Here are explanations for common terms you will frequently hear if you are pursuing a personal injury claim in Georgia.
If both parties involved in a crash are at fault for causing the collision, a comparative negligence determination must be made before a negligence claim can be pursued. Sometimes both parties are equally at fault for an accident. In Georgia, a party must be no more than 49% responsible for a motor vehicle collision in order to pursue a claim against the other party involved in the accident.
The term damages encompasses all of the losses, monetary and otherwise, associated with an act of negligence. For instance, the damages in a car accident injury claim include the cost of repairing the vehicles, medical bills, and lost wages.
In a lawsuit, the defendant is the party who is sued. In a personal injury claim, the defendant is the driver who caused the collision, or the party whose negligence caused any kind of personal injury.
Sworn testimony that is given by both sides in a lawsuit. The opposing attorney is allowed to ask you questions regarding the accident and your injuries in preparation for trial. Additionally, your attorney is allowed to ask questions of the other parties involved, as well. The questions are recorded by a court reporter.
Once a lawsuit is filed in a personal injury case, both sides have the opportunity to ask each other questions in preparation for trial. This is called a period of discovery.
Evidence is information presented by both sides at trail used to support each side’s argument. Evidence can take the form of photographs of vehicle damage, medical records, and medical bills.
Interrogatories are written questions exchanged by the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys during the period of discovery.
In a personal injury case, a lawsuit is a civil action filed with a court against the party responsible for damages.
The party whose negligence is responsible for another person’s injuries is considered liable for all damages related to the injuries sustained. The liable party is the one who is at fault.
A medical provider can file a lien against your future settlement if they have unpaid bills relating to treatment for your accident injuries. If there are medical liens filed against your settlement, the insurance company is obligated to protect the interests of the medical providers when paying out your settlement.
Med Pay is short for Medical Payments Policy. In Georgia, a Med-Pay policy can help pay for doctor’s bills arising from injuries sustained in a car accident. This is a no-fault claim made on your own insurance policy.
If your injury was caused by the careless mistake of another person, that person’s mistake is considered negligence. To pursue a successful personal injury claim, you must be injured as the result of another person’s negligence.
A plaintiff is the party who brings the lawsuit. In an injury claim, the plaintiff is the injured party.
This term refers to the damage done to any cars or other vehicles involved in an accident.
Punitive damages go beyond what would be considered reasonable compensation for damages. Punitive damages are usually awarded as an extra punishment to the offending party.
When a claimant agrees to accept a monetary reward for damages from a personal injury, that means a settlement has been reached. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, a jury will ultimately determine the amount of compensation that will be awarded to the injury victim.
In Georgia, you can purchase stackable or non-stackable uninsured or underinsured motorist policies. A stackable policy “stacks” on top of the available liability insurance, while a non-stackable policy is subtracted from the amount of available liability insurance.
Statute of Limitations:
This term refers to the deadline for being able to pursue a claim against another party for negligence. In Georgia, the statue of limitations is two years. You must settle your injury claim or file a lawsuit at the courthouse by the two-year anniversary of the date of the accident.
In a personal injury case, this generally refers to the right of an entity such as a health insurance company to be paid back from any third party settlement for expenses it paid for accident related medical treatment.
If a vehicle sustains enough damage that it would cost more to repair it than the vehicle is worth, it is deemed a total loss. In this situation, the at-fault party’s insurance must pay the vehicle owner the current market value of the vehicle.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage:
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM coverage, protects you if you are hit by a driver who does not have valid insurance coverage. This type of coverage is purchased from your own insurance company. It is not mandatory in Georgia, but very important.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
Underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM, is carried on your own insurance policy. If your damages are greater than the amount of liability insurance, you can be compensated by your UIM policy. Like uninsured motorist coverage, UIM is not required by law, but can be very helpful if you are seriously injured in an accident.
When a personal injury case goes to trial in front of a jury, the jury’s determination regarding liability and financial award for damages is known as the verdict.