Basic Facts About Georgia Catastrophic Injury Claims
- Catastrophic injuries, like loss of limb, paralysis or brain damage can change lives forever.
- These devastating injuries are very costly can quickly eliminate any savings you might have.
- These injuries can mean you are no longer able to work at your job or enjoy your family in ordinary ways – they can destroy families.
- Distracted, negligent drivers – whether they are talking on the phone or eating a breakfast sandwich while driving–can change your life and the lives of your family members forever.
- Catastrophic accidents are not always vehicular ones. They can involve guns, bicycles, falls, and/or even mechanical failures caused by negligence.
- Georgia law aims to make you whole again – it cannot make the accident ‘un-happen’ or make your brain work the way it used to, but it can help put you back on a more level playing field.
- Compensatory damages in Georgia are not limited and can be used to restore past and future losses.
- There can be multiple complaints filed in a single accident against. The negligent driver in an accident may be sued in addition to his employer if he was working at the time of the accident.
- One of the losses experienced after a catastrophic accident is Loss of Consortium* – when one partner is in an accident and can no longer comfort and sustain the other’s intimate needs.
- Your savings can be restored and your financial situation stabilized through successful settlement negotiations with the insurance company’s lawyers.
- You may not have to appear in court – Most cases are settled before a suit is even filed.
In life, for reasons we don’t always understand, bad things happen to good people. If you know anyone who has suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of an accident, you know just what we’re talking about.
Catastrophic injuries are those that cause a very long recovery time or are permanent. Examples include brain damage, paralysis, or loss of limb(s). Suddenly the victim can be facing multiple surgeries each with long recovery times. The pain of these procedures is second only to the fact that the victim’s role as a bread winner for his family has been turned upside down. Now the victim cannot work and the very fact that he managed lived through the accident is causing hardships to the people he loves most. This is true for whatever role you play in your family – working mothers or stay at home moms also offer valuable services to their families that are not easily replaced.
Whether you were hit by a car as you bicycled to work, or shot in the head by your best friend in a hunting accident, you are facing one of the most traumatic chapters in your entire life. Catastrophic injuries can even happen in the “safety” of your home when your new gas water heater explodes because of a faulty gas valve. However they happen, catastrophic accidents make you feel as if you’re drowning and there are no life-preservers in sight.
Everybody in the family may be trying to keep a positive attitude, but as the victim, you feel guilty and are hopeless to find a light at the end of the tunnel. The accident, even though somebody else was at fault didn’t just hurt you – it has crushed everything and everybody you’ve spent your life caring for. You are stunned, shocked, and sick inside at what one person’s carelessness has done.
It shouldn’t have to be this way.
When you or somebody you love is devastatingly injured in an accident that was somebody else’s fault, you DO have hope. In Georgia the law is on your side when these horrible, life-altering accidents threaten to destroy you and your family. The law says when damages are done to others through the negligence of others; the injured parties can be compensated for their losses. The law aims to make the injured parties “whole” again.
Granted, it’s impossible to make brain damage disappear by way of a settlement check. You cannot get a court order to make an arm regenerate itself, but when the insurance company for the other side pays you compensation for your injuries, you can buy the best medical care, or be fitted with a prosthetic arm that can help you to function normally – or nearly so. The key is to find a legal team that’s totally dedicated to helping make you whole again.
With the help of the right legal team, you can recover the savings you lost and the wages you are no longer able to earn. Even if you will be permanently disabled, there is light at the end of your financial tunnel when you have the laws of the Great State of Georgia on your side.
Catastrophic Injury – An Example
Mark, a fictional client (we have handled a similar case), had no idea what happened in the cab of the truck that wrecked on the freeway ahead of him. The truth is, the driver dropped his French fries on the floor of the cab and was trying to pick them up when he clipped the truck on his left side. He lost control of his truck and everything went south from there.
Mark only knows that suddenly a jack-knifed semi loomed ahead of him across three lanes of traffic and he ran under it. He remembers nothing else. He spends nearly a week in a medically induced coma to reduce the swelling in his brain and when he was allowed to re-surface, a woman who says she is his wife is standing by his bed. She looks very familiar to Mark, but he’s not certain of much at this point.
Mark is suffering from TBI, traumatic brain injury. When the accident banged his brain around it sloshed around in the fluid that cushions the brain inside the skull, striking the inside of his skull, bruising his brain badly. The nurses and neurologists are pleased that Mark can speak but somewhat discouraged that he cannot name the common items they show him like pencils, spoons, and bananas. He will get better, they tell his wife, but nobody knows how much better he will get. Brain injuries can take a year or more to heal. Mark and his family are in for a long, difficult, and totally unpredictable recovery.
Mark’s keeps books for a number of local small businesses. His small business will probably fall by the wayside. He can’t name the number 7 let alone use a calculator or a spread sheet. There’s no guarantee he will ever be able to work again. Within the first three months, while he is still in rehab learning to shave himself, Mark’s small savings account is empty.
Mark’s wife Tiffany calls a personal injury lawyer on the same day she talks to a realtor about listing their home for sale.
