How Hiring a Lawyer Can Increase Your Potential Settlement Offer in a Personal Injury Case

Table of Contents

  1. Will I Get a Higher Settlement if I Hire a Lawyer?
  2. The Advantage of Legal Representation
  3. When You Need an Attorney
  4. When To Consider Self-Representation
  5. Will My Insurance Company Be Fair with My Settlement?
  6. How Much Can a Lawyer Get for My Georgia Personal Injury Case and How Long Will It Take?
  7. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm

Choosing the proper attorney to handle your Atlanta personal injury claim is crucial if you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, workplace accident, slip and fall, or other no-fault accident. If you want to collect the full and fair compensation you deserve for your economic losses, having the appropriate personal injury lawyer on your side is a tremendous advantage.

However, many people believe that hiring a personal injury attorney is not right for their case. They may feel that their best chance at compensation is to handle their accident claim alone. While you have every right to do so, there are many reasons why you should rely on a professional for all legal matters.

With more than 30 years of expertise in personal injury law, the attorneys at The Brown Firm know what makes a great attorney and how to get the most for their clients. In this article, we will discuss what is best for your personal injury case so you can receive a successful claim.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Will I Get a Higher Settlement if I Hire a Lawyer?

 
Insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements without having lawyers review the case. If you don’t know what to do following an accident, here are some things you can try to increase your chances of getting a better accident settlement.

Ask for a Second Opinion
You’re probably already asking your insurance company for advice, but make sure you ask for another opinion from a law firm. An accident lawyer might give you a different perspective on how much money you could potentially be awarded.

Keep Records
Make sure you keep track of everything that happens during the insurance claim process. This includes dates of phone calls, emails, letters, medical treatment, etc. Also, keep track of any medical costs, hospital bills, the cost of repairs, or out-of-pocket costs related to the accident.

Have Proof
Similar to keeping accurate records, you need to document everything that happened throughout the claims process. Include copies of receipts, statements, correspondence, accident photos, injury photos, etc.

Be Persistent
Don’t let up. If you feel like your personal injury claim is being ignored, call again. Send follow-up emails, since emails are easy to keep track of.

call-an-attorney-after-an-accident-for-a-free-consultation

The Advantage of Legal Representation

 
Personal injury attorneys often get a bad rap, but there are many reasons why hiring one could immensely benefit your accident claim. In fact, hiring a personal injury lawyer increases your odds of receiving compensation. Here are the two main reasons why:

  • Your case tends to settle faster.
  • You’re more likely to receive a larger settlement. An accident attorney will utilize their specialized skills to negotiate with the insurance companies for a fair settlement offer. There are aspects of the law that many people are unaware of, which is why people with attorneys get higher settlements from the insurance carrier.

When You Need an Attorney

 
Injured people are often confused about whether they should hire a law firm or not. They don’t want to waste money or time, but they should be more concerned about being taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster. So what do you do?

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you need to find an experienced personal injury lawyer. At The Brown Firm, we’ll work hard to make sure you get the maximum amount of compensation possible. Our firm will take care of everything – including getting you medical treatment or chiropractic treatment for your injuries.

When an accident causes an injury, things can become more complicated. Your lawyer will need to consider all types of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages such as medical costs, future medical costs, property damage, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional damage. Their attorney services will also help with recuperating any financial losses so you can get the fair compensation you deserve.

do-you-need-an-attorney-after-an-accident-in-georgia

When To Consider Self-Representation

Accident victims often think about whether or not it makes sense to represent themselves in court. They wonder if they’re capable of doing it well enough to win. But what happens when an injury prevents someone from working? What if they lose their job because of the injury? How do you find a good attorney without knowing anything about the legal field? These questions and others are common among those thinking about self-representing in court.

There are several reasons why someone might consider self-representation. For example, they may want to avoid paying high legal fees. Or maybe they just don’t trust accident lawyers. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of self-representation.

The biggest benefit of choosing to represent yourself is that you control everything. You decide what information gets shared. This gives you more power over the process. However, you must be aware of the potential pitfalls. Here are some examples.

You Might Lose Money
If you choose to represent yourself, you’ll likely end up spending more money than you would have if you had hired an experienced attorney. Why? Because you won’t have access to legal assets and advice. You’ll have to pay for all of your court costs and filing fees upfront. An attorney will get you a much higher settlement than you can get for yourself, even after they take their contingency fee.

Representing Yourself Takes up a Lot of Time
Do you have a full-time job? Do you have a family to take care of? Depending on the seriousness of your accident, handling your own lawsuit may not be in your best interest.

You May Not Get Everything You Want
You’ll probably feel frustrated when you realize that you didn’t get everything you wanted during negotiations. For instance, you may not have been able to negotiate for additional damages or compensation. Most of the time, you’ll get less than you asked for.

RELATED POST: What Is a Fair Amount for Pain and Suffering in a Georgia Personal Injury Case?

Will My Insurance Company Be Fair with My Settlement?

 
When you are injured, it is important to know how much compensation you deserve. You might think that your insurance company will give you fair treatment. However, there are many factors that affect whether or not you will receive a fair settlement.

Insurance companies often like to string accident victims along, thinking that they will eventually settle for a lower amount than they deserve. Some of the larger insurance companies will make people wait so long between correspondences that it’s often too late for a personal injury law firm to step in and help.

It is crucial to at least talk to a lawyer after an accident to see all of your options. You do not want to have to rely on the insurance company that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. You essentially are costing the insurance company money. You are making money for your attorney. Who do you think is going to best serve your case?

If you do not believe that your insurance company is treating you fairly, contact The Brown Firm today. We can review your situation and determine whether you are entitled to additional compensation.

How Much Can a Lawyer Get for My Georgia Personal Injury Case and How Long Will It Take?

A personal injury claim can be complicated, especially if there are multiple parties involved. You could potentially sue someone else for special damages and general damages or try to get financial compensation from your insurance policy or the at-fault insurance company. In either scenario, you’re likely to face high legal fees. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, the process can take months or even years.

That’s why it makes the most sense to work with an experienced lawyer. They’ve got a background handling cases like yours, and they can help you understand your options. Plus, they’ll make sure you get compensated fairly for your injuries.

Your accident lawyer can find out how much you can expect to get back from your case by calculating your award based on the following types of damages:

• Costs for Medical Care

• Lost Wages

• Pain and Suffering

• Property Damage
 

Estimating Your Damages

Your medical bills are an example of what we call economic damages. Economic damages are the monetary value of losses sustained because of someone else’s negligence. To calculate economic damages, you must determine the amount of money you spent on health insurance premiums before the accident and compare it to the amount you paid afterward. If you had to pay out-of-pocket expenses due to the injury, add those up too.

For lost wages, your attorney will have a specific calculation if you are an hourly employee, self-employed, or if you are a salaried employee. You could sustain future losses if your injuries created a disability that prevents you from doing your job.

Pain and suffering is calculated by the Per Diem Method or the Multiplier Method. The most common method is the Multiplier Method, where your lawyer will add up all the special damages and multiply the sum by a number between 1.5 and 5. What your damages are multiplied by depends on a number of factors related to your case, like the severity of your injuries, your chances for a fast and total recovery, the impact that your injuries have on your day-to-day life, and whether or not the at-fault party was absolutely at fault for the accident.

The Per Diem Method is not used for those with permanent or long-term injuries. Your lawyer will take your daily work rate and multiply it by how many days you were in physical pain. This can be calculated by how long you were wearing a supportive brace, taking pain medication, or in physical therapy for your injuries.

Property damage covers everything from lost wages to the replacement cost of items like furniture, electronics, or your vehicle. You can also claim for repair costs for your vehicle. If you were in a car accident, it does get a little more complicated when there is still money owed on the vehicle or your vehicle is a lease. All the more reason to hire an experienced lawyer.

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

best-georgia-personal-injury-lawyer-in-my-area

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm

 
Hiring the right personal injury attorney to assist with your accident injury lawsuit can go a long way toward helping you receive the compensation you deserve. When you go through the hiring process, be sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer’s ethics and experience.

The personal injury lawyers at The Brown Firm have more than 30 years of experience in protecting the injured in Georgia and South Carolina. We make it our goal that every client feels listened to and respected, and leaves confident that their attorney has the knowledge, skill, and passion to fight every step of the way.

If you were injured in a personal injury accident in Georgia, get in touch with us for a free consultation. During your initial consultation, you can ask any questions to determine if we’re the right law firm for your case.

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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How to Choose the Right Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney: 6 Tips

If you or someone you love were in a car accident, slip and fall incident, or other injury incident that wasn’t your fault, choosing the best attorney to handle your Atlanta personal injury claim is critically important. If you want to receive the full and fair compensation you deserve for your losses, having the right injury attorney at your side gives you a huge advantage.

But finding that attorney is no easy task. Like any large city, there are hundreds of personal injury lawyers to choose from in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. How do you know what to look for? Which one is right for your case?

With more than 30 years of personal injury law experience, the attorneys from The Brown Firm in Atlanta know a thing or two about what makes a great attorney. Here are six top six tips to consider when you’re looking for legal representation.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

1. Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Personal Injury Law

The difference between a successful personal injury case and an unsuccessful one can come down to the lawyer representing you. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows what to look for (and where to look for it) can make all the difference during the negotiation and settlement process.

Personal injury law has many intricacies that differentiate it from other types of law. If you hire an attorney with little to no experience in personal injury law, or who handles some personal injury cases but primarily focuses on other areas of the law (divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), you may run the risk of losing your case or not being offered the compensation you deserve. 

Before you hire an attorney, consider asking these questions to gauge the experiences they have had handling similar cases in the past:

  • How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
  • How many cases have you handled?
  • What is your success rate for Atlanta cases?
  • Have you had experience with a case similar to mine?
  • Do you have experience with the insurance company representing the entity I have filed my claim against?
how to choose personal injury attorney
how to choose personal injury attorney

2. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Who Has Relevant Experience With Similar Types of Cases

Even within the field of personal injury litigation, there are many different types of cases—car accidents, truck accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, defective products, and more. Each comes with its own set of unique challenges and obstacles when it comes to gathering evidence, identifying potential sources of insurance coverage, building a case, negotiating settlements, and more.

It’s entirely reasonable to ask your lawyer if they’ve handled similar types of personal injury claims in the past, and what the outcomes were. While every case is unique, relevant experience with cases that had similar circumstances can be extremely valuable.

3. Hire an Attorney Willing to Take Cases to Trial When Necessary 

There are many attorneys who handle personal injury cases but have never actually seen the inside of a courtroom.

While it’s true that most personal injury claims are settled before trial, and both sides have a strong incentive to reach a mutual agreement rather than put themselves in front of a jury, a good personal injury lawyer will be willing and able to go the distance when necessary.

Insurance companies are extremely aggressive in negotiation. They will work as hard as they can to either deny your personal injury claim or reduce the amount they have to pay as much as possible. If they know that your lawyer does not have trial experience, they will use that to their advantage and attempt to get you to settle for less than you deserve.

To make sure your personal injury attorney is comfortable in an Atlanta courtroom before hiring them, consider asking the following questions:

  • Are you willing to take my case to court if necessary?
  • How many cases have you taken to court?
  • What is your success rate in Atlanta courts?
Atlanta personal injury attorney
Atlanta personal injury attorney

4. Hire an Attorney with a Proven History of High Settlements 

Personal injury cases aren’t simply “win or lose.” If the facts are clearly on your side, even less experienced attorneys can win your case. But the best personal injury lawyer won’t just win—they’ll do everything in their power to help you walk away with every last penny you’re entitled to. And they’ll have the track record to back it up.

