. Special interest groups love to blame lawyers for so-called “nuclear” or “excess” verdicts but the truth is that we would rarely see large jury verdicts if insurance companies would accept reasonable settlement offers and protect their insureds when they are given an opportunity to do so, as we did numerous times prior to the verdict in this case.”

The Amount of Compensation I Can Expect for My Personal Injuries?

The front end of a car is smashed after a car wreck. The underside of another car lying on it's side is visible in the background.

How Much Compensation Can I Expect?

If you’ve suffered personal injuries due to an accident or negligence, you’re likely concerned about receiving fair compensation. Understanding the factors that determine the amount of compensation you can expect is crucial for managing your expectations and ensuring a just settlement. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key aspects that influence personal injury compensation and provide you with valuable insights.

1.  Nature and Extent of Injuries:
The severity and long-term implications of your injuries play a significant role in determining the compensation amount. More severe injuries, such as spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injuries, often result in higher compensation due to their substantial impact on your life, including medical expenses, rehabilitation, and loss of earning capacity.

2.  Medical Expenses:
Compensation should cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with your injuries. This includes hospital bills, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, assistive devices, and ongoing treatments. It is crucial to keep track of all your medical bills and related expenses to ensure they are factored into your compensation claim.

3.  Loss of Income:
If your injuries have caused you to miss work or rendered you unable to continue working in your previous capacity, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. This includes both the income you have already lost due to the injury and potential future earnings that may be affected.

4.  Pain and Suffering:
In addition to financial losses, compensation also takes into account the physical and emotional pain and suffering you have endured. This category is subjective and often calculated using formulas based the specific facts of your case, the severity of the injuries, and their impact on your daily life.

5.  Property Damage:
If your personal injuries resulted from a car accident or similar incident, compensation may also include the repair or replacement cost of damaged property, such as your vehicle or personal belongings.

6.  Comparative Negligence:
In some cases, the court may consider the degree of fault or negligence on your part and reduce the compensation amount accordingly. If it is determined that you or a third-party contributed to the accident or injury, your compensation may be adjusted proportionally.

7.  Insurance Coverage:
The insurance policies involved, such as auto insurance or liability insurance, can have a significant impact on the compensation you receive. Policy limits and coverage types may restrict the maximum amount available for your claim. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate through the complexities of insurance claims.

8.  Legal Representation:
Working with a skilled personal injury lawyer can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case. A knowledgeable attorney can assess the unique circumstances of your situation, negotiate with insurance companies, and build a strong case to maximize your compensation.

Determining the exact amount of compensation for personal injuries can be complex, as it depends on various factors specific to each case. While there is no “one size fits all” answer, understanding the key elements involved can help you gauge the potential compensation you may be entitled to. Remember, seeking legal advice from a qualified personal injury attorney is crucial to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Stay informed, document your losses, and call us today to discuss your case. The attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter will advocate for your rights during this challenging time. 833-LEGALGA.  Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for our video on this topic and many more.

What is The Statute of Limitations on a Personal Injury Claim?

A gavel, eye glasses and a book with the title, Statute of limitations, on a desk.

Personal injury claims arise when an individual is injured due to the negligent or intentional acts of another person or entity. These claims range from car accidents and slip and falls to medical malpractice and product liability. If you are considering filing a personal injury claim, one of the first things you need to know is the statute of limitations that applies to your case. In this blog post, we discuss what the statute of limitations is, how it works, and how it can affect your personal injury claim.

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The Statute of Limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit. This time limit varies depending on the type of case and the jurisdiction where the case will be heard. In the context of personal injury claims, it is the time limit for filing a lawsuit against the party responsible for your injuries.

How does the Statute of Limitations work?

The statute of limitations clock begins ticking on the date of the injury or when it was discovered. Once the clock starts ticking, the injured party usually has a set amount of time to file a lawsuit. If the injured party fails to file a lawsuit within the specified time frame, the case will likely be dismissed by the court. It’s important to note that this time frame is a strict deadline and courts rarely make exceptions.

How does the Statute of Limitations affect your Personal Injury Claim?

It is an important factor to consider when filing a personal injury claim. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. Therefore, it’s crucial to act quickly and consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you determine the applicable statute of limitations and ensure that your claim is filed within the required time frame. Failing to file a claim prior to the statute running out is cited in our article on Seven Biggest Mistakes People Make After an Injury

The length of the statute of limitations can vary depending on the state and the type of personal injury claim. In some states, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is as short as one year, while in others, it can be several years. Additionally, some states have different statutes of limitations for different types of personal injury claims, such as medical malpractice claims or claims involving government entities.


