What You Should Know BEFORE a Car Wreck

Car crash - Personal Injury

Let’s start by saying we hope you never need to hire an attorney.  We hope you never end up in a car wreck, but the unfortunate reality is car accidents are a fact of life.  Whether you are at fault or not, car accidents are on the rise.  According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, over 5,200,000 million collisions happened over the course of year (2020).  After working with a lot of first time personal injury clients who maybe waited too long to call an attorney or made a misstep before contacting us, we often hear the comment, ‘I wish I knew this before getting in a car wreck…’ Here is our advice to those who have yet to be in an accident, based on what our clients wished they knew.

Don’t Trust the At Fault Insurance Company

The number one thing our clients wish they knew before getting into a wreck was to not trust the at-fault insurance company.  The at-fault insurance company is the company that represents the at-fault driver.  The at-fault insurance company’s interest is not aligned with yours.  Do not trust them when they say things like, ‘hey, we’ll take care of you,’ or ‘send us your bills and we will pay them.’  After sending them your medical bills, they will likely come back and argue the bills are too high. Insurance companies will say they only need to pay what is “reasonable and necessary,” so they can always argue the treatment you received or the amount you paid was not reasonable or necessary.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Seek Treatment When You’re Hurt

If and when you are involved in an auto accident, do not wait too long to seek medical treatment. Insurance companies will argue that gaps in seeking and receiving treatment make it look like you were not really injured or that your injuries were so minor that you didn’t need treatment.  The reality is, you might feel fine at first but after a couple of days, symptoms of your injuries start to occur.  We have also seen clients waiting to seek medical treatment in hopes that their injuries will get better on their own with time.  If you wait too long before seeking treatment or don’t follow your treatment plan according to your medical providers’ instructions, this can hurt your personal injury case.

Make Sure Your Car is Worth More Than What You Owe — Gap Coverage Insurance

Sometimes the market is what it is and this is not always something you can avoid, but if possible, owing less on your car than what it is worth is ideal.  If you are in an accident and your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company is only required to pay you the “fair market value” of your car.  So for instance, if you can sell your car for $20,000 but you owe $30,000 on it, the insured only has to pay $20,000 for that vehicle.  This is where gap coverage comes in handy.  If you suspect you could ever be in a situation where you owe more than your car is worth, gap coverage on an insurance policy will cover the difference between what your car is worth and what was owed on it before being totaled.

Make Sure You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is essential in the event you are hit by someone with no insurance or not enough insurance to cover the accident.  You can learn more about uninsured motorist coverage here.

“Full Coverage” is Rarely Full Coverage

We often hear first time clients say things like, ‘Don’t worry, I have full coverage,” only to find out they have minimum limits coverage.  Some insurance agents will tell you they’ll get you “full coverage,” simply meaning you’re fully covered to legally drive in your state.  Fully covered to drive does not mean you are adequately protected if you cause a wreck and cause bad damages or if somebody hits you and causes bad damages.  Don’t just settle for “full coverage”.  Really look into your policy and find out what kind of coverage is written into your policy and whether the amounts of coverage provide sufficient protection for your personal situation.

If You’re Able, Gather Information at the Scene

Pictures, video, witness names and contact information from the scene can be instrumental in your personal injury claim after a car wreck.  It is amazing how several people can be involved in the same event and have different recollections of what happened.  Don’t always rely on the investigating police officer to record names and contact information of witnesses.  The officer might include information from witnesses but not always record their contact information for use later. Any documentation you are able to collect at the scene will be helpful in winning your case later on down the road.

Hire a Good Personal Injury Attorney

If you get into an accident, make sure to hire a good personal injury attorney.  Do your research.  Examine websites, read reviews, ask friends and family that have used an attorney before, and set up a free consultation to meet with potential attorneys to feel them out.  You want to hire the best attorney for you and your case.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are looking for a personal injury attorney, schedule a free consultation with us today!

Open Records Request in Georgia

Evidence from Open Records Request - Personal Injury in Georgia

What is an Open Records Request, and why is it important for my case?

One of the first and most important steps in getting your personal injury case started, is to begin by obtaining all evidence and supporting documents. This is done by submitting an Open Records Request.

