If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next. The insurance company is calling you, you have medical bills piling up, you’re not sure when you will be able to go back to work, and you don’t know when you can expect a resolution.
The process of pursuing a personal injury claim in Georgia can be confusing, to say the least. Here is a brief description of what you can expect at each stage of the case.
The most important thing for you to do after an accident is to work on getting better again. Attend all of your doctor’s appointments, and follow doctor’s instructions. Eventually the insurance adjuster will review your medical records, and you want to make sure you are following your doctor’s orders. You also want to be careful of any gaps in treatment. If you wait too long to go to the doctor, the insurance adjuster is going to claim you aren’t really hurt.
While you’re treating, your attorney will deal with the insurance company. He or she will let them know you’re represented, and not to contact you at all. However, until you’re done treating, there isn’t much more for your attorney to do at this point.
Once you have completed treatment, your attorney will gather all of the medical records and bills from your treatment. Once all these have been collected, your attorney will present them to the insurance company with a demand for settlement. It is important that you keep your lawyer up to date with all of the medical providers you’re seeing and all the different types of treatment you undergo.
Your lawyer will not want to send all of this information in to the insurance company until you’re done treating, because once the case settles, you can never go back and get additional compensation. You never want to settle your case until you are truly healed from your accident injuries.
Ideally, after the insurance company reviews all of the information presented in the demand sent by your attorney, they will make a fair offer to settle the claim. At this point, your attorney will enter into settlement negotiations with the insurance company to obtain their highest possible offer. If you and your lawyer agree that the offer is sufficient to pay back your medical bills, lost wages, and compensate you for your pain and suffering, the case will settle and that will be the end of it.
However, it does not always happen like that. Sometimes the initial offer presented by the insurance company is just too low. Sometimes the claim is denied outright. Sometimes the facts of the accident are in dispute and the insurance company claims their driver isn’t at fault. Sometimes they refuse to consider all of your medical treatment. If a satisfactory settlement offer is not extended for your claim, then your attorney will discuss filing a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your lawyer will draft a petition and file it with the court. You are the plaintiff in these proceedings, and the other person responsible for the accident is the defendant. The defendant will be served with the lawsuit and soon the process of discovery will begin. Your attorney and the defense attorney will exchange interrogatories, or written questions that must be answered truthfully. These questions will deal with the facts of the accident, your medical treatment, lost wages, and any other information that is pertinent to the claim.
Once interrogatories have been answered, you will have to give a deposition. This is sworn testimony that is given in front of a court reporter. The defense attorney will be allowed to ask you questions about the accident, your injuries and medical treatment. Your lawyer will meet with you before you give your deposition to help prepare you for your testimony. Depositions will be taken of the defendant as well, and any other relevant witnesses or doctors. This testimony will be reviewed by both attorneys in preparation for trial.
After depositions, your attorney and the defense attorney will possibly take part in a settlement mediation. A neutral third party discusses the case and possible settlement with you and your attorney as well as the defense attorney to see if a settlement agreement can be reached. If not, your case will go to trial. A jury will be selected, and you will be asked to give your testimony. A trial can take several days, and in the end, the jury will determine the amount of compensation that you are owed for your injury claim.
As you can see, the process of pursuing a personal injury claim can be long and arduous. The best thing you can do for your case is hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help you make the most out of your claim.
Ty Wilson is an injury lawyer in Savannah and Atlanta and is dedicated to providing FREE information to people who have been hurt. Go to tywilsonlaw.com to read his articles, watch his videos and to download his FREE books. He urges people who have been injured or who have family members who have been injured in Georgia to first get as much information as possible BEFORE hiring a lawyer or even speaking to the insurance company because knowledge is power!
If you have specific questions for Ty, give him a call at 1-866-937-5454.
Check out Ty’s Glossary of Personal Injury Terms.