If you have been injured due to the negligence or intentional act of another party, it’s important to act quickly and consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The statute of limitations can affect your ability to seek compensation for your injuries, so it’s crucial to understand the applicable time limit and ensure that your claim is filed within the required time frame. Experienced lawyers at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Call us today at 833-LEGALGA

How Long Does It Take To Settle A Personal Injury Case?

Close up of Business people shaking hands, finishing up meeting.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be wondering how long it will take to settle your personal injury case. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the length of time it takes to settle a personal injury case can vary widely depending on a number of factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the factors that can impact the timeline for settling a personal injury case.
1. The Severity of Your Injuries
One of the biggest factors that can impact the timeline for settling a personal injury case is the severity of your injuries. If you have suffered serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, it may take longer to settle your case as your attorney will need to gather all of the necessary medical records and bills to calculate the full extent of your damages.
2.  The Complexity of Your Case
The complexity of your case can also impact the timeline for settlement. If liability is clear and there are no disputes over the extent of your damages, your case may settle quickly. However, if liability is disputed or there are multiple parties involved in the accident, it may take longer to negotiate a settlement.
3.  The Insurance Company
The insurance company involved in your case can also impact the timeline for settlement. Some insurance companies are more willing to negotiate a fair settlement than others. Some may try to delay or deny your claim in order to reduce their payout. If the insurance company is being difficult, it may take longer to settle your case.
4.  The Negotiation Process
The negotiation process can also impact the timeline for settlement. Your attorney will need to gather all of the necessary evidence and documentation to support your claim, and then negotiate with the insurance company or other parties involved in the accident to reach a fair settlement. This process can take time, especially if there are multiple rounds of negotiation required.
5.  The Court System
If your case goes to court, the timeline for settlement can be even longer. Court cases can take months or even years to resolve, and you will need to wait for a court date to be set before your case can be heard. In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to get the compensation you deserve. In general, it’s important to remember that settling a personal injury case can take time. The attorneys at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter will work diligently to negotiate a fair settlement, but the process can be complex and may require patience and persistence. If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and learn more about the potential timeline for settlement.  Call Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at 833-534-2542.  Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for our video on this topic and many more topics. .

Do I have a Personal Injury Case?

A bandaged hand writing the words, "accident, injury, claim, and compensation" in red marker on a clear screen.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering if you have a personal injury case. This is a common question, and the answer depends on several factors. In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes a personal injury case and how to determine if you have one.

 What is a Personal Injury Case?

 A personal injury case arises when a person is injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, business, or entity. The purpose of a personal injury case is to seek compensation for the harm and losses caused by the injury. This compensation may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

 Examples of personal injury cases include car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, product liability, and workplace accidents. In each case, the injured person (plaintiff) must prove that the other party (defendant) was negligent and that this negligence caused the injury.

How to Determine if You Have a Personal Injury Case

 To determine if you have a personal injury case, you should consider the following factors:

 Was there negligence involved?

To have a personal injury case, you must prove that the other party was negligent. This means that they failed to exercise reasonable care and that this failure caused your injury. Negligence can take many forms, such as a driver who runs a red light or a property owner who fails to fix a hazardous condition.

 Did the negligence cause your injury?

Even if the other party was negligent, you must prove that this negligence caused your injury. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet floor in a store, you must show that the wet floor caused your fall and resulting injuries.

 Did you suffer damages?

To obtain compensation in a personal injury case, you must have suffered damages as a result of your injury. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, if you were not injured or did not suffer any losses, you may not have a personal injury case.

 Is there a deadline to file a claim?

In most cases, there is a deadline (statute of limitations) for filing a personal injury claim. This deadline varies by state and type of case, so it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss the deadline.

 Attorneys Joel Williams and Chase Elleby examine the things that should be considered in determining “Do I have a Personal Injury Case?” in this video:

Consult with an Attorney

If you believe you have a personal injury case, it is important to consult with an attorney who specializes in personal injury law. An attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and determine if you have a valid claim.

They can also help you navigate the legal process and negotiate with insurance companies to seek the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and have suffered damages, you may have a case. To determine if you have a case, consider the factors listed above and consult with one of our experienced attorneys today!  Call us at 833-LEGAL-GA.