The Georgia Open Records Act states that records maintained by most government agencies, or private companies carrying out government functions, are open to the public and subject to inspection at a reasonable time and place.

This Act allows citizens and law firms to send requests to government agencies in order to obtain any evidence that may build a stronger case for an injured party.

What documents are requested through an Open Records Request?

When dealing with a car wreck case, some of the documents that are obtained through Open Records Requests are:

  1. 911 calls and CAD reports
  2. Accident Report
  3. Police Dash and Body Cam Footage from the responding police department
  4. Photographs
  5. Citations (traffic ticket) and the disposition of those citations.

For Premises Liability or Negligent Security cases, it is helpful to request a Crime Grid to get an idea of a history of past incidents at a particular location or area.

In cases where an injured party has suffered from a dog bite, an Open Records Request may be submitted to the local animal control agency to determine if a particular dog or location has had similar issues in the past.

All of these documents are extremely helpful and important in order to get started with a proper case investigation.

How do you submit an Open Records Request?

The first step in submitting an Open Records Request is to determine where you should send the request. E-911 Communication Centers, Police Departments, Clerk’s Offices, and Animal Control each are responsible for maintaining records and documentation that are accessible to the public. Therefore, you will need to determine which governmental agency is in possession of the documents you are wishing to obtain. Each County, State and City agency will have a different process for how they handle and fulfill requests.

Some departments will have an online portal in which you are able to submit your request, while others may have their own specific form to fill out and submit via mail, fax or email.

When submitting a request, it’s important to include any and all helpful information in order to help the agency to locate the documents you are requesting, such as dates, names, addresses, report numbers, etc.

Why are these supporting documents so important?

When submitting a demand to the insurance company or filing a lawsuit in order to settle your personal injury case, it is important to provide the insurer with ample evidence to substantiate your claim.

For example, if you are involved in a rear-end car wreck and the at-fault driver is issued a citation for following too closely, providing a copy of the disposition of a citation with a guilty plea shows the at-fault driver is admitting their negligence.

For cases involving dog bites, premises liability or negligent security, previous incidents help build a stronger case by showing the at-fault party was aware of a danger and did not act reasonably to remedy the danger.

What to expect once my Open Records Request has been submitted.

Once your request has been submitted, most Georgia agencies will have 3 business days to respond to your request and notify you the request was received.  Typically, they will provide you with a request number and the contact information of who is handling your request.

It is important to remember an agency may not be able to release all requested documents right away. If you have a car wreck case and the criminal case is still pending with the at-fault driver’s citation or arrest, or if the police department is still conducting their investigation, they will not be able to release all requested materials until the investigation or criminal case file is closed.

Always be sure to have a follow up system in place in order to ensure your request is fulfilled.

Written by Paralegal Kyle McManus

What’s the Deal with Domesticating Foreign Subpoenas?

domesticating a foreign subpoena in another state

How to: domesticating a foreign subpoena in another state.

POV: It’s a dark and stormy Thursday afternoon and you’re a young, bright-eyed, paralegal working for the best personal injury firm that’s ever existed when the founding partner comes to you with a rather unique ask; conduct some research on how to domesticate a foreign subpoena in another state. He hands you one of the thickest books you’ve ever seen, and you accept this new challenge with genuine enthusiasm, although, you can’t help but notice the devious smile that slowly creeps across his face as he slips quietly back into his office. Your newfound enthusiasm is quickly replaced with dread. This formidable task grows all the more daunting as you clutch the 1,359-page book on Georgia’s Civil Procedure tightly against your chest and contemplate your life choices that have led up to this moment.

If you can relate in any way to the story above, then you have come to the right place. Welcome! As the young, bright-eyed, paralegal who was assigned the aforementioned task, and as a result is now an expert on the topic, I’m here to share my knowledge with the world!

While the thought of having a foreign subpoena for discovery (i.e., a deposition) domesticated in another state may seem daunting as first, the process is actually quite simple. Depending on which state the case is in and which state your witness is in, you may be able to rely on the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA) for guidance which makes the process the same for the 30+ states that have adopted it.

