7 Ways to Maximize Your Settlement After a Back Injury 

maximize settlement 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 Williams Elleby 

If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, by calling 833-LEGALGA today.

Is Property Damage Included in a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

personal injury lawsuit property damage

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 Williams Elleby, Today 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, 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, Williams Elleby, serves clients throughout the State of Georgia in both state and federal courts. Williams Elleby, 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 Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

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 Williams Elleby, work hard to get car accident victims the compensation they deserve. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams Elleby, helps accident victims throughout Georgia in both state and federal court. 

Williams Elleby 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 Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

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

never hire lawyer contacts

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 Williams Elleby, today.

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

where file lawsuit car accident

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 Williams Elleby 

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 Williams Elleby, today. The experienced and qualified personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, 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 833-LEGALGA.

Pre-suit Settlement Demands in Georgia Automobile Wreck Cases

pre-suit settlement demands Georgia

Pre-suit settlement demands are effective tools for resolving Georgia automobile wreck cases. If an Georgia car accident victim has  a legitimate claim for compensation, the next step is usually not heading straight to court to file a lawsuit. Rather, it usually makes sense for the victim’s attorney 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 useful to jump start negotiations.

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 the at-fault driver’s insurer 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, the defendant’s insurance company will not face 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 making a settlement demand, contact Williams Elleby, to discuss your case today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

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

Subsection (a) of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 defines the basic requirements that a settlement offer must include. 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 minimum requirements 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 GEORGIA CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS

Following an accident, personal injury victims should speak with an attorney to understand the value of their case. The facts of a case dictate whether a claim is likely to succeed. The identity of potential defendants, the amount of insurance coverage, and the extent of the injuries factor into how much a claim is worth. All 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, the Williams Elleby team is here to help. Our attorneys represent clients throughout the State of Georgia and offer free case evaluations. For more information or to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby today by calling 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542).

What Does “Total Loss” Mean Following an Accident

total loss car 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 Williams Elleby, 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 Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA. 

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 Williams Elleby, Today 

Williams Elleby, is dedicated to helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve. The personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, 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 Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Georgia Court of Appeals Recently Discusses the “Family Purpose Doctrine” in Car Accident Case

family purpose doctrine accident

A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals, Anderson v. Lewis, has helped to further define the application of Georgia’s family purpose doctrine. This case involved a Georgia auto accident. The driver that caused the accident was driving his grandfather’s vehicle at the time. The plaintiff, Teena Anderson, named both the grandson and the vehicle owner, the grandfather, as defendants. Anderson claimed that the latter should be liable according to the family purpose doctrine. 

The Family Purpose Doctrine 

Typically, a person is not liable for the negligence of someone else. But sometimes, as a matter of fairness, it is necessary to look beyond the person directly responsible to see if other parties should be obligated to compensate the victim. This is called vicarious liability. The most common application of vicarious liability occurs when employers are sued for the negligence of their employees. However, vicarious liability can also apply to family members. 

Under Georgia’s family purpose doctrine, “when an owner of a vehicle maintains the vehicle for the use and convenience of his family, that owner may be held liable for the negligence of a family member who was using the vehicle for a family purpose.”  Therefore, when a family member causes an auto accident while driving the family car in service of the family, for instance by getting groceries or giving a family member a ride, the car owner may be liable. The legal basis for the family purpose doctrine comes from Georgia case law, as well as from Georgia’s vicarious liability statute, which states that “every person shall be liable for torts committed by his wife, his child, or his servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” 

Application of the Doctrine in Anderson 

It was clear that the family purpose doctrine applied in Anderson. The grandson was found to be using the vehicle for a family purpose when the accident occurred. However, the plaintiff was unable to serve the grandson with notice of the lawsuit, and without service of process a party cannot be sued. The claim against the grandson was therefore dismissed. 