The Law is on Mark and Tiffany’s Side
In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court held that capping the amount of compensatory claims for damage in a car crash was unconstitutional. This means that, unlike in other states, Mark’s claim for compensation against the trucking company and the negligent driver that caused his accident can cover his losses without limitations.
This means that Mark’s legal team can claim – and likely recover – all the many damages and limitations he will experience for the rest of his life. These damages will include lost income, spent savings, and future expenses he won’t be able to afford as the result of his injuries.
Georgia still limits the amount of punitive damages that can be claimed in car accidents. Punitive damages are those meant to “punish” the at-fault party for reprehensible or illegal conduct. Punitive damages for which the trucking company and the driver can be held liable are subject to a $250,000.00 limit. Even if the driver had been drunk and breaking the law, the most Mark could hope to collect would be $250K.
When Negligence Turns to Catastrophe – How to Prove Damages
The first order of business in this case would be to prove that the truck driver was at fault. The police report will accomplish this since in it the driver admits to bending over to pick up spilled food immediately before the accident.
Mark’s lawyers might also sue the company for whom the driver was working if they can establish that the company knew or should have known that the driver was generally careless. The team will research this driver’s record to see if there are other instances of carelessness or neglect in the driver’s record. If this is the case, they will sue the company if they did not screen the employee thoroughly enough and/or should not have allowed him to drive their truck because of past driving offenses.
After proving that the truck driver was, indeed, negligent in causing the accident, it will be up to Mark’s lawyers to present a careful accounting of the damages Mark and Tiffany have suffered since the accident and into the future.
Medical records will be used to prove that Mark has been permanently injured making complete recovery impossible. Expert witnesses will testify to Mark’s possible recovery potential and offer opinions about whether or not he will be able to work at his job in the future. Income tax returns will demonstrate Mark’s income in the past. This will establish a base-line income from which future losses can be calculated.
Because Mark will be unable to function well, it’s very likely that he may eventually need to live in a facility where care is available to him at all times. His lawyers will help to create a life plan for Mark that will make provisions for his future if something should ever happen to Tiffany or she can no longer take care of him at home. These costs will be included in the settlement amount.
This tragic accident didn’t just happen to Mark. Tiffany may claim that Mark’s accident has cost her the comfort of her husband and the intimacy she has a right to expect in their marriage. This is called a Loss of Consortium* claim and will also be filed on Tiffany’s behalf, in addition to Mark’s claims.
Such a claim is not only about sexual relations, but also other intimate support that can be lost when injuries complicate relationships. Since Tiffany suddenly finds herself married to a man with whom she cannot communicate – essentially a stranger – this might be a valid claim against the defendants.
How Big Will Your Settlement Be?
Each claim in each accident is different. If it is a young person who has been injured, the stakes are often higher than they might be in an elderly man whose life span and earning potential are limited. Nevertheless, no matter what your age or ability to earn, your life has value and you are entitled by law to recover for your losses.
After all the evidence has been gathered and the expert testimony heard, it generally happens that lawyers for both sides will start talking about settling your claim.
When lawyers begin the business of negotiating a settlement amount, they start by finding a settled case that is similar to your own. This gives them a place to start their negotiations. Then, they add in the hard costs of your injuries to date, the estimated costs of future care, and any other anticipated losses you are likely to experience and a settlement amount can be reached, even before your case goes to trial.
Finding a Superior Legal Team
The key to winning an adequate settlement is retaining the best legal team you can find. Insurance company lawyers are on the payroll of their employers strictly to save the insurance company money. The best outcome for the insurance company is not to pay you at all.
These legal aces work every single day at proving that the injuries you’ve sustained are either not the fault of their insured or, so insignificant as to be frivolous. That’s what you’re up against. And they are skilled at it because this is what they do every single day.
Your best hope for compensation lies in finding a legal team that is at least as skilled as the other side.
Your team should be prepared for whatever outlandish tricks or incredible claims the other side uses to make your case go away. The answer for you is finding a well-established, extremely talented, experienced personal injury law firm to represent you. You want a team that focuses on personal injury claims all day every day. That way you’ll know that they have all the tools for winning at their disposal.
The legal team at The Millar Law Firm is uniquely qualified to help you find justice for the injuries you’ve been forced to endure. Before you settle for less, call our law offices today for a free case evaluation. Our firm routinely handles catastrophic and wrongful death cases, and has the resources and expertise needed to take on large corporations and insurance carriers. Don’t let somebody else’s negligence ruin your life, whether you select our firm or another attorney, be certain your lawyers have the experience and money to achieve the result you need.
Questions Answered on this Page
- What are catastrophic injuries?
- Can you sue more than one party for catastrophic injuries?
- Will I have to go to court?
- How are settlement amounts determined?
*Loss of Consortium: The State of Georgia recognizes two types of losses under Loss of Consortium claims. These first of these claims is designed to compensate the spouse of an injured victim for his/her additional burdens of caring for children, maintaining the household income, and other stressful duties the victim is no longer able to accomplish. The second of these claims is meant to cover the loss of affection, intimacy, and companionship of a spouse. These remedies are only available to married persons under Georgia law.