The example scenario is as follows: you’re working on a case and having trouble tracking down a witness that you need to depose, a tale as old as time. After doing some digging, you discover that the witness has, since the time of filing the initial lawsuit, moved out-of-state to Tennessee. You take a deep breath and login to your trusty Westlaw account to embark on a journey where you’ll hopefully learn something new: how to domesticate and serve a foreign subpoena in Tennessee. Your research will likely lead you to Tennessee Code § 24-9-203 which states that “a party may submit a foreign subpoena to a clerk of courts in the county in which discovery is sought to be conducted in this state.” Simply put, once you’ve successfully obtained your subpoena from the Georgia court where your lawsuit is pending you will mail the subpoena, now file stamped, to the appropriate clerk of courts in the Tennessee county where the witness resides. From there, your successfully domesticated foreign subpoena can be served on your witness by the Sheriff or by a private process server who understands the rules of civil procedure in Tennessee.

If you have a case that resides in a state that has adopted the UIDDA, but a witness that resides in a state that hasn’t adopted the Act, the process will look a little different. Once you’ve put on your thinking cap, you’ll have to initiate this arduous process with an Order to Take Out of State Deposition, a Commission to Take Out of State Deposition, a Stipulation to Take Out of State Deposition, or a Letter Rogatory. Next, you will have to request that a subpoena be issued from the court in the state where your witness resides by either submitting an application, filing a petition, by providing documents to the court or having an attorney file a petition. After you’ve successfully jumped through all the necessary hoops your subpoena should be ready to be served! At this point, you will need to consult with the state in which your case originated and a process server to determine who is authorized to serve the subpoena. Suffice to say, the exact process will vary depending on which states are involved so it is always best to comply with an individual state’s process as closely as possible to ensure that your subpoena is successfully issued, domesticated, and served on your witness in a timely manner.

Pro tip: When in doubt, reach out! Contact the clerk of courts office in the county where you are trying to have your subpoena domesticated and pick their brains on how to comply with their state’s rules and regulations. So go forth and utilize your resources, work smarter not harder, and tell no one of your dastardly plans to become the smartest person in the room. Good luck!

Written By Paralegal Rachel Wilson

How Long Does an Injury Case Last?

Williams Elleby - Personal Injury Law

A common question we receive as attorneys is “How long will my injury case last?”  Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  The length of your case depends on the particular facts of your unique case.  Here are several factors that can affect how long your personal injury case will last.

What Kind of Case Do You Have?

The biggest factor that will affect the length of your case is what kind of case you have.  For example, products liability and medical malpractice cases involve complicated factual issues and many more witnesses.  Cases like these could take 1-3 years and if it’s a complicated case that gets appealed, it could take up top 5-6 years to finalize.  On the other hand, if you have a rather simple case like getting rear-ended while driving with minor injuries, you may be able to reach a settlement within 4-5 months without having to file a lawsuit.  It really just depends on what type of case you have.

Do Your Injuries Exceed the Insurance Limits?

Another factor that can affect the length of your case is your injuries and the insurance limits.  When your injuries do not exceed the insurance limits and there are more difficult factual disputes in the case, your case might take a bit longer.  Another thing to consider is the potential consequences of settling too early. You don’t want to rush into a settlement without knowing the full extent of your injuries and how much medical care you will need to recover.  If you are seeking treatment for your injuries and still have to follow up with your medical professional, there is no harm in waiting to see the results of the follow up.  If you rush to settle and later find out that you have more injuries or need more medical treatment, you can never go back and ask for more compensation.

However, if your medical bills exceed the amount of insurance coverage available from the at-fault party, the insurance company will probably pay its policy limits quickly. This is because insurance companies owe a duty to their insureds to protect their insureds’ personal assets by settling legitimate cases within the policy limits when they are given an opportunity to do so.

Does Your Attorney Have to File a Lawsuit?

Getting your case resolved without filing a lawsuit will result in faster compensation. However, this is only advisable when the at-fault party or their insurer make a reasonable offer to settle. If a reasonable settlement offer is not made by the at-fault party or their insurer, a lawsuit may be necessary to maximize any recovery. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the lawsuit process usually takes well over a year. 

If you want to settle your case without filing a lawsuit, the right timing largely depends on the severity of the injuries, what the medical bills are and what insurance is available (i.e. How long does it take to know the full extent of your medical damages as well as your future prognosis?).  If your attorney ends up having to file a lawsuit, plan for more time to resolve your case.  When a lawsuit is filed, there may be many months of formal discovery, mediations, trials and possible appeals.