After that, the grandfather argued that since the driver was no longer a defendant, the claim against him should also be dismissed. He argued that vicarious liability can only apply when the party that directly caused the accident is found to have been negligent. If the party accused of causing the accident is found not to have been negligent, then there can be no vicarious liability. Georgia law is clear that if there is “a judgment on the merits in favor of the servant” then there cannot be vicarious liability against the master. The trial court agreed with the grandfather’s argument and dismissed Anderson’s claim. Anderson appealed. 

The Appeal Court’s Opinion 

The Court of Appeals of Georgia overturned the trial court decision. Although the claim against the grandson was dismissed, it did not constitute a “judgment on the merits.” There was never any judicial determination that the grandson wasn’t negligent. Therefore, even though the grandson was no longer a party to the lawsuit, the Court of Appeals held that Anderson could still continue on with her lawsuit against the grandfather. This case shows that the family purpose doctrine can apply against a defendant even if the family member directly responsible is not a defendant in the lawsuit. 

Find the Best Georgia Car Accident Attorney for Your Case 

The State of Georgia has many attorneys that handle car accident claims.  Some are very good and others are not.  If you are considering hiring an attorney for your case, you should consider interviewing more than one firm before making your decision. 

If you schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, we can help you understand whether the family purpose doctrine may apply in your case. Victims of accidents caused by the negligence of someone else deserve to be compensated for their harm. 

Williams Elleby, is a law firm dedicated to providing knowledgeable, accessible, and effective service to each of its personal injury clients. Our attorneys handle all types of personal injury claims throughout the State of Georgia, including auto accidents, workplace injuries, defective products, premises liability, and malpractice cases. We offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our clients don’t pay a dime in attorney fees unless and until we win their case. To schedule a case evaluation, call Williams Elleby, today at 833-LEGALGA.

Georgia’s “Move Over” Law: What You Need to Know

Georgia move over law

Most of us know that when a police car, fire truck, or ambulance is traveling down the road with sirens blaring, the law requires us to slow down, yield the right of way, and move over to the shoulder of the road if possible. Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle that is making use of its siren, all other drivers must:

Yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

However, fewer people understand that they are also required to leave plenty of room when passing by police or emergency vehicles that are parked on the side of the road. This duty is defined by Georgia’s “Move Over” law, which is found in Title 40 Chapter 6 Section 16 of the Official Code of Georgia. A recent report by Atlanta news station CBS 46 found that many drivers were completely unaware that this law even existed. Below is the essential information about Georgia’s Move Over law that every Georgia driver should know.

WHAT THE MOVE OVER LAW SAYS

Georgia’s Move Over law states that when a driver approaches a stationary police, emergency, accident recovery, or Department of Transportation vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, the driver shall approach “with due caution” and unless otherwise directed by a peace officer:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change would be impossible, illegal, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

Therefore, the first course of action should always be to change lanes. If this can be accomplished safely, a driver need not necessarily slow down as long as they are otherwise driving safely. If changing lanes isn’t possible or would be illegal or unsafe, a driver must slow down to below the posted speed limit.

CONSEQUENCES FOR VIOLATING THE MOVE OVER LAW

The Move Over law is intended to keep roadside emergency crew and law enforcement personnel safe from passing motorists. Accidents, especially those that cause fatalities, are the most serious consequences. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), before the law was passed in 2003, “Georgia road crews, traffic enforcement officers, and other first responders endured needless years of roadside deaths and injuries due to careless errors made by distracted drivers as they sped by police making traffic stops and emergency crews working roadside jobsites.” Although the law has made things much safer, the GOHS has stated that violations are “still far too common.”

The Move Over law authorizes a penalty of up to $500 for violators. However, if an accident occurs, the legal consequences of violating the Move Over law can be much more serious. Additional charges, such as reckless driving, are common in these types of cases, and of course charges could be much more serious if a police officer or emergency crew member is struck. Moreover, in the event that there is a civil lawsuit for damages, a driver violating the law may be presumed negligent. This is referred to as negligence per se, and when this doctrine applies it is much easier for a plaintiff to win a claim against a defendant.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT WILLIAMS | ELLEBY, TODAY

Staying safe should always be the number one priority when getting behind the wheel. To this end, all Georgia drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, which includes adhering to Georgia’s rules of the road. Everyone has a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, but many people make unsafe mistakes simply because they don’t know what their duty is in a given situation. This is why knowing the law is essential to driver safety. When accidents do occur, it is also imperative for all parties involved to be aware of their legal rights and options.