Are you getting fair compensation for your pain and suffering? Have all of your projected future medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses been correctly taken into account? Have all responsible parties and relevant insurance policies been identified? The right personal injury lawyer will know how to ask (and answer) the right questions to maximize your settlement.

Not every case is worth millions, of course. But whether your case is small and simple or big and complex with catastrophic injuries, you want to be confident that the attorney you hired can deliver the best possible results. 

Before you hire an attorney, consider asking them the following question: 

  • Can you show me examples of cases you have won and the amount of compensation that was awarded in the settlement offers? 

RELATED POST: What Is a Fair Amount for Pain and Suffering in a Georgia Personal Injury Case?

5. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney That You Feel Comfortable With

Anyone looking for a personal injury attorney is undoubtedly dealing with significant stress and trauma. The last thing you need is the feeling you can’t trust or depend on the lawyer you hired to care for you. Don’t underestimate the importance of the attorney-client relationship—compatibility with your lawyer (and your lawyer’s style) can mean a great deal for your peace of mind, and your case.

Our goal as attorneys at The Brown Firm is to always protect the injured — and we mean that in every sense. We have your best interests at heart, physically, emotionally, and financially.

Never settle for an attorney who doesn’t ensure you are comfortable throughout the entire legal process or won’t back your case whole-heartedly. That means making sure you’re constantly updated and informed about your case, taking time to answer any questions you have along the way, and never making you feel like you’re an afterthought.

You should also make sure your attorney is completely dedicated to putting as much money back into your pocket as possible once your case has been decided. Attorney fees should be fair and clearly communicated up front, with no hidden surprises. If you have significant medical debts, your attorney should also negotiate with providers to reduce what you owe, so you can keep more for yourself and your family.

When considering which attorney to hire, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this attorney take the time to hear my concerns and answer my questions so that I understand?
  • Will this attorney walk through the healing process alongside me?
  • Will this attorney fight for my case?
  • Does this attorney treat me as a unique individual and not as just another client?
  • Does this attorney treat me with empathy and compassion?
  • What are the attorney fees? Does this attorney promise that, after a successful case, they’ll put more money in my pocket than theirs?

6. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Who Is Readily Available to Their Clients

The details are important when hiring an attorney. It won’t help you if you choose a lawyer to represent your case but can never get in touch with them or their fees are higher than you can afford. (Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay them if they win. But you should always confirm, just to be safe.)

Furthermore, familiarity with the local courts, judges, and even other lawyers representing the insurance company will help your attorney represent you to the best of their ability.

Consider the following logistics when choosing a personal injury attorney:

  • Is this attorney easy to get a hold of when I need them?
  • Does this attorney communicate through my preferred methods (i.e. phone call, email, text, etc.)?
  • How much does this attorney charge for their services? Are there any additional fees along the way? If they are paid on contingency, roughly what percentage of my settlement will they receive if I win?
  • Is this attorney local to me in Atlanta?

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

Atlanta personal injury attorney
Atlanta personal injury attorney

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm in Atlanta

Hiring the right personal injury attorney to assist with your accident injury lawsuit can go a long way toward helping you receive the compensation you deserve. When you go through the hiring process, know you do not need to hire the first attorney you speak with. Be sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer’s ethics and experience. 

The personal injury lawyers at The Brown Firm have over 30 years of experience in protecting the injured in Georgia and South Carolina. We make it our goal that every person who walks through our doors feels listened to and respected, and leaves with the confidence that we have the knowledge, skill, and passion to fight for your case and back you every step of the way.

If you were injured in a personal injury accident in Georgia, get in touch with us for a free consultation. During that initial consultation, you can ask any questions to determine if we’re the right law firm for your case. 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Survival Action Claims in Georgia: What Families Need to Know

Grieving families face a range of emotions when a loved one is killed due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. People in this situation should absolutely pursue financial compensation for their losses—but how to do so can be complicated.  

Survival actions are often confused with wrongful death claims by those who’ve lost loved ones. These are two separate legal actions that apply to different circumstances, though in some situations a family may be able to pursue both simultaneously. 

This article will explain the purpose of a survival action and how to go about starting one in Georgia. We’ll also outline the differences between a wrongful death claim and a survival action, and how an experienced attorney can help families navigate both.     

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

What Is a Survival Action in Georgia? 

Under Georgia law, a survival action is an extension of a legal claim associated with a person who has died. Basically, it addresses the losses the deceased person experienced between their injury and death, and seeks compensation to benefit their survivors.  

Typically, survival actions are used when the injured person lived for a while after the injury itself — long enough to experience fear, pain, or medical treatment. It is meant to cover the sort of losses they might have included in a personal injury claim, had they lived.  

For example, if someone was injured in a car crash and lived one week before they died, the action might demand compensation for a week of: 

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages 
  • Pain and suffering 

In Georgia, funeral expenses and burial costs may also be part of a survival action because they are considered costs of the deceased’s estate (more on that in a minute). Some states include demands for funeral and burial losses in wrongful death claims, rather than survival actions.    

Even if the person only lived for an hour, the family could claim the pain, suffering, fear, mental anguish, etc. their loved one endured before dying.   

Who May Bring a Survival Action? 

In Georgia, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, often called the executor or administrator, brings (initiates) a survival action. The personal representative might already be named in the will, but if not, the court will generally appoint a family member to represent the estate. The estate includes anything still legally owned by the dead person and stands in for them in legal proceedings.  

Survival actions must be brought by the dead person’s estate, rather than their survivors. This is because the compensation is sought on behalf of the person who died for what they experienced, not for the losses their loved ones experienced because of the death.  

Ultimately, money secured from a survival action that isn’t needed for medical costs or other liens will go to survivors. It simply needs to go to the estate before being disbursed.  

Who Gets the Money From a Survival Action? 

Money secured from a survival action will go directly to the dead person’s estate. It is then considered an asset of the estate and treated like other items, such as bank accounts, property, and retirement funds. 

These assets go to the beneficiaries named by the deceased. If there isn’t a will or named beneficiaries, the money will be disbursed according to Georgia intestacy law. Usually, the money will go to the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, or other close family members. 

survival action
survival action

How Is a Survival Action Different From a Wrongful Death Claim?  

Simply put, a survival action is on behalf of the deceased person themselves. A wrongful death claim is on behalf of the deceased person’s survivors.  

A survival action seeks compensation for the damages (losses) a person suffered before dying. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the damages survivors suffer because of the death.   

A wrongful death action or claim may be the one we hear about more often, and it may feel counter-intuitive to hear wrongful death and survival in the same sentence. However, surviving family members may wind up taking both actions to get the compensation they deserve after a family member’s death. Let’s dig into the differences. 

RELATED POST: The Complete Guide To Wrongful Death Lawsuits 

Damages Sought in a Georgia Survivor Action Claim 

The damages that “survive” a person killed by another’s negligence can include: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost earnings 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Mental anguish 
  • Funeral and burial costs 

Damages Sought in a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Claim 

The damages impacting the survivors of a person killed by another’s negligence can include:  

  • Lost income the deceased person would have made in the rest of their career 
  • Benefits held through the deceased person, such as health insurance and retirement plans 
  • The value of services the deceased provided for their household, like home repairs and yard work 
  • Lost care, support, affection, and guidance that the deceased person provided to survivors 
  • Lost consortium, which is the access to intimacy and companionship between spouses and partners 

Additionally, in South Carolina (where The Brown Firm also practices), wrongful death lawsuits can include claims for the family members’ (as opposed to the deceased person’s) emotional pain and suffering, as well as punitive damage to punish the negligent parties in the case of extreme recklessness or malice. However, these types of damages are not available under Georgia law. 

Differences in How Survival Action and Wrongful Death Claims Are Paid Out 

As discussed above, any money recovered in a survival action claim becomes property of the estate, which can then be distributed according to any will left by the deceased. 

By contrast, money recovered in a wrongful death claim are not property of the estate (because it is meant to benefit the survivors directly, not the deceased) and will always be distributed strictly according to Georgia’s intestacy law. In other words, this means that wrongful death settlements are always divided to heirs as if no will exists, regardless of whether the deceased person left one or not. 

RELATED POST: Who Gets the Money From a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

Georgia survival action statute
Georgia survival action statute

How Does Personal Injury Law Relate to Survival Action and Wrongful Death? 

In Georgia, personal injury attorneys often represent families filing survival actions or wrongful death claims.  

Even though these are not technically personal injury cases, the claims process, relevant damages, and compensation center on similar factors, such as medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. This is because, in all cases, the injuries or deaths were caused by another party’s carelessness or recklessness.     

Both a survival action and a wrongful death claim may be options if your loved one was killed because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. Determining what’s best for your family depends on the specifics of the case.  

An experienced personal injury attorney will help you understand and navigate all the options when you’ve lost a loved one in this manner.    

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Wrongful Death Lawsuits 

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

The Brown Firm Offers Guidance for Survival Actions and Wrongful Death Claims 

The period after losing a loved one is difficult and unpredictable, making it that much harder for surviving family members to understand and manage the details of a legal undertaking. At the Brown Firm, we are committed to walking through complex cases with our clients and doing it with skill and compassion.    

We begin every attorney-client relationship with a free case evaluation, including cases involving survival actions or wrongful death claims. To set up your free consultation today, call (800) 529-1441 or use the easy contact form on our site.  

 

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Hurt in Georgia? Here’s When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Americans may be stereotyped as the most litigious people on earth, but the truth is that a lot of us are at least a little hesitant to hire a personal injury attorney. Maybe you’re worried about how much it will cost. Maybe you think personal injury lawyers are all ambulance chasers and hucksters looking for a big payday. Maybe you don’t want the hassle and just want it all to go away.

But if you’ve been hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault—whether from a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or any other cause—hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and fight on your behalf is something you need to consider. In fact, it may be the best decision you can make for yourself and your family.

In this blog, let’s take a closer look at when and why you might consider reaching out to a personal injury lawyer, and how they can help you.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Is It Really Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?

The answer here is almost always a strong yes.

It’s possible that if you have only minor injuries and a relatively small personal injury claim, you may be able to handle your case on your own. Certainly, the insurance company wants you to believe that this is the case. But fault has to be crystal clear, your damages must be fairly small and easy to calculate, and you need to be calm, patient, and confident in advocating for yourself.

Most personal injury claims, it’s fair to say, don’t go quite so smoothly. Insurance companies aren’t exactly eager to pay out big settlements, and they’ll look for any opportunity they can take to reduce their costs. That’s especially true if the case involves serious injuries, big medical bills, and/or disputes about who was at fault. They also have huge teams of lawyers dedicated to fighting against your personal injury case.

Even if you think your case couldn’t possibly be simpler, or that the at-fault party’s negligence couldn’t possibly be more obvious, that’s no guarantee the insurance company will see it that way. Just recently we represented a young woman injured in auto accident. Until we got involved, the insurer was still trying to pin some of the blame on her, even though the at-fault driver herself acknowledged that she was at fault!

CLIENT STORY: Khadija’s Story

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Handling a case on your own can be time-consuming, stressful, and fraught with danger. The insurance company is looking to play hardball. They’ll almost certainly either reject your claim or offer you a lowball settlement that doesn’t come close to fair, and hope you’ll take it.

