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A serious injury can leave victims feeling powerless and confused, burdening them with significant financial problems, physical pain, and in some cases, lifelong injury or disability. When that injury is the result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, a personal injury lawsuit is often the only way victims can seek justice. Unfortunately, many personal injury lawyers, despite their client’s and families’ challenges, settle for less, leaving money on the table and giving their clients less than they need to move forward.
At Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC, our Athens personal injury attorneys can protect your best interests and understand the legal process. Our law firm fights for our client’s rights in every case that we take and recover the compensation they need and deserve. No one should have to experience financial loss from an injury due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness. If you or a loved one have been injured in a preventable accident, please contact us today for a free initial consultation and confidential case evaluation with an Athens personal injury lawyer.
Athens Personal Injury Resources:
- Why You Need An Athens Personal Injury Lawyer
- Why An Injury Attorney In Athens Is Necessary
- Athens Personal Injury Claims
- Common Injuries In Athens
- Proving Negligence In An Athens Personal Injury Case
- Explanation Of The Elements In An Athens Personal Injury Claim
- What is Comparative Negligence?
- Can You Recover Damages For Pain And Suffering In Athens?
- Economic Vs. Non-Economic Damages
- Damages In An Athens Personal Injury Case
- What To Do If You’ve Been Injured In Athens
- Personal Injury Settlement VS. Trial
- Should You Settle In Your Athens Personal Injury Claim?
- Can You Handle An Athens Injury Case On Your Own?
- When Should You Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer In Athens?
- Benefits Of An Athens Injury Attorney
- How Much Does An Athens Injury Lawyer Cost?
Why You Need Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC as Your Athens Personal Injury Lawyer
- At Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC, we devote our life and practice to assisting those who may otherwise be exploited by insurance companies. We only represent individuals who have been injured and deserve fair compensation.
- Our law firm has been managing personal injury matters for over 20 years. With our collective experience, we are familiar with the issues, the applicable laws, and how the opponent will approach the case.
- Our Athens accident attorneys do not charge any fees unless we win. Our injury case fee is based on a percentage of the recovered funds, so there is no risk to you. In addition, we provide a free consultation during which a lawyer will assess their case without any commitment.
- Our law firm has the experience, resources, and legal knowledge to level the playing field against any large corporate defendants at Dan Chapman & Associates.
Why an Athens Personal Injury Attorney is Necessary After an Accident
Personal injury claims can be quite complicated, so hiring an injury lawyer to represent you will free up your time to focus on your physical and mental recovery. Following damages, some of the practice areas that a personal injury lawyer can help you with include:
- Check to see if you have a legitimate lawsuit
- Gather all relevant evidence for your claim
- Identify all parties who may be held accountable
- Prepare your case for trial, if necessary
- Fair settlement negotiations
- Take care of insurance claims
After an accident caused by someone else, it is to your best advantage to consult with a law firm as soon as possible. Working with an Athens personal injury attorney will almost certainly improve your chances of getting the compensation to which you are entitled under Georgia law.
If you contact our skilled and experienced team of Athens personal injury lawyer who understands you, your needs, and what it takes to bring a successful claim, you will have an advocate from start to finish who will fight for your rights through your injury claim.
Common Examples of Athens Personal Injury Claims
According to the CDC, approximately 39.5 million people require medical attention each year as a result of a range of serious injuries.
Accidental injuries come in a variety of forms, some of which have a long-term influence on people’s life. The type of injury that results in a personal injury claim is determined by the type of injury. Below, are some of the most prevalent personal injury claims:
- Car accidents: According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury deaths and the second-leading cause of hospitalizations in the state.
- Slip and fall accidents: Hazards can cause people to slip and fall, leading to serious injuries. These accidents can occur on public and private properties, often due to the negligence of employees, caretakers, landlords, and property owners. Please reach out to an Athens slip and fall attorney today!
- Medical malpractice: Healthcare providers have a duty to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. If a medical professional deviates from this standard and harms a patent, he or she could be held liable. Our Athens medical malpractice lawyers are here for you.
- Workplace accidents: Injuries at Georgia workplaces are more common than one may believe. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in Georgia in 2019. Get the right help from the right Athens work injury lawyer.
- Premises liability: Property owners have a duty to keep their properties in a safe condition and to quickly respond to any hazards that arise. If a hazard injures a patron, tenant, visitor, or any other person on the property, the victim could hold the owner accountable. Ask an Athens premises liability attorney for more information.
