Tips to Help Parents Recover for Medical Bills Incurred on Behalf of Their Minor Child

Tips to help parents with medical bills when child has been injured in an accident

Tips to Help Parents Recover for Medical Bills Incurred on Behalf of Their Minor Child

There are few things parents fear more than their children suffering serious injuries. But as much as parents try to keep their children safe, accidents are bound to occur from time to time. Under Georgia law, parents have a right to seek compensation for medical expenses if their child is injured due to the negligence of someone else. Parents can also seek compensation on behalf of their child for pain and suffering. To recover compensation for medical bills incurred on behalf of a minor child, parents should ensure that they understand their rights, plead their case properly, and adhere to the statute of limitations for tort claims.

Parents Have a Right to Recover for Medical Bills

As mentioned, parents have a legal right to recover for medical bills if their child is injured due to someone else’s negligence. Other parties may also have a right to recover if they paid the medical bills in question and were acting as a guardian over the child. Parents should know that they have “standing,” or legal authority, to bring claims of their own for medical bills, as well as on behalf of their child for harms the child suffered.

Legal Standards Are Different for Children

Many children are injured because they are doing something unsafe, like wandering onto a neighbor’s property without invitation and getting hurt playing with a dangerous object. If an adult did something like this, they would likely not be entitled to compensation because they would be deemed at-fault in causing their own harm. But the legal standards governing the conduct of children are relaxed and there is a higher standard of care owed to children. For instance, a neighbor may not have any duty to prevent you from falling into their pool, but they do have a duty to keep a fence around their yard to prevent a toddler from doing the same. Similarly, companies have no duty to make products free of risks that are open and obvious to consumers, but they do have a duty to make products free of any obvious risks if they are marketing products to children.

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

If your child has been injured due to a wrongful act, it is crucial to remember that under the Georgia statute of limitations a tort claim brought to recover for medical bills must generally be brought within two years of the date of the accident. Once the statute of limitations period has run, a parent’s claim for compensation for medical bills will be barred completely. However, a child’s own claim for pain and suffering damages can be made either by the parents or when the child turns 18 years old.

Distinguishing Medical Bills From Other Damages

It is important for parents or guardians bringing a claim on behalf of a minor to recognize that although they are entitled to compensation for medical bills, damages awarded for things like pain and suffering are solely the property of the child. Parents receiving money from a settlement or award on behalf of their child have a duty to only use that money if it is for the benefit of the child. Georgia also has laws in place to ensure that the proceeds from these settlements or awards are safeguarded properly and go toward the benefit of the child. Under the Official Code of Georgia Title 29 Chapter 3 Section 3, settlements of more than $15,000 must be approved by the court. When a child receives an award of more than $15,000 from a personal injury claim, the parents must also be bonded as conservators to safeguard the money until the child turns 18. If an award is less than $15,000, the law simply states that parents “shall thereafter hold and use all or part of the personal property for the benefit of the minor and shall be accountable for the personal property.”

If Your Child Has Suffered an Injury, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to Schedule a Free Consultation

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, are dedicated to getting justice for injury victims throughout the state of Georgia. If you would like to discuss your case or would like more information, contact Joel Williams today by calling (404) 389-1035.

What an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Do for You

If you have suffered a personal injury due to the conduct of someone else, hiring the right personal injury attorney to help you with your case is crucial. When personal injury victims try to get compensation without an attorney, they often don’t know the procedure for making a claim, don’t understand what rights to compensation they really have, and misjudge the value of their claim. Defense attorneys know all of these things and take advantage of unrepresented claimants. An experienced personal injury attorney that is familiar with your local laws can help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Help You Understand Your Legal Rights and Options 

Personal injury victims are often overwhelmed following an accident. It can be difficult to know what to do and what to expect going forward, not to mention how stressful it is coping with an injury. One of the most valuable benefits of hiring an experienced personal injury attorney after an accident is the peace of mind that a case evaluation can bring. 

Investigate Your Case 

Your attorney can help you gather all of the important information you will need to successfully make a personal injury claim. This will usually include investigating the cause of an injury and gaining access to your medical records. By investigating the underlying facts of your case, your attorney can determine all of your possible legal arguments, what evidence will be needed, and who all the possible defendants are. 