Personal injury lawyers work to level the playing field. We know the tricks the insurance company uses. We also know how to:

  • Gather relevant evidence. This includes not only eyewitness testimony and evidence collected at the scene, but also expert witnesses, security footage, maintenance records, and more, depending on what’s available and the type of case you’re fighting.
  • Get maximum value for your claim. When you’re trying to recover compensation for your injuries, how much is “fair”? Answering that question requires intimate knowledge of your injuries, how they are likely to affect your life going forward, and how insurance companies typically calculate pain, suffering, emotional anguish, and other non-economic damages. An attorney can calculate this for you accurately, so when an insurance company puts a settlement offer on your desk, you don’t have to guess about whether it’s actually reasonable.
  • Protect you from accidentally damaging your case, and fight for fair compensation. It’s no surprise that people who hire a personal injury lawyer tend to receive much more in compensation than those who don’t. Part of that comes from knowing how much your case is really worth, but part of that comes from knowing how to avoid word games and other traps the insurers use.
  • Relieve your stress and anxiety. Fighting legal battles is stressful, particularly when you’re not a legal expert and you’ve got your own health to worry about. Handing off your case to an experienced personal injury lawyer can lift a significant weight off your shoulders.

There are other benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney you might not think of, too. For example, an attorney can not only help you through the legal side of your personal injury case, but can also link you up with experienced medical providers and ensure you get the high-quality treatment you need for your recovery. We can even help you set up appointments.

RELATED POST: What Is a Fair Amount for Pain and Suffering in Georgia?

When Is the Best Time to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

Ideally, you should reach out to a personal injury attorney immediately after the accident, or as soon as possible after you’ve received any necessary emergency care.

The insurance company’s adjuster is not necessarily going to wait until you’ve talked with a lawyer or reached maximum medical improvement to contact you and start asking questions. And because their job is to save the insurance company money—not to look out for you—they’ll be hunting for ways to poke holes in your story and get you to make statements they can use to damage your personal injury claim.

Simply put, the earlier you seek legal representation, the better your chances of a successful outcome. That said, if you’ve already started the personal injury claims process on your own and are starting to have some second thoughts, it’s never too late to reach out for a free consultation.

Here are some additional signs it’s time to contact a personal injury law firm:

  • You’re dealing with serious injuries that are leading to major medical expenses, lost wages, and significant pain, suffering, and hardship in your daily life. The insurance company isn’t going to have sympathy for you here. Quite the opposite, in fact: The more they stand to lose from an insurance claim, the harder they’ll fight against it.
  • Your injury was the result of medical malpractice or a defective product. These cases can be especially complex and may have significant filing restrictions, so never try to seek compensation on your own.
  • The insurance company is disputing whether their client was at fault, or fault might be shared by multiple parties.
  • You’ve received a settlement offer from the insurance company but feel it’s too low, or if you don’t really know how to calculate fair compensation for your own claim.
  • You are simply confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated with the process and need someone to help you shoulder the load.
when to hire a personal injury lawyer
when to hire a personal injury lawyer

Addressing Common Concerns About Hiring a Lawyer

Sometimes, people injured in car accidents still hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer even when they understand the potential benefits. Let’s take a moment to address some of the most common concerns we’ve heard from previous clients during the initial consultation process.

“It Will Cost Too Much.”

The vast majority of personal injury attorneys (including our team at The Brown Firm) work on contingency, meaning that we don’t get paid unless we help you get compensation—whether that’s from a settlement with the insurance company and awarded at trial. Those attorney fees come straight out of your compensation check, meaning you are never at any risk of paying out of pocket.

No one should be shut out from fair compensation just because they can’t afford an attorney.

RELATED POST: How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out After a Case?

“I Don’t Want to Give Up a Percentage of My Settlement.”

While you might be tempted to try to go it alone and not pay a percentage of your award in legal fees, study after study after study shows that personal injury sufferers who hire an attorney receive significantly more in compensation on average than those who do not—more than enough to make up for legal fees.

Insurance companies don’t hesitate to take advantage of injured people who aren’t represented by a personal injury lawyer. They will almost certainly try to argue that you were at least partly responsible for your injuries and offer you a lowball settlement that’s far beneath what you actually deserve. Without your own legal counsel, however, you may have no idea how to calculate a fair settlement, avoid the legal traps the insurance company sets for you, or how to assemble the evidence and expert witnesses you’ll need to refute the insurance company’s version of events.

By working with an experienced lawyer, you greatly increase your chances of getting maximum value from your valid claim, which accurately reflects the amount of long-term medical care and pain and suffering damages that you’re entitled to.

“I Don’t Want to Have Go to Trial.”

Did you know that most personal injury cases never actually go to trial? Even when the parties fail to find common ground and a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed, there’s still a pretty good chance the case won’t go that far. Both sides can continue to negotiate and attempt to reach a pre-trial settlement right up to the actual court date.

Trials are risky and expensive for both parties, so there’s a ton of incentive on both sides to reach an agreement. While you usually do have to file a personal injury lawsuit, this merely begins a formal legal process in which sides must share information and sets an end date where a conclusion ultimately has to be reached, one way or the other. It also shows the insurance company that you won’t be bossed around and are willing to fight to get what you deserve.

Of course, sometimes cases do go to trial when the insurance company is simply unwilling to offer a fair settlement to your valid claim. However, trials in real life aren’t nearly as dramatic as the ones you see on TV. Your attorney will make sure you are fully prepared.

RELATED POST: Is It Better To Settle Or Go To Court For A Personal Injury Case?

“I Just Want It All to Go Away.”

If you don’t want to deal with the stress and hassle of fighting the insurance company and just want it all to go away, hiring an attorney is actually the best thing you can do. You can rest easy, knowing that your lawyer is handling all aspects of your personal injury claim and dealing with the insurance company on your behalf.

Ignoring the financial problem is not going to make it go away. With an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, you can fully focus on your own health and your family while we defend your legal rights.

RELATED POST: Timeline For A Personal Injury Case in Georgia

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney
is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney

Now Is the Right Time to Call The Brown Firm

Whether you’ve just been in an accident a few hours ago or you’ve already received a settlement offer from the insurance company and don’t know what to do next, your next step should be contacting The Brown Firm for a free consultation.

Our aggressive and experienced legal team has helped people across Georgia and South Carolina get through their toughest and darkest times, after car accidents, workplace injuries, wrongful deaths of loved ones, and more. We know the tactics insurance companies use to get out of paying fair compensation, and we won’t back down from a fight.

Don’t fall for the insurance company’s tricks, and don’t say yes to a settlement offer that isn’t fair. To request your free consultation, contact The Brown Firm today at (800) 529-1441, or complete our simple online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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What Is a Fair Amount for Pain and Suffering in a Georgia Personal Injury Case?

How do you put a price tag on emotional suffering after a car accident or another personal injury accident? Suppose you can never play your favorite sport again or pick up your young child? How do you value changes in your personality after a brain injury? Altered relationships with family members and friends? These are very real damages that were not your fault, and you deserve compensation for them.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what pain and suffering means, how a personal injury lawyer can help you calculate pain and suffering damages, and challenges you might face in successfully negotiating a fair settlement or winning at trial.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Personal Injury Damages 101: What’s Your Case Worth?

When you work with a personal injury lawyer, one of their top priorities will be calculating your damages. But what are “damages” exactly? Attorneys break them up into three categories:

  • Economic damages: compensation for your financial losses, such as medical bills, lost income, and property damage.
  • Non-economic damages: compensation for softer losses, like emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
  • Punitive damages: sometimes called “special damages” in Georgia, judges and juries award them to punish a wrongdoer and discourage similar acts in the future.

Then, based on the facts of your case, the amount of insurance coverage that applies to your claims, and the strength of your legal arguments, your personal injury attorney will issue a settlement demand letter that includes compensation for all your possible damages.

When calculating how much a negligent party owes the person they hurt after a negligent act, some factors are obvious and straightforward. For example, if you have $100,000 in medical expenses and another $20,000 in lost wages from being unable to work, you’ll probably want to be reimbursed for every penny.

However, quantifying your non-economic damages is a lot more difficult.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering damages are a form of non-economic damages, meaning there’s no specific dollar value attached to them. This is in contrast to economic damages, which includes things like medical bills, lost wages and reduced earning capacity, and cost of household services.

In a legal context, pain and suffering refers to not only to physical pain and physical injuries, but also the mental anguish that results from those injuries.

For example, chronic pain, constant headaches, or a physical impairment (such as loss of a limb) would qualify as physical pain and suffering, while depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, mood swings, cognitive impairments, and other forms of mental pain would be considered emotional pain and suffering.

what is a fair amount for pain and suffering
what is a fair amount for pain and suffering

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

Because pain and suffering are much more subjective than existing or projected medical expenses, there’s much more variability in terms of how attorneys, insurance companies, and juries value them. There are no specific rules or official methods, either, so insurers will look to past cases, rules of thumb, or even software algorithms to arrive at a dollar figure for a pain and suffering claim.

That said, there are a couple of common approaches.

The “Multiplier Method”

Often, insurance companies will use a multiplier or factor method for calculating pain and suffering damages, based on the nature of an injury and the amount of economic damages you suffered. The general idea with this method is that the more medical treatment you end up needing, the more pain and suffering you’ll generally experience.

For example, let’s say that you were paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a car accident that wasn’t your fault. That would be a truly catastrophic, permanent, life-altering injury. To calculate pain and suffering damages in this scenario, your lawyer might take the total amount of your economic damages and multiply it several times over.

On the other hand, suppose you suffered a few broken bones and have some subtle, but permanent scarring. While these are definitely still serious injuries responsible for meaningful pain and suffering, you’re also expected to make a full recovery within a period of several months to a year. In this case, the insurance company would use a smaller multiplier.

And if your personal injury only resulted in one or two doctor visits and no significant or lasting physical or emotional repercussions that meaningfully impact your life, you may receive very little pain and suffering compensation.

The “Per Diem” Method

Under the per diem method, pain and suffering damages are calculated on a daily basis, typically by counting the number of days that pass between the accident and your maximum medical improvement, then multiplying that by a certain daily rate.

Unlike the multiplier method, the per diem method equates pain and suffering with the amount of time it takes to recover, rather than the financial cost or the amount of medical treatment you need.

The daily rate that the insurance company uses will typically be closely linked to your daily wage, although it can (and should) be higher for particularly serious injuries. (Your attorney should advocate for the most compensation possible, highlighting factors that support your case.)

However, the per diem method can break down in situations where your injuries leave you with permanent disabilities that continue to cause meaningful pain and suffering even after reaching maximum medical improvement.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Your Insurance Adjuster Determines Your Settlement Offer

Should I Use an Online Pain and Suffering Calculator?

Many websites offer a personal injury settlement calculator to estimate how much your case is likely worth, including pain and suffering. While this can provide a (very) rough estimate as a starting point, we generally don’t recommend you use them.

The simple fact of the matter is that every case is unique, and there’s no substitute for getting an expert opinion from an experienced personal injury lawyer. A huge number of factors go into determining a fair pain and suffering settlement—far more than you can include in a simple online calculator.

how is pain and suffering calculated in georgia
how is pain and suffering calculated in georgia

Getting a Fair Settlement Amount for Pain and Suffering Can Be Tough

The unfortunate truth is that, when it comes to pain and suffering, getting the insurance company to offer you a fair settlement for your personal injury claim can be extremely challenging.

There are many reasons why this is the case:

Assigning Value to Intangible Losses Isn’t Straightforward

Even if you and the insurance company fundamentally agree on the nature of your pain and suffering (which is not at all guaranteed; see below), you may be very far apart on how much to value these physical and emotional injuries. While both sides can look to past cases and awards for guidance, there isn’t always an obvious precent—each case is unique.