- Motorcycle accidents: Motorcyclists are susceptible to severe injuries in collisions. According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, motorcyclists represented 21% of total driver fatalities in 2019. A total of 3,948 motorcycle collisions occurred in the state during that year. Just as a motorcycle accident lawyer in Athens!
- Construction injuries: Construction sites can be hazardous places, causing employees to suffer serious injuries each year. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one out of every five worker deaths in 2019 were construction employees. Our construction accident lawyers in Athens have your back.
- Brain injury: The brain is one of the most important organs in the human body and any damage to this organ can result in permanent complications. According to the CDC, over 64,000 people died due to traumatic brain injury in 2020. Contact an Athens brain injury lawyer to learn more!
All in all, accidental injury is one of the leading causes of serious injury and death in the United States. Personal injury law or tort law exists to provide those injured an avenue to pursue financial compensation for the injuries and costs that they incur. In most cases, this compensation comes through an insurance policy held by the legally responsible party.
Common Injuries in Athens Personal Injury Claims
Many types of injuries can occur during an accident. Victims often require extensive medical care and need to take long periods away from work to rest and recover. In many cases, these injuries result in long-term complications and even wrongful death.
Below are some of the most common injuries in Athens’ personal injury cases.
- Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones and fractures
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruises and abrasions, like road rash
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
The majority of injuries caused by wrongful acts are the consequence of negligence rather than intentional wrongdoing. The term “negligence” is used in tort law to describe an action that poses an undue risk of harm to people or property. When a person’s action deviates from what a reasonably cautious person would do in the same situation, he or she is acting negligently.
To win a negligence claim in a personal injury case, you must prove that all four criteria of negligence were met. The following are the four components of negligence that must be proven:
- Duty—the defendant must have had a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- Breach—the defendant must have violated the plaintiff’s duty of care through some form of breach.
- Proximate Causation—the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of their duty.
- Damages—there were some injuries (economic or non-economic) sustained to the victim or the victim’s property.
In general, the law requires jurors to use their common sense and life experience to determine the appropriate level of care and vigilance with which people should live their lives in order to protect the safety of others.
Each case is unique and necessitates proof of many factors. Personal injury attorneys are well-versed in the types of evidence needed to support your claim. An attorney will be able to thoroughly conduct an investigation and collect all necessary evidence, including witnesses, to ensure the victim receives all compensation they are owed, especially if the accident resulted in wrongful death. Reach out to an Athens wrongful death lawyer today.
An Explanation of The Elements Of Negligence In A Personal Injury Case
In order to obtain a recovery in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person, called the Plaintiff, must prove four things:
- A legal duty was owed to the plaintiff.
- There was a breach of that duty by the defendant who is being sued.
- Something happened to the plaintiff because of that breach of duty, known as causation; and
- Some harm or damage was suffered by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof at trial so he or she must prove all four of the negligence claim to make any recovery.
Duty of Care
The first element of a negligence claim is the duty of care. The plaintiff must establish that the at-fault party owed the plaintiff a legal obligation to do or not do something. This duty will vary depending on the plaintiff’s relationship with the at-fault party.
For example, say that you were stopped at a red light. The driver behind you has a duty under the law to keep a safe lookout on the road ahead and also not to follow too closely. These duties are sometimes referred to as the rules of the road. Another duty is the duty of a property owner to keep their premises free from dangers that could hurt someone who comes on their property. For example, they should not allow rotten wood to be on the steps because a person walking up the steps could fall through and be injured.
Breach of Duty
Once you have an established duty of care, the next element of negligence that must be proved is that the at-fault party breached his or her duty of care in some way. For example, a driver who runs a red light and crashes into a person driving through an intersection with a green light breaks traffic laws and thus breaches his or her duty of care. A property owner who ignores broken stairs in his or her home would be liable if anyone is injured on those stairs.
Next, you will need to link the at-fault person’s breach of duty to your accident and the injuries that you suffered. Under the law, there are two types of causation:
- Cause in Fact: Cause in fact is also known as the actual cause. Under this concept of causation, the plaintiff will need to show that the defendant was directly responsible for his injuries. For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits the side of the plaintiff’s vehicle driving through the intersection with a green light and the right of way, the plaintiff can establish that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the crash and the plaintiff’s injuries, or the cause in fact.
- Proximate Cause: Proximate cause is a more complex concept compared to cause in fact. Georgia law uses this term when looking at the third element of negligence. Under this legal concept, the defendant should have reasonably known that his or her conduct could result in someone else’s injuries. While the defendant may not have directly caused the injury, the plaintiff’s injuries can be reasonably linked to the defendant’s breach of duty. For example, say that a defendant driver runs a red light, and another vehicle swerves in an attempt to avoid hitting the defendant’s car, and that car that served then hits the plaintiff’s car, the actions of the driver who ran the red light would be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, even though the defendant did not directly crash into the plaintiff’s vehicle.
Finally, the plaintiff will need to show that he or she suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s actions. There are two categories of damages a plaintiff can recover. These are known as economic damages, which involve financial losses and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be easily determined with a calculator, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are not easily calculated and are for things like physical and emotional pain and suffering. In some cases, a plaintiff can also be eligible for seeking punitive damages. These do not compensate but are intended to punish defendants for especially egregious behavior, such as drunk driving.
What is Comparative Negligence In An Athens Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases are predicated on negligence principles, which state that a defendant who had a duty of care to the plaintiff breached that duty and caused the injuries. However, liability or culpability for the accident may be shared between the defendant(s) and the injured victim in some cases. Comparative negligence is the term used to describe this situation.
Georgia is a state that follows a modified comparative negligence approach. Even if you were partially at fault, you can claim damages from the responsible person or parties provided your percentage of responsibility does not equal or surpass that of the other party, or it does not exceed the proportion of fault of all other parties together. Furthermore, under 51-12-33 of the O.C.G.A. your percentage of fault will be deducted from the damages awarded.
Comparative negligence is most common in car accident cases. For example, Car A and Car B are approaching an intersection with a four-way stop. Car A comes to the stop sign first and does not come to a complete stop and accelerates just as Car B is coming to the stop line. However, the driver of Car B is on their phone and does not see the stop sign and hits Car A. Both parties were at fault here, and therefore the number of damages the driver of Car A (if any at all) will be reduced by the percentage of fault that a court finds.
Can You Recover Pain and Suffering in Athens?
The legal term in Georgia for the physical and emotional anguish induced by an accident is “pain and suffering.” The following is a summary of Georgia’s pain and suffering laws, including damage caps and the statute of limitations:
- Statute of Limitations
- An accident victim has 2 years to file a personal injury
- In the case of medical malpractice, a victim also has 2 years to file a claim
- If the claim is against the state or county, then the victim only has 1 year to file a claim
- A victim only has a 6-month time frame to file a claim against a local municipality
- Limits on Damages
- There is no cap on non-economic damages (which would include pain and suffering)
- There is a cap on punitive damages
- Comparative negligence will limit damages
Because the perception of pain and suffering is so subjective, and there is no straightforward standard of quantification, damages for pain and suffering are difficult to calculate. Juries are frequently instructed to use their best judgment in determining how much to pay a plaintiff, so the amount awarded could be substantially influenced by the jury’s makeup.
Accident attorneys may argue for damages that are reasonable in light of the evidence, and some give value to various forms of damages based on a variety of considerations. Moreover, some attorneys use the “multiplier approach,” in which the attorney multiplies the economic losses by a specified number, usually between one and five, to establish the value of pain and suffering.
Non-Economic vs. Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are a type of compensation that accounts for an injured person’s pain, emotional distress, suffering, and other similar issues related to an accident. While economic damages are usually intended to help restore a person to their original condition, non-economic damages are a type of compensation that accounts for an injured person’s pain, emotional distress, suffering, and other similar issues related to an accident.
- In most personal injury lawsuits, both economic and non-economic damages are attainable, but they must be established. Many economic damages are simple to demonstrate because victims frequently have bills to back up their claims.
- As a result, it’s vital that you keep track of every bill and receipt associated with your injuries. Not only should you be extra cautious with all of your medical spending, but you should also retain receipts for any out-of-pocket medical bills.
Non-economic damages do not have the same level of documentation as economic losses do, although they can still be claimed in the majority of circumstances. In many circumstances, offering a victim’s perspective on an accident or the psychological impact of the accident might provide adequate information to a jury to sustain non-economic damage compensation.
Punitive Damages in Georgia Personal Injury Cases
If an injury is caused by the defendant’s deliberate or purposeful misbehavior (typically a fraudulent or criminal act), formal trial courts have the authority to impose additional damages (over and above out-of-pocket costs and pain and suffering).
Punitive damages (also known as “exemplary damages”) are not allowed in small claims in around half of the states. Georgia does allow punitive damages. Even in areas where punitive penalties are theoretically feasible, the small claims court’s low-value cap effectively eliminates them, with the exception of a few cases where precise cash amounts are specified for fraudulent checks or failing to refund a tenant’s security deposit on time.
These punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant, can be in the millions when the defendant is affluent. However, punitive damages in Georgia are limited to $250,000.
Claiming and Calculating Damages in an Athens Personal Injury Case
When you have been in an accident, your lawyer can undertake an impartial investigation to identify all of the damages that apply to your case.
In some circumstances, insurers will begin discussing a settlement immediately. In most cases, the initial settlement offer will be insufficient to cover all of your losses. Your lawyer can negotiate a complete and reasonable financial recovery on your behalf, which will likely be greater than what the insurance company calculated.
If a settlement cannot be achieved, the victim may be forced to pursue legal action. The plaintiff can specify the specific damages sought in the action. In order to calculate these damages, you and your attorney will work together and provide an amount for the following categories:
- Loss of pay, paid time off used, missed work, personal time off
- Out-of-pocket expenses (medical costs, medical care providers, prescriptions)
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
It is important to look at each category individually and come up with as accurate a number as you can. Once you have the amount for each category, the sums are added and that will be the total amount of damages you claim in your suit.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in Athens
If you’ve been hurt in Athens, it’s important to stay calm and seek help. First and foremost, seek emergency medical care as soon as you can, even if you do not feel injured at the time. Your medical records will be extremely important for your future case and failure to seek medical attention could harm your ability to recover compensation.
At the scene of the accident, call 911 if it involves a traffic collision or if you require emergency medical services. If the accident occurs at a store or another place of business, try to see if you can file an incident report so that your accident is on record.
If you’re able to at the scene, collect and document as much evidence as possible. Save any physical evidence that you may have, such as torn clothing or broken possessions. Take as many photographs and videos as you can.
Exchange contact information with anyone involved in the accident and any witnesses who saw it occur. Once you seek medical care, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.
If your injury is the result of a commercial trucking accident, please don’t hesitate to call an Athens truck accident attorney today!
Personal Injury Settlement or Trial?
Personal injury claims typically resolve in one of three ways: through a pre-suit settlement, through a settlement during litigation, or by a jury at trial. In some cases, accepting a settlement offer is in your best interest, while in other cases, going to court is the best decision. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Athens will help you understand your legal options and help you determine your best course of action.
What Is a Settlement?
Before a lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will engage in negotiations with the at-fault person’s insurance company to see if they will provide a fair settlement. A settlement before litigation can save you money, time, and stress. If the insurance company is being unreasonable, and they definitely can be, then filing a suit may be the best option, but that decision belongs to you.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you are unable to resolve your case before a suit is filed, you may decide to file a lawsuit. The insurance company will try to learn about you, your injuries, and the case during the first part of the litigation. This is called the discovery phase of litigation. You will probably have to give a deposition during this time, which is where the defendant’s lawyer, being paid by his or her insurance company, gets to ask you questions under oath. Next, your personal injury lawsuit will proceed to trial. During your trial, both parties will present evidence and arguments in front of a judge or jury. Then, the judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is liable for your damages and determine the value of your potential award.
A personal injury trial can resolve in as little as a few hours. In some cases, these lawsuits can last for a few weeks. However, your attorney will spend months prior to the trial gathering evidence, deposing witnesses, and crafting a compelling case in your favor. Depending on your case, it could take one year or longer to reach trial.
Should You Settle Before Going to Trial?
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to both the settlement and the courtroom process. For example, you can usually settle a case faster than going to trial. However, the defendant may refuse to pay your full compensation and if the insurance company continues to offer insufficient money to settle the case, then the case will move to a trial and a jury will decide the amount of compensation that is fair.
Settlements provide more control over the personal injury process. You and your injury attorney have the right to demand a certain amount of compensation and accept or deny any offers. During the trial, the court will be responsible for determining the value of the award. However, you cannot pursue further legal action after accepting a settlement, no matter what happens in the future.
Before making any sort of decision regarding your case, it is important to determine whether accepting a settlement or going to trial is right for you. An experienced Athens personal injury lawyer at Dan Chapman & Associates can provide critical guidance in these situations and help identify your optimal path to recovery. Some of our lawyers are former insurance company lawyers and they understand the settlement evaluation process used by insurance companies.
Can You Handle a Personal Injury Case without a Lawyer?
You may wonder if you need to hire an attorney to help you with an injury claim. Your case may seem relatively straightforward and the process of hiring a lawyer may seem expensive and stressful. However, your chances of a successful outcome increase significantly when you hire an experienced attorney with the right resources staff, and track record. Additionally, most personal injury lawyers like Dan Chapman & Associates, do not charge an upfront fee and you on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not pay any legal fees unless your attorney wins your case and gets you money. The attorney fee will come out of the settlement money.
When Should You Hire an Attorney for Your Claim?
You have the right to represent yourself but is it wise to do so? You can treat your medical issues on your own without seeing a doctor, but is that a wise decision? Most of the time, the answer to both is no. Handling a personal injury claim can be a stressful and lengthy process, especially while you are recovering from an injury. You will need to negotiate with insurance companies when you do not fully understand the law and your rights. Additionally, you will need to investigate the accident, gather evidence, and craft a case that shows what is needed by the insurance company to value a claim. Without the training and experience in doing this, you are at a real disadvantage. Your lack of knowledge and experience can cost you thousands of dollars in lost compensation.
If you have suffered any type of injury, sustained any number of damages, and plan on pursuing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In addition to experience and legal knowledge, there are many advantages to hiring a lawyer to represent your personal injury case:
- Access to Resources: You may need to conduct a significant investigation into your accident and gather evidence to prove your right to recovery. For complex parts of your case, you may need to enlist the help of expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will have the time and resources to handle these tasks, thus strengthening your future case.
- Negotiation Skills: You may need to negotiate with insurance companies or defense attorneys throughout your case. Navigating these discussions can be challenging, but your attorney will have the skills to negotiate on your behalf. Your lawyer will fight for your best interests at the negotiating table and advocate for the highest possible settlement.
- Prevention of Mistakes: There are many processes and procedures involved in filing a personal injury claim. If you are new to litigation, it is easy to commit errors that could delay your case or hurt your chances of a settlement. Your attorney will always have your best interests in mind and will work to prevent any mistakes.
- Peace of Mind: With an attorney on your side, you do not need to worry about completing paperwork, negotiating with insurance companies, or calculating your settlement. Instead, you can focus on healing and recovering from the trauma of the accident. You will have the peace of mind that your claim will be handled properly.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Many people fail to obtain legal representation because they are concerned about the cost. Financial hardship is very common after an unexpected injury, and few families can afford to pay for a lawyer out of pocket. Fortunately, many personal injury firms understand this and operate on a contingency fee basis.
At Dan Chapman & Associates, our clients pay no legal fees to hire us, and no legal fees unless we recover money for you. We offer free consultations and free case evaluations so you have nothing to lose when you call to discuss your case. Call us and see why we have thousands of satisfied personal injury clients.
What to Do Before Your Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you are involved in an unexpected accident, you can feel overwhelmed and stressed and may have pain in your body. Scheduling a consultation with a personal injury lawyer can feel like a major burden. However, seeking a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer can take a lot of stress off of you and can also lead to more compensation for the harm and injuries you you suffered. Legal representation is a critical step to take if you plan on pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
Dan Chapman & Associates offers free consultations to people who have been injured due to no fault of their own. Most of these consultations are done over the phone, so you do not even need to leave your home to speak to an injury lawyer. At these free meetings, we review the facts of your case, discuss our legal services, and provide recommendations on how to proceed with getting you help for your injuries, getting money for your damaged car, and on the things you need to know about dealing with an insurance company. Some of our lawyers formerly worked for insurance companies. To get the most out of your consultation, it is important to do some preparation beforehand.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
To help your attorney better understand your case, it is important to provide as much information as you can. Your lawyer will use the information to determine the strength of your claim.
This information may include:
- The Police or Incident Report: What the police have stated about the accident will prove to be extremely valuable.
- Pictures: It is helpful to see pictures of the cars involved in the crash and pictures from the scene of the crash.
- Witnesses: Witness testimony is some of the most powerful evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. If anyone saw your accident occur, getting the names and contact information of these witnesses is helpful.
Make a List of Questions for Your Attorney
During the free consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask your attorney questions about his or her experience. Thus, it is a good idea to prepare a list of questions about the process and how your attorney plans to handle it.
Below are a few common questions that may be helpful to ask your lawyer:
- Have you represented similar cases in the past?
- How much do you think my case is worth?
- Do you think my case will go to trial?
- How will we communicate during the time you are helping me?
- What are your fees? Do you charge a contingency fee?
Contact the Athens Personal Injury Attorneys at Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC
The Athens accident attorneys at Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC are ready to discuss your case, and we work hard to get the best possible settlement for each and every one of our clients. Call us immediately for a free case review if you or a loved one has suffered medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, been involved in a car accident, big truck accident, motorcycle accident, slip, and fall accident, or any other accident that caused bodily harm or damage to property.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are likely to have a successful claim against the liable party or parties involved.
For a free consultation and legal advice, give us a call at (678) 504-8564 or fill out our online form today. An experienced personal injury lawyer is ready to discuss your case.