insurance

Atlanta wrongful death lawsuits can be very difficult, not only emotionally but also procedurally. Often times a family must relive the accident as they seek to prove the elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages), in addition to dealing with the inherent difficulties of placing a “value” on the loss of their loved one.

It might seem that such a case would be easier when it is against one’s own insurance company in an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, but this is not necessarily the case. More often than not, even these types of claims are met with just as much contention as when a case proceeds directly against a negligent motorist.

In most cases, the parties can at least agree on the maximum possible payout of the UM/UIM claim, even if they do not agree on the exact amount due to the claimants. In a recent case, however, a dispute arose as to whether the claimants were entitled to payment under a single policy or under two separate policies. It was an important distinction, since each policy had a limit of $500,000.

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In an Atlanta personal injury lawsuit filed against a municipal corporation (such as a city government), the injured person must give written notice of his or her claim prior to filing suit, or else he or she will not be allowed to maintain a negligence case seeking compensation for his or her injuries.

This claim must be made within six months of the event giving rise to the plaintiff’s claim, and it must be made in writing to the governing authority of the municipal corporation.

Additionally, the notice must state the time and place of the accident, the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the manner in which the defendant’s negligence is alleged to have caused the injuries in question. Continue reading

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Since we represent so many injured employees in Atlanta workers’ compensation cases, we are used to answering certain questions like, “Who will pay my medical bills? How much temporary disability can I draw? What will happen if I can’t go back to work due to my injury?”

Another question that we hear a lot is, “Is it legal for me to say my injury was not work-related? My boss told me to say this, and I don’t know what to do.” The answer to this question is a very resounding, “NO!” Not only do you compromise your right to receive the compensation to which you are entitled, but also you could be implicated for criminal fraud.

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law Requires That a Report Be Made

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If you take a cursory look at the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website, you might believe that filing a claim for workers’ compensation is a relatively pain-free process that involves only the completion of a simple form.

While it is true that an employee must complete and file a WC-14 form with the Board (with copies to the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier), this is only the beginning of what can be a very long and often highly contentious process.

Unfortunately, obtaining the workers’ compensation benefits one is due can be a difficult endeavor, so much so that the nonprofit organization Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) conducted an investigation into the problems many, including Georgians, have getting the help they need after a work injury. The recent study found that nearly one out of five Georgians injured at work who experienced more than seven days lost time reported “‘big problems’ getting services they or their primary provider wanted.” Among those, more than half of the responses gave the reason as “employer or insurer did not want the care provided” as the reason. The research also concluded that Georgia had one of the lowest return to work rates in the country.

man holding gunLaw students are taught that there are four basic components to a negligence lawsuit:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Theoretically, an Atlanta personal injury claimant who can prove each of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence should be able to recover fair compensation for injuries suffered due to another party’s negligence.

That’s the theory. In reality, however, unless the defendant has liability insurance – and in an amount sufficient to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses – it can be difficult or impossible to recover fair compensation even if all of the traditional elements of negligence are present.

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man on motorcycleWhen the cause of an Atlanta motorcycle accident is disputed, one or both parties may seek to introduce the testimony of an accident reconstructionist. Such testimony is not automatically heard by the trier of fact at trial, however, since the burden of proving the admissibility of the witness’ testimony is on the party seeking to introduce it. Unless the proposed expert is properly qualified to testify as to the issues at hand, the trial court judge will not allow the testimony.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case under consideration by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in a motor vehicle collision in August 2014. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle. He filed suit against the defendants, the driver of the truck that allegedly struck the plaintiff’s motorcycle and the driver’s employer. Two insurance companies were also named as defendants.

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One of the reasons that it is so important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after a motor vehicle collision or another accident resulting in injuries or death is that there may be several potential theories of recovery, some of which may not be obvious to the injured party or his or her family.

Unless these claims are handled promptly and appropriately, the plaintiff may not be able to effectively pursue compensation from certain potentially liable parties later. Continue reading

You have been hurt at work, and your employer refuses to start your disability payments or to help you get the medical care that you need. You have no money to hire an Atlanta workers’ shutterstock_188002490-300x200compensation lawyer. What should you do?

You should call an attorney and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You do not have to pay a lawyer upfront to get your workers’ compensation case started. In fact, under Georgia law, no attorney’s fees can be paid in an on-the-job injury case until the State Board of Workers’ Compensation approves the fee.

Usually, the fee is paid as a percentage of the benefits ultimately awarded to the employee, but in cases in which the employee is forced to hire counsel because the employer has refused to comply with the law without reasonable grounds to do so, attorney’s fees may be “added on” to the award, such that the employer – rather than the employee – pays the fees. A recent case illustrates the point.

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Under Georgia Code § 36-11-1, a claim against a county government must be presented within 12 months after it accrues or becomes payable. Otherwise, the claim is barred, and the plaintiff has no further recourse.

It seems like a simple enough idea, but the issue can be more complex than it initially appears. The parties in a recent case had a strong difference of opinion as to whether a particular claim was “presented” within the meaning of the statute.

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In a Georgia workers’ compensation claim, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that his or her injury is compensable. This requires that the employee show, by a preponderance of the evidence, each and every one of the essential elements of the case: that he or she suffered an accidental injury, that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment with the defendant employer, and that the disability for which the employee seeks compensation resulted from the injury. In addition, the employee must prove that he or she gave timely notice of the work-related injury.

A recent case illustrates what can happen when an employee has a pre-existing, non-work-related medical condition. Her case was further compromised by a lack of timely notice.

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