The Kennesaw personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, have deep knowledge of Georgia traffic accident laws. They provide thorough, accessible, and effective service to each of their clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation in each case. Williams Elleby, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency-fee basis. If you would like more information, or if you have been in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Why Is It Important To Hire A Local Attorney For Your Acworth Car Accident Case?

local attorney car accident case

There are a number of reasons that personal injury victims should hire a local attorney to help them prosecute their case. A local attorney will fully understand the law and procedures of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred and where the claim will be filed, will have local connections that can help the victim develop their case, and generally local attorneys are far more accessible to their clients.

The car accident attorneys of Williams Elleby serve Acworth, GA and help personal injury victims, including those hurt in car accidents, get the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Acworth, Georgia, contact the local law firm of Williams Elleby, today to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

You Need an Attorney That Understands the Local Rules and Procedures

Many people, even many attorneys, underestimate how different the rules and procedures of various jurisdictions can be. Many courts have local rules that must be followed. Moreover, many courts have customs that may not even be written down anywhere. Common practices in some courtrooms could be cause for sanction in others. The traditional way of doing things before one judge might be considered a procedural error before another. Even the best attorney in the world will not know exactly how things are done in a particular courtroom until they’ve practiced there. The attorneys at Williams Elleby, have deep knowledge of Georgia law and have extensive experience practicing in Georgia courtrooms.

Local Connections Can Give Claimants a Big Advantage

You need an attorney that has good relationships with the local judges and court staff. If your attorney has a reputation for being professional and courteous, you can be sure that he or she will be treated with respect and courtesy in return. The attorneys at Williams Elleby, have built an exemplary reputation as professional, ethical, and effective litigators in both federal and state courts throughout Georgia.
It also helps to be represented by a law firm that has connections to expert witnesses and consultants that can help you build your case. Williams Elleby, has deep roots in Georgia and excellent relationships with local medical, occupational, forensic, and insurance professionals. Having these connections helps clients of the firm get the treatment, expertise, and evidence that they need to get the compensation they deserve.

A Local Attorney is More Accessible

Generally, attorneys that live and work near their clients are more accessible to them. All attorneys in Georgia have an ethical duty to have reasonable communication with clients, and out-of-state attorneys are governed by similar rules. But when an attorney is miles away, it isn’t easy for the attorney or the client to arrange face-to-face meetings.

The Acworth, GA Car Accident Attorneys at Williams Elleby strives to maintain a close relationship with clients. Williams Elleby, personal injury attorneys work hard to provide prompt communication and to do whatever they can to make sure their clients know they are being taken care of. As part of the Cobb County community, the car accident attorneys and staff at Williams Elleby, care about their clients not only professionally but also as neighbors.

CALL WILLIAMS | ELLEBY, TO HANDLE YOUR ACWORTH CAR ACCIDENT CASE!

If you have been in a car accident in Acworth, Georgia, Williams Elleby, is here to help. You can find us just off I-75 between Wade Green and Chastain Road exits at 3900 Frey Road, Suite 104, Kennesaw, Ga 30144. Our attorneys offer free case evaluations in which we can help you understand your legal rights and options. We can investigate the facts of your case and break down the law for you so that you can make an educated decision about what to do. If you have a viable claim, we can help you collect and preserve the evidence you will need, negotiate with the opposing party or insurance company, and work to develop your legal arguments. When necessary, the attorneys at Williams Elleby, aggressively represent their clients’ interests at trial.

Williams Elleby, accepts cases on a contingency fee basis. This means our clients don’t pay a dime in attorney’s fees unless and until they have won their case. If you would like to discuss your case, call us today to schedule your free consultation at 833-LEGALGA and let us get to work for you.