Georgia Personal Injury FAQ

Getting Answers From an Experienced Team of Attorneys

Dealing with the difficult and often times complicated process of filing a lawsuit in the midst of dealing with injuries suffered because of an accident can often be too much for people. Because of this, the lawsuit is often not filed properly or on time, and they miss out on receiving the compensation they deserve. If you have been injured by another person, you should assert your rights and contact an attorney immediately.

What is Considered a Personal Injury?

Personal injury is a type of tort or civil wrong that imposes legal liability on the party who caused the loss or harm. It specifically refers to loss or harm to an individual’s body or emotions as a result of another party’s acts or omissions. An Atlanta personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have a personal injury case.

What Should You Do If You've Suffered a Personal Injury?

Before you can look toward filing a lawsuit, you must be sure that you get treated for any injuries you have suffered. In addition to this, there are several things that should be done when you have suffered a personal injury:

1. Document injuries: It is extremely important to document any injuries you have suffered, as well as any damage to your personal property. Make sure to get copies of accident reports the police may make, take pictures, keep receipts and invoices from any medical expenses, keep notes of new symptoms, as well as documenting any time off of work because of the injury.

  • 2. Talk to Witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the incident, get information from them, including their phone numbers, addresses, and a statement about the incident.

  • 3. Open a Claim: You should open a claim with the insurance company of the person who caused your injury.

  • 4. Do not Speak to Anyone: Do not give any statements to anyone other than the police before talking with an attorney.

  • 5. Do Not Sign Anything: Do not sign any releases of liability or potential claims before speaking with a lawyer.

Successfully taking these initial steps can protect the integrity of your injury claim and help ensure you recover maximum compensation.

How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

The statute of limitations, or time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia civil court, is generally two years from the date of the incident. If a lawsuit is not filed within that time period, the claim will usually be time-barred and the court will not hear your claim.

Claims against governmental entities (the state, counties, and municipalities) have specific notice requirements (ante litem notice) that must be followed. In Georgia, ante litem notice may be as soon as 6 months after an incident and if the proper ante litem notice is not provided the claim will be barred. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure your claim will not be barred due to a lack of proper notice or missing a statute of limitations.

What Type of Compensation Can You Recover?

In Georgia, all parties are held responsible for damages proportionate to their percentage of fault. If a plaintiff is found by a jury to be 50% or more at fault for his or her injuries, he or she cannot recover any compensation from the defendant. If the defendant is greater than 50% at fault, then the plaintiff can recover damages, but the recovery will be reduced by a plaintiff’s degree of fault.

In Georgia, a plaintiff may be entitled to compensation from other potentially liable parties for:

  • Medical expenses relating to the injury at issue;
  • Any lost wages (possibly including future income) that are a direct result of the injury;
  • Compensation for severe emotional anguish;
  • Reimbursement for relevant property damage;
  • Loss of society, companionship or consortium;
  • Pain and suffering.

In limited circumstances, an injured plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages. This type of damages is available in cases where a defendant’s actions “showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”

Punitive damages are governed by Georgia Code Section 51-12-5.1 and are capped at $250,000. The exceptions to this cap are product liability claims and cases where “defendant acted, or failed to act, with the specific intent to cause harm,” or where defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, or any intentionally consumed substance to such a degree that his or her judgment is substantially impaired.

What if I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?

Even if you had a pre-existing condition and the accident exacerbated the injury or illness, you may still be entitled to damages to account for the at-fault person’s negligence. It is irrelevant that someone without your condition may or may not have been injured to the same degree. However, these cases do tend to be slightly more complex and will require the services of an attorney from the start.

Filing a lawsuit is often a difficult process that is only further complicated by attempting to deal with injuries. Visit our FAQ page if you have additional questions regarding Georgia personal injury claims. If you have been injured by another person, contact the personal injury attorneys at Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC.