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People are injured in car accidents every single day. Many of this car wrecks cause severe, debilitating, and permanent injuries. People who are injured in car wrecks due to the negligence of someone else have personal injury claims. Personal injury claims allow injured victims to recover money damages to help compensate them for their past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic loses.
In addition to recovering for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other economic loses, some injured victims care even recover for punitive damages. Punitive damages arise when the negligent driver's conduct is more than just negligent, but conduct that shows a reckless disregard for human life. The most common examples of conduct which may create punitive damage exposure is driving while intoxicated (DUI drunk driving), racing, hit and run, or other similar behavior.
Spouses of personal injury claimants sometimes have a separate claim for loss of consortium. A loss of consortium claim is a claim which compensates the spouse of the injured victim for the loss of the physical relationship and companionship that the injuries cause. This claim does require that the spouse is married to the injured victim during the time the loss in companionship occurs.
Personal injury recoveries involve monetary settlements only. Even though money can never replace the health and quality of life of the personal injury victim, money settlements can help ease the financial burdens created by car accidents.
INSURANCE POLICY LIMITS AND STACKING POLICIES: Sometimes there are liability insurance policies for the negligent driver's family members, employers, rental car companies, or umbrella policies which may cover the claim. Then our personal injury lawyers will find out what the policies limits are for each policy. Our personal injury attorneys will guide you through the process and make sure that all insurance policies which apply are utilized and stacked when needed and appropriate. Since Georgia only requires liability insurance policy limits of $25,000 per person / $50,000 per occurrence, it is not uncommon for personal injury claims to be worth more than these minimum coverage. Automobile policy limits vary because everyone can decide for themselves how much coverage they wish to purchase. Some choose the $25,000 / $50,000 minimum policy limits, while others higher policy limits. If you do not have a personal injury attorney, then it will be difficult to negotiate a fair settlement and to know how to properly stack the insurance policies that do apply. In many instances your own uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage) may also cover your personal injury claim. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage) is not required by Georgia law, but is essential to have. An uninsured motorist policy covers you when you have a personal injury claim against is an uninsured negligent driver. It also can cover you if your claim is worth more than the liability policy but this is only when you have purchased more UM coverage than there is in liability coverage. This form of UM coverage is known as under-insured motorist coverage.
INSURANCE ADJUSTER STRATEGIES: Insurance adjusters are paid and trained to pay as little as possible on each personal injury claim. This means that insurance adjusters will always try to save their employers (the insurance companies) money at your expense. Personal injury victims often hope that the adjuster will "do the right thing". Unfortunately the right thing for the insurance company is exactly the opposite of the right thing for you. Insurance adjusters are trained to investigate the car accident as quickly as possible. Adjuster's investigations usually include taking recorded statements from the drivers and witnesses, getting the police report, and photographing the property damage of the cars involved in the car wreck. The adjuster will try to complete their investigation to establish the extent of the injures within the first week of the accident.
Many insurance adjusters will try to settle the personal injury claims as quickly as possible. This often results in settlements that do not fully compensate for the future medical expenses and lost wages which often result. Quick settlements mean that your rights to your personal injury claim end. If your injury later worsens and requires extensive treatment or surgery, then the quick settlement may have been a huge bargain for the adjuster but a huge loss for you.
Adjusters often argue that you could not have been injured if you delay in seeking medical treatment, if you have gaps in your medical treatment, or if the property damage to your vehicle is less than a thousand dollars.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS: There is a two year time period to file a personal injury lawsuit for most personal injury claims in Georgia. This two year time limit is called the Statute Of Limitations. Personal injury claims must be settled or a lawsuit filed prior to the Statute Of Limitations running or the claim is barred from any recovery.
SUBROGATION CLAIMS: Health insurance companies will often seek reimbursement from your personal injury claim for the medical bills they pay. Worker's compensation insurance companies will also often seek to be reimbursed from your personal injury settlement for medical expenses and lost wages they have paid. These claims are called subrogation claims.
VALUE OF PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS: The value of any personal injury claim is based on what the jury would award if the case were tried. There are many factors which determine how much a personal injury claim is worth. These factors include the type of injury, the type of treatment required, the cost of the treatment, the amount of the lost wages, the location or venue where the case would be tried, and many, many other factors. If a personal injury claimant is not represented by a personal injury attorney, then they are at the mercy of the insurance adjuster. Without an attorney you do not know the value of your claim and cannot litigate if the adjuster does not offer you a fair settlement. Each case must be evaluated thoroughly to determine what a likely settlement value would be.