File the Right Paperwork 

One of the defining features of the practice of law is paperwork. An experienced personal injury attorney will know exactly what paperwork you need to file to succeed in making your claim. Having an attorney handle your case saves you the time and energy that this paperwork requires, and more importantly, ensures that your case is not derailed by technical mistakes. 

Negotiate on Your Behalf 

Most attorneys negotiate regularly as a part of their job. A personal injury attorney can use their knowledge of the law to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf and make sure that you don’t accept a low-ball offer. 

Vigorously Represent Your Interests in Court 

Although the vast majority of personal injury cases settle before going to court, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes defendants have a genuine disagreement about the law. Other times they are simply stubborn or otherwise unresponsive to negotiation attempts. When this is the case, it is imperative that personal injury victims have a qualified and experienced attorney advocating for their rights at every stage of litigation. 

To Discuss Your Case, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you don’t need to navigate the legal process alone. Joel Williams Law, LLC, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients don’t pay a dime in attorney’s fees unless and until we win their case for them. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the state of Georgia in all types of personal injury cases. Contact us today to discuss your case by calling (404) 389-1035.

When Should I File My Personal Injury Claim?

Following a personal injury, people often know that they have a legal right to compensation, but it can be difficult to know how to proceed. If you have been injured in an accident, you should consult with an attorney to understand your legal rights and options. Filing a claim for compensation is one such option, and knowing when to file is important. 

So when should a personal injury claim be filed? The short answer is that you should not file your personal injury claim right away. It takes time to figure out the true value of a case and to investigate who all of the possible responsible parties might be. And even if you have a good case, it is important to consider whether it is worth the time and expense to bring a claim given the defendant’s ability to pay. 

If a lawsuit is viable, the most important thing to keep in mind is that statute of limitations for you claim. The statute of limitations establishes a set time period within which a claim must be made or else it will be barred. The statute of limitations for tort claims in Georgia is found in the Official Georgia Code Title 9 Chapter 3 Section 33, which states: “actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.” An action “accrues” when a victim knows that they have been injured by the defendant’s conduct. Therefore, in most personal injury cases, the two-year limitations period begins as soon as the accident occurs. 

Insurance Claims 

In some cases, a personal injury victim can be fairly compensated by making a claim directly to the insurer of the responsible party. Often, insurance companies will attempt to offer as little as possible to claimants and will take advantage of claimants that do not fully understand the value of their case. It is a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney before accepting any offer from an insurance company. 

Negotiations 

If an insurance company rejects a claim or refuses to pay an acceptable amount, or if a responsible party didn’t have insurance to begin with, a personal injury victim’s only option may be to file a lawsuit. It is often possible to negotiate a settlement before filing a lawsuit. A demand letter from an experienced personal injury attorney coupled with effective negotiation can sometimes result in a defendant offering a reasonable settlement before a lawsuit is filed to avoid the expense and risk of trial. 

Never Forget About the Statute of Limitations for Georgia Injury Lawsuits 

The most important thing for personal injury victims to remember is that they must file their claim before the statute of limitations period expires. Because it takes time to prepare a lawsuit to be filed, personal injury victims should hire an attorney to begin working on their case well in advance of this date. Once the statute of limitations period has expired, a claim is completely barred. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

If you have been injured in an accident, Joel Williams Law, LLC, is here to help. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, represents personal injury claimants throughout the state of Georgia in all types of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, products liability, premises liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

7 Ways to Maximize Your Settlement After a Back Injury 

Sustaining a back injury is a difficult thing to endure. There are several types of back injuries that personal injury lawyers encounter on a regular basis, such as whiplash, herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and spondylolisthesis. No matter what type of back injury a person suffers, they are almost always serious and painful. They are also the type of injuries that tend to cause permanent disability or lingering discomfort and thus often have a lasting impact on a person’s life. 

When back injuries are caused by negligence, victims are entitled to compensation for their harm. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way for an accident victim to ensure that they receive everything they deserve.  Below are some other important things to keep in mind. 

