Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Georgia 

fatal accident rise Georgia
Fatal Vehicle Accidents Are On the Rise in Georgia 

Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most of us, and often feels like a mundane task. However, it is important to remember that driving is an inherently dangerous activity that causes millions of injuries and thousands of deaths each year in the United States. This is especially true for those of us in Georgia, where there has unfortunately been an increase in fatal accidents in recent years. 

In 2019 there were about 1,500 fatal crashes; In 2020 there were about 1,700 fatal crashes. So far in 2021 there have already been 733 fatal crashes. This number has already surpassed the 600 fatalities from last June, and is expected to continue rising.

Common Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents in Georgia 

The three major causes of fatal accidents include distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding.

Distracted Driving

The main cause of distracted driving is cell phone use, which can include texting, using GPS, checking email, social media scrolling, taking photos and more. Texting while driving, or otherwise using a handheld device, is extremely dangerous because it creates both a visual and a cognitive distraction for the driver. It has been reported that drivers who text are eight times more likely to be in an accident, and that any distracted driver is four times more likely to be in an accident. Georgia drivers should also remember that it is illegal to text and drive at the same time. 

Impaired Driving

When most of us think of impaired driving, we think of driving under the influence, or DUI. And indeed, DUI creates an unacceptable risk that should not be tolerated. However, another form of impairment that causes a substantial number of accidents each year is sleepy or drowsy driving. There are few things more dangerous than falling asleep at the wheel, but even when drowsy drivers manage to stay awake, an accident is more likely to occur because fatigue significantly hinders reaction time. 

Speeding

Speeding also presents a major risk to others on the road. Many accidents are caused because drivers are traveling too fast to make a turn or to change lanes when necessary. In other cases, drivers have been traveling at the speed limit, but were going too fast for the weather or traffic conditions. Less frequent, but still sometimes a problem, are drivers that go too slow on highways. Under Georgia’s “slow poke” law, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” 

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 74% of roadway fatalities can be attributed to distracted driving, impaired driving or driving too fast for conditions. Other causes of fatal accidents include violating rules of the road, pedestrian or cyclist negligence, unsafe road conditions, and vehicle malfunctions. 

In more than half of fatal accidents in Georgia in 2019, the victims were not wearing their seatbelts. This is a striking statistic when considering that seat belt usage hovers around 90%. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, seat belts save roughly 14,000 lives every year. 

Drive Alert, Arrive Alive 

In response to the alarming increase in traffic fatalities, the Georgia Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, launched the “DriveAlert ArriveAlive” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce accidents “by educating drivers about simple changes they can make in their driving behavior to prevent crashes, improve safety and save lives.” The campaign has three core messages for drivers: 

  1. Buckle up; 
  2. Stay off the phone and mobile devices; and 
  3. Drive alert. 
Who is the Best Attorney for Fatal Car Accidents in Georgia? 

Choosing an attorney after a fatal Georgia car wreck can be difficult. You want someone who has the experience required to handle a complicated case and you need to make sure the attorney you hire is not overworked and can devote him or herself to your case. Consider interviewing several firms or lawyers before making your decision so you can feel confident that you are hiring the best lawyer for your case. 

Williams Elleby Helps Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve 

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and follow the rules of the road. This duty is extremely important because serious traffic accidents can place an enormous burden on personal injury victims and family members. The experienced legal team at Williams Elleby is dedicated to ensuring that accident victims get the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. 

Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to auto accident liability. This means if a party is responsible for causing an accident, they have an obligation to compensate any victims of harm. The attorneys at Williams Elleby work hard to provide knowledgeable, accessible and effective service to each of their personal injury clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation. If you would like to consult with one of the attorneys at Williams Elleby, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to schedule a free meeting.

Traffic Fatalities Spike Due to Distracted Driving

Traffic Fatalities Continue to Spike Due to Distracted Driving

Forbes reported that in 2020, despite the decrease in traffic on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic death rates are the highest they have been in 13 years. Compared to 2019, there was a 29% increase in lives lost due to automobile crashes.

Georgia is no exception. According to WTOC 11, there has been an increase in fatal car crashes by 13% in just one year. Seventy percent of fatalities in vehicle accidents are caused by unsafe driving behaviors, and one of the deadliest unsafe behaviors is distracted driving.

Distractions Take Focus Away from the Road

For years, experts have been hopeful that advances in technology would lead to a reduction in the fatal accidents on America’s roadways. Innovations like automatic emergency braking systems and lane departure warnings have made an impact on accident rates as well as the severity of collisions.

However, new technology can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to driver safety. Between the prevalence of smartphones and in-dash infotainment systems, distracted driving is having a more significant impact on collision rates. A 2018 study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that fatalities attributed to phone-based distracted driving have increased in recent years.

Mobile phones may be the most obvious cause of distracted driving, but other actions like eating, grooming, smoking and even disciplining children can cause drivers’ attention to turn away from the roadway.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main types of distractions that drivers fall prey to:
  1. Visual distractions. These are distractions that take your eyes off the road, like looking at a cell phone or turning to talk to someone in the back seat.
  2. Manual distractions. Any distractions that cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel are manual distractions.
  3. Cognitive distractions. These are distractions that cause you to take your mind off of driving. For instance, although hands-free technology for talking on a cell phone is a safer option, conversing can still cause you to be cognitively distracted. Avoid talking on the phone while driving unless it is truly necessary. 
Stay Focused When You Drive

Because driving is a day-to-day activity, we sometimes take for granted that we will stay safe on the road. Driving is a life-or-death activity that demands our full attention. We should all do our best to avoid visual, manual and cognitive distractions.

Remember the risk that comes with things like using your phone, eating, using your navigation system or interacting with other passengers as you drive – and choose to refrain from those activities until after you are done driving.

Never text, search the Internet or use apps while on your phone while you are driving. These phone-based activities are visual, manual and cognitive distractions all rolled into one dangerous behavior. As the CDC website points out, “Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.” Thinking about a driver not paying attention to the road for that long is a scary thought!

If the risk of physical injury is not enough to dissuade someone from distracted driving, some states have laws prohibiting the use of cell phones. For example, in Georgia, it is illegal to hold your phone while driving thanks to the Hands-Free Law.

If You’ve Been in an Accident, Contact Williams Elleby Today

We all have a duty to stay focused on the road and drive with care every time we get behind the wheel. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced auto accident attorneys at Williams Elleby work tirelessly to get justice for personal injury victims throughout Georgia.

Joel Williams or Chase Elleby can investigate the facts of your case, help you understand your legal rights and options and vigorously pursue justice for you in pre-suit negotiations or court. If you think you have a claim, contact our Georgia personal injury attorneys to schedule your free consultation today at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).

Amusement Park Safety

amusement park safety victims
AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY

Accidents happen every day at amusement parks around the country, including those in Georgia. Many times these accidents are caused by the avoidable negligence of the guest, the amusement park or both. While visitors should enjoy their time at the amusement park, safety should not become a second thought. Guests should prioritize their safety, and victims of amusement park negligence should be aware of their rights and seek justice.

AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY TIPS

Know your limits. There are numerous health conditions that make riding on fast rides, such as a roller coaster, especially dangerous. Be aware of how a ride may interact with any health conditions you have. Have fun, but be cautious about putting too much stress on your body. This can have long-term effects on your health and well-being.

Respect warning signs. Assume the amusement park has foreseen a clear harm that is likely to occur if the signs are ignored. If you have children that are old enough to be left alone, make sure they understand the risks of not adhering to park rules. Reviewing park safety before you go your separate ways is key to keeping your child safe.

Never enter restricted areas. Do not assume that restricted zones are just glorified employee break areas. Odds are they aren’t places for employees to hang out, but are actually dangerous areas. Reduce your risk of injury by avoiding these areas.

NEGLIGENCE BY AMUSEMENT PARKS

Sometimes people are injured at amusement parks through absolutely no fault of their own. A recent example was seen in New Jersey, when the Six Flags log flume malfunctioned and sent two guests to the hospital. The boat tipped at an angle, causing it to not complete a cycle. Even though the injuries were minor, it was still no doubt a traumatic experience, not to mention a major inconvenience.

Many other cases end with much worse results. For instance, in July of 2021 an eleven-year-old boy, Michael Jaramillo, died while on a Raging River raft at Adventureland Theme Park. The raft malfunctioned and overturned about 20 seconds into the ride, causing the six passengers to have their heads stuck underwater until help arrived. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Whenever these types of accidents occur, victims are entitled to bring a claim against the amusement park or any other company in charge of maintaining the rides. In Georgia, these will normally be negligence or premises liability claims, which allege that the amusement park failed in its duty to keep patrons safe. If you would like more information about amusement park safety or to discuss your accident case, call Williams Elleby, at 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542)

15 Situations Where You Need a Personal Injury Attorney

Do you know when to hire a personal injury attorney? A personal injury claim results after you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else. It may be confusing to know what types of injuries warrant a personal injury claim, so our team has gathered 15 situations to help you understand when to contact a personal injury attorney.

Situation 1:

After a Car Wreck

Car accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury claims. Calling a personal injury attorney immediately after a car wreck is crucial in order to document the scene, your injuries and your property damage. A personal injury attorney can also help guide you through the insurance process with the at-fault driver to avoid false claims.

Situation 2:

After a Fall at a Business

If you take a tumble at a commercial establishment, call a personal injury attorney with knowledge about Georgia Premises Liability Law. It’s important to hire a lawyer quickly so he or she can preserve the necessary elements of your case such as video or incident reports. 

Situation 3:

After a Criminal Attack at an Apartment or Hotel

If you have been attacked, assaulted or harmed by a criminal at a hotel, apartment or other commercial establishment, a personal injury attorney can assist you and investigate if you have a viable negligent security claim. This process involves assessing the criminal history of the property and the actions taken by the owner/manager of the establishment.  