Understanding the Types of Damages You May Recover from Personal Injury Case in GA

A male doctor holding up an x-ray, pointing something out to a surprised female patient.

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, you may be entitled to compensation for the damage you have suffered. Personal injury cases aim to provide financial relief to victims and help them recover physically, emotionally, and financially. In this blog post, we will explore the various types of damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case. You can also check out this video for a more in-depth analysis of the types of damages available in personal injury cases:

Understanding these types of damages is crucial for evaluating your case’s worth and ensuring you receive fair compensation. Let’s dive in!

     1. Economic Damages:

Economic damages, also known as special damages, cover the tangible financial losses incurred because of your injury. These damages are relatively easy to quantify and typically include:

     a) Medical Expenses: Compensation for past and future medical bills, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, therapy, rehabilitation, and necessary medical equipment. In Georgia, trial judges normally provide the following instruction to juries regarding awards for medical bills: In all cases, necessary expenses resulting from the injury are a legitimate item of damages. “As to medical expenses, such as hospital, doctor, and medicine bills, the amount of the damage would be the reasonable value of such expense as was reasonably necessary.” 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.040

     b) Lost Wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the injury, including missed workdays, reduced work hours, or potential loss of future earning capacity. Just like for medical bills, trial judges in Georgia normally instruct the jury about lost wages:

  • “Loss of earnings from the time of the alleged injury to the time of trial is a legal item of damages, and (the amount that may be recovered) (its measure) is the value of the earnings that the evidence shows with reasonable certainty the plaintiff has lost as a result of the injury. You may consider what the plaintiff was making at the time of the injury, what was made since the injury, the amount customarily paid in the locality for the kind of work the plaintiff does, and similar matters. There must be some evidence before you as to the plaintiff’s loss.” 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.100
  • If you find that the plaintiff’s earnings will be permanently (reduced) (destroyed), lost future earnings–just like lost past earnings–are to be determined on the basis of the earnings that the plaintiff will lose, and there must be some evidence before you as to the amount of such earnings. 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.201

     c) Property Damage: Compensation for the repair or replacement costs of damaged property, such as a vehicle in a car accident. The amount that should be awarded in the difference between the fair market value of the damaged property immediately before the injury and the fair market value o the damaged item just after the damage. 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.020

    d) Other Financial Losses: Compensation for out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury, such as transportation costs, home modifications, or hiring help for daily tasks.

2. Non-Economic Damages:

Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, focus on the intangible losses that are more challenging to assign a specific monetary value. These damages are subjective and vary from case to case. Common types of non-economic damages include:

     a) Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, discomfort, and emotional distress resulting from the injury. This includes factors like chronic pain, anxiety, depression, or loss of enjoyment of life. Georgia judges typically provide the following instructions to juries concerning pain and suffering damages:

  • “Pain and suffering is a legal item of damages. The measure is the enlightened conscience of fair and impartial jurors. Questions of whether, how much, and how long the plaintiff has suffered or will suffer are for you to decide. Pain and suffering includes mental suffering, but mental suffering is not a legal item of damage unless there is physical suffering also. In evaluating the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, you may consider the following factors, if proven: interference with normal living; interference with enjoyment of life; loss of capacity to labor and earn money; impairment of bodily health and vigor; fear of extent of injury; shock of impact; actual pain and suffering, past and future; mental anguish, past and future; and the extent to which the plaintiff must limit activities.” 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.501
  • “If you find that the plaintiff’s pain and suffering will continue into the future, you should award damages for such future pain and suffering as you believe the plaintiff will endure. In making such award, your standard should be your enlightened conscience as impartial jurors. You would be entitled to take into consideration the fact that the plaintiff is receiving a present cash award for damages not yet suffered.” 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.503

     b) Emotional Distress: Compensation for psychological trauma, mental anguish, and emotional suffering caused by the accident or injury.

     c) Loss of Consortium: This is a category of damages awarded to the spouse for the loss of companionship, affection, or intimate relations resulting from the injury. In Georgia, a married person has a right to recover for the loss of consortium, sometimes called loss of services, of the spouse. The services the law refers to are not only household labor but also society, companionship, affection, and all matters of value arising from marriage. There does not have to be any direct evidence of their value, but the measure of damages is their reasonable value, as determined by the enlightened conscience of impartial jurors taking into consideration the nature of the services and all the circumstances of the case. 1 Ga. Jury Instructions – Civil § 66.400

     d) Disfigurement or Scarring: Compensation for any visible marks, scars, or permanent disfigurement resulting from the accident or injury.

