How Do You Receive Compensation After Your Georgia Car Accident Case Settles?

Key Points:

  • In Georgia, personal injury case compensation, meaning settlements or verdicts, are mainly paid by insurance companies or businesses defending the negligent driver.
  • In most cases, payment is sent in the form of a check, received in a lump sum.
  • In addition to a single payment, settlements can be structured over time, if the parties agree to a payment stream — also known as a structured settlement.
  • It is advisable to have a settlement agreement reviewed by a car accident lawyer because once signed, you may be unable to seek additional compensation in the future – even if you discover you have not been fairly compensated.
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How Are Car Accident Settlements Calculated, Paid and Collected?

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Close-up picture of a personal check with red paid stamp and selective focus. Great use for financial concepts.

If you are reading this, you or a friend or family member may have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault and wondering how at-fault drivers, their employer or their insurance may pay your eventual settlement.  In Georgia, a negligent driver or his employer — when the driver is on the job when he or she caused the wreck — are generally responsible to pay your financial losses such as lost wages, medical bills, and out of pocket expenses, as well as your physical trauma such as past and future mental and physical pain and suffering.

Most drivers or their employers carry automobile insurance, which will usually pay a settlement in a lump sum when it comes time to settle and resolve your claim.  In the event that an out-of-court settlement is not reached, and a case goes to trial, the insurance company will usually pay the amount of the verdict, for covered losses.  Some drivers or companies, however, are not insured or are self-insured.  In such cases, the verdict must be collected from the defendants individually.  In still other cases, settlements can be structured, or paid over time.  Structured settlements can be paid by either insurance or from the defendant’s assets.

How Are Georgia Personal Injury Cases Involving Automobiles Negotiated and Settled?

Cases are most often — and in our opinion, best — settled after you have completed your medical care and have gathered-up all of your bills and records showing the amount of your losses.  This usually means getting certified copies of all medical records and copies of all of the medical bills, lost wage information and other related expenses.  The amount of compensation being requested for pain and suffering is then added to the financial losses, and negotiation begins.

Should you choose to settle your Georgia injury claim, you or your representatives will most likely want to negotiate a written settlement and release agreement.  A settlement agreement is an enforceable contract, allowing you to bring legal action should the company or defendant refuse to pay or unreasonably delay payment.  Terms of payment, such as how much, by what date, and in what amounts can be written into a settlement agreement, and the parties can often be as creative as necessary with the language and conditions in order to resolve a claim.

Whether you enter into a settlement and release with an individual or an insurance company, It is advisable to have the settlement agreement reviewed by an attorney, because you will most likely be signing-away your rights to file or continue with a lawsuit, to seek additional compensation in the future should the settlement prove to not be enough to fairly compensate you.

When Are Structured Settlements Used or Necessary in Georgia?

Structured settlements are frequently used in Georgia car accident injury cases when the injury victim is a minor or an incapacitated adult.  In such cases, an annuity may be purchased from the settlement proceeds and payments often begin at a later date, such as after a child turns 18.  In the case of an incapacitated or mentally disabled adult, structured settlements are often used to provide a monthly or annual income stream.

Structured settlements are also used to allow an individual or a business to make payments over time, when coming up with a lump-sum may be difficult due to cash flow.  For example, a bar or restaurant that has steady income but lacks savings or insurance may agree to make monthly payments for a period of time until a settlement or verdict is paid off.

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How A Georgia Attorney Can Help Collect When There is a Failure to Pay

Having a Georgia lawyer handle your case from the beginning will usually help ensure that your rights are protected. However, there may be instances when you do not want to hire an attorney, such as for a small claims court case.  So, what happens when you enter a settlement agreement or you receive a verdict and the defendant or at-fault driver refuses to pay?

You may take certain actions to sue for breach of the settlement agreement or to pursue collection.  As stated above, a settlement release is, in most cases, a binding contract.  Failure to pay according to the terms of the agreement may be a breach of contract for which your legal remedy is to file a lawsuit.  In the event that you have received a verdict or judgment that is not paid, certain collection actions such as garnishment of income or bank accounts and placing a lien against personal or real property.

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