1. Carefully Document Everything 

A claim is only as valuable as the evidence backing it up. If an allegation can’t be proven, it isn’t worth much in a court of law. This is why you should carefully document everything you can about the accident. It is a good idea following an auto accident to contact police and ask for a police report. You should also carefully document all of the medical care you receive, any expenses related to the accident, and record any work that you have missed as a result of the personal injury. 

2. Get Medical Care From a Back Injury Specialist 

It is essential in any back injury case to have detailed and thorough medical records in support of the claim. Personal injury victims need to present clear evidence that an injury was caused by the accident and not by something else. A doctor who is a back injury specialist will be able to explain with greater precision how the accident caused the injury and what the extent of damage is. The defendant is also likely to have their own medical expert testify that your injury is not as bad as you claim. It is important to have the support of someone qualified to refute this. 

3. Appreciate the Full Value of Your Claim 

When a personal injury plaintiff wins a judgment in a Georgia court, they are entitled to both “special” and “general” damages. Special damages compensate victims for both past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and other quantifiable financial loss. General damages compensate for the non-economic loss, like pain and suffering. Personal injury victims should carefully consider all their potential damages and consult with an attorney if they aren’t sure what their case is worth. 

4. Negotiate 

Too often victims take the first offer that is made to them because they think that is all they deserve or will be able to get. It is almost always a good idea to negotiate because insurance companies will almost always initially offer less than a claim is worth. 

5. Avoid Social Media 

One of the worst things about a back injury is how much it can impact a person’s daily life. This loss of enjoyment is a type of pain and suffering that is compensable. If a plaintiff can no longer do certain activities, for instance, they may be entitled to compensation on that basis. Savvy defense lawyers will often closely watch a plaintiffs’ social media profiles to try to find evidence that a plaintiff is exaggerating how bad their injury is. This is not always fair, because while a person may look like they are having fun and being active on social media, they may be suffering in private. The best practice is to avoid allowing a defense lawyer the opportunity to take any of your photos out of context by simply abstaining from all social media while your case is pending. 

6. File Your Claim in Time 

All civil claims must be made within a certain time period or else they will be completely barred. Under the Georgia Statute of Limitations for tort claims, personal injury lawsuits for back injuries must generally be made within two years of the date of the accident. It is important to begin pursuing compensation well in advance of this. 

7. Get Your Settlement in Writing 

Personal injury settlement agreements should always be in writing. If a settlement isn’t in writing, it may not be enforceable. Although Georgia does recognize oral agreements as valid, they can be difficult to prove. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, by calling (404) 389-1035 today.

Is Property Damage Included in a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

In almost all auto accident cases, the victim has both a personal injury and a property damage claim. Under Georgia law, these are two distinct claims. A plaintiff can claim both personal injury and property damages in a single lawsuit, but the court will consider them individually rather than as one claim. 

Generally, auto accident victims will pursue personal injury and property damages separately. The biggest reason for this is that a property damage claim is much easier to resolve. It is not unusual for a settlement to be reached within a few days or weeks of an accident for a property damage claim. In the vast majority of cases, the property damage claim is resolved much quicker than the personal injury claim. 

Can Property Damage Be Included as Part of My Settlement? 

Although property claims are distinct from personal injury claims, your property damage can be considered as part of an overall settlement agreement. After all, a settlement is a private agreement between two parties and can generally include whatever terms the parties agree to. If a plaintiff has a personal injury and a property claim, it is possible to settle both in one agreement. 

Types of Damage Recoverable in a Property Damage Claim 

Property damage lawsuits are designed to compensate victims for vehicle damage, any other property damage that occurred as a result of an accident, and any costs associated with the vehicle damage. Common types of damages include: 

  • The cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle; 
  • The cost of repairing or replacing personal items that were inside the vehicle and were damaged as a result of the accident; 
  • Towing expenses if the vehicle had to be towed after the accident; 
  • Rental car expenses if the victim needed to rent a car following the accident; and 
  • The cost of repairing any other property damage that occurred as a result of the accident. 