Situation 4:

After You are Hit by a Drunk Driver

You may be entitled to punitive damages for both bodily injuries and property damages after being involved in a DUI wreck. Many attorneys and insurance adjusters don’t recognize property damage as punitive damage, so make sure to hire a knowledgeable attorney if you find yourself involved in a DUI accident.

Situation 5:

After You Hire a Lawyer Without Personal Injury Expertise

We get it, you may have a friend or family member who is an attorney so you turn to them when you need a lawyer. However, their expertise may not lie in the personal injury realm. It’s important to hire a personal injury attorney for personal injury cases to help maximize your claim and properly guide you through your case.

Situation 6:

After You are Hit on a Bicycle

Georgia roads are dangerous, especially when biking on busy or residential streets. If you are hit by a motorist, you may need a personal injury attorney to help recover for your bills and for your pain and suffering. Motorists and bicyclists both have a duty to follow rules of the road, but sometimes motorists fail to pay attention or fail to adhere to safety laws. Call a personal injury attorney to get your claim settled.

Situation 7:

After You are Hurt by a Medical Professional

Errors can happen during medical procedures and treatments, however we expect our medical professionals to exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill. If you suffer an injury due to the lack of such care, you may be entitled to compensation. In the state of Georgia there are certain aspects of a medical malpractice case that must be proven using expert testimony. It is important to hire a personal injury attorney quickly so they can help find an expert for your case and let you know if you have a viable case that is worth pursuing.

Situation 8:

After You are Hit by a Driver Insured by Allstate

Over the past 5-10 years, Allstate has developed a reputation for being one of the most difficult insurance companies to deal with when it comes to getting fair settlement values for your claims. Being involved with a driver insured by Allstate will likely result in trial. This can be avoided by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to ensure you receive the settlement you deserve.

Situation 9:

After Your Child is Injured at Daycare

As parents, we often trust our children to childcare professionals for proper care and supervision. Unfortunately, injuries happen at daycare facilities due to the negligence of management and employees. Common daycare personal injury cases include improper supervision, improper handling, letting a child consume something they are allergic to and exposure to dangerous objects or equipment. If your child was injured at daycare, reach out to Bright from the Start and your local authorities to begin an investigation. You will then need to hire a personal injury attorney to assess the situation and determine if a claim can be made.

Situation 10:

After a Tractor Trailer or Big Truck Wreck

Claims involving trucking accidents can be complex and it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who handles big truck accidents. When hiring a personal injury attorney for a case involving a tractor trailer or other large vehicle, make sure they are knowledgeable about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rules and regulations that apply to trucking companies and their drivers.

Situation 11:

After a Dog Bite

An injury caused from a dog bite can be traumatic and painful. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney who is familiar with this sort of personal injury claim. There are certain rules that go along with proving liability toward a pet owner, such as proving dangerous propensities or determining a potential violation of leash laws. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you find out if you have a viable case. 

Situation 12:

If You Don’t Have Health Insurance

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence but you do not have proper health insurance, we suggest contacting a personal injury attorney. Most reputable personal injury attorneys in Georgia have connections to medical providers that can treat you on a lein-basis and help you receive the quality care you deserve after an accident.

Situation 13:

After a Car Hits a Pedestrian

Georgia statutes determining who has the right-of-way between a pedestrian and a motorist can be confusing. If you’ve been hit by a motorist as a pedestrian, hire a personal injury attorney to identify insurance and properly advise you on whether you have a viable claim.

Situation 14:

If You are Injured by a Falling Tree or Limb

If you have been injured by a falling tree or tree limb in an urban or heavily populated area of Georgia, hire a personal injury attorney. If the owner of the property is aware of damage or disease on the tree, they can be held responsible for your injuries.

Situation 15:

After Someone Kills Your Loved One

The death of a loved one is hard enough on a person. If the death was caused by another person due to a car wreck, negligent security issue, medical malpractice, etc., a personal injury attorney can take the legal issues off of your plate and determine a wrongful death case.

We understand that the time following these accidents can be confusing, traumatizing and isolating. However, you do not have to face a lawsuit alone. We help our clients get the compensation they deserve. To learn more, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

15 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Hiring a personal injury attorney can be a daunting process. There are many choices and aspects to consider. But, discovering which attorney is best for you and your personal injury case can be easier than you think. Our team has gathered 15 questions you should ask before hiring any attorney.

Question 1:

What types of cases are you handling right now?

No matter the type of legal case, you want to be a priority for your attorney. As a personal injury victim, you do not want to have a distracted attorney who is busy handling a divorce or property line disputes. A way to prevent this is by finding an attorney who focuses their practice strictly on personal injury cases. Not only will this increase your chances of taking precedence, but it will also ensure that your attorney is familiar with the pre-suit process.

Question 2:

Can I have your cell phone number?

Communication is vital to a healthy attorney-client relationship. While email and letters can be effective, sometimes it is not enough. You deserve to know exactly what is going on with your case. Find an attorney who is willing to give you his or her cell phone number to ensure that you will have open communication about your case.

Question 3:

Will you be the attorney handling my case?

Some law firms have designated attorneys to speak with clients. However, this may not be the attorney who will take your case. They may give your case to a junior associate or even a different law firm. To prevent your case from being handed off to others who may be less experienced, ask this question before hiring the attorney.

Question 4:

How many cases have you tried before a jury?

Not all cases can be handled quickly and out of court. You want an attorney who is experienced in front of a jury and prepared to take your case to trial to obtain the compensation you deserve. Hiring an experienced trial attorney could make the difference in your recovery if your case has to be tried.

Question 5:

How much will it cost to hire you?

Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if they win your case, they get paid a percentage of the gross overall recovery that you are awarded in your case. You will want to make sure that percentage is reasonable. You should be aware of how the firm manages the expenses they advance on your behalf. Ask them about interest and overhead. These expenses can add up and be the difference of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Question 6:

How many cases do you handle at one time?

Again, you need to make sure your attorney dedicates the proper amount of time to your case. If an attorney handles several cases at one time, then they may not have enough time to devote to you. As previously mentioned, the amount of time an attorney gives to your case ultimately impacts the amount of recovery you receive. Plus, being one of several cases may foster a bad relationship between you and your attorney.

Question 7:

What percent of your time is spent working cases?

Some attorneys busy themselves with business management practices. You need an attorney who spends a great deal of time focused on trying cases. You should be confident in the amount of time your attorney spends working on cases and make sure your case receives the attention you deserve.

Question 8:

How often will I receive updates on my case?

A lack of case updates is the number one complaint from clients to the State Bar. All attorneys have a duty to communicate with their clients. To understand what communication efforts to expect from your attorney, ask them this question. This will ultimately promote a healthy attorney-client relationship.

Question 9:

How long do you think my case will take?

Cases can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Due to all the factors that play a part, your attorney will not be able to give you an exact number. However, they should be able to give you a general estimate. It is always best to have similar expectations as your attorney when understanding the general timeline of your case.

Question 10:

What are the weaknesses of my case?

In order to receive the maximum recovery, you will need to show your case in the best light. Having an attorney that knows your case’s challenges is key. This way, they know how to best present your case and prevent any shocking revelations while your case is being tried.

Question 11:

What happens if I need to fire you?

Make it easier on yourself in case this event occurs. Ask this question before hiring anyone so that you and your attorney are on the same page. Having to fire an attorney is already stressful. Knowing how to fire someone and the consequences can relieve some of the stress. Plus, it can prevent you from having to pay unexpected fees and expenses.

Question 12:

Are you willing to try my case?

There are lawyers who want to settle no matter what. This can limit your overall recovery costs. However, trial lawyers have better results all around. This is often because insurance companies are aware that trial lawyers will fight for the maximum recovery. Having someone truly in your corner is much more beneficial than hiring someone who wants to make a quick buck.

Question 13:

How long will it take to return my phone calls?

Again, communication is key when it comes to your satisfaction with your attorney. Asking this question is a great way to know what to expect from your attorney. While they could be busy with another case or deposition, there should be a reasonable turnaround time for any questions you have.

Question 14:

Can you guarantee a certain amount?

This is a trick question to ask your attorney. Any attorney that guarantees a certain amount is misguided and needs to be avoided. It is against the law to guarantee any recovery amount. However, many attorneys may be able to give you an estimate of what they think the case is worth, which is much more reasonable.

Question 15:

Can you explain all aspects of the claims process?

This question will serve three purposes: determine expectations for your suit, ensure the attorney’s knowledge of the claims process and show the attorney’s amount of patience for your questions. You need to be comfortable with their reaction and response to this question before you hire that attorney.

We hope these questions provide you with the information and confidence you need to hire the right personal injury attorney. Remember, communication and the right expectations are key to having a successful experience. If you or a loved one needs a personal injury attorney in Georgia, contact Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We are committed to fighting for and protecting our clients.

Williams Elleby Named Best Local Attorney for Fourth Year in a Row

For the fourth consecutive year, Around Acworth magazine has honored Williams Elleby with a Reader’s Choice Award for Best Attorney.

“We’re excited, proud and humbled to receive an Around Acworth 2021 Readers’ Choice Award,” said Joel Williams, founder and partner at Williams Elleby. “This award marks four years of recognition for our commitment to serving local Acworth clients. After the challenging year we have all faced, we are thankful to our clients for trusting us to handle their personal injury cases.”

The winners of the Around Acworth Readers’ Choice Awards are nominated in their respective categories and voted on by the community. This award celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and keeps readers’ focus on supporting local businesses. 

“It is a privilege to fight for justice for our clients, especially during some of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Chase Elleby, partner at Williams Elleby. “I’m proud of the accomplishments our team has achieved on behalf of our fellow Georgians over the past year, and we appreciate the opportunity to serve those in vulnerable positions following a personal injury.” 

Attorneys Joel Williams and Chase Elleby are based in Kennesaw but they litigate catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout the State of Georgia. For more information about the firm, visit www.gatrialattorney.com or follow the firm on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

30 Secrets to Know After a Car Wreck

The time following a car wreck can be scary and confusing. Unfortunately, insurance companies and their lawyers often take advantage of victims during this time of pain and suffering. A bit of insider knowledge can go a long way, which is why our team has gathered 30 secrets you should know after a car wreck that will help you maximize your recovery and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process of filing your case.

