What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury focuses on the physical or emotional harm inflicted upon an individual due to another’s negligence or intentional misconduct.
Unlike criminal cases, where the state prosecutes the offender, personal injury cases are civil lawsuits where the victim seeks financial compensation to offset the losses and suffering they’ve endured. The ultimate objective is to make the injured party “whole” again, at least financially, by compensating for medical bills, lost wages, and other tangible and intangible losses.
Types of Cases Related to Personal Injury
The scope of personal injury law is broad, including a diverse range of incidents. It’s crucial to understand the various types of cases that fall under this legal umbrella, as each comes with its unique set of challenges and legal prerequisites to pursue compensation.
- Car accidents: Often resulting from distracted driving, speeding, or DUI.
- Truck accidents: Involving commercial trucks and often caused by negligence or mechanical failures.
- Motorcycle accidents: Commonly caused by drivers failing to see motorcycles or violating their right of way.
- Medical malpractice: Includes errors in diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare.
- Slip and fall incidents: Usually occur on poorly maintained properties.
- Workplace injuries: Can include anything from falls to injuries caused by machinery.
- Defective products: When a product fails and causes injury due to design or manufacturing flaws.
- Wrongful death: Occurs when a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.
While all of these cases may have their similarities, the truth is each particular case has its own set of complexities. From determining who is at fault to filing a personal injury claim, chances are you’ll need the advice of a personal injury lawyer to receive compensation.
Types of Damages You May Be Able to Recover in a Personal Injury Claim
You may be a construction worker who has just suffered a debilitating injury due to a faulty piece of machinery, or perhaps you’re a pedestrian struck by a drunk driver while crossing the street. In either scenario, the physical pain is just the tip of the iceberg.
The financial obligation of medical bills, the emotional challenge of the recovery process, and the strain it puts on your personal relationships are all damages that go beyond the immediate injury.
These are quantifiable losses that can be calculated with relative ease. They include:
- Medical bills: Covers everything from emergency room visits to ongoing treatment.
- Lost wages: Compensation for the income lost during the period of recovery.
- Rehabilitation costs: Includes physical therapy and other forms of rehabilitation.
These are intangible losses that are difficult to quantify, such as:
- Pain and suffering: For the physical and emotional distress caused by the injury.
- Emotional distress: For the psychological impact, which can include depression or anxiety.
- Loss of consortium: For the impact the injury has had on your relationship with your spouse.
In cases involving extreme negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may be awarded as a deterrent against future misconduct.
The Statute of Limitations in Georgia
In Georgia, the statute of limitations dictates the time-sensitive nature of personal injury claims. Governed by O.C.G.A § 9-3-33, this statute stipulates a two-year window from the date of the injury within which a claim must be filed. Missing this deadline can result in the forfeiture of your right to demand compensation.
Another cornerstone of Georgia’s personal injury law you have to know is the Comparative Negligence rule. This rule adds a layer of complexity to how damages are calculated and awarded.
Specifically, it allows for the possibility of recovering damages even if you bear some level of fault in the incident that led to your injury. However, there’s a catch: your fault must be less than 50%. If you meet this criterion, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault, but you won’t be barred from recovery.
How to Pursue Compensation After a Personal Injury
If you have a case and want to pursue compensation and hold the guilty accountable, you’ll need to file a claim with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Here are the steps you must follow:
Step 1: Initial Consultation
The initial consultation serves as the cornerstone of your case. During this meeting, an attorney will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your situation, including the circumstances of the injury, the parties involved, and the potential damages.
This is a critical step in determining the viability of your claim and outlining a strategic course of action.
Step 2: Filing the Lawsuit
Once we’ve assessed the merits of your case, the next step involves filing the lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. This legal document, known as the complaint, outlines the allegations and the relief sought. It’s a formal initiation of the legal process, setting the stage for what’s to come.
Step 3: Discovery Phase
The discovery phase is an intensive period of information gathering. Both sides exchange evidence, documents, and other pertinent information. This phase allows us to build a compelling case by scrutinizing the evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts. It’s a labor-intensive but crucial part of the process that can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
Step 4: Pre-Trial Negotiations
Following the discovery phase, negotiations often ensue in an attempt to resolve the case without resorting to a court trial.
Step 5: Going to Trial
Should negotiations fail to yield a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. Here, your lawyer will present a meticulously prepared case, complete with evidence, witness testimonies, and persuasive arguments to establish the defendant’s liability.
Step 6: Post-Trial Proceedings
Even after a verdict has been issued, the legal process may continue through appeals or post-trial motions, and it’s crucial to have a legal team capable of adeptly navigating these intricate proceedings.
What to Do If Your Personal Injury Claim is Denied
Insurance companies frequently deny personal injury claims, often challenging the validity of the evidence or the severity of the injuries. In such instances, immediate consultation with your attorney is crucial to assess your next legal steps, which may include initiating a lawsuit against the insurance company.
At Deming, we offer more than legal counsel; we offer a commitment to restoring your life to its fullest potential. For a personalized consultation, contact us today.