Advice for Personal Injury Law Procedures

When you suffer a personal injury – which can be physical, mental, or emotional – make sure to get as much documentation of the injury as you can, and contact witnesses if there are any. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, but aren’t sure how great your case is, a personal injury lawyer can help. Make sure to choose one who works on a “no win, no fee” policy. They’ll have the incentive to fight for you, and they won’t be tempted to take on an unwinnable case.

The first thing to know when considering filing a personal injury claim in Georgia is the statue of limitations. You’ve got two years from the date of your injury to file your claim. If you’re filing against a city or county government, you’ve only got six months.

personal-injury-lawPersonal injury is not quite as simple as it looks. In Georgia, if you file a personal injury claim, you can expect that the defendant will respond with his or her own claim to try to mitigate their liability. That’s because Georgia has a modified comparative fault rule, meaning the court can determine that both parties bear some responsibility for the injury, and whatever percentage of fault is assigned to the injured party take a proportional bite out of the settlement. And if the injured party is determined to be at least 50-percent at fault, he or she won’t collect anything.

Also know punitive damages for a personal injury are capped at $250,000 in Georgia. Up to that limit you can claim for medical expenses like ambulance rides, emergency room care, hospitalization, surgeries, and prescription drugs as well as resultant income loss. You can also claim for damage to your physical and emotional well-being.

When it comes down to it, you’re likely going to want to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can see all the angles of your claim and advise as to the best course of action. Litigation costs money – even if it’s the lawyer’s – and a risk-benefit analyis needs to be undertaken. How much time and money is the case going to take? How much money can you claim? How likely are you to win? Will the other party be able to argue you were at least partially at fauly? Only a professional can weigh these factors and decide when it’s best to pursue a personal injury claim and when it’s not.

A professional will also be able to help you potentially settle without every having to sue in the first place, which can be a lot quicker and a lot less painful. A typical out-of-court settlement can be reached in eight months to a year. A lawsuit can take appreciably longer. But it’s become proverbial to observe that the wheels of justice turn slowly. Sometimes you’re lucky if they’re turning at all – let alone toward some place you’re actually looking to go.

Medical Malpractice in Georgia and Elsewhere

legal-scalesWhen filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to not the statute of limitations – or in the other words limited time after the alleged malpractice one has to file. The statute of limitations on medical malpractice varies by state and type of malpractice

In Georgia, there are two main categories of malpractice, an injury and a failure to diagnose. You have two years from the date of the injury to file a malpractice claim for it. If you have claim from a failure to diagnose, that two-year time period begins at the date you became aware of the problem.

It’s possible in some cases that the statute of limitations can be even shorter, as with malpractice cases involving municipalities. In those situations you may have a year or less to file. But even if you think the statute of limitations may have passed for your claim, it’s important consult with attorneys for medical malpractice cases, who know the ins and outs of medical malpractice law and may be able to present you with a range of options you didn’t know you had.

In any case, you’ll want to work with an attorney who operates on a “no win, no fee” basis. It gives them an extra incentive to fight for you, and it frees you up to take a risk you might not otherwise have been able to afford.

In judging whether you have a good case, you have to think about the cost/benefit of filing. An attorney  might spend a $100,000 and several years to settle a malpractice case. If the length and cost of the legal battle adds up to more than you’re seeking in damages, it’s just not wise to pursue it. Unfortunately, that means many legitimate cases worth several thousands of dollars are just not worth pursuing – for the lawyer or the client. Still, it might be best for a lawyer to decide this question, so don’t let that necessarily stop you from taking the first step.

The other element is liability. The attorney has to be confident not only that the actions of the caregiver fell below the professional standard of care, but that those actions resulted in an injury that would have otherwise been avoided. If the lawyer doesn’t think the case meets those criteria, he or she won’t likely represent you. That might be disappointing, but it’s better to be turned away by a lawyer than to have your time wasted and your hopes wrongly raised. This aspect is crucial. Most malpractice cases are drawn out arguments over this very issue, and the defendant’s attorneys will be doing everything they can to mount an argument that the negligence of the defendant isn’t responsible for the injuries the plaintiff suffers from – that they are the result instead of the underlying medical condition.

If your case is rejected by one lawyer, but you strongly disagree, feel free to seek the advice of another one. You never know, you may find an attorney who can present an angle on your malpractice case which puts the odds in your favor.