Secret 1:

Do NOT Accept Premature Offers from Insurance Companies 

Soon after a car wreck, insurance companies may contact you and agree to pay your medical bills up to a certain amount. They may even add additional compensation for “pain and suffering.” In most cases, we advise you to never accept this amount. Oftentimes, this offer is made too early and before you truly know the extent of your injuries. Do not sign anything or take any settlement offers until you have contacted an experienced attorney and understand the full amount of your bills.

Secret 2:

Be Careful What You Say at the Scene and to your Medical Providers

At the scene of the accident, it is important to be careful with what you say and how you say it. Your words can be used against you at trial as an admission of fault by you. While at the scene, carefully listen to what the other parties involved say and make note, especially if the other parties involved admit fault to you or the police officers.

Additionally, when speaking with your medical providers and the emergency personnel on the scene, be mindful about what you say. If you are hurt, tell them! It is important to be honest with your medical providers and make it very clear about your injuries, so they take note of it in your medical records. These medical records are important and will be admissible at trial.

Secret 3:

Insurance Companies Hire Investigators to Follow You After an Accident

Whether it’s to the gym or a walk in the park, even the most innocent actions can be used against you. Investigators are hired to take photos and videos of you as evidence for the insurance companies. They will also search your social media accounts, so be careful about what you post about online as well. 

Secret 4:

Take Photos and Videos After Your Car Wreck

Almost everyone has a cell phone on them at the time of an accident. Use your phone as a tool and make sure to take plenty of photos and videos of the damage to the vehicles, the roadway scene and your injuries. Additionally, take videos that include audio to record conversations. Audio and video recordings can help you win your case, especially if anyone says something that would be incriminating or shows that they are at fault. 

Secret 5:

Gather Witness Contact Information

If you are physically able at the time of the accident, gather any contact information from witnesses that observed the accident or stopped to help. At the very least collect their names and phone numbers. Independent witness statements and testimonies can make or break your case. Make sure you share this information with your attorney. These witnesses can help dispute any excuses made by the at fault party and help you win your case.

Secret 6:

Insurance Companies Will Not Pay You If You Do Not Properly Document Your Bodily Injuries

It is important to know how to properly document your injuries after an accident. Make sure to take pictures of any bruising, broken bones or anything out of place. If you are injured, go to the emergency room or an urgent care right away. After your initial medical treatment, follow up with your primary care physician or any specialists that are specific to your injury. Seeking medical treatment is important for your health and so your medical providers can accurately document the nature and extent of your injuries in the medical record. 

Secret 7:

If You Do Not Notify Your Car Insurance Company After a Car Wreck, They Will Deny Coverage

This is extremely important, especially if you were the at fault driver. Additionally, if you were hit by an uninsured/underinsured driver, the insurance company must be notified within a certain number of days to get the coverage according to your automobile policy. However, it is critical that you contact your attorney before contacting your insurance company. While you may have a few days to find an attorney, you need to reach out as soon as possible to guarantee the insurance company will agree to pay your claim.

Secret 8:

You Don’t Need to Overpay for Legal Representation

Most car accident attorneys work under a contingency fee basis and get paid a percentage of the gross recovery for you. Do not be tricked into paying 45-50% for a simple car wreck case! A good attorney will handle your lawsuit for a third of the gross recovery, if it settles without filing a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, it may cost you more due to the increase in work and time involved. But, make sure to do your research before hiring an attorney: call around, ask around and find the best attorney for you.

Secret 9:

Use Health Insurance to Pay Your Medical Bills After a Wreck

In the state of Georgia, there is the “Collateral Source Rule” meaning the at-fault driver is not allowed to benefit from your foresight in obtaining medical coverage. Of course, not everyone has health insurance, but if you contact your attorney, they will be able to put you in contact with a medical provider who may treat you on a lien.

Secret 10:

You Do Not Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

While you may need to give a recorded statement to your insurance company under your insurance contract, you are not required to give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurer. These adjustors may call you and ask what happened and try to record the conversation. You do not have be polite and agree to speak with them without hiring an attorney first. They will likely ask questions designed to hurt your case and their job is pay you as little money as possible, so be wary of answering any of their questions.

Secret 11:

Online Directories Rank Lawyers Based on How Much Money the Lawyer Pays the Directory

While online directories can be useful, it is important to do your own research. Usually, the lawyers paying the most money to be added to the directory are ranked the highest on the lists. It is better to browse through the lawyers’ websites, take advantage of their free consultations, and interview 2-3 law firms to make sure you find the right lawyer with the right experience for your case. Trust your gut and take the power into your own hands!