It Can Be Difficult to Prove Pain and Suffering

It’s very likely that the insurance company will not simply accept your account of how your injuries are affecting your life. Instead, they will probably try to argue that you are making up or exaggerating your symptoms, or that they are not limiting your activities as much as you say they are.

This is especially true for mental anguish and other emotional, psychological, or cognitive issues you may be experiencing after the incident—particularly conditions which are difficult to see from the outside or have practical effects that are not well understood by the general population.

Proving that you’re dealing with anxiety, for example, or that you’ve experienced mood or personality changes that keep you from working or reduce your quality of life is typically not a simple matter. It may require:

  • Thorough medical records from physicians, mental health professionals, and other medical experts.
  • Documentation of your subjective personal experiences, such as personal communications or journal/diary entries that describe your level on the pain scale, physical or emotional challenges you’re dealing with (such as not being able to care for yourself or feeling sad all the time), and other relevant information.
  • Photographs of your injuries at different points in your recovery.
  • Extensive witness testimony from family, friends, and other close associates who know you well, both before and after the accident.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Do I Prove My Pain and Suffering After A Car Accident?

The Insurance Company Is Not on Your Side

Always remember that no matter how friendly a claims adjuster might seem while speaking with you, the insurance company’s main focus is not on ensuring you are well cared for. They are looking to make your case go away as quickly and cheaply as they can.

If there is any doubt over the existence, nature, or severity of your pain and suffering, they will try to exploit it. And even if they don’t openly question your symptoms, they’ll still try to offer you the lowest settlement value they think you’re likely to take—rather than one that accurately reflects the true value of your personal injury claim.

RELATED ARTICLE: Should I Take the First Settlement Offer in My Injury Case?

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

personal injury lawyer georgia
personal injury lawyer georgia

An Attorney Can Help You Maximize Your Recovery

Calculating pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases is complex, difficult, and highly subjective work. If you leave all the number crunching to the insurance company, the chances that you’ll walk away with a fair settlement are slim to none. That’s why you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.

A good attorney will:

  • Listen to your story carefully and compassionately to fully understand the impact your injuries have had on your life.
  • Accurately calculate the true value of your case, including both economic damages and non-economic damages.
  • Help you collect and gather the kinds of documents, witness statements, and other evidence you will need to prove your physical pain and emotional distress to the insurance company (or to a jury, if necessary)
  • Help you avoid making preventable mistakes when speaking with the insurance adjuster that could jeopardize your pain and suffering claims.
  • Aggressively represent you during negotiations with the insurance company, or at trial if negotiations ultimately fail to produce a fair settlement offer.

Still Suffering After Your Personal Injury? Contact The Brown Firm Today

Harry Brown understands that the true cost of most personal injuries goes far beyond the financial impact of medical bills and lost wages.

Before becoming a personal injury lawyer, he worked as a chiropractor. As both a lawyer and a medical professional, he has seen the severe impact that both physical pain and psychological trauma can have on individuals and families. That’s why he is so committed to helping his client recovery physically, emotionally, and financially.

If you’ve been hurt and it wasn’t your fault, contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation. You can reach us through our easy online contact form, or by dialing (912) 324-2498 anytime, 24/7. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can start helping and building your case.

References

Georgia Code § 51-13-1 (2020)

Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt, 286 Ga. 731, 691 S.E.2d 218 (2010).

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Migraines After Car Crash? Here’s What They Mean and What to Do

Headaches are painful and stressful, and they make it difficult to concentrate and go about your day. If you’ve recently been in a car accident, head pain may be a symptom that either began or worsened after the incident.

If you have painful headaches that upset your life after a car accident, it may be time to file a claim for compensation. In this post, we’ll explore dealing with typical and migraine headaches after a motor vehicle accident, factors that could impact your claim and case, and how a personal injury attorney can help.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

What Factors Determine the Value of a Post-Traumatic Headache Car Accident Case?

If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses, such as medical care and the pain you suffer. While this can certainly include headache pain, claims for headaches after a car accident are often complex and involve many factors.

For example, say you were in an auto accident and the sudden, violent jolt caused your head to bounce in different directions. A few days later you have a constant headache, but the doctors see no sign of traumatic brain injury (TBI). While it may be perfectly clear to you that the car accident was the root cause of your headache symptoms, the insurance company will be harder to convince.

Many factors can influence the value of your case, especially due to the fact headaches are often “invisible” injuries without a detectable skull or brain injury:

  • Your age and baseline health before the car accident
  • The severity of your other injuries
  • The limits of the applicable insurance policies
  • Your medical bills and expected costs
  • How much income you’ve lost due to the injury
  • Whether you contributed to the accident in any way
  • Existing history of headaches before the head injury
  • Your attorney’s ability to show how the headaches negatively impact your life

It’s always in your best interest to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who’s familiar with car accident-related head trauma. Not only will they know how to present your case, but they can work with experts (like neurologists and accident reconstructionists) to prove that your chronic headaches are related to the car crash.

migraines after car crash
migraines after car crash

Getting Compensation for Car Accident Headaches and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Depending on the specifics of your case, your compensation could range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Taking certain steps now can increase your chances of getting a settlement that’s fair and truly helpful.

  • Hang on to any records you have of the traumatic event itself. This includes pictures, witness statements, and a written account of what you remember.
  • Gather documentation of your financial losses related to the injuries, such as medical bills, lost wages, and expected treatment costs.
  • Keep track of how the auto accident and head pain impact your life. This could be a daily note about your struggles or a list of things you can no longer do that you used to enjoy.
  • Don’t talk about your injuries and other symptoms on social media. The insurance company could take anything you say and twist it to reduce a settlement offer.
  • Seek medical care as needed and keep all of your doctor appointments. Follow the instructions provided by your medical team to show you’re doing what you can to heal.
  • Work closely with an attorney who knows how to negotiate for a settlement amount that will help you rebuild and move on with your life.

Causes of Post Traumatic Headaches

Car accident post-traumatic headaches often start to occur within the two-week period following the trauma. The good news is that most of these headaches will resolve within six months. However, 10-20% of them never resolve.

Part of securing fair compensation for your headaches and head injuries will be carefully explaining what exactly caused the pain, as well as the specific symptoms you’re experiencing—such as visual disturbances, neck pain, or even brain damage. Headaches are the most common physical manifestation of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Here are some of the main causes and symptoms of headaches after a car accident:

Whiplash

Whiplash headaches are common after car accidents. The whipping, back-and-forth motion of the neck can cause muscle strain that radiates through soft tissue into the head. This kind of headache might take days or weeks to get really bad, but often starts at the base of the skull and can cause a stiff neck, memory and concentration issues, and trouble sleeping.

Fracture

Fracture headaches happen when a sudden force is enough to break the skull or neck. Even if these broken bones aren’t serious enough to cause brain injuries, they can still lead to persistent headaches. People with fracture headaches might experience slurred speech, confusion, nausea, or even seizures.

Pinched Nerve

Pinched nerve headaches happen due to compression around the spinal nerves, especially the greater occipital nerve at the base of the skull. A herniated disk, swollen neck muscles, and other complications can pinch nerves at their roots, causing pain, tingling, numbness, and burning up the back of the head.

Concussion

Concussion headaches are just one symptom of this sort of TBI. If the impact of the auto accident causes your brain to hit the inner wall of your skull and become bruised or even bleed, you could experience intense headaches—along with memory loss, light sensitivity, nausea, ear ringing, sound sensitivity, and confusion. If you’re experiencing headaches after the expected recovery period, you may have post-concussion syndrome.

Medication

It’s true that certain medications, such as birth control or heart drugs, can cause headaches, and lawyers representing the at-fault driver may try to use that against your claim. Be aware that overuse of typical pain drugs, such as aspirin and acetaminophen, may cause so-called rebound headaches when used too much.

Migraines

Insurance companies are quick to deny migraine headaches caused by a car accident. Many neurologists also don’t believe that migraines can be related to car accidents. They might claim migraines are genetic disorders that run in the family, particularly if the headache occurs on one side of the head.

The reality of it is that many post-accident headaches have migraine features. It’s essential to know exactly what type of headache you are experiencing, so the defense doesn’t dismiss your case because you think it’s a migraine. Your lawyer can help you navigate this challenge to your case.

Because of his work as a chiropractor, Harry Brown has a unique perspective and understanding of post-traumatic headaches and their settlement values. Count on him to present this serious injury in an effective manner.

RELATED: How to Prove You Have Whiplash — and How a Lawyer Can Help

migraines after car crash
migraines after car crash

The Brown Firm Fights for Headache Sufferers After Car Crashes

If you or someone you love is dealing with constant headaches after a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney who puts their clients first. We start all personal injury cases with a free consultation so we can get to know you and your story before determining the best plan forward.

To schedule your free case evaluation today, call us at (800) 529-1441 or use the simple contact form on our website.

References

Why do I have a headache after my car accident? (2020, Jan. 30). AICA Orthopedics. Retrieved from https://aica.com/why-do-i-have-a-headache-after-my-car-accident/

Why you shouldn’t ignore headaches after a car accident. (n.d.). Pain Care Specialists of Florida. Retrieved from https://painconsults.com/why-you-shouldn-t-ignore-headaches-after-a-car-accident/

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

Our Recent Personal Injury Articles

Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?

From shortly after the moment of the accident, you’ve been intensely focused on your case, and how you and your personal injury attorney can win the money that will help you rebuild your life.

But what happens after you win? How are personal injury settlements paid out? How does the money physically get into your hands? Spoiler alert: It’s a process, and most people aren’t familiar with it until they’ve lived through it.

This post will outline the journey of your settlement check, from start to finish. We’ll list the various stops the money makes and potential delays along the way. In addition, we’ll discuss how a personal injury lawyer helps the process move efficiently and securely.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

The Journey of a Personal Injury Settlement Check

You’re eager to put your accident, medical bills, and case behind you. But for most injured people, that’s tough to do until you have been compensated for your injuries. Understanding the process of how it gets there can make things a bit easier.

1. You Sign the Release Form

Once all parties, including their attorneys and insurance companies, have agreed to an injury settlement amount, it’s time to sign the paperwork. You’ll sign multiple documents, but the most important one is the release.

The release confirms that you won’t try to get any more compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance company and releases the at-fault party and insurance company from any future liability or damages.

Sometimes, the involved parties can’t agree about the terms of the release, even after they’ve agreed on the settlement amount, and this can cause delays. Cases involving minors can also make things more complicated and may have to be approved by the probate court.

2. The Insurance Company Writes a Check

The signed release goes to the at-fault party’s insurer, which will write the settlement check. The check will be made out to you and your attorney and sent to the law firm.

3. Your Attorney Deposits the Check

Your settlement money is now with your legal team but must go through a few more steps before getting to you.

One of the reasons the check was made out to your lawyer (as well as to you) is so they can deposit it into their legal trust account.

4. Your Lawyer Works to Negotiate Past-Due Medical Bills and Other Debts

It’s very common for injured people to owe portions of their settlement to third parties, such as medical providers. Often called “liens,” these debts can be negotiated, and your attorney will fight hard to reduce how much you owe.

Liens against a personal injury settlement often come from:

  • Healthcare providers: Typically, health insurance isn’t going to cover all medical expenses, and in cases of serious injury and/or long-term care, the costs can add up fast.
  • Government health insurance programs: Sometimes, the state has the power to pursue compensation. For example, if Medicaid paid medical bills, they have rights to the final settlement, and even to file a claim if the injured person doesn’t.
  • Group health insurance carriers: If your health insurance company paid your medical bills and they file a valid lien, you may have to reimburse them for the amount they paid. Some health insurance companies do not qualify; your attorney will determine if they have to be reimbursed.

