One of the purposes of this blog is to educate potential clients as to the ins-and-outs of personal injury claims and why good legal representation is so important.  As a result, we tend to focus on the general principles of personal injury law. Sometimes, though, a story can teach the same concepts in a much more powerful way. In this post, we’d like to share a story with you that demonstrates some of the general principles we’ve covered in prior posts.  

It Was A Typical Tuesday Morning

Carol works as an office manager for a small financial planning firm. She lives in a rural area, about 30 or 40 minutes from the office. She works Monday through Friday, and keeps regular business hours, but does like to get in early.  

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your first priority is your health. Before anything else, you need to get examined by a doctor and seek the necessary treatment. Unfortunately, everything that comes after that – namely, paying your medical bills – can get fairly complicated. In this post, we hope to shed some light on how insurance plays a role in compensating you for your injuries.

For purposes of this post, we’ll assume that your injuries are serious and will require long-term treatment, loss of income, and a significant amount of pain and suffering. Let’s also assume that you wind up having to pursue legal action in order to get fair compensation for your injuries.     

Health Insurance

A simple Google search turns up three reports of construction site accidents for the month of August: one involving a GDOT employee in Atlanta, another at a Georgia Water and Power site, and a third where three workers were injured at another power plant in Madison County. We all know construction sites are dangerous, but we don’t often consider how dangerous they are – both for the workers, and the public at large.  

Premises Liability and the General Public

There are numerous hazards on any given construction site – broken and uneven pavement, open pits, holes, and unstable structures, all of which could cause serious bodily injury. Construction companies, therefore, owe a duty to the public to ensure that the work site does not pose a hazard to passersby and the general public. As a result, construction companies are obligated to post signs warning of potential hazards, such as “keep out,” “authorized personnel only,” and “do not enter.” In addition, they must keep the site secure by means of fencing, barriers, locked gates, and other means from preventing entry. Construction sites are especially attractive to children, and so particular attention must be paid to keeping them out.

In our last post, we discussed some of the elements that you would use to calculate the value of your personal injury claim. To review, your claim should include the following: (1) medical expenses; (2) future medical expenses; and (3) property damages. In this post, we’ll review the remaining components of your personal injury claim.    

Lost Income

Many people often overlook their lost income when trying to figure out what their claim is worth. To put it simply, lost income can be calculated as any time that you had to take off from work in order to seek medical treatment for or recover from your injuries. This could include the initial visit to the ER, follow-up visits with your doctor, and time you took off for physical therapy. In addition, you can also claim time that you had to take off for recovery. For example, if your doctor ordered you to stay in bed for a week following the accident, you could claim these days as lost income.   

When someone is injured in an accident, there is a period of time where the victim is wondering whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney. Part of this decision involves trying to figure out what, if anything, the victim’s claim may be worth. This is very difficult for most non-lawyers to figure out, and they often leave important factors out when thinking about their expenses. As a result, most victims tend to underestimate the value of their claim, and often wind up settling their claim with the insurance company for far less than it is worth.  

To be clear, getting injured in an accident is not like hitting the lottery – the objective is not to make money. But by undervaluing your claim, you run the risk of winding up with unpaid medical expenses or other economic losses on top of the pain and suffering you have to endure. We strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to get the compensation you deserve, but over the next couple of posts, we’ll review the various components of your claim.     

Medical Expenses

You may have seen the news that a 4-year-old little girl was killed in August due to distracted driving. The little girl, the granddaughter of a Paulding County Sheriff’s Officer, was killed by a truck driver who admitted he was distracted at the time of the accident. According to the driver, he rear-ended the victim’s vehicle when he bent down to pick up a bottle and his phone that had fallen on the floor of the truck. Although tragic, this accident serves as an important reminder in two ways: (1) that distracted driving can lead to very serious accidents and even death; and (2) that distracted driving includes much more than just cell phones.  

The Statistics

The CDC has reported that every day, 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes caused by distracted driving. While the data is only available through 2015, the statistics provided by the CDC paint a startling picture:  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that approximately 40% of all car accidents occur at intersections. This may not be surprising, given the fact that intersections bring various streams of traffic together that are moving in different directions.  However, reports also indicate that in the state of Georgia the number of accidents occurring at intersections is increasing.  

The good news is that accidents at intersections generally involve slower moving traffic, and therefore fatalities are less common. Regardless, there is still some risk of death, and the risk of serious injury is very real. If you or a loved one has been injured in an intersection accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  

Causes of Intersection Accidents

In a study released earlier this year, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported that Georgia ranked 16th in the nation in the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities. While every other type of traffic fatality decreased, pedestrian fatalities increased by 27% from 2007 to 2016. These are alarming statistics that underscore the importance of increasing our efforts to make sure our roadways are safe for everyone, not just motorists. However, these numbers also serve as a sobering reminder of the risks you face every time you go out for a walk. And of course, these risks include very serious injury and even death.

You May Be Entitled to Compensation

If you or a family member were injured in an accident as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, in order to receive compensation, you need to prove that the driver owed you a duty – namely to drive in a manner so as not to cause you injury. You then have to prove that the driver breached that duty, typically by driving negligently. Finally, you have to prove that the driver’s breach of his duty to you caused the accident and thereby caused your injury.  

It’s no secret that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have exploded in popularity in recent years. Ridesharing offers a number of attractive options over traditional taxi service such as shorter wait times, a tech-based system, and newer, cleaner cars. However, no one ever thinks about what happens if they are injured in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. Taxi companies are heavily regulated and have strict insurance requirements in order to protect customers in the event that something goes wrong. Ridesharing, given that it is relatively new, is still developing these standards.  

Insurance

In the event of an accident, the first question that arises is who’s insurance is going to pay the claim. Interestingly, ridesharing companies are actually subject to more onerous insurance requirements than taxi companies. A taxi driver is not required to carry more than the minimum amount of insurance required of private drivers: $25,000 for injury or death of a single victim and $50,000 for all victims in a single accident. The situation for rideshare services changed dramatically in 2015 when Georgia enacted House Bill 225. That law specifically mandated that rideshare services carry the following policy minimums:

To the relief of many parents, summer is almost over and kids are heading back to school. It’s an exciting time of year – new teachers, new school clothes and school supplies, and new opportunities. Lost in all the excitement, however, is the possibility for serious accidents and injuries. We’d like to take the opportunity in this post to review these potential dangers so that you’re prepared in the event one of your children is injured in an accident.  

Bus Accidents

Once school is in session, more than 20,000 buses take to the roads across the state of Georgia. Some of us logged many hours on school buses as kids, and the fact that they didn’t have seatbelts seemed totally normal.  Despite the recommendation of the NTSB, Georgia law still does not mandate that school buses have seat belts. As a result, kids are exposed to risks of injuries that they do not face when riding in your car.  Here are some common causes of school bus accidents:

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