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Property Damage Claims 

Civil lawsuits must be filed within a certain period of time under something referred to as statutes of limitations. Each state in the United States has different statute of limitations laws that establishes how long a tort victim has to bring a claim. In Georgia, personal injury and property damage claims are governed by different limitations periods. Under the Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Chapter 3 Section, auto accident victims must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of an accident and must file property damage claims within four years. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to maximize compensation for personal injury victims in Georgia. Although our focus is on personal injury law, we will seek compensation for property damage as well when our clients also have property damage claims. 

Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, serves clients throughout the State of Georgia in both state and federal courts. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to providing thorough, accessible, and effective service to each personal injury client it serves. If you would like to learn more or would like to schedule a free case evaluation, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Finding A Reputable Doctor After a Roswell, GA, Car Accident 

One of the most important things for victims of auto accidents to do is to find a reputable doctor. A reputable doctor that has experience dealing with the specific type of injuries suffered can not only provide the best possible care but also can prepare the type of medical record that an accident victim will need to utilize later on when and if they bring a personal injury claim. 

Find a Specialist 

Following an accident, it is usually not the best option to rely on your primary care doctor. He or she may be an excellent doctor that you trust, but a specialist is almost always a better option for treating accident injuries. In most instances, when a car accident victim visits their primary care doctor, their primary care doctor will refer them to a specialist anyway. 

One of the most critical pieces of evidence in any personal injury claim is the plaintiff’s medical records. Specialists focusing on the type of injury you have will be able to create records with more detail and expertise. Moreover, a specialist will simply be better equipped to provide you with the care you need. 

Act Immediately 

It is important to document your condition as soon as possible after an accident. As more time passes, it may be possible for the defendant to argue that some other cause of your harm arose in the meantime. Under some insurance policies, you may also waive coverage if you don’t see a doctor within a certain number of days. If you are bringing a legal claim but can’t afford to pay a doctor, you may be able to find one that will work for a medical lien. This means that the doctor is not paid up front, but instead receives an ownership interest in any potential settlement that comes from a personal injury lawsuit. This option is specifically provided for under Georgia law

Be Honest With Your Doctor 

When you do get an appointment to see a doctor following a personal injury, such as a car accident, be honest. Sometimes accident victims are afraid that pre-existing conditions will ruin their claim. Regardless of whether a pre-existing helps or hurts a claim, you should always give your doctor full and truthful information about your health. The opposing party in a personal injury suit will likely find out everything there is to know anyway. Similarly, there is little purpose in exaggerating or embellishing your condition. Doctors and skilled defense attorneys see through that. 

Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney 

Victims of accidents caused by another driver’s negligence are entitled to compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, work hard to get car accident victims the compensation they deserve. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, helps accident victims throughout Georgia in both state and federal court. 

Joel Williams Law, LLC takes cases on a contingency fee basis and offers free case evaluations. This means that our clients don’t pay us any fees unless and until we win their case for them. If you would like more information or discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

Why You Should Never Hire a Lawyer You Don’t Know That Contacts You After a Car Accident 

A car accident can be traumatic. It takes time for people to recover. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous lawyers attempt to take advantage of this by soliciting accident victims when they are most vulnerable. These types of attorneys are the proverbial “ambulance chasers” that give the practice of law a bad name. These practices are illegal and unethical. Attorneys practicing in this way are frowned upon by the Georgia legal community and the State Bar of Georgia. 

The Use of “Runners” 

Often, attorneys attempting to gain clients in this way will have third-parties identify and solicit potential clients for them by checking accident reports and hospital records. These are commonly referred to as “runners.” At their worst, runners will actually visit accident victims in the hospital following a car accident and attempt to talk them into consulting with a particular attorney. 

If a stranger ever approaches you or contacts you after an accident to tell you that they know an attorney that can help, they are probably working as a runner. Accident victims should know that this type of behavior by attorneys is completely unethical. This is true regardless of whether an attorney solicits clients personally or uses the services of a runner. If an attorney is caught soliciting clients in this way, the maximum punishment under the Georgia ethics rules is disbarment. 