Once all liens are agreed upon, your attorney will pay the lienholders out of the settlement funds.

Be aware that there can be a significant amount of back and forth in this part of the process, and it could add to your wait time.

5. You Get Your Money

Once all liens, expenses, and legal fees are finalized, you will meet with your attorney to finalize your case. They will provide a settlement packet containing a copy of your release and all paid expenses. You’ll then review all documents and sign your final paperwork.

After that, you will receive your check and be on your way! This may be completed in person or remotely and your check can be in paper form or ACH. The peace of mind can do wonders to ease emotional distress long after your accident case is closed.

Speeding Up the Process

You and your personal injury attorney can do a few things to speed up the process:

  • Draft a release form as soon as it’s clear what the settlement will be, so you’re ready when it’s official.
  • Submit all necessary documents as soon as possible so that the insurance company has what they need to cut the check.

Get a handy guide on the journey of a settlement check when you download our free infographic.

RELATED: How Much is a Fair Herniated Disc Settlement in Georgia?

how are personal injury settlements paid out
how are personal injury settlements paid out

Settlement Payment Options: Lump Sum vs. Structured

You may have options when it comes to how you receive your settlement money. Often, injured people can choose between a one-time, lump sum payment or multiple scheduled, structured payments.

Both options will most likely be tax-free, though if you earn money on investments made with settlement money, you will owe the IRS taxes on those earnings.

If you go for the lump sum, you should generally see the money within about six weeks (just an average settlement payout time), though the entire process could take a few months. You then have the option to invest or use the money however you want.

If you choose a structured settlement, a broker can help you determine the best schedule for payments. The benefit here is that you can ensure the payments align with your budget needs and money management style.

Some of the perks of a structured settlement include:

  • Choosing between monthly, quarterly, or annual payments, or a combination
  • Increasing payments, which can happen when you earn interest on the settlement or intentionally set the payments to increase
  • Decreasing payments, which can be ideal if a minor is receiving the payments from a wrongful death settlement and wants payments to end when they reach adulthood
  • One-time or periodic lump sums to supplement cost increases or necessary upgrades

Discuss lump sums and structured settlement payments with your attorney to figure out which would be best for you.

Your Attorney’s Job Isn’t Finished Just Because You Won Your Personal Injury Case

It’s true that the bulk of your lawyer’s job is building a great case and negotiating the terms in your favor. But their job isn’t finished until your compensation is in your hands.

At The Brown Firm, we approach each case with dedication and compassion, helping with the big goals and the small details. Even after we’ve secured fair settlements for our clients, we keep working to ensure that money gets to them as quickly as possible. We’ll also be there if you have questions about the process of getting your settlement check.

RELATED: Answers to Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions

car accident settlement check
car accident settlement check

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

car accident settlement check
car accident settlement check

Contact The Brown Firm for Service That Goes Beyond the Win

If you or a loved one are facing a personal injury claim and hoping for a fair settlement after a car accident or other incident, The Brown Firm is ready to hear your story. We always begin personal injury cases with a free consultation where we get to know you and your case to determine the best way forward.

Schedule your free case evaluation by calling (800) 529-1441 or using the simple contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

References

Borwick, K. (2021, July 12). How is a settlement paid out? Annuity.org. Retrieved from https://www.annuity.org/structured-settlements/payout-options/

How long does it take to receive settlement money? (n.d.). HG.org Legal Resources. Retrieved from https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/how-long-does-it-take-to-receive-settlement-money-30985

Liens against your accident settlement. (n.d.). AllLaw. Retrieved from https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/liens-against-accident-settlement.html

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Do Insurance Companies Hire Private Investigators?

The idea of a having a private investigator assigned to your case might be unsettling, especially when it has to do with a car accident, slip and fall, or other incident that wasn’t your fault.

While it’s true that insurance companies sometimes hire private investigators to gather information on people filing personal injury claims, it doesn’t mean they’re going to invade your privacy or hurt your case.

In this article, we’ll outline how insurance companies use private investigators in personal injury cases. We’ll also set your mind at ease by discussing how experienced attorneys help present your case in the best possible light.  

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Understanding Surveillance After a Personal Injury Claim

It’s understandable if your initial reaction is to be concerned or even afraid when you learn the at-fault party’s insurance company hired a private investigator to follow you after an accident. In fact, people often assume such surveillance is unethical and illegal.

Using a private investigator is not illegal if the investigator follows certain guidelines (which we’ll specify in a bit). Insurance companies want to protect their bottom line, and monitoring for fraudulent claims is a normal part of what they do. Surveillance also weeds some fraudulent cases out of the already overwhelmed court system.   

This kind of investigation is more in-depth than simply using video footage (such as from a store or traffic camera) to see what actually happened during an accident. The private investigator’s job is to dig deeper into an injured person’s background and activities, and to do so on an ongoing basis.

Generally, this expensive level of investigation is used in cases where the injury claims are significant and the defense and/or insurance company have reason to suspect exaggeration or outright fraud.    

Appropriate surveillance by a private investigator doesn’t involve anything you can’t do yourself, but rather focuses on learning as much about you as possible from publicly available information.

For example, an insurance company’s investigator might:

  • Look at your social media profiles
  • Follow you at a distance in public areas
  • Examine your public records
  • Photograph you in public areas
  • Monitor your professional profiles or business activities
  • Talk to your neighbors, customers, co-workers, or other people you know
  • Search for a criminal record

Again, while this can be uncomfortable, it’s completely legal and something insurance companies do all the time. In recent years, smart phones and social media have made it far easier to take pictures, discover who you know, and monitor what you’re up to, and the insurance companies take full advantage of that easy access.    

What Are Private Investigators Looking For?

The private investigator’s main job is to see if your actions support what you say in your personal injury claim. They look very closely for any sign that you’re exaggerating or even making up how your injury affects your life to damage your credibility.   

For example, say your workers’ compensation claim is for a neck and back injury that’s made it very difficult to lift boxes at your job or children in your home. A private investigator might watch Facebook for pictures of you holding your toddler, or visit the store where you work, to see if you’re lifting things normally.

An honest investigator might not find a single thing to contradict your claim. Of course, this is ideal for you, and it can backfire on the at-fault party’s defense team. If the surveillance ends up supporting your claim yet is still somehow used in the case, it can weaken the defense and help your case.  

What Is Off-Limits to Private Investigators?

As mentioned, private investigators must follow the law. This is not a criminal investigation, and your privacy must be respected.

Let us put your mind at ease: A private investigator isn’t going to come into your home or invade your private life. The things they may not do include:

  • Wiretapping your phone
  • Taking pictures/video through private property windows
  • Trespassing
  • Impersonating police
  • Obtaining protected information without consent
  • Pretending to be someone they are not to get close to you

Professional investigators do not try to make you feel scared or nervous. In fact, if they’re doing their job well, you might not even know they’re there because they’ll stay at a distance and do not interfere with your life.   

How Do I Know I’m Being Watched by a Private Investigator?

Like we said, private investigators prefer to go undetected, and so they hide in plain sight and blend in with the crowd. However, a few subtleties might alert you to their surveillance.

Remember: You’re more likely to be investigated if your injuries are serious or rare, your claim is significant, and/or you’re asking for a lot of money. Insurance companies won’t put the cost and time into a personal investigator over a sprained wrist and a few thousand dollars.   

Here are a few things to look for if you think you’re being followed by a private investigator:

  • A car that seems to suddenly appear in your neighborhood, at the grocery store, near the gas station, etc.
  • Increased interest and/or questions from neighbors, co-workers, etc.
  • Repeatedly seeing the same stranger, who never interacts with you, in places you frequent

We can’t stress enough that, if it is in fact a private investigator, this is not something to fuel paranoia or fear. Simply ignore their presence and live life as you normally do.

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Personal Injury Surveillance Investigations and Independent Medical Examinations

Independent medical examinations (IMEs) are medical evaluations performed by professionals not associated with your case in any way. Their purpose is to secure an unbiased assessment of your injuries and general medical state.

At-fault parties’ insurance companies may order IMEs on the suspicion that your own doctor might be biased in your favor. The thing is, there’s no way to know for sure if the insurer’s doctor isn’t going to be biased in their favor. The point is to recognize that the at-fault insurance company will likely use an IME to reduce your claim.

When you are scheduled to take an IME, you’re more likely to be watched by a private investigator shortly before and after the exam itself. Any surveillance recorded may go back to the IME-performing doctor for additional statements.     

RELATED: How Do I Prove My Pain and Suffering After an Accident?

Don’t Confuse Online/Digital and Electronic Surveillance

Even if you haven’t noticed any strangers or vehicles that always seem to be around, it doesn’t mean you aren’t on a private investigator’s radar. As mentioned earlier, online and digital surveillance are easier than ever.

In addition to paying close attention to your social media and other online profiles, private investigators may use a phone, body cam, or other subtle device to digitally record you in public places, from a store to a café to a lobby.  

It’s important to understand the difference between online/digital surveillance and electronic surveillance. Electronic surveillance looks at a person’s digital footprint, such as their text messages and internet browsing history. It also involves things like wiretapping (listening to phone conversations).

Electronic surveillance is complicated, expensive, and invasive; it’s not the sort of thing private investigators will do in a personal injury case.

do insurance companies follow you
do insurance companies hire private investigators

Protect Yourself and Your Case During Insurance Company Surveillance

We understand that being watched by insurance companies and private investigators can be unsettling, no matter the specifics of your personal injury case.

Fortunately, personal injury claimants can protect their cases by taking the following steps and precautions:

  • Tell the truth from the beginning, and you’ll have nothing to hide.
  • Disclose any previous injuries to your doctors and attorneys, even if they seem unrelated.
  • Don’t exaggerate your injuries when you think a private investigator is watching; the exaggeration can be obvious and detrimental.
  • Never post about the accident or your injuries on social media as anything you say could be used against you. Consider making your profiles private or even disabling them for the time being.
  • Don’t look paranoid about being watched. Do your best to act as you always have out in public.
  • Be aware during the days before and after an IME, as you’re more likely to be under surveillance at those times.
  • If you still feel nervous, take a friend or family member with you when you leave the house. They can distract you with conversation and remind you to grab medical aids you don’t usually need, like a cane or medication.
  • Work with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to refute unfounded claims made by private investigators.

RELATED: Answers to Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

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Contact The Brown Firm if You Think You’re Being Followed By a Private Investigator

At The Brown Firm, we have experience when it comes to fighting back against the insurance companies and their private investigations. Our law firm approaches every case with compassion and dedication and are ready to listen to your story.

To set up your free consultation, call us, 24/7, at (800) 529-1441 or use the simple contact form on our website. We look forward to speaking with you!  

References

Al Jazeera Investigative Unit. (2017, April 10). Spy merchants: What is electronic surveillance? Al Jazeera. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/4/10/spy-merchants-what-is-electronic-surveillance

How video surveillance is used in personal injury cases. (n.d.). HG.org. Retrieved from https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/how-video-surveillance-is-used-in-personal-injury-cases-38998

Surveillance cameras—Where is it legal to place them? (n.d.). HG.org. https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/surveillance-cameras-where-is-it-legal-to-place-them-35154

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild. We serve all of Georgia and South Carolina from four conveniently located offices in Savannah, Atlanta, Athens, and Okatie.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (912) 324-2498 or completing our simple online form.

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If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Does Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect Your Insurance Claim After a Car Accident?

Wearing a seat belt while driving should be second nature to motor vehicle drivers in Georgia. Not only is it required by law, but it can potentially save your life if you’re in a car accident.

