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

Statute of limitations (SOL) Personal Injury Claim Williams Elleby Law Firm Kennesaw, GA

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

What is the Statute of Limitations?

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

How does the Statute of Limitations work?

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

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

The statute of limitations is an important factor to consider when filing a personal injury claim. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. Therefore, it’s crucial to act quickly and consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the injury occurs. A lawyer can help you determine the applicable statute of limitations and ensure that your claim is filed within the required time frame.

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


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

Call us today at 833-LEGALGA

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

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be wondering how long it will take to settle your personal injury case. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the length of time it takes to settle a personal injury case can vary widely depending on a number of factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the factors that can impact the timeline for settling a personal injury case.  

1. The Severity of Your Injuries

One of the biggest factors that can impact the timeline for settling a personal injury case is the severity of your injuries. If you have suffered serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, it may take longer to settle your case as your attorney will need to gather all of the necessary medical records and bills to calculate the full extent of your damages.

2.  The Complexity of Your Case

The complexity of your case can also impact the timeline for settlement. If liability is clear and there are no disputes over the extent of your damages, your case may settle quickly. However, if liability is disputed or there are multiple parties involved in the accident, it may take longer to negotiate a settlement.

3.  The Insurance Company

The insurance company involved in your case can also impact the timeline for settlement. Some insurance companies are more willing to negotiate a fair settlement than others. Some may try to delay or deny your claim in order to reduce their payout. If the insurance company is being difficult, it may take longer to settle your case.

4.  The Negotiation Process

The negotiation process can also impact the timeline for settlement. Your attorney will need to gather all of the necessary evidence and documentation to support your claim, and then negotiate with the insurance company or other parties involved in the accident to reach a fair settlement. This process can take time, especially if there are multiple rounds of negotiation required.

5.  The Court System

If your case goes to court, the timeline for settlement can be even longer. Court cases can take months or even years to resolve, and you will need to wait for a court date to be set before your case can be heard. In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to get the compensation you deserve.

In general, it’s important to remember that settling a personal injury case can take time. The attorneys at Williams Elleby will work diligently to negotiate a fair settlement, but the process can be complex and may require patience and persistence. If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and learn more about the potential timeline for settlement.  Call Williams Elleby at 833-534-2542.  Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for our video on this topic and many more topics.


Do I have a Personal Injury Case?

Personal Injury - Injured Hand - injury claim

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

 What is a Personal Injury Case?

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

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

 How to Determine if You Have a Personal Injury Case

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

 Was there negligence involved?

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

 Did the negligence cause your injury?

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

 Did you suffer damages?

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

 Is there a deadline to file a claim?

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

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

Consult with an Attorney

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

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

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

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

Understanding Damages for Personal Injury Cases in Georgia

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

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

     1. Economic Damages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Non-Economic Damages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Punitive Damages:

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

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

4. Wrongful Death Damages:

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

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

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

8 Common Myths about Personal Injury Attorneys

Lawyer Word Cloud - 8 Myths about Personal Injury Lawyers

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

Myth #1: Lawyers Will Sue for Anything

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

Myth #2: Lawyers Take All The Money

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

Myth #3: Lawyers Chase Ambulances

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

Myth #4: All Cases are Worth A Million Dollars

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

Myth #5: All Personal Injury Lawyers Try Cases

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

Myth #6: Lawyers are Too Expensive

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

Myth #7: Lawyers Drive Away Business from the State

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

Myth #8: My Lawyer Can Solve My Problems

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

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Offer Fair?

Couple Discussing Personal Injury Settlement Offer

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

Medical Bills & Future Medical Treatment

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

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

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


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

Special Damages

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

Aggravating Circumstances

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

Possible Defenses

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

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

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

Tips For Winning at Trial

Personal Injury Civil Case in Georgia - Gavel and Justice Scales - Tips for Being Successful at Trial

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

Prepare Yourself

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

Subpoena the Witnesses

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

Use Pre-Trial Motions to Your Advantage

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

Pre-Organize Your Exhibits

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

Know Your Judges Preferences

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

Prepare the Jury

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

Prepare Your Client

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

Prepare Your Cross Examinations

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

Limit Your Objections

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

Check Out the Courthouse and Familiarize Yourself with the Environment

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

Be Respectful of the Jurors’ Time

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

Think Hard About What Your Case is Truly Worth

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

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

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

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.