Personal Injury FAQ

How long do I have to sue on my personal injury case?

The statute of limitations in Georgia for personal injury is typically two years. If you have been injured in a car wreck, you have two years from the date of the accident to sue, but you might have other timelines to meet (for example, if you have a claim against a government entity).

Do I have to file a lawsuit to get paid?

No. You can choose to settle your case with the insurance company(s) in lieu of filing suit through a pre-suit settlement. If they do not offer a fair value for your claim at that stage, you have the option to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.

How do you get paid?

Your personal injury attorney gets paid on a contingency basis. This means the attorney does not bill you hourly, but instead collects a percentage off the gross recovery. The attorney also then recoups any case expenses he fronted out of the gross recovery.

Who pays the case expenses?

The attorney typically pays the case expenses as they are incurred, and then recovers those costs out of the gross recovery.

Do I need to notify my insurance company of the wreck even if I am not at fault?

Yes, you should, particularly if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist or med pay coverage. This is because even if you are not at fault, you might want to utilize those benefits.

What is Med pay?

Medical payments coverage on your auto policy is the primary coverage for reasonable and necessary medical treatment from an auto wreck. So if you have $5,000 in med pay benefits, you can get $5,000 worth of treatment from an auto wreck. This is especially important to someone who is injured but has no health insurance coverage.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage?

UM coverage is bodily injury coverage in the event the tortfeasor (party who negligently injured you) does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc…). This coverage is essential, because it enables you to recover even when the party who injured you has inadequate insurance.

What policies can I collect against for my injury claim?

The first policies to collect against are from the liable party or parties. Once those have been exhausted, you can collect against your own auto policy’s UM coverage. Finally, if you reside with a relative who has a UM policy, you can utilize that to collect.

What happens if the driver who hit me has no insurance?

This is where the additional policies are so critical, particularly your UM policy or a resident relative policy. You will want to collect against your own insurance carrier in this instance.

What is mediation?

Mediations almost always take place after filing a lawsuit. This is where the parties agree to meet at a location and have a neutral person (typically an attorney) meet both together and privately with the sides in order to reach a settlement. These can oftentimes take almost a whole day.

What is a deposition?

A deposition takes place after filing a lawsuit. It is an official proceeding with a court reporter taking down a transcript. You will be placed under oath and asked various questions about your lawsuit by the opposing counsel. The statements you make will be used for or against you in terms of determining the value of the case for settlement. It also lets the opposing side know what you are expected to say at trial. Should you contradict your deposition testimony at trial, the opposing counsel will most likely read your deposition testimony to “impeach” you.

What happens after I file a lawsuit?

Once you file suit, the opposing party answers the suit within 30 days of service. From there, you are likely to receive discovery questions about a month or two later. You will have 30 days to answer those questions. Usually within 1-3 months later, you will need to sit for a deposition.

From there, you will possibly attend a mediation in the next three months. If the case does not resolve at mediation, you are likely to have a trial date within the next 3-12 months, should the case continue to not settle.

This is a gross oversimplification, and the process will vary based on the facts of your case.

How long does it take to go to trial after I file a lawsuit?

Usually it will be at least a year from when you file suit before you have a trial, and oftentimes is at least 18 months after filing suit.

Do I need to pay you any money to retain you for a personal injury case?

No. The attorney works on a contingency basis, so he receives a percentage of your gross recovery. He also typically fronts all litigation costs, so the client usually pays no up front costs.

What is your typical contingency fee?

This will vary by case. My typical fee is 33% of a gross recovery for a case that settles without filing suit, and 40% of a gross recovery for a case that involves filing a lawsuit.

Can I still collect if the insurance company contends I am partially at fault?

Yes. To collect for an injury claim in Georgia, the plaintiff needs to be less than 50% at fault. The total damages would be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.

Can I still file bankruptcy if I have a personal injury claim?

Yes, you “can” still file bankruptcy if you have a personal injury claim, but you very well might not want to do so. This is very fact specific, and will depend in part on whether you are interested in filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The best advice is to not file bankruptcy before discussing your injury claim with both your personal injury and bankruptcy attorney first.

How do I get medical treatment for my car wreck case if I have no health insurance?

If you have no health insurance, you can still get medical treatment for your injuries. The first place to turn is the medical payments coverage on your own auto policy. If you have it, you want to use it. Once that has been exhausted, you will want to find a health care provider who will treat you on a lien basis. This means they will not ask you to pay up front for their fees, but they will have a “lien” on your settlement for the amount of their fees. You will then have to reimburse them for their costs out of your settlement. Finally, there are medical funding companies who will give you or the provider cash for your treatment. These are usually at a high interest, and are an option of last resort. These too will also have a lien on your settlement in exchange for advancing those funds.

Can the insurance company for the party who injured me pay my medical bills as they come due?

No. The insurance company for the at fault party will not pay bills as they come due. They will ultimately reimburse you for the costs of the bills out of a settlement or a judgment, but that will be a one-time event at the conclusion of the case. While your case is pending and the bills are accruing, you will be the one in charge of paying any co-pays.