What Court Is Your Lawsuit Filed In?

Another factor that can affect the length of your case is what court your case is filed in.  For small claims in Georgia, you can file in Magistrate Court and get a hearing pretty quickly.  If your case is filed in State Court or Superior Court, it may take longer because there are other criminal cases that take priority.  Federal courts are typically faster than state courts because federal district courts have strict deadlines and rules you must follow the help expedite the case.

Overall, the time it will take to get your case settled depends on the particular facts of your case.  If you have been injured and would like a free consultation on the particulars of your Georgia personal injury claim, please reach out to the attorneys at Williams Elleby by calling 833-LEGAL-GA.

What Happens After You File a Lawsuit?

Notice of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you have never been involved in a personal injury case, the first step in understanding the litigation process is how to file a lawsuit. Once you file a lawsuit, the next question is likely, “What happens after I file a lawsuit?”  What can you expect after your lawsuit is served? 

Answer & Discovery

Once your lawsuit is served on the at-fault party, the other side typically responds by filing an Answer to your Complaint.  In the Answer, the Defendant must admit or deny the allegations in your lawsuit.  Once an Answer is filed, discovery usually begins when the parties exchange things like interrogatories (formal written questions) and requests for production of documents pertaining to your case.  The next part of discovery involves things like taking depositions, doing inspections, hiring experts to review documents, etc.


After the discovery phase, the parties usually participate in mediation. Mediation is a formal settlement conference where you will meet with a mediator, or neutral party.  Usually, mediators are experienced attorneys or retired judges that have extensive legal experience.  This neutral party will hear both sides of the case, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and essentially try to broker a deal.  The goal of mediation is to get the case settled.


If you cannot settle your case through mediation, the next step in the litigation process is trial.  Trials are not easy; A trial takes a lot of time, effort, and preparation but can be very rewarding for the client in the end.  Success at trial is closely tied to three things: (1) Pre-trial preparation, (2) the strength of your case, and (3) your lawyer’s trial skills. Trials rarely go well for those who are unprepared. Chase and Joel give some important tips for winning the trial of a personal injury case in this video:


If for some reason your case goes sideways or you lose your case at trial, you always have the option to appeal.  An appeal would be the last potential step in the litigation process.

If you have never been involved with a personal injury case before, please don’t go through this process alone.  Seek a trustworthy and knowledgeable attorney to consult with right away.

For a free consultation, call Williams Elleby today at 833-534-2542.

Fall Prevention Week – DON’T FALL FROM THE STAND

Deer stand in field - Fall Prevention Week

For deer hunters, September is the best time of year because it signals the start of the hunting season in most states. The beginning of deer season also coincides with Fall Prevention Awareness Week. For hunting enthusiasts, spending time in the woods on a crisp autumn afternoon is about as good as it gets. Unfortunately, a fall from a tree in the middle of a forest can have devastating consequences. If you intend to hunt from a tree stand, here are a few tips to help keep you safe:


Prepare your body well in advance of deer season. If you aren’t already physically fit, start preparing your body for the rigors of the outdoors by hitting the gym or taking hikes at local parks. Consider some resistance training to strengthen your legs, core, and shoulders. Hunters with strong bodies are less likely to succumb to exhaustion when walking to and climbing a tree.


We know…hunters already have too much gear to haul in and out of their hunting areas. However, a fall arrest system should always be worn when hunting from a tree. These devices protect the hunter from getting stranded in a tree when they are using a tree stand harness. It protects hunters while climbing, sitting, standing, and descending. Think of it like a seat belt in a vehicle. We all hope that we are never in a car crash; however, chances are that we will be involved in a crash at some point in our lives. When a crash happens, seatbelts can save lives. The same is true for a fall arrest system.


Ideally, you will be hunting with a friend when you venture into the deer woods. If so, make sure you and your friend know exactly where each of you will be hunting and schedule a time and location to meet after the hunt. If you don’t have a hunting buddy, send a pin of your location to someone you trust and let them know what time you will be exiting the woods. Sending your location is incredibly easy if you follow simple instructions for Google Maps.