Even if you have a great driving record and make safe decisions behind the wheel, you can’t expect the same is always true of other drivers. Further, if another driver causes an accident in which you’re injured, not wearing a seatbelt could cost you some of your compensation.

This post will explore what it means for your personal injury claim and insurance if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt in an accident that wasn’t your fault. We’ll also discuss how a lawyer can help.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Not Wearing a Seatbelt Can Hurt Your Claim with the Insurance Company

If you become injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, and you were not wearing your safety belt at the time of the accident, you can hurt your chances for compensation for your injuries.

Not wearing a seatbelt when an accident occurred is likely to hurt your claim in Georgia. In South Carolina, it’s less likely to hurt your claim (more on this later).

At-Fault Status and Comparative Negligence Can Impact a Car Accident Claim in Georgia and South Carolina

Georgia and South Carolina are both at-fault states, which means at-fault parties must compensate injured parties after a car crash. Typically, injured people file claims with at-fault parties’ insurance companies for that compensation.

Car insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so it is their goal to pay you as little as possible during the settlement process. If they find out you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, they may use this as a reason to offer you less compensation for your injuries.

The thinking behind that comes from the doctrine of comparative negligence, which Georgia and South Carolina both follow. Comparative negligence says that, regardless of who primarily caused the accident, an injured party will probably be held partially responsible if their negligent action or inaction also contributed to the accident or injuries.    

For the compensation itself, comparative negligence dictates that it can be reduced according to the injured person’s percentage of fault. For example, if a court determines you were 25% at fault, the amount of compensation you can recover will also be reduced by 25%.

Because Georgia and South Carolina observe modified comparative negligence, if your percentage of fault is more than 49% in Georgia (50% in South Carolina), you’ll likely be ineligible for any compensation at all. (Some other states which observe “pure” comparative negligence allow compensation even if you’re 99% at fault.)

RELATED: 5 Facts About Personal Injury Claims in Georgia

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Comparative Negligence, the Seatbelt Defense, and Your Insurance Claim

In order to understand how not wearing a seatbelt can affect a personal injury claim in a comparative negligence state, we need to discuss the seatbelt defense. In states observing the seatbelt defense, it can be harder to get full compensation if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt during an accident.   

The seatbelt defense holds that not wearing a seatbelt is a type of negligence, which any driver should know puts them at far greater risk of injury. If you were in an accident caused by someone else in a state upholding the seatbelt defense, and your lack of a seatbelt made your injuries more severe, you will probably not get the full compensation amount. Comparative negligence will reduce your claim.

Georgia observes the seatbelt defense. In Georgia, if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt and are found, for example, 10% at fault for the injuries you suffered in a car accident, you will likely receive 10% less in compensation. A claim for $100,000 can be reduced to $90,000 in the actual settlement.

The auto insurance company’s argument will be that wearing your seat belt would have lessened the severity of your injuries. Even if it was the carelessness of the other driver that caused the accident, you will still be partially blamed for not following the law and wearing a seat belt while driving.

Unfortunately, the percentage of fault is determined on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be found more at fault than you think.

South Carolina, on the other hand, does not observe the seatbelt defense. Even though the state follows the comparative negligence doctrine, not wearing a seatbelt when injured in a car accident is less likely to shift some fault your way and reduce your compensation.   

Obviously, when you are involved in this type of accident, you need the help of a car accident attorney to fight for you and ensure you’re not taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

Common Injuries Caused by Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Seatbelts hold you in your seat by wrapping over your shoulder, chest, and hips. These sturdy areas of the body have strong bones to protect your organs and can withstand the pressure of being restrained by a seatbelt better than your neck or belly.

If you’re not wearing a seatbelt and the vehicle comes to a sudden stop or change in direction, your body will keep moving and potentially be thrown into the car interior or out a window (front seat passengers especially). This is far worse than the bruises or even bone fractures a properly worn seatbelt can cause.

Airbags in the vehicle do not mean you don’t need a seatbelt. While airbags protect you from slamming into hard things during car accidents, they can cause injuries of their own, especially for someone not held in place by a seatbelt.

You can get just about any injury from not wearing a seatbelt, from a broken finger to deep cuts to something fatal. The most common injuries include:

RELATED: 4 Common Mistakes People Make with Insurance Companies

injuries caused by not wearing a seatbelt
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Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney from The Brown Firm

If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, and you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, having a car accident lawyer on your side is the best way to ensure you’re not held more responsible than you should be.

Insurance companies are all too quick to offer you the lowest amount possible, so when they hear you were not wearing a seatbelt, they will reduce their offer even further.

Without an attorney to negotiate for you, you’ll have a hard time persuading the insurance company to offer you more. Because of this, most people will just take the first settlement offered. They don’t know how to negotiate for more.

The personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm have more than 30 years of experience representing those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Our auto accident attorneys are dedicated to making sure each client receives the benefits that they deserve for their losses.

Our law firm offers free consultations to personal injury accident victims. We are happy to talk about your case and see how we can best assist with the recovery of your losses.

To speak with one of Georgia’s top personal injury attorneys, call (800) 529-1441 or fill in our easy contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. You can also learn more about auto accident claims in our frequently asked questions.

References

Can I recover damages if I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a car accident? (n.d.). Attorneys.com. Retrieved from https://www.attorneys.com/auto-accidents/can-i-recover-damages-if-i-was-not-wearing-a-seat-belt-at-the-time-of-a-car-accident

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). Seatbelts. Washington D.C.: Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

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If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Should I Take the First Settlement Offer in My Personal Injury Case? (And How to Handle a Lowball Settlement Offer)

It’s common to feel overwhelmed after a car accident, slip and fall, or medical mistake injures you or someone you love. This is especially true if you have large, unpaid medical bills, severe injuries, and lost income.

That’s why the insurance adjuster swooped in and offered you a “quick and easy” settlement. They are trying to take advantage of you.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Why Did I Receive a Lowball Settlement Offer? 

Don’t let yourself be bullied into taking a lowball offer to settle your claim that doesn’t meet your needs! Many adjusters will offer unfair settlements to you after a crash or incident—and discourage you from even calling a personal injury lawyer. Fortunately, you don’t have to accept it. And you don’t even have to speak with the insurance adjuster again.

If you’re not absolutely sure what your case is worth, or you haven’t spoken with a personal injury attorney yet, make sure you do so before accepting anything. If the amount of money you’ve been offered won’t cover your long-term needs, taking it can lead to financial disaster down the road.

An experienced personal injury attorney can handle the entire process and ensure that you get the settlement offer you deserve. There are many reasons why the first settlement offer (and even second or third offers) from an insurance company are often lowballs.

There’s Missing Evidence

The adjuster might not have all the necessary information, like medical bills and records of other damages. When you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer, they will carefully investigate your claim, consulting with eyewitnesses, experts, and the authorities. Our law firm often uncovers:

  • Missing medical records
  • Surveillance and GPS data associated with a car crash
  • Information about improper maintenance or negligent hiring
  • Detailed calculations of your lifetime needs and future medical expenses
  • Other wrongdoers who are liable for your injuries

Make sure the adjuster has everything they need during their investigation of your accident. If you think that your offer was made based on incomplete information, reach out to The Brown Firm. We can help you fill in the gaps and provide your adjuster with the information they need to properly evaluate your claim.

The Adjuster Thinks Your Case Is Weak

Your low settlement offer could be due to perceived flaws in your personal injury claim. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of damage to your vehicle, you had unexplained gaps in medical treatment, or perhaps you have pre-existing injuries to the areas of your body that were injured in your accident.

Unless you address these issues, your case might be worth less than you hoped for. Sometimes, a personal injury lawyer can help you fight back, using evidence and sophisticated legal strategies. But if you miss filing deadlines or make damaging statements to the insurance company, there might be little we can do.

To protect yourself, get a free consultation with a lawyer early on. That way, you will understand your rights and will have someone guiding you through the early stages of your personal injury claim.

The Insurance Company Wants to Save Money

Another major possibility, unfortunately, is that the insurance company is simply trying to protect its bottom line. The insurer’s top priority is saving money, not protecting your rights. They want to settle your case quickly and cheaply, meaning that initial settlement offers are quite often for far less than your case is truly worth.

RELATED: How Your Insurance Adjuster Determines Your Settlement Offer

Steps to Respond to a Low Settlement Offer

Some people think they can handle the insurance companies by themselves, but it is always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney, especially if you are recovering from injuries.

A personal injury attorney can help you understand and calculate the true value of your personal injury case, work with the insurance company on your behalf, and protect you from being taken advantage of by lowball offers.

If you do receive a low settlement offer from your insurance company, you and hopefully your attorney can take the following steps to get you the settlement you deserve:

Remain Calm and Analyze Your Offer

Just like anything in life, it’s never a good idea to respond emotionally after receiving a low offer. It’s an even bigger mistake to accept it out of fear that it’s the best they will do.

No matter how upset you get, or how in need of money you may be, never ruin the professional relationship you have with the other parties. Things you say and do can be sued against you if you try to renegotiate the offer.

Keep in mind that the insurance company’s initial offer will be the lowest offer they think they can get away with and serves as a starting point for negotiations.

And remember that if you are struggling with short-term finances while your personal injury case is ongoing, your attorney can often help you delay payment of your medical bills until after a settlement or verdict is returned.

Ask Questions

Once you’re sure you can keep your emotions in check, you can start asking questions. Find out why the adjuster made the offer they did. Ask your claims adjuster to break down how they made their offer based on the information they have.

Your insurance adjuster must give you the reasons why they came to their decision if they decide to deny your claim. Their responses can help guide you on how to respond with an appropriate counteroffer.

For example, as we mentioned above, if your offer was not enough or it was denied due to missing information, provide them with the information they need in your counteroffer.

Present the Facts

Everything needs to be documented after your accident. Your injuries, medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and any other documentation of damages can serve as valuable evidence to support your claim. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to prove your claim.

Having the paperwork necessary to back up the amount you believe is needed to cover your damages makes it harder for your insurance company to send you a lowball offer.

Presenting your adjuster with all the facts, backed by a paper trail, will likely force them to give you a better settlement offer.

Develop a Counteroffer

With all your documentation, and after thoroughly reviewing the offer from your adjuster, you and your attorney can develop a counteroffer.

Other factors that you will need to consider when developing your counteroffer might be the limits of the insurance policies or the wrongdoer’s personal assets if the insurance policy limits aren’t enough to pay your damages.

There may be several offers and counteroffers made during the settlement negotiations. In fact, even after a lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations can always continue, right up to the start of trial.

It will be up to you and your attorney to decide what you are willing to accept for your claim. If you cannot reach a fair settlement during negotiations, you might have to take your claim to court.

Respond in Writing

Your attorney will help you draft a formal response in the form of a demand letter to the initial offer notifying the insurer that you are rejecting the offer.

While drafting the letter, you and your attorney can point out faulty assumptions made by the insurance company that made the initial offer too low. Your written response should include additional details that had been left out initially, like proof of lost income, updated medical records and medical bills, details from police reports, and details about your non-economic damages, like how pain and suffering is affecting your life.

Don’t Settle Until You’ve Healed

When renegotiating a low settlement offer, you should remember to never accept an offer until you have made a complete recovery from your injuries, also known as maximum medical improvement (MMI).

In many cases, the symptoms you experience after an auto accident or other kind of personal injury may not be fully apparent for days or even weeks after the incident.

On the flipside, if you’ve been very seriously injured, it may take several months to make the fullest possible recovery, and for your doctors to confidently determine how much long-term or follow-up care you will need.