Secret 12:

Your Claim is Worth Less with Inconsistent Medical Treatment

If you are not consistent with your medical treatment, you will devalue your case. Insurance companies will often offer you less compensation if you wait too long to go to the doctor or if you do not consistently attend all of your appointments. Insurance companies are searching for these gaps in your treatment in order to offer you less money. If your case goes to trial in Georgia, a judge will inform a jury that you have a duty to mitigate your damages. So, it is important to go to the doctor and seek the necessary treatment.

Secret 13:

You Can Afford Medical Treatment Even If You Don’t Have Health Insurance

Many chiropractors, orthopedic doctors and neurologists are willing to treat you on a lien if you do not have access to health insurance. This means, in exchange for your agreement to pay them out of any settlement or recovery you get from the insurance companies, they will refrain from sending you any bills until you receive a recovery. It is important to go ahead and get the necessary medical treatment.

Secret 14:

Paying a Citation is Evidence of Fault in a Civil Case

If you are issued a citation after a car wreck and you pay it, in the state of Georgia that action will be used against you as evidence in any underlying civil case. While you should always take responsibility for any personal wrongdoing, you need to be aware that paying a citation is considered a guilty plea. Oftentimes, you have options other than paying the citation – how you proceed can affect any underlying civil claims. 

Secret 15:

Social Media Can Kill Your Case

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok can influence the outcome of your case. Be careful what pictures you post and never post any information about your accident or your injuries. Even innocent things like a picture holding your small child or participating in a physical activity can be used against you and have an effect on your case. Additionally, make sure you are not tagged in any photos from friends or family members. However, if you have already posted something, please do not delete it. This could be considered destroying evidence.

Secret 16:

Some Lawyers Charge Interest on Expenses They Advance in Your Case

As previously discussed, many attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. Attorneys advance expenses and costs that are necessary in order to maximize your ultimate recovery. Some law firms charge interest on these expenses. 

As you search for the right lawyer for your case, ask ahead of time if you will be expected to pay interest on these advances. This could affect your net overall recovery and is important to understand ahead of time. At Williams Elleby, we do not charge interest on these expenses for our clients. We simply charge dollar for dollar for the expenses we incur. 

Secret 17:

Medical Records Are Cheaper if You Order Them Yourself

While your lawyer and his/her paralegal can order your medical records on your behalf, it is often more expensive for you. The medical facilities will charge the law firm more than they will charge an individual. If you work with your law firm to order the medical records yourself, you will often save money in the long run. 

Secret 18:

You Have the Right to Fire a Bad Attorney

If you are dissatisfied with your lawyer’s service, call and sit down with your attorney and express your concerns. Oftentimes clients are able to work through issues and resolve any miscommunication or concerns. However, if you are still not satisfied with the efforts of your attorney, you have the right to fire them. Be aware: you may have to pay any expenses they have advanced on your behalf and additional fees.

Secret 19:

Some Lawyers May Try to Settle Your Case Without Your Express Permission

This may sound unbelievable, but it is true! It is the lawyer’s job to use their experience and research to advise you on a reasonable settlement amount for your case. However, the decision to settle should be left up to you. When you are hiring a lawyer, make sure you are on the same page that you will make all final decisions about actual settlements and numbers for your case. 

Secret 20:

Go Over the Complaint or Lawsuit with Your Lawyer Prior to Filing

It is important to understand the content of your complaint because you may be cross examined about the allegations in your lawsuit later at a deposition or trial. In complaints there may be a lot of legal jargon and allegations, but they also include basic facts that you need to be familiar with. Your lawyer should assist you with understanding and verifying the information included in the complaint prior to filing. 

Secret 21:

How You Respond to Interrogatory Questions Can Make or Break Your Case

Interrogatories are formal written questions that you must answer in writing under oath as part of the general discovery process. It is important to work with your lawyers to make sure your answers are true and accurate because you can be questioned about them later. If your testimony is inconsistent with your answers to interrogatory questions, your case may suffer. These questions may discuss anything from preexisting conditions to how the wreck happened, so make sure you take the time to answer these questions accurately.

Secret 22:

Calling the Court to Complain is a Bad Idea

While you may disagree with the ruling in your case, it is best to call your attorney and let them properly handle addressing any issues while following the appropriate rules and procedures. Your attorney should be intimately familiar with these rules, so let him or her handle the situation.

Secret 23:

If You Lie, You Will Get Caught

Many people are tempted to be dishonest about the details of their accident. Whether they lie about texting while driving or withhold information about preexisting conditions, the truth always comes out. Don’t let yourself be embarrassed when you are cross examined. Choose to be honest and your case will ultimately be better for it.

Secret 24:

Extensive Deposition Preparation with Your Lawyer is Vital to Winning Your Case

A deposition is an out of court testimony where lawyers and a court reporter is present for you to answer a series of questions under oath. Unlike a trial, there are no jury members or a judge present. Preparing for you deposition with your lawyer is one of the most important things you can do to help win you case. Depositions allow other lawyers to ask you a wider variety of questions than what they are allowed to ask while you are on the witness stand at trial. It is important to sit down with your lawyer beforehand to discuss potential questions to make sure you are prepared. 