 It goes without saying that you must stay awake and alert if you want to harvest that massive Pope & Young buck that you’ve caught on your trail camera. However, staying awake also keeps you in the stand. Too often, hunters fall asleep in the stand only to wake up on the ground with serious life altering injuries. Therefore, it is important to get plenty of rest before your hunting trip. Easier said than done right? Sleep can be elusive during the anticipation leading up to a hunt but do your best to get the rest your body needs so you will be mentally alert  during your time in the stand.


Hunters should always use a haul line to get their gear in a tree stand. The cost of a haul line is minuscule when compared to the cost of your other hunting gear. The use of a haul line frees up your hands and removes unnecessary weight from your back as you ascend and descend the tree. You can find a good quality haul line for less than the price of a pack of arrows or box of ammunition.


Life if too precious to take unnecessary risk when hunting. Most hunting related injuries and deaths result from rule violations and poor judgment. As my grandpa used to say, use your head for something more than a hat rack. Develop a safety plan before the hunt and utilize simple tools such as a fall arrest system, Google Maps, and a haul line to make sure you stay safe this hunting season. Good luck and stay safe out there my friends.

What Should I Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

Uninsured Motorist Car Wreck

There are several things you should be aware of if you are hit by an uninsured driver. A driver may have an insurance card at the scene of a wreck but you have no way of knowing whether that insurance is expired, whether it applies to that particular vehicle, or whether that driver has permission to be driving that vehicle. So what should you do if you’re hit by an assumed uninsured driver?

Find out if the driver is, in fact, an uninsured driver.

Being hit by an uninsured driver could mean a handful of things.  There could be no insurance on the vehicle or the person that hit you may not be authorized to drive that vehicle. An attorney can determine whether the at-fault driver is uninsured by looking at the police report and sending a letter to the applicable insurance company to find out if that person is a proper driver.

Notify your own insurance company.

Most automobile insurance contracts require you to notify the insurer about any car accident within a reasonable time. If you do not comply with the terms of the insurance contract, your insurer may deny coverage.  If you have been hit by an uninsured driver, the uninsured motorist coverage of your policy would be utilized to cover any damages you suffered in the wreck.  If you are hurt by an uninsured driver, it is best to speak with an attorney because your own insurance company is going to defend that case against you, which puts you in a tricky position.

 Identify all insurance policies.

There are many different types of insurance policies and it is important to locate and share them all with your attorney.  Some insurance companies write specific policies for each vehicle in a household where as others write one policy that covers all vehicles in a home. 

Additionally, most all of your common insurance companies have what is known as resident relative coverage. This means that all relatives from the same household are entitled to use insurance policies from all other relatives in the same household, regardless of company.

 Treat your wreck like any other wreck.

Just like if you were hit by an insured driver, follow the same steps we suggest doing after any wreck.  Click here to read the 7 MOST IMPORTANT things to do after an accident

 If you are the victim of a hit and run, your case would be treated the same as if you were hit by an uninsured driver.  Your own insurance company is going to defend that case against you, so it is important to document as much as you can, take photos, look for witnesses, and seek medical treatment.

If you have been hit by an uninsured driver and would like to discuss your case for free, give us a call at 833-LEGAL-GA.

How Do I Prove Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case?

Lost Wages Personal Injury

If you have been injured and are forced to miss work or miss the opportunity for work, you can seek lost wages as an item of damages from the at-fault insurance company.  A common question we are asked is, “how do I prove lost wages in a personal injury case?”

W-2 Employee

Proving lost wages for a W-2 employee is pretty clean and simple.  If you are a W-2 employee, someone who gets paid the same amount every two weeks, the easiest way to prove lost wages is to get a pay stub.  From your pay stub, calculate your hourly rate and multiply that by the number of hours you were forced to miss work.

1099 Employee

Currently though, we have an increasing ‘gig economy,’ a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments” (Tech Target, 2022).  Most gig employees are paid by 1099, meaning hours of work are not necessarily consistent.  So if a 1099 employee is forced to miss work due to a personal injury, it is more difficult to prove how much work, or compensation, was actually missed.