Simply put, you need to understand the full extent of your injuries—and how much they will cost in you economic damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering—before you can accept any offer with confidence. Once you’ve accepted and signed the settlement, you cannot renegotiate the offer or file another personal injury lawsuit.

Remember: You Cannot Renegotiate After You Accept a Settlement Offer

Your settlement offer is a binding contract. In a typical settlement, you agree to accept money in exchange for ending your lawsuit or giving up your legal rights against the other party.

Once your settlement agreement has been accepted and signed, there are no re-dos. If sometime down the road you realize that the settlement was too low to cover all your financial needs, there’s no going back.

That’s why it is so important to know that the settlement offer you’ve received is fair and reasonable. If you aren’t sure, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is priceless when negotiating a settlement.

RELATED: What’s The Difference Between a Personal Injury Settlement and Verdict?

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Negotiate a Settlement

Your personal injury attorney has undergone extensive training with real-life experience, so they can help you calculate and fight for the full value of your claim.

Several factors can determine how fair compensation in a settlement is calculated, including:

  • Current and estimated future medical bills
  • Current and estimated future wage losses
  • Property damage
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Whether or not liability for the accident is shared or in dispute

As you can imagine, while some of these factors are relatively straightforward (for example, existing medical bills), others are far more subjective.

For example, if an injury causes long-term difficulties (such as loss of a limb, chronic headaches, loss of ability to enjoy your favorite activities, etc.) that don’t have a direct economic cost, but still clearly cause suffering or diminish the quality of your life, you may well be entitled to compensation for these losses. The big question, though, is “how much?” Translating non-economic damages into a reasonable dollar amount takes the skill and experience of a seasoned attorney.

Liability is another major factor, as the amount of compensation you can recover will be reduced if you share a percentage of fault. An experienced attorney can help you preserve and organize key evidence and protect you from making preventable mistakes in dealing with claims adjusters, which can help you avoid taking more blame that you deserve.

With the experience and training necessary to deal with insurance companies and their lowball offers, your lawyer will even the playing field between you and the insurance company, increasing your odds of getting a fair settlement.

Make sure you find the right lawyer for your case, ask questions to get the most of your personal injury consultation.

RELATED: Do I Need A Lawyer To Handle My Car Accident Case?

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

The Brown Firm: Protecting the Injured in Georgia and South Carolina

Dealing with an insurance company after an accident can be stressful and aggravating. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer on your side who will guide you through the entire process.

The lawyers at The Brown Firm will help you understand your rights, recognize a settlement offer that is too low, and negotiate a better settlement that will take care of your finances. Study after study shows that injury sufferers who retain legal counsel receive higher settlements on average than those who choose to go unrepresented, even after subtracting lawyer’s fees.

Speaking of fees, our team works on contingency, meaning that you don’t pay us anything unless we win you a settlement or verdict. This includes a free case evaluation, naturally, with no obligation whatsoever, so there is no reason not to get solid legal advice before accepting any settlement offer.

If you’ve recently been involved in an accident and want to be sure you get the compensation you deserve for your damages, click the button below or call (800) 529-1441 today to schedule a free consultation with The Brown Firm.

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable in Georgia?

The question comes up with nearly every single client we work with, at one point or another: “Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement?”

It’s completely normal to wonder, and worry, about any potential income tax liabilities you might have following a large personal injury award. After all, you’ve just gone through maybe the worst period of your entire life. You may never be able to go back to the way things were. And you have significant medical bills that must be paid.

Naturally, you want to keep as much of your settlement as possible. We don’t blame you.

Some types of damages are taxable, while others aren’t. The good news is that, in a typical personal injury case, a significant portion (and sometimes all) of the settlement award will be tax free. However, there’s still a chance you will owe at least some taxes.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you not only maximize your total settlement amount, but also help you avoid paying any unnecessary taxes on it after the fact. In this post, we’ll break down the components of a typical personal injury settlement and consider the tax liabilities of each.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

What Is Not Taxable: Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are intended to “make you whole” for losses that are directly related to your personal injury. You can think of compensatory damage awards not as taxable income or “gains,” but as reimbursement.

A classic example of compensatory damages would be repayment for past and future medical bills. Other economic losses, like lost wages, wage-earning potential, long-term personal care needs, and costs to modify your living environment are also considered compensatory damages and are tax free as long as they related to your physical injury claim. (Lost wages would be taxable in non-injury cases like employment discrimination or defamation, but this is typically not the case for personal injury.)

For this reason, compensatory damages awarded in personal injury settlements are not taxed either by the federal government or the state of Georgia.

Again, the logic here is that, if you’ll need to pay $300,000 in medical bills and other direct costs (for example), it wouldn’t be fair to have to pay taxes on the $300,000 you receive in compensation. That $300,000 is not a “gain” for you, and taxing it would leave you with less than the full amount you need to cover those expenses.

RELATED: How Damages Are Assessed in a Personal Injury Case


What About Pain and Suffering (and Other Non-Economic Compensatory Damages)?

You might ask: What about things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, reduction in your quality of life, or other types of personal losses that don’t come with an obvious price tag?

The good news is that any type of compensatory damages, including non-economic damages, are non-taxable if they originate from a physical injury or physical sickness. In a personal injury case, that’s going to be true most of the time.

Mental anguish, emotional distress, or other non-economic damages that are not tied to a physical injury or condition would be taxed. But that scenario typically only applies to other types of civil cases unrelated to personal injury, such as employment discrimination or breach of contract.

Exception to the Rule: Previous Tax Deductions

Things might get tricky when you already deducted any out-of-pocket medical expenses on a previous tax return. This might happen if your injury occurred in one year, but you don’t receive your settlement or jury verdict until a later year.

For example, let’s say you were injured in 2020 and paid $50,000 in medical costs out of your own pocket. When you filed your taxes for 2020, you took an itemized deduction for those costs, which reduced your taxable income for that year.

If you then win a personal injury settlement or trial verdict in 2021 or later, you will need to pay taxes on $50,000 worth of compensatory damages that you are awarded.

RELATED: What Is Pain and Suffering Reimbursement? A Georgia Lawyer Explains

personal injury settlement
is a personal injury settlement taxable

What Is Taxable: Punitive Damages and Interest

In most personal injury cases, compensatory damages make up most of your settlement. However, there are some additional damages that the IRS considers “taxable income.” Let’s explore two of the most common taxable damages now.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are very different from compensatory damages. They are meant to punish an at-fault party for malicious or especially reckless behavior, as well as discourage others from making similar decisions. If you receive punitive damages, it will typically be part of a jury award (not a settlement).

While punitive damages are paid to the plaintiff just like compensatory damages, they are not meant to reimburse any specific losses. They go “above and beyond” the amount needed to make the plaintiff “whole.”

For that reason, punitive damages must be reported as “Other Income” to the Internal Revenue Service, and you will owe taxes on them.

RELATED: Understanding Damage Caps to Personal Injury Claims

Interest Payments

In Georgia (as in most other states), if you file a personal injury lawsuit, go through the trial process, and get a jury verdict, the court will add a certain amount of interest to the final award based on the amount of time that passes between filing suit and receiving payment. The goal is to penalize an at-fault party for unnecessary delays, as well as to encourage settling out of court.

If the jury awards you damages, you should be paid this interest. However, it will be taxable as “interest income” on your 1040.

Does It Matter Whether You Settle Out of Court or Win a Trial Verdict?

In terms of what types of damages are taxable vs. non-taxable, the answer is no. Whether you are compensated through a settlement or jury verdict, the tax implications will be the same.

That said, because some types of damages are taxable and others are not, it’s important to get a complete and accurate breakdown of the full settlement, which clearly indicates the relative proportion of different types of damages.

Even if you’re otherwise happy with the total value of your compensation, if the portion of the award attributed to compensatory damages is undervalued, you could end up paying more in taxes than you should.

RELATED: Is It Better To Settle Or Go To Court For A Personal Injury Case?

what types of damages are taxable
what is taxable

How a Lawyer Can Help You Maximize Your Settlement (and Minimize Your Tax Burden)

It’s important to remember that insurance company claims adjusters do not have your best interests at heart. They are trying to settle your case quickly and cheaply, end of story. Ensuring you get full compensation for all your losses is not their top priority, and the amount you might owe to the IRS after the fact is certainly not their problem.

That’s why receiving sound legal advice, even in the early stages of your case, can be hugely beneficial. A personal injury attorney can help you figure out not just “how much” your case is worth, but break it down accurately so you don’t end up paying more than you owe in taxes on the back end.

Initial settlement offers from the insurance company are usually for far less than what your case is truly worth. And most people underestimate the true long-term costs of their injury—not just ongoing medical bills, but wage loss, physical and occupational therapy, transportation considerations, home care, adaptive technology, and so much more. Without a careful and thorough investigation before accepting any claim, you run a significant risk of leaving a lot on the table.

RELATED: Our Clients’ Testimonials

a Lawyer Can Help You Maximize Your Settlement
taxable personal injury settlement

The Brown Firm: A Unique Approach and a Track Record of Success

Before Harry Brown was a personal injury attorney, he was a chiropractor. He saw firsthand how car accidents, slips and falls, and other injuries could cause lasting damage and daily frustrations for his patients.

Thanks to this unique medical background—combined with extensive trial experience—our law firm knows how to work with lawyers, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and other relevant parties to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 912-324-2498. We can help you determine what your case is worth, walk you through any taxes and fees you might expect to pay, and advise you on the best next steps. You owe us nothing unless we win you a settlement or jury verdict.

We look forward to speaking with you about your personal injury case!

References

Internal Revenue Service. Publication 4345 (Rev. 9-2019): Settlements Taxability. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4345.pdf

O.C.G.A. § 15-12-14

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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How Much Is a Fair Herniated Disc Settlement in Georgia?

Herniated discs are very common injuries that can result from a car accident, nursing home neglect, or even a slip and fall. It doesn’t always take much to cause a spinal disc to tear; even low-speed collisions can lead to significant pain.

Yet despite how common they are, herniated disc injuries can be notoriously difficult to value in a personal injury case. The size of the accident settlement or jury verdict can vary drastically due to many different factors, including the severity of your symptoms, how much the injury affects your life, and even whether you can convincingly tie your symptoms to the crash itself.

If you or a loved one have been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, and are now dealing with back pain due to one or more herniated discs, contact The Brown Firm for a free consultation. As a licensed chiropractor as well as a personal injury attorney, Harry Brown draws on his medical training, first-hand experience with insurance companies and health systems, and knowledge of the law to fight for fair injury settlements for his clients.

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

What Is a Herniated Disc?

We’ll start with a quick, basic anatomy lesson.

Your spine consists of a series of bones called vertebrae, stacked in a column. Between each adjacent pair of vertebrae, you’ll find a spinal disc (also known as an intervertebral disc). These discs are designed to be strong yet flexible, and serve several important roles, including:

  • Holding the vertebrae together
  • Allowing the spine to flex and move
  • Acting as shock absorbers to protect the vertebrae and spinal cord from serious injuries.

Discs have a gel-like center contained by a tougher exterior made from cartilage. A herniated disc occurs when this outside layer tears, rips, or weakens, allowing the inner portion to bulge outward.

When a disc bulges, it can press on the spine’s sensitive nerve roots or the spinal cord. This can cause severe and even permanent damage.

Most herniated discs occur in either the lumbar spine (low back) or cervical (neck and upper back) spine. Thoracic herniations, which are located in the mid-back are relatively rare—but they are possible.

RELATED: What Should I Do For a Whiplash After a Car Accident in Georgia?