Georgia Laws and Ethics Rules Prohibit Predatory Solicitation Behavior 

All Georgia attorneys are bound to follow the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 7.3 deals with the solicitation of prospective clients. In pertinent part, this rule reads: 

(a) A lawyer shall not send, or knowingly permit to be sent, on behalf of the lawyer, the lawyer’s firm, lawyer’s partner, associate, or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm, a written communication to a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining professional employment if: 

(3) the written communication concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person unless the accident or disaster occurred more than 30 days prior to the mailing of the communication; or 

(4) the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the physical, emotional or mental state of the person is such that the person could not exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer. 

(d) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment as a private practitioner for the lawyer, a partner or associate through direct personal contact or through live telephone contact, with a non-lawyer who has not sought advice regarding employment of a lawyer. 

As noted previously, the maximum penalty for violating Rule 7.3 is disbarment. The Georgia legislature has also passed a law intended to crack down on the use of runners which provides for additional punishment. The Official Code of Georgia Title 33 Section 24 Chapter 53 defines a runner as a person “who receives a pecuniary benefit” from an attorney in return for soliciting clients. 

Never Risk Hiring a Lawyer You Don’t Know That Contacts You After an Accident 

If you have been injured in an accident, you never want to risk hiring an attorney that is behaving unethically like this, because chances are any attorney desperate enough to risk disbarment to get new clients is not a very good attorney. If you have been solicited in an inappropriate way following an accident, you can file a complaint with the Georgia Bar Association. If you would like more information about this issue, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today.

Where Do I File the Lawsuit in my Car Accident Case? 

Following a car accident, there are two important concepts that dictate where a personal injury victim can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party: jurisdiction and venue. Jurisdiction is the power of a court to render a judgment in a case. Subject matter jurisdiction gives a court the power to hear a particular type of case, whereas personal jurisdiction gives a court the power to render a judgment against an individual defendant. But in most cases, there are multiple courts which have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Venue rules narrow things down further to determine which of these courts is proper. 

Subject Matter Jurisdiction 

Every county in Georgia has either a State Court or Superior Court that has subject matter jurisdiction to hear personal injury claims. If a plaintiff and defendant are from different states, and the case is valued at over $75,000, it is possible to bring a claim in federal court under what is known as diversity jurisdiction. Federal courts also have subject matter jurisdiction in cases involving federal law. 

What is Personal Jurisdiction? 

Personal jurisdiction is the power of a court to render judgments over an individual. The requirement that courts have personal jurisdiction is rooted in the United States Constitution. Specifically, the concept stems from the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which establishes that every person in the country has a right to due process of law. Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that it fundamentally violates due process to subject a person to the judgments of a state that they may have never even been to. Therefore, a state court can only render a judgment over someone that has had “minimal contacts” with that state. 

If a defendant was driving in the State of Georgia and caused an accident in the state, this would automatically qualify as “minimal contacts.” Therefore, the State of Georgia will always have personal jurisdiction over defendants that caused an accident in the state. Courts in a defendant’s home state, or “domicile,” will also automatically have personal jurisdiction over them. 

Claims Against Out-of-State Defendants 

If a defendant caused an accident in the State of Georgia, then the State of Georgia will have personal jurisdiction over them. Period. It doesn’t matter if the person was only visiting and then went back home to Timbuktu. Georgia statutory law has defined the personal jurisdiction that Georgia courts hold over out-of-state defendants that commit torts in Georgia under the Georgia Long Arm Statute. According to this law, Georgia “may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident” that “commits a tortious act or omission within this state.” 

Accidents Occurring Out-of-State 

When an accident occurs in another state, a lawsuit will either need to be made in that state, or the state where the defendant is domiciled. For instance, if a Georgia resident travels across the state line into Florida and is in an accident with a vacationer from New York, they could not bring a claim in Georgia. They would need to bring their claim in either Florida or New York. 

Proper Venue 

Venue rules narrow things down further. Each state has its own venue rules. Determining the proper venue for a tort case in Georgia generally depends on where the defendant lives. 

The basic venue rule. The basic venue rule for personal injury actions in Georgia is that venue is proper in the county where the defendant lives. So, although the entire State of Georgia will have personal jurisdiction over a defendant that lives in Georgia, proper venue will only be in the county where they are from. 

