YOU ASK WE ANSWER
Do I have a case? Every case is different and there are many factors that determine whether you are likely to win if you bring a claim for personal injuries. The most important factors are “fault” and “causation.” In Georgia, a jury can assign a percentage of fault to every person who bears fault for causing an injury, even non-parties. If a jury determines that the Plaintiff is 50% or more at fault, the Plaintiff will recover nothing. If the Plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, the Plaintiff may recover if the Defendant’s negligent act “caused” Plaintiff’s injuries.
What is my case worth?
There is no “catch-all” formula for assigning a value to cases. There are several things to consider when attempting to place a monetary value on a case. Examples include:
Some lawyers will tell you that your case is worth some multiplier of your medical bills. This is nonsense. Every case is different and you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you evaluate and maximize the value of your case.
How long do cases take to settle?
A case can settle at any time. First, your attorney will need to investigate various aspects of insurance, obtain medical information, contact witnesses and pursue other “pre-suit” discovery items. That usually takes around 2-3 months. Thereafter, if appropriate, a demand for settlement will be made to the at-fault party.
If the case cannot be settled pre-suit, a lawsuit must be filed. In Georgia, defendants have 30 days to answer a lawsuit and then there is a statutory prescribed period of discovery for 6 months. Discovery is the period when parties exchange information and obtain testimony from the parties and witnesses involved in the case. Once discovery is over, dispositive motions may be filed by either side. If the judge allows the case to proceed to a jury, the case will usually be placed on a trial calendar and your case will proceed to trial.
How much do attorneys cost?
We offer our services on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will not pay us a penny unless we obtain a recovery for you. When you are injured by someone else, you will likely face mounting medical bills and the last thing you need is another bill. We will advance all of your legal case expenses and you won’t pay any attorneys’ fees unless there is a recovery.
How do I find the best lawyer?
The best lawyer for you is one that you can trust. How do you know whether you can trust a lawyer to handle your case properly? Ask the following questions:
Should I accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer?
The insurance company has one goal in settlement negotiations: Pay you as little as possible. In each claim, the insurance adjuster has a certain amount of “authority.” This is the amount her supervisors have authorized her to settle the claim for. The adjuster’s goal in all settlement negotiations is to settle to claim for less than her “authority.”
Adjusters rarely tell you what their “authority” is. She may refer to her “authority” but if she gives you a dollar figure, chances are that it is not the most she can pay. If the adjuster has $50,000 of authority and convinces you to settle your case for $40,000, she has just saved her company $10,000. Adjusters that save their company a lot of money will likely be rewarded with raises and promotions.
If you receive a low settlement offer, do not panic. The adjuster is probably testing you to see if you are naïve enough to accept the lowball offer. Don’t take the low offer personally. Instead, write the adjuster a letter explaining why your claim is worth much more than the insurance company’s offer.
I highly recommend hiring a personal injury attorney that can help you with these negotiations. Good personal injury attorneys are usually able to substantially increase the amount of the adjuster’s offer. If your claim cannot be settled without filing a lawsuit, you need a trial lawyer that will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Choose your lawyer carefully.
We offer free consultations and will be happy to discuss your case and help you decide your best options moving forward with your personal injury claim.