3. Punitive Damages:

Punitive damages, though less common, may be awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly reckless, intentional, or malicious. These damages aim to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. However, their availability and limits vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case.

In the State of Georgia, punitive damages awards are governed by O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1. and are capped at $250,000.00 in most cases. Reid v. Morris, 309 Ga. 230, 234 (2020). Punitive damage awards are not subject to the statutory cap in cases where the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(f).

4. Wrongful Death Damages:

In cases where a personal injury results in death, certain damages may be recoverable through a wrongful death lawsuit. Under the laws of the State of Georgia, wrongful death damages should reflect the “full value of the life of the decedent as shown by the evidence.” Brock v. Wedincamp, 253 Ga. App. 275 (2002).

In a personal injury case, understanding the types of damages you can recover is essential for assessing the potential compensation you may be entitled to. While economic damages cover the tangible financial losses, non-economic damages account for the intangible impact on your quality of life. Punitive damages and wrongful death damages serve specific purposes in cases involving severe misconduct or fatal injuries.

Call Williams Elleby Howard & Easter today to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.  We will help you navigate the complexities of your case and ensure you receive fair compensation for the damages you have suffered.  833-LEGAL-GA.

Common Myths about Personal Injury Attorneys

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For those that have never needed a personal injury attorney, it might be easy to believe or perpetuate the common myths we hear about our profession.  Let’s address the common myths we hear and explain what really happens at a personal injury firm.

Myth #1: Lawyers Will Sue for Anything

Technically you can sue for anything, but good lawyers consider the cost and if there is a credible claim to be made. Most personal injury attorneys are fronting their own money and advancing case expenses for your case.  Attorneys will only bring claims they believe have merit or a reasonable chance for success.

Myth #2: Lawyers Take All The Money

Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning they do not get paid unless their clients get paid.  Injury attorneys earn a percentage of the recovery, the amount settled for or awarded at trial.  The percentage amount varies based on the type of case and whether the case is in suit or not in suit. Most attorneys charge somewhere between 30% and 40% for the vast majority of injury cases.

Myth #3: Lawyers Chase Ambulances

Any reputable lawyer is not going to “chase down” cases however, there are some lawyers and even non-lawyers that try to find cases and then sell those cases to other lawyers.  Unfortunately, this does happen, but it is not fair to assign that stigma to all personal injury attorneys. Reputable attorneys do not find you in the emergency room or contact you after an injury.  If an attorney is approaching you about a car wreck offering his or her representation, please know that is unethical and against the law.  You do NOT want an attorney that chases you because that means they are so desperate for clients that they are willing to violate legal and ethical rules just to gets clients.

Myth #4: All Cases are Worth A Million Dollars

You don’t want a million-dollar injury case because if your case is worth that much, something life altering happened and you are terribly injured.    Each case is different and evaluated on many factors that include property damage, severity of injury, treatment, pain and suffering, missed work, and so on.  Personal injury attorneys try to get you what is fair and reasonable based on your unique case.

Myth #5: All Personal Injury Lawyers Try Cases

It is important to know that not all personal injury attorneys try cases.  Some attorneys will not even put cases in suit, meaning they won’t file a complaint or do litigation to get maximum value for your case.  These attorneys look to settle cases early and as fast as possible because that is their business model.  Injury victims should always ask about a lawyer’s trial experience before deciding whether to hire the lawyer.

Myth #6: Lawyers are Too Expensive

Some people believe you have to pay a retainer in order to hire an attorney.  That is not the case with personal injury attorneys.  Again, most injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t get paid until they obtain a financial recovery for their client.  Contingency fees are variable as discussed in Myth #2 above; however, if an injury attorney wants to charge 45%-50% for a simple car wreck case, they are likely asking too much. Take your time and interview several attorneys, ask about their contingency fee, then choose the right one for you. 