Joint tortfeasors. When a case has multiple Georgia-domiciled defendants, a suit may be filed in the county where any of the defendants live. 

Out-of-state defendants. If a lawsuit is filed against an out-of-state defendant, special venue rules apply. If a claim is brought under the Georgia Long Arm Statute, venue is proper in the county where the accident occurred.  Claims against out-of-state defendants can also be brought under the Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act. Under this law, venue is proper in the county where the accident occurred, or in the country where the victim lives. 

Corporate defendants. Generally, artificial persons like corporations must be sued where they are registered or where their business is headquartered. 

For More Information, or to Discuss Your Case, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

Establishing jurisdiction is often hotly contested. Sometimes one party wants the case to be heard in state court and the other in federal court. Sometimes a defendant denies that the State of Georgia has personal jurisdiction over them. And even once jurisdiction is determined to exist, the proper venue can sometimes also be contested as well. It important for personal injury victims to consult with experienced personal injury attorneys to find out where they can bring their claim. 

If you have been injured in a car accident and would like more information, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today. The experienced and qualified personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, have deep knowledge of personal injury law and the Georgia court system. They are dedicated to getting accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call today to schedule a free consultation at (404) 389-1035.

Pre-suit Settlement Demands in Georgia Automobile Wreck Cases

After an accident victim has discussed their case with an attorney and determined that they have a legitimate claim for compensation, the next step is usually not heading straight to court to file a lawsuit. Rather, it usually makes sense to send the other party a pre-suit settlement demand. Pre-suit settlements are common when the facts of a case are cut-and-dry. Even when there are some disagreements, a pre-suit settlement can be preferable to both parties because it avoids the time and expense of litigation.

The primary rule governing a pre-suit settlement demand in Georgia is found in Official Code of Georgia Title 9 Article 11 Section 67.1 (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1). This statute lays out specific requirements that must be met in order for a pre-suit settlement offer to be valid. By making a valid pre-suit settlement offer, a claimant will force a defendant to evaluate the merits of the case. If an insurer turns down a reasonable settlement offer, it could be considered bad faith. However, if an offer does not comply with the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1, it is invalid and will have no legal effect whatsoever. In other words, a defendant can simply ignore it, and as a matter of law the defendant’s insurance company will not face statutory penalties for turning down the offer.

The law only applies to demands made by an attorney, or made with the assistance of an attorney. Demands made by a personal injury victim that has not hired an attorney do not need to follow these rules. However, in almost no circumstances should a personal injury victim make a settlement demand without first discussing their case with a personal injury attorney. If you have been in an accident and are contemplating bringing a lawsuit or making a settlement demand, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to discuss your case today by calling (404) 389-1035.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1

Subsection (a) of the law defines the basic requirements that a settlement offer must include to be official. It states:

“Prior to the filing of a civil action, any offer to settle a tort claim for personal injury, bodily injury, or death arising from the use of a motor vehicle and prepared by or with the assistance of an attorney on behalf of a claimant or claimants shall be in writing and contain the following material terms:

(1) The time period within which such offer must be accepted, which shall be not less than 30 days from receipt of the offer;

(2) Amount of monetary payment;

(3) The party or parties the claimant or claimants will release if such offer is accepted;

(4) The type of release, if any, the claimant or claimants will provide to each releasee; and

(5) The claims to be released.”

Subsection (b) of the law holds that recipients of settlement offers may make a binding acceptance in writing. Subsection (c) of the law additionally states that “Nothing in this Code section is intended to prohibit parties from reaching a settlement agreement in a manner and under terms otherwise agreeable to the parties.” The Georgia Supreme Court recently analyzed this subsection and determined that pre-suit settlement offers in motor vehicle accident cases can include terms that go beyond simply stipulating the dollar amount and a date that the offer must be accepted.