Common Symptoms and Complications

While some people experience no symptoms whatsoever from a herniated disc, others may experience:

  • Moderate to severe pain, often in the neck or the lower back, arms, shoulders, buttocks, thighs, and calves. Pain is often concentrated more on one side of the body than the other, although this is not always the case.
  • Numbness, tingling, or even muscle weakness. This is due to the herniated disc pressing on sensory and motor nerves. If muscle weakness is present, you may find it difficult to maintain your balance, hold objects, or perform certain tasks.

It’s important to understand that herniated disc symptoms can develop gradually, over periods of weeks or longer. If you have any discomfort in your neck or back, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Sometimes, those “minor aches and pains” are early signs of a more serious injury. (And even if you just have a mild case of whiplash, your doctors can prescribe medications and document your injuries.)

Untreated bulging discs may eventually lead to progressive loss of sensation, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, or in extreme cases permanent muscle weakness or paralysis.

Callout: If you are experiencing severe pain, bladder or bowel issues, or a drop foot, please seek medical care right away. These symptoms might be signs of a severe injury and you might need emergency surgery to avoid permanent damage.

How Car Crashes Cause Herniated Discs

Discs are designed to absorb impact shocks and protect the sensitive bones and nerves that make up the spine. However, they are not invincible—and years of wear and tear can sometimes make them vulnerable.

During a high-impact event like a car accident, your body endures many forces, including acceleration and deceleration. This trauma can damage your spinal discs, nerves, vertebrae, and the back’s soft tissues.

RELATED: What Kind of Back Injuries Can I Get in a Car Accident?

herniated disc from car accident settlement in georgia

Factors That Can Influence Your Claim’s Settlement Value

Since there is a massive disparity in what herniated disc cases can be worth—all the way from a few thousand dollars to seven figures—giving a simple average or median isn’t particularly helpful.

Instead, we can look at some of the most important factors to consider when calculating a potential settlement amount.

  • Current (and estimated future) medical bills. Herniated discs are typically diagnosed with an MRI, and sometimes other diagnostic tests are needed. Most symptomatic cases require treatments to help with the pain, such as steroid injections. More severe cases may require physical therapy, or even back surgery. Potential procedures include removing the bulging portion of the disc, fusion surgery, or artificial disc replacement.
  • Lost wages. If your herniated disc forces you to miss work, you can claim your lost wages, as well as reduced future wage-earning potential.
  • Pain and suffering. The costs of a herniated disc aren’t only measured in terms of bills and lost wages. Physical pain, emotional anguish, increased stress, inability to enjoy your favorite activities, and other factors that affect your quality of life can also increase the value of your personal injury claim.
  • Punitive damages. If the at-fault party behaved maliciously or especially recklessly (for example, drunk drivers), you may be able to recover punitive damages. These are meant not to compensate you for losses, but to punish the perpetrator.
  • Insurance policy limits. In Georgia, individual motorists only have to carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage per person (and $50,000 per incident if more than one person is injured). If the at-fault driver is uninsured, or their insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages, you may also need to make a claim to your own insurance company via your uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UIM). If the at-fault driver has no insurance and few assets, and you do not have your own UI/UIM coverage, the unfortunate reality is that there may be little you can recover.

Factors That Can Complicate Your Herniated Disc Claim

Herniated disc cases are often complex, and proving liability can sometimes be challenging. While it’s not hard to diagnose the condition, conclusively tying it to the crash isn’t always straightforward.

Insurance companies, unfortunately, will try to take full advantage of any uncertainties or gray areas in an attempt to deny or minimize your claim.

Some specific challenges you could be facing include:

Delayed or Intermittent Symptoms

While most accident-related disc herniations do produce noticeable pain immediately (or within a few hours or days of the incident), sometimes symptoms don’t become noticeable or severe for weeks afterward.

The later the onset, the harder it may be to prove the herniation was caused by the accident—especially if medical records show that you didn’t seek medical treatment soon after the incident.

Age and Medical History

Herniated discs are very common in adults over 40 to 50 years of age, and often completely asymptomatic. Furthermore, while car crashes are a frequent cause of herniated discs, they can also be caused by much more benign actions like lifting, twisting, or just degeneration over time from wear and tear. So simply diagnosing a herniated disc on an MRI isn’t necessarily proof that it was caused by the crash.

The insurance company may try to argue that you are trying to take advantage of the crash to receive compensation for a previously existing injury, or an injury that occurred after the crash that was unrelated to it. You may need to back up your claim with strong evidence that the crash was directly responsible for either a new injury, or a significant increase in symptoms.

herniated disc from car accident settlement in georgia

How The Brown Firm Can Help You Fight for a Fair Settlement

If you’ve been hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, and are dealing with the physical, mental, and emotional repercussions of one or more herniated discs, you deserve fair compensation and accountability.

A great personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the difficult medical and legal challenges after a back injury. They can take charge of investigating the incident, proving fault, and accurately calculating how much your case is worth. This gives you the best possible chance at a fair settlement that adequately covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Don’t forget, the insurance company claims adjuster is trying to minimize your payout, not to guarantee your needs are covered. If you’ve been in a car crash and suffered any kind of back injury, see a doctor right away, and then contact an attorney for solid legal advice.

As a licensed chiropractor, Harry Brown has hands-on experience working with herniated disc sufferers as a doctor and as a personal injury attorney. He understands firsthand the struggles that injury victims face every day, and the long-term costs that may not be obvious in the first few days or weeks after an incident. This gives him valuable insight into the medical side of a personal injury claim, skill at communicating with doctors and medical experts, and the dedication to go the extra mile for his clients.

To schedule your free consultation and find out how much your herniated disc case may be worth, call us today at (912) 324-2488 or use our simple online contact form. Our law offices are conveniently located in Atlanta, Savannah, Athens, and Okatie.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Understanding Special Damages and Punitive Damages in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits

After an accident and resulting lawsuit, injured people often receive financial compensation for their losses. But in some cases, they also receive additional monies that aren’t about compensation at all.

This awarded money is called “damages.” While you’ve maybe heard of punitive damages, economic damages, and other forms of compensation, you may not understand exactly what they mean—or how likely you are to get such damages from your case.

Keep reading to understand the various types of damages you can win through a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, and how an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.  

I met with Harry Brown personally and he sat with me for 20 minutes at our initial consultation to explain everything. He even called after my surgery to see how I was doing. I met with him several more times after that and was kept informed about my case throughout. I highly recommend Harry Brown as an attorney.

STEVEN SWEENY, SAVANNAH 

Two Major Damage Categories: Compensatory and Non-Compensatory

Damage awarding in a lawsuit can include both compensatory (to compensate the injured person) and non-compensatory (to punish the at-fault party) damages. We’ll explain where special damages and punitive damages fit, but first let’s clarify these two major categories.   

What Are Compensatory Damages?

When an injured person sues for damages, their primary concern is usually covering the current and future costs of the accident, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Ongoing treatment
  • Legal costs

These costs help an injured person rebuild their life and regain what an accident took, whether it’s physical health, money to pay for basic needs, or mental wellbeing. The money awarded for that is compensatory.

What Are Non-Compensatory Damages?

In some cases, the at-fault party (the “defendant”) acted so recklessly, or benefitted so unjustly, that the court decides they deserve a penalty beyond compensatory damages. Non-compensatory damages may be awarded in civil cases involving:

  • Drunk driving
  • Hit-and-run auto accidents
  • Financial gain from someone else’s loss
  • Fist fighting
  • Willful misconduct
  • Breach of a contract
  • Drag racing
  • Wrongful death

In such cases, the defendant might not have intended to cause harm but still took dangerous/unethical actions with no concern for the potential consequences (called “conscious indifference”). A drunk driver is an example of this.

Non-compensatory damages are very different from compensatory damages, and your best bet is to work with an attorney who’s experienced with securing them.

motorcycle crash

General and Special Damages Are Compensatory

Compensatory damages, which help injured people rebuild their lives, can be divided into two categories of their own:

  • Special damages: Money awarded based on medical costs, lost income, ongoing treatment, and other specific dollar amounts. These might also be called economic damages.
  • General damages: Money awarded based on how the incident impacted quality of life through physical pain, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and other experiences. These might also be called non-economic damages.

Special Damages: Beyond Medical Costs and Lost Income

When you’ve been injured, medical expenses may be the largest and most immediate cost you incur. Add in a few weeks or months of missed or reduced work and compensation becomes vital.

However, special damages can include much more than medical expenses and lost income; your lawyer will be a great help in determining what your lawsuit should demand. Whether you just need a temporary prescription or permanent in-home care, unexpected costs like the following are always a possibility:

  • Ongoing treatment: Medications, therapy (mental and physical), and future procedures
  • Adjustments in the home: Wheelchair ramps, safety handles, special furniture, accessible appliances, and widened doorways and walkways
  • Insurance increases: Auto and health insurance rates may be subject to increases after a car accident, even if it’s not your fault.

Special and general damages are common in Georgia personal injury lawsuits because such cases typically hinge on an injured person needing compensation. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are far less common.

Punitive Damages Are Non-Compensatory

Punitive damages are just one kind of non-compensatory financial penalty for at-fault parties. We won’t list the others here, as most aren’t relevant to personal injury cases.

Punitive damages are meant to punish a person who acted recklessly or even intentionally caused harm (an “active tortfeasor”). They’re also used to discourage the defendant’s actions in the future. Although rarely awarded, punitive damages are a powerful tool to help injured people and send a clear message about reckless behavior.  

For example, in a case of elder abuse by a nursing home staff member, punitive damages may be awarded if the abuse went beyond negligence and involved specific intent. The staff member deserves a punishment for mistreating the resident, and the court wants to let everyone know that such actions carry maximum consequences.

Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Georgia Law?

Not every state puts a cap on the amount of punitive damages, but Georgia does. In general, punitive damages are capped at $250,000, but a couple of exceptions exist:

  • The defendant specifically intended to harm the injured person.
  • The defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs (not including legally prescribed drugs or certain toxic vapors).
  • Some product liability cases

Note that punitive damages might also be called vindictive damages, exemplary damages, deterrent damages, or additional damages. An insurance company may or may not pay punitive damages—another good reason to work with an attorney.    

Do I Need an Attorney to Get an Award of Punitive Damages?

Technically, you don’t need a lawyer to get any kind of damages. However, having a lawyer is helpful at every stage of your lawsuit, and it greatly increases your chances of getting fair damages—especially rarely awarded punitive damages.

An attorney is far more experienced than most when it comes to negotiating punitive damages claims. Further, they have access to various experts as they build your case. From top doctors to accident reconstructionists, these experts can present convincing evidence that makes punitive damages far more likely.  

side profile stressed young businessman sitting outside corporate office holding head with hands looking down. Negative human emotion facial expression feelings.

The Brown Firm Helps You Get Special Damages and Punitive Damages in Savannah

If you or a loved one has been injured because of another’s negligence or recklessness, you need personal injury attorneys who are dedicated to getting the fair compensation and justice you deserve.

At The Brown Firm, we’re serious about protecting the injured and building a solid attorney-client relationship, whether your case settles quickly with ideal special damages or we have to fight for punitive damages.

We’ll take your call 24/7 in Savannah, Atlanta, and throughout Georgia. Reach us at (912) 324-2498, use the contact form, or request a free consultation with our law firm.

References

Georgia Code. § 51-12-5.1. (2010).

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer Who Has Your Back?

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Contact The Brown Firm

Get the Answers and Compensation You Deserve

You’ll notice the difference when you contact The Brown Firm! Our local dedicated attorneys want to help you recover and rebuild.

Schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 529-1441 or completing our simple online form.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you or a loved one were injured and need help, our skilled personal injury lawyers will be at your side every step of the way.

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