Frequently Asked Questions about Georgia Automobile and Tractor-Trailer Accident Cases

What is my case worth?

Answer: This is a complicated question. The value of your case can ultimately be determined by a judge or jury. Cases are settled to avoid that risks uncertainty associated with trials. The settlement value of your case is a function of many factors, including: a) the amount of your medical expenses, lost wages and other out of pocket costs; b) the measure of your pain and suffering, past present and future; c) the future prognosis given to you by your physician; d) punitive or intangible factors relating to bad behavior on the part of the defendant; and e) other case-specific factors. It is sometimes difficult to quantify damages because many categories of damages can be subjectively determined, and different people could arrive at differing conclusions. It is part art and part science. You should have an experienced injury and wrongful death attorney evaluate your case to assist with a determination of relative value.

How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?

Answer: The time required to resolve a case varies. In some cases, it could be a matter of weeks or months. In other cases, resolution could take much longer, even years, especially if the case is litigated. Several factors influence the case resolution process, including how the type of case, the complexity of the case, the aggressiveness of the defense, the county of venue, the judge, the caseload of the court and other factors. Sometimes, the case takes a long time because the client has high expectations as to his or her damages. Most of the factors which effect how long it will take are largely out of the control of the plaintiff or attorneys representing the plaintiff. We can typically advise the client of these factors while the case is pending.

Should I talk to the insurance adjuster?

Answer: You may have to talk to the adjuster if your car was damaged and you wish to make a property damage claim. However, we do not recommend ever giving a recorded statement. Please see this article for a more detailed analysis.

How do I get a copy of the accident report?

Answer: You should be able to obtain a copy of the accident report from the police department of the officer who responded to and investigated the accident. Typically, these officers take your statement and leave their cards for future inquiries. You should be able to find online the appropriate precinct at which to collect the report. However, there is usually a fee for the report, and they may or may not mail you a copy. Please see this article for a more detailed description about accident reports.

How long do I have to resolve my case?

Answer: Typically, you have a set amount of time within which to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two (2) years from the date of the injury occurrence. However, there are shorter deadlines with which to serve an “ante litem” notice upon a state or municipality. These can be as short as six (6) months. You should not delay in pursuing your case, and you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your claim to make sure that no deadlines are missed.

I am still in pain, but I think I should heal up. Should I settle my case now?

You should never settle your case unless and until you have been fully evaluated and diagnosed by a medical doctor. You should never take for granted that you will recover fully. When a case is settled, a release is signed by the claimant, forever discharging the claim and all future medical charges and medical problems. Therefore, you can never again make a claim for damages from the responsible party. If you need surgery in the future for an injury that was undiagnosed at the time of settlement, you cannot seek reimbursement for your future surgery. Moreover, the pain and suffering, lost wages and future convalescence will also go uncompensated.

What categories of damages can I attempt to recover in my Georgia auto accident injury case?

There are two categories of compensatory damages, special damages and general damages.

Special damages are those that can be proved with actual, quantifiable, monetary amounts such as a lost earnings or income, medical expenses (ie. ambulance bill, hospital/doctor bills, physical therapy, home nursing care or rehab services, etc.), charges for the purchase of prosthetic devices or other medical products, charges for psychological counseling, and/or the costs to hire someone to perform housekeeping services which the injured party cannot perform. The plaintiff can seek to recover past special damages as well as those which she reasonably believes will be incurred in the future. “Special” damages can sometimes be referred to as “economic” damages in Georgia.

General damages are for items which cannot be quantified in monetary terms, including:

  • pain and suffering;
  • anguish, mental suffering, anxiety and inconvenience;
  • scarring, disfigurement or physical deformity;
  • physical disability;
  • loss of ability to labor or earn a living;
  • loss of consortium.

For general damages, the amount of recovery is subjective and is based on the “enlightened conscience of impartial jurors.” Like special damages, general damages can be recovered for the past and the future.

Should a Tractor Trailer Accident be Treated Differently from an Auto Accident?

Answer: There are a lot of similarities between cases involving victims of auto accidents and those involving victims of tractor trailer accidents. However, tractor trailer insurance companies and their insurance providers are much more aggressive in investigating and defending their drivers than auto insurers. It is common that tractor trailer companies will send accident reconstructionists, attorneys, forensic experts, adjusters and an army of other consultants to an accident site to gain any strategic evidentiary advantage possible in future litigation. It is also common that evidence could be lost or intentionally destroyed by the trucking company. It is important to combat these tactics by retaining competent counsel to send letters demanding preservation of evidence and a disclosure of the forensic evidence gathered, especially when considering the devastating injuries associated with tractor trailer accidents.

Charles Scholle serves clients from offices in Duluth, Decatur, Buckhead and the Perimeter and represents victims throughout Atlanta and Georgia. To set up your free consultation, you can email, send the firm a message online or call toll-free at 1-866-972-5287 or in Atlanta at 770-717-5100.

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