Secret 25:

You Can Attend All Depositions that Occur in Your Case

We believe it is important for clients to consider attending all the depositions in their case. It will help you understand the full picture and hear what others are saying about the facts and critical issues in your case. Additionally, it is our opinion that if your lawyer knows you will be watching and listening during depositions, they will be even more motivated to prepare and perform at their best. 

Secret 26:

You Have All the Power at Mediation

Mediation is a formal settlement conference where a neutral third party (mediator) helps the two parties try and reach a formal settlement agreement. During these meetings, don’t forget that you have all the power! You have the ability to accept or reject any settlement offer that is made. While decisions should always be informed by the advice and guidance of your attorney, ultimately it is your decision to settle your case.

Secret 27:

A Defective Product, Not the At Fault Driver, May Be the Cause of Your Injuries

While the at-fault driver may have caused the wreck, your injuries may have been caused by a defective part or product within the vehicle itself. Sometimes seatbelts, airbags and tires fail because of negligence during the design or manufacturing process. If you are in a wreck and the injuries seem much worse than they should be, contact a products liability attorney, like Williams Elleby, to find out if a defective product caused your injuries.

Secret 28:

You Have to File the Lawsuit Where the Defendant Resides

To have proper venue, you must file your lawsuit in the county where the at-fault driver resides. If you and the at-fault driver live in different states and your case is worth more than $75,000, your case will end up in federal court because that is where jurisdiction is proper. This is important to understand before filing your car accident case.

Secret 29:

Your Medical Providers are the Most Important Witnesses to Prove Your Damages

If you have to go to trial, your doctors, nurses and therapists will be the ones to prove your injuries with the most credibility. While you can testify about your own injuries, these medical professionals carry more credibility because they do not have a stake in the litigation. This gives you even more reason to follow your doctor’s orders and to be kind to them during your treatment because you will likely need them later at trial.

Secret 30:

You Won’t Pay Taxes on Most Personal Injury Recoveries

As of April 2021, you do not have to pay taxes on money that you receive for personal physical injuries, medical bills or pain and suffering. While there are certain types of damages you may have to pay taxes on (i.e. interest, punitive damages, lost wages, etc.), your lawyer should structure your case so you do not have to pay taxes for bodily injuries.

We hope these secrets help you proceed with confidence after an accident. Do not let yourself become a victim of insurance companies after a car wreck. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Georgia, contact Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. We are committed to fighting for our clients and protecting them from the manipulation of insurance companies after an injury.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney: A Client’s Roadmap to the Legal Process

The time following an accident that results in injury or death can be scary, isolating, traumatic and overwhelming. If the injury or death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may consider getting legal help, which is why it’s important to know what to expect when hiring a personal injury attorney. 

The client experience from injury through settlement or trial can be compared to a road with a standard mile markers and a few turns along the way. Though each case is unique, our team has developed a roadmap that outlines the typical steps a client can expect to take when seeking justice after a personal injury. 

If You’re Injured Due to Negligence, Time is of the Essence

Research, Reach Out, Consult

After you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, always seek medical treatment first. Then, it’s important to consider taking legal action relatively quickly as you begin to receive medical treatment. 

Start by researching attorneys and their specializations online. Look for personal injury attorneys local to your area, and read reviews and testimonials from former clients. If you are in the hospital or unable to research on your own, a loved one can help compile a list of potential attorneys and contact them on your behalf. 

Trustworthy personal injury attorneys should offer a free consultation for new clients. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of lawyers, schedule a free consultation with a few of them – either in person or virtually. You can ask questions and get to know the attorney and his or her firm. Read our Q&A for tips on which questions to ask your potential attorney, and hire the person or team who you feel will keep your best interests in mind.

Attorneys Will Get to Work While You Recover

After making your decision to hire a personal injury attorney, he or she will begin gathering evidence from the accident. During this time, you may still be receiving medical treatment and working through the extent of your injuries.

Remember to keep documentation of your medical records and bills after your injury. As your attorney gathers evidence, medical records and bills become a key factor for the value of your case.   

Next, a demand letter will be sent before a lawsuit is filed. This is a written demand to the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Georgia law requires the plaintiff to give the other side 30 days to consider the offer in the demand letter.

Forks in the Road: Settling, Lawsuits and Trial

The Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

After the insurance company or at fault driver receives the demand letter, a plaintiff can initiate the lawsuit by filing a document known as the complaint. The complaint lays out your allegations in broad terms. It identifies each defendant and the damage claims you have against them. Once the defendants are formally notified of the claim, they have a set amount of time to file a formal response. This response must address each aspect of your claim and either admit or deny its accuracy.

This leads to the question, “will we settle?”

  • If the answer is yes, disbursement of funds will take place
  • If the answer is no, a lawsuit is initiated

Remember to carefully consider whether to settle. Your attorney can help you navigate this decision.

Phases of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Discovery

If you do not settle, a lawsuit will be initiated. The discovery process will take place first, which allows both sides to sift through and evaluate the evidence in the case.

Mediation

Next, mediation will occur. The plaintiff and defendant will attempt to settle the case without going to trial by way of mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party facilitates an agreement between the parties. It is a shorter and cheaper way to settle a dispute than litigation, and can give the parties full control of the outcome. It requires both parties to compromise.

Settlement

From mediation will come another crossroads – to settle, or go to trial. If an agreement is reached during mediation, a disbursement of funds will take place. If neither party can agree to a compromise to settle the case, it will move forward to the trial phase. 

Trial

Most personal injury cases do not go to trial, but in the case of an unfair settlement offer, taking a case to trial is often your best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

During the trial, both sides will have a say in picking the jury. Each side will also put on evidence, including any witnesses who can help establish liability or prove the amount of damages. In the end, the judge or jury will make the determination on whether you will obtain a judgment.

Trustworthy Personal Injury Attorneys in Georgia

Though the legal process can seem daunting, trustworthy personal injury attorneys like those at Williams Elleby are committed to transparency and service to each client. You don’t have to face a lawsuit alone – we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

What is Premises Liability?

In Georgia, owners and occupiers of land have a responsibility to those who enter their premises. These duties vary according to the relationship between the owner and the person entering the premises. 

 

Exercising Ordinary Care

Business owners may be liable to their business invitees for failing to exercise “ordinary care” in keeping their premises and approaches safe. However, the owner or occupier’s duty to a social guest is to not “knowingly expose” the guest to “an unreasonable risk of harm.” The lowest duty of care is owed to trespassers, which is to not injure the trespasser willfully. 

 

Examples of premises liability cases include:

  • slip and falls

  • inadequate security

  • defective stairs and railings

  • injuries from falling merchandise in stores

  • swimming pools which are not adequately fenced

  • exposure to dangerous chemicals

  • dog bites

  • defective ladders

  • slippery surfaces


Other hazards may exist when buildings are constructed in a manner that does not comply with applicable building codes. 

 

How to Win a Premises Liability Lawsuit in Georgia

To be successful in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit, you generally must prove the following:

  1. A dangerous condition existed on the property

  2. The owner or occupier of the property had knowledge of the dangerous condition

  3. The owner or occupier failed to remove or warn of the dangerous condition

  4. The dangerous condition was the cause of your injury 

 

Whether you have been injured in a public area such as a store, shopping mall, hotel, office building or apartment complex, Williams Elleby can help you understand your rights and options under Georgia law.

If a Truck Strikes Two Vehicles in Succession, Will the Insurance Company Treat It as Two Accidents?

Tractor Trailer Wreck Two Vehicles Personal Injury Georgia

Most of the time, there is no dispute between an insurance company and its insured motorists on whether an accident occurred. However, a recent decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit answered the question on whether a truck hitting two vehicles in succession was one or two accidents.

This is an important question for insurance purposes given the way insurance policy limits work. Typically, insurance companies are only required to cover the cost of an accident up to the limits prescribed by the policy. However, these policy limits are typically per accident. In other words, if striking two vehicles in succession qualifies as two accidents, the insurance company is potentially on the hook for twice as much money.

Grange Mutual v. Slaughter, et al.

The case that answered this question in the 11th Circuit arose out of the Northern District of Georgia. The court decided Grange Mutual Casualty Company v. Terri Slaughter, et al. on May 1, 2020. This case is an appeal of a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Georgia in 2016.

In October of 2015, a truck driver crossed over the center line of a highway in Georgia and struck two vehicles in quick succession. The facts of the case established that there was no corrective action taken after the first collision but prior to the second.

Grange Mutual was the insurer of the truck in question. In 2016, they filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to determine their obligations under the insurance policy. The primary question was whether or not the two collisions constituted one or two accidents under the language of the policy.

Decision at the Trial Level

In its decision, the trial court held that the collisions only constituted one accident. This decision was made after the Georgia Supreme Court adopted the so-called “cause theory.” Under this theory, the court found that a single accident involves “continuous or repeated exposure to the same conditions resulting in bodily injury or property damage.”

The defendants in Grange v. Slaughter appealed the trial courts order. They argued that the terms of the insurance policy defined an accident differently. The defense pointed to language in the policy that suggested two collisions constituted two accidents, even if they only happened a second apart.

The court was not swayed and found the language of the policy was unclear, requiring the court to ultimately define the phrase “accident.” Additionally, the court pointed out that the policy mentioned that multiple vehicles could be involved in the same accident. The court reasoned that following the defendant’s definition of accident would conflict with this language.

The Appellate Decision

Ultimately, the appellate court sided with the trial court. They agreed that the language of the insurance policy was unclear, requiring the court to define what constitutes an accident. The 11th Circuit also relied on the “cause theory” as prescribed by Georgia law. It found that because the truck driver did not regain control of the vehicle between the first and second collision, both crashes were part of one uninterrupted and extended cause.

Let Williams Elleby Handle Your Claim

It is important to note that this disagreement ultimately boiled down to the language of the insurance policy. The Georgia personal injury lawyers at Williams Elleby will work tirelessly to ensure your insurer holds up their end of the deal following an accident. Contact us online to schedule a free consultation or call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to discuss your case right away.