What this means is that O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 should be understood as creating only the minimumrequirements for a valid pre-suit settlement. Personal injury victims should remember that they have the freedom to include additional conditions in pre-suit settlement offers if they are so inclined. One constraint to this freedom is found in Subsection (g), which states that if a party may not demand payment “less than ten days after the written acceptance of the offer to settle.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT OUR KENNESAW CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS

Following an accident, personal injury victims should undertake due diligence to understand the value of their case. The facts of a case dictate how likely a claim is to succeed, and the identity of potential defendants and their respective insurance coverages indicate how much compensation a successful claim is likely to garner. Both of these are important factors that should be considered before making a pre-suit settlement offer.

It typically takes several months to properly investigate and prepare a case to the point where a pre-suit settlement offer is appropriate. Under applicable Georgia Statutes of Limitations for tort claims, most auto accident claims must be made within two years from the date of the accident. Therefore, it is important for accident victims to talk to an experienced local personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin the process of building their case.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, Joel Williams Law, LLC, is here to help. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams Law, LLC, represents clients throughout the State of Georgia and offers free case evaluations. For more information or to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.

What Does “Total Loss” Mean Following an Accident

After a serious auto accident, figuring out how to deal with a heavily damaged vehicle is not always a simple matter. In some cases, a car may be so damaged that it is not possible or feasible to have it repaired. When a vehicle is considered a “total loss,” an insurance company will not typically pay to repair it. Instead, the insurance company will pay the owner for the value of the vehicle, or in some cases, replace the vehicle with a comparable one. 

Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you do not understand the law. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, help accident victims who have suffered a personal injury with all aspects of their auto accident claims. If you would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035. 

Total Loss Insurance Claims in Georgia 

A vehicle is considered “totaled” if the cost of repairs is greater than the value that the vehicle would have after repairs. However, many insurance companies consider not only whether a vehicle is totaled, but also whether it is a “total loss.” Generally, a vehicle is considered a total loss if the cost of repairs plus the salvage value of the vehicle is greater than the value the vehicle would have after repairs. This is commonly referred to as the total loss formula. 

Cost of Repairs > Value of Repaired Vehicle = Totaled 

Cost of Repairs + Salvage Value > Value of Repaired Vehicle = Total Loss 

Some states also have laws that create a total loss threshold, which dictate when an insurance company may consider a vehicle a total loss. Most states that have laws like these hold that an insurance company may only consider a vehicle a total loss if the cost of repairs is 75-80% of the value of the repaired vehicle. However, Georgia does not have statutory or regulatory total loss threshold. Insurance companies are free to make this determination on their own based their own total loss thresholds or the total loss formula. Therefore, whether a vehicle is considered a total loss following an accident depends not just on the extent of the damage, but also on the insurance company. 

Total loss vehicle claims are governed by the Title 120 Chapter 2 Section 52.06 of the Official Code of Georgia. Under this law, “if the insurer determines the insured vehicle to be a total loss, and the insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first party vehicle claims on the basis of actual cash value or replacement, the insurer may elect to pay a cash equivalent settlement or replace the insured vehicle.” 

What Do I Do if the Insurance Company Says My Vehicle is a Total Loss 

If you have been in an accident and your insurance company has declared that your vehicle is a total loss, you should be prepared for the fact that you will only receive the fair market value of the vehicle. Georgia states that the fair market value is whatever it would cost “to purchase a comparable automobile by the same manufacturer, same model year, with similar body style, similar options and mileage, including all applicable taxes, license fees and other fees incident to the transfer of ownership of a comparable automobile.” By law, insurance companies are able to come up with this cost by simply finding comparable vehicles in the area that are for sale, or by consulting with the Kelley Blue Book (or a similar accepted source) valuation for a vehicle. 

Insurance companies also have the option of providing an insured with a comparable replacement vehicle. The law states that “the insurer may elect to replace the insured vehicle, including all applicable taxes, license fees, and other fees necessary to transfer ownership.” However, an insured is under no obligation to accept an offered replacement vehicle. If a replacement vehicle is rejected, the insured gets the cash value. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, Today 

Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve. The personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, understand how stressful motor vehicle accidents can be for victims and their families. That is why they work hard to provide thorough, compassionate, and effective service to each of their clients. If you have been in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, today by calling (404) 389-1035.