The best way to prove lost wages for a 1099 employee is to average out your typical compensation and hours worked.  The longer the history of contract work available, the easier this is to do.

Another way to prove lost wages is to show documentation of work you were scheduled to do, that now will be delayed or canceled due to your personal injury.  Documentation of scheduled work could be a text, email, or signed contract showing the type of work and compensation agreed upon by both parties.

Business Owners

Unless you are in a real niche industry, a business owner’s income fluctuates with the success of the business.  Therefore, a business owner’s lost wages can be more difficult to prove in a personal injury case.  Business owners need to review their tax documents, profit and loss statements, and more to determine a reasonable income or compensation for missed work.

Proving lost wages for 1099 employees and business owners is made easier with a history of earnings. Trying to extrapolate figures from your history of work to projections of what you would have earned had you not missed work due to a personal injury is how we go about calculating lost wages.  This does not have to be proven with exact certainty;  a reasonable projection of what you would have earned is legally sufficient in most states.

One thing to keep in mind when you receive damages for lost wages is that money is taxable.  As opposed to money you might receive for bodily injury, medical bills, or pain and suffering, money for lost wages is still and will be considered taxable income.  For this reason, depending on your case and the size of your claim, it may or may not be in your best interest to make a claim for lost wages. For instance, if you have a million dollars worth of medical bills and catastrophic lifelong injuries, it might not be worth arguing a small lost wages claim—you want the court to focus on your larger claims and your attorney will have more leeway to argue for an overall larger award that is not taxable.  This allows you to benefit the most from the money awarded to you for your personal injury.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and would like to discuss your case for free with one of our attorneys at Williams Elleby, please give us a call at 833-LEGAL-GA.

How Medical Providers Can Help or Hurt Your Personal Injury Case

Medical Providers Personal Injury

Other than your lawyer, your medical provider is the most important professional in your entire claims process.  If your case is about your personal injury, who better than your doctor to explain what caused your injuries, the nature of your injuries, the treatment process, and your future prognosis?

Our job as your attorney is to present your case.  We have to prove that the incident wasn’t your fault, you were injured, and the incident caused your injuries.  Medical providers are necessary to explain your injuries and link causation.  Your doctor(s) will need to testify through deposition or medical narrative that the injuries you are now suffering from are because of the wreck.

Choose a Medical Provider You Have an Established History With

If you see a doctor regularly or have treated for an injury before, we recommend seeing that same doctor after your wreck.  Having an established relationship with a medical provider who helped you get better in the past is helpful.  Medical providers you have seen in the past can speak to your health prior to the wreck and testify as to how your new injuries are different from any pre-existing conditions.

Be Honest and Comply With Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan

One way medical providers can help or hurt your case depends on your willingness to follow your provider’s treatment plan.  If you do not follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, your provider will have to say that when testifying in your case.  In addition to complying with your treatment plan, be upfront and honest with your doctors about any prior injuries or conditions that you have had.  If it is sprung on your doctor during a deposition that you had a prior injury, he or she cannot confidently testify that your injuries and/or pain are directly caused by the wreck.

Medical Experts Hired By The Defense

One way medical providers can hurt your case is when they are called in as expert witnesses for the defense.  Often in personal injury cases, a defense tactic is to hire an independent medical expert.  This “expert”, who may have never laid eyes on you as the plaintiff or performed a full examination, reviews the medical records and makes a judgement on your injuries.

Medical Billing

Sometimes a medical provider can hurt your case by charging more for an injury simply because they know your injury was due to a car wreck.  Unfortunately, this can cause your provider to lose credibility.  One way a medical provider can help your case is by billing your medical insurance first, if you have it.  If you do not have medical insurance, a doctor can sometimes hold your bills and get reimbursed out of any settlement you receive.  If there is limited amounts of insurance but your bills are significant, sometimes doctors are willing to reduce the total amount of their bills in order to get your case resolved.

In conclusion, medical providers are vital to your case.  Choose doctors you know and trust, be honest with them, and comply with their treatment plans.

If you need an experienced and trustworthy legal team to help you after an injury, call Williams Elleby today at 833-LEGAL-GA.

Seven Biggest Mistakes People Make After an Injury

There are many factors that can help or hurt your personal injury claim.  The things you do or choose not to do after an injury matter.  Here are the seven biggest mistakes we see people make after an injury that can negatively affect their personal injury case.