Myth #7: Lawyers Drive Away Business from the State

This myth was generated by politicians. Any reputable business is going to have insurance. Attorneys will almost always give corporations and individuals the opportunity to settle their case within their insurance limits.  Good attorneys are not in the business of forcing people into bankruptcy or running businesses into the ground.  Of course, attorneys want to ensure their clients are fully compensated for their damages. However, forcing someone into bankruptcy doesn’t benefit anyone, not even the injured client because the full judgement is rarely collectible when the defendant is in bankruptcy.  Politicians might try to speak about a rare case to vilify someone or increase their political platform, but those politicians are usually speaking on behalf of the insurance industry and the lobbyists who fund their election campaigns.

Myth #8: My Lawyer Can Solve My Problems

An individual lawyer cannot solve all of your legal problems.  Attorneys, just like doctors, specialize.  For example, our firm can help you with personal injury matters such as a car wreck case, slip and fall, bicycle accident, medical malpractice, burn injuries and more, but we are not the firm to call when you are getting a divorce or find yourself in a criminal case.  Remember to seek out and ask for an attorney that has expertise in your area of need.

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Offer Fair?

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Whether a personal injury settlement offer is “fair” depends on the injured individual and the particulars of his or her case.  Two people could have the same set of facts, same injuries, and same lawyer but different ideas of what is “fair.”  When deciding whether a personal injury settlement offer is “fair” there are a few things one should consider.

Medical Bills & Future Medical Treatment

At a minimum, medical bills should be paid from any settlement.  Medical bills that accumulated between the injury and the settlement as well as the cost of future medical treatment should be considered.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Pre-existing conditions and pain must be considered.  Just because someone may have previous injuries or surgeries does not mean a recovery is impossible.  However, pre-existing conditions must be considered because you are only entitled to recover for injuries and pain caused by the negligent person.  The law refers to this as recovering for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.


It’s important to consider where a case will be filed because verdicts from similar cases in the same location will help one understand what a jury may award. A good attorney will research cases with similar facts in the same location to determine a likely jury verdict range.  All cases are different, but other case results should provide insight on how juries in a particular location value a particular injury.

Special Damages

Special damages are monetary damages like lost wages and medical bills that have specific monetary costs. Past medical costs are easy to calculate because the bills can be added together for a specific total. Lost wages are more difficult because there are a variety of ways that an individual may earn income. Wages for salaried employees are easy because their income is usually set on a yearly basis. However, lost wages for business owners and independent contractors are more difficult to calculate because their income tends to vary from month to month. Therefore, when determining lost wages, an injured party and their attorney must consider whether they have a reasonable basis for calculating and estimating the amount of lost wages.

Aggravating Circumstances

Was the conduct of the at-fault party egregious?  Were they drunk or on drugs?  Is the at-fault person being honest about everything? Aggravating circumstance can affect the value of a case.

Possible Defenses

What might the at-fault person say that will weaken the victim’s case?  What legal defenses can be brought?  In order to make a fair settlement evaluation, one must consider the challenging facts and law in their case.

After considering medical bills, pre-existing conditions, special damages, location, and possible defenses, one can decide what a fair settlement offer should be.  Of course, everyone has a different level of risk tolerance so every injured claimant should evaluate these variables and accept or reject a personal injury settlement offer according to their specific needs.

To learn more about Personal Injury cases, be sure to check out the firm’s YouTube channel.  Specifically, our 52 weeks series that will take you through the various stages of a personal injury claim to help you better understand the entire process.

Tips For Winning at Trial

Gavel and the scales of justice with a blurry image of book shelves in the background.

Young attorneys, we were once in your shoes!  Each trial is unique and going to trial can be daunting early on in your career.  If you’re trying a case, here are our top tips for being successful at trial.

Prepare Yourself

It may seem obvious, but preparing yourself is the number one tip to being successful at trial.  Prepare yourself with knowledge of all the deposition testimony and discovery responses.  Be intimately familiar with the facts of the case.  You should never have to look at a piece of paper in trial unless it is to introduce that document as an exhibit.  You should know your case like the back of your hand, inside and out, better than anyone else in the room.

Subpoena the Witnesses

Most likely you will be in close communication with your witnesses, but make sure to subpoena them as well.  Subpoenas give your witnesses an official legal excuse from work and ensures they will show up to trial.  From the plaintiff’s side, don’t always assume the defendant is going to show up for trial.  If you are going to call the defendant as a witness, subpoena him/her as well.