1. Not seeking medical treatment in a timely manner.

Waiting too long to seek medical treatment is the most common mistake we see people make after a personal injury.  We understand that life is hectic and that seeking medical care and following a treatment plan is a process.  However, popping some Ibuprofen and hoping injuries get better on their own is not a good choice to make.  If you do not seek medical treatment and fail to comply with the doctor’s orders, the insurance company will argue that your injuries must not be that bad or you’re not really hurt, simply because you waited to seek treatment.

You also want to avoid any gaps in treatment.  Be consistent with your treatment plan. If you don’t follow up with your doctor’s recommendations or appointments, the insurance company will dispute the seriousness of your injuries and the validity of your claim.

2.  Not taking pictures at the scene of the injury.

Cellphones are ubiquitous these days. If you are able, take as many pictures as possible.  Capture the property damage, injuries, the scene, and weather conditions.  Document as much as you can. Take a video, too.  Record witness information.  If a wreck looks like a clear liability case to a police officer, he/she might not take witness statements, but those statements are valuable to a personal injury case.

As soon as an attorney gets your case, he or she will likely take pictures of the property damage and the scene, but firsthand pictures and documentation are more valuable.  Documenting all the evidence at the scene can be crucial to winning your case.

3.  Trying to handle a case without a lawyer.

Honestly speaking, there are some cases where you might not need to hire an attorney.  That said, you should always speak to an attorney first.  Simply reach out and educate yourself on the process of a personal injury claim before tackling it yourself.  Consultations are usually free, individualized, and can give you valuable insight about your case and how to handle it.  If you try to manage things on your own without consulting an attorney first, you could miss vital steps that will harm your chances of obtaining a fair recovery.

4.  Failing to research a lawyer before hiring one.

There are a lot of attorneys out there; unfortunately, not all of them are knowledgeable and/or trustworthy. Do your research before hiring an attorney.  Look at their websites and social media; try to discern if the attorney is someone you can trust and work with.

Schedule an in-person consultation.  You can do this with multiple firms.  Lawyers are like doctors; they specialize in certain fields.  You need to find a competent and trustworthy attorney who specializes in personal injury.  You want an attorney who is experienced in settling cases and trying cases before a court or jury.  If you hire an attorney because you saw them on several commercials or billboards, that attorney is probably NOT going to be your attorney.  A common business model we see in personal injury law is to spend a lot of money on ads in multiple places and pass your case onto paralegals or lesser-known attorneys for a finder’s fee.  These attorneys try to settle your case quickly and don’t have a lot of experience going to trial. Here are 15 essential questions to ask before hiring an attorney.

5.  Giving a recorded statement to an insurance company.

You are not required to give a recorded statement to the at-fault insurance company, and you should never do this without consulting an attorney.  Anything you say can potentially be used against you and insurance adjustors are skilled at asking questions for their company’s benefit.

6.  Signing anything without a lawyer’s review.

You don’t want to sign anything an insurance company sends you without having a lawyer review it.  If you sign the wrong document, you could destroy your rights to bring a claim against the at-fault insurance company or to pursue an underinsured motorist claim. Sometimes, insurance companies will send an injured person a check along with a full release and the injured person might think this is only partial payment. If the injured person signs the full release, the claim will end, and the insurance company will not pay any bills that come after the release is signed.

Additionally, if there are any liens placed on your claim by a health plan, hospital, or medical facility, the liens must be addressed out of any settlement. If you sign documents settling you case without knowing the full extent of any hospital or medical liens, you could walk away with nothing.

7.  Waiting too long to file a lawsuit or make a claim.

If you wait too long to file a lawsuit you may be barred by the statute of limitations, which is basically the maximum amount of time the law allows for you to file a lawsuit. Also, it takes time for the attorneys to investigate the claim, send open records request, and review medical records. Attorneys need time to do all those things before filing a lawsuit or making a claim. If you want an attorney to do a good job, make sure you give them plenty of time to properly investigate all angles of your case before they must file a lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been injured and are trying to navigate the personal injury claim process, call Williams Elleby for a FREE consultation today, 833-LEGAL-GA.