Use Pre-Trial Motions to Your Advantage

Motions in limine are those you can use ahead of trial to get the judge to rule on certain issues that may come up during the trial. These motions seek to limit evidence that is irrelevant, inadmissible or prejudicial to your client. Identify the important issues in your case.  If there is something that needs to be addressed by the court or can be addressed by the court ahead of time, file those motions.  Whether you win or lose those motions, you can adjust your strategy knowing what evidence or topics can or cannot be introduced at trial.

Pre-Organize Your Exhibits

Once you know what evidence is coming in or not, make sure your evidence is redacted appropriately, pre-labeled, pre-marked, and organized in the order in which you plan to introduce those records at trial.  Trial notebooks and exhibit lists are helpful.  Make sure all of this is done ahead of time and ready to go before the trial begins.  If you are using technology, make sure you have everything scanned in to your computer so you are not relying on an internet connection.

Know Your Judges Preferences

Every judge is different and has his or her own style on how the trial will be conducted.  Don’t be afraid to call or email the staff attorney to see how the judge handles certain things before trial begins. 

Prepare the Jury

In our opinion, jury selection is the most important part of a trial.  You should prepare for jury selection just as much as you do for the trial itself.  Don’t be afraid to talk about the issues of your case in jury selection.  If you don’t get an unbiased jury sitting in the jury box, your case is done before you even give an opening statement.  You must have open and honest dialogues with potential jurors about their feelings on certain issues.  One question a great attorney out of Savannah, Jeff Harris, once told us and we try to use with jurors is, “If you were injured due to the fault of somebody else, would you have any hesitation bringing a lawsuit against them?” If someone has hesitation, they are probably going to be a bad juror for you as a plaintiff.  Be prepared to ask tough questions to tease out biases potential jurors might have when dealing with a client that has previous injuries or preexisting conditions, etc.  You might also have to touch on more sensitive issues hot button political issues, gender, and race — whatever happens to be involved in your case.  If you’re worried something might be an issue for jurors, it probably is and needs to be addressed in jury selection.

Prepare Your Client

Preparing your client doesn’t mean you tell them what to say.  Preparing your client means to give them the knowledge and understanding of what the situation is actually going to be like when they are sitting on the witness stand.  What sort of questions can they anticipate?  Reassure them they can stick up for themselves.  Remind them to be polite. 

Prepare Your Cross Examinations

Preparing early will allow you to succinctly cross examine your witnesses.  We like to start preparing by writing out the story or narrative you want to give the jury.  Then break that down into leading questions you can ask the witnesses to tell the story.  You don’t want to argue with witnesses or get off on a tangent.  Consider what information you want and need from each witness and prepare accordingly to control the witness during your cross.

Limit Your Objections

Be selective with objections in trial unless it is something just egregious.  You are not necessarily limited to how many objections you can make, but the more you object as a plaintiff attorney, the more the jury might think you are trying to hide something.  You can also be more selective with your objections when you file the proper motions and deal with any evidentiary issues you might have ahead of time, pre-trial.

Check Out the Courthouse and Familiarize Yourself with the Environment

If you can, go to the courthouse before the trial and familiarize yourself with the space.  Find out what kind of technology is available, where the televisions are located, etc.  Rural counties might not have the best technology available so know what you are able to work with ahead of time.  If your client is able, take him/her with you to the courthouse ahead of time.  Most clients have never been in a courtroom before.  Let your client sit in the witness box and familiarize themselves with the space.  This usually helps your client feel a bit more comfortable when it is time for trial.

Be Respectful of the Jurors’ Time

Jurors were summoned; they didn’t volunteer to be in court.  They are taking time out of their lives and not getting paid much to be there.  Let the jurors know you have a duty to be there and you’re going to take the time needed to present your case, but you’re going to do so in an efficient manner and respect their time.

Think Hard About What Your Case is Truly Worth

At the end of trial, you are going to have to ask the jury to award a monetary value.  If you don’t believe your case is worth a particular value, the jury won’t either.  At the end of the case make sure your ask is fair and reasonable.  As a plaintiff’s lawyer, don’t let your ego get in the way.  We all see and hear of the really large verdicts, but most cases are not worth millions of dollars.  Some cases are worth $10,000.00 and others are worth $10,000,000.00.  If you have a $100,000 case and you ask for $1,000,000, you’re probably going to get awarded nothing or very little.  Make sure the ask is appropriate for the facts of your case.

For more information on Tips for Winning at Trial, be sure to check out our video on this topic and many more on our YouTube channel.