FAQs

  1. How do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case?
  2. How do I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?
  3. What Should I do if I'm in a Car Accident Where I’m Not at Fault?
  4. How do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
  5. Can Third Parties be Held Responsible for Injuries Stemming From a Drunk Driving Accident?
  6. What is a Catastrophic Injury?
  7. What Type of Damages Can I Receive for Injuries?
  8. Who is Responsible for My Injuries?
  9. I Was Injured When I Slipped and Fell in a Local Business Establishment, What Can I Do?
  10. What Should I do if have a Slip and Fall and Hurt Myself?
  11. I Have Been Injured By Medication My Doctor Gave Me, Do I Have a Claim?
  12. What is Negligence?
  13. Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries if an Accident Might Have Been Partly My Fault?
  14. Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries if I Have a Preexisting Medical Condition?
  15. What is Liability Insurance?
  16. How Much is My Case Worth?
  17. I Have Been Hurt by Using a Defective Product, Who is Responsible for My Injuries?
  18. What Can I Do If I Was Injured by a Defective Product?
  19. What is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
  20. What is a Wrongful Death Action?
  21. My Elderly Relative was Injured While Residing in a Nursing Home in Cumming, What Can I Do?
  22. What Type of Claim May I Have for an Animal Bite Injury?
  23. Who Is Responsible for Birth Injuries?
  24. What Damages May I Be Awarded if My Child Suffered Birth Injuries?

1. How do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case?

If you are injured in any way due to the carelessness or neglect of another person, corporation, or other entity, you likely have a personal injury claim. Whether your injury resulted from a company in Marietta recklessly selling a defective product, a driver on the streets of Midtown Atlanta driving badly, or a laboratory reading a pap smear for a Kirkwood woman that has obvious signs of cervical cancer as normal, the law will often provide a remedy through the courts. In the State of Georgia everyone, including corporations, has an obligation to exercise reasonable care when they do things. If that care is not exercised, and you get hurt, you have a potential personal injury case.

Call us at the Sandy Springs office of Houck|Regas, LLC if you have been hurt by the actions or inactions of another person or entity. We are more than happy to talk to you about what happened and to help figure out if this is a case that you want to pursue. We have the experience and compassion to help guide you through the process.

2. How do I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?

The most important thing when choosing a personal injury lawyer is to select an attorney that you trust and that you are comfortable with. Pursuing a personal injury claim can be hard. You’re pursuing the claim because you’ve been hurt by the actions of another, so it is already a difficult situation. There will likely be medical appointments, missed work, and all of the other problems that come with being injured. With serious injuries to you or your family members, your life might be fundamentally changing. At the same time, going through the legal process can be drawn out and scary. There will likely be questions to answer, depositions and hearings to attend, and possibly a trial. Defense attorneys will likely try to pry into areas of your life and otherwise generally irritate you. There are going to be things about the process that you do not understand and things about the process that you simply do not like. Pursuing a legal claim also just takes a long time, which can be frustrating. To get through everything and be successful, you will have to rely on your attorney to guide you along the way and to protect you and your loved ones. That is why it is so important that you find a lawyer that you trust and get along with.

There are lots of good, qualified lawyers in the world. You need to find the lawyer that is right for you and that can help you. As to the nuts and bolts of how to find the lawyer that is right for you, we think the best way to do it is to do some basic research on lawyers in your community either on the internet or by talking to friends, find some that you think might be a good fit, and then meet with a few of them. Talk to them about your case and get a feel for them as people. Provided that you are meeting with lawyers from reputable firms that have a track record of handling personal injury cases, choosing the lawyer that you like and trust will be the right decision.

If you think that we might be the right lawyers to handle your case, call us. We’re happy to talk to you on the phone or meet with you in person.

3. What Should I do if I'm in a Car Accident Where I’m Not at Fault?

At the scene:

  • Get medical attention. First and foremost make sure that you get the medical attention that you and anyone else in your vehicle needs. A car wreck can cause significant medical problems that may not be apparent at first. After a wreck is not the time to "grin and bear it." Get yourself, your family, and your friends checked out and make sure that everything is ok.
  • Call 911. Always call 911 if there is an accident and get the police to the scene even if you don’t think anything is wrong. They will get the appropriate medical personnel who can make sure that you, your family members, and your friends are ok. The police will also document the scene and prevent other people involved in the wreck from changing their story as time passes.
  • Ask for report. Provided that you are not seriously hurt, make sure that before the officer leaves you ask him to file a report and get his or her name and badge number. The officer should be able to tell you where and when you will be able to pick up the report.
  • Take pictures. Take pictures of any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle involved in the accident. If you decide to pursue a claim based on your accident, one common tactic of insurance companies is to argue that there was an insignificant collision. The most effective way to counter that argument is with pictures of damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. Also take pictures of injuries to anyone in your car or in the other car involved in the accident. Again, the best way to counter an argument that injuries were insignificant is with pictures of those injuries.
  • Get insurance information. The other driver’s insurance information should be on the police report, but sometimes police officers make mistakes. Again, provided that you are not seriously injured, it is often easiest for you to simply get the other driver’s insurance information, address, and telephone number while you are at the scene.

After you leave the scene:

  • Report the accident to your insurance. You may have coverage under your insurance policy for injuries you sustain as a result of the wreck; however, most policies require you to provide your insurer with notice within a pretty short time period after the accident. So make sure you give them notice quickly.
  • Get the police report. Get a copy as soon as you can to make sure that the officer’s report is correct. If it is not correct, tell your attorney so that he can take the necessary steps to address the discrepancy.
  • Follow-up with medical care. Follow-up on your medical care as recommended by any doctor or other healthcare provider. If you are told that you need to see a specialist or have physical therapy, make sure that you do it. When the victim of a car wreck fails to follow-up with medical care, it creates an argument that the person must not have been that hurt. There is no reason to give the insurance companies that argument. Following medical advice and getting the treatment you need will also help you get over your injuries more quickly.
  • Keep a record of your medical care. If you decide to pursue a claim, the extent of injuries you have as a result of the accident, and thus the value of your claim, will largely be determined by your medical care. So it is important that you keep track of all of the medical care you received. Your lawyer will likely request all of your medical records if you decide to move forward with a claim, but you have to provide direction as to which doctors you have seen.
  • Don’t sign anything for the other driver’s insurance or give them any statements to their insurance. The other driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign a written statement or give a recorded statement about the accident before you have had a chance to talk to a lawyer. Or they might ask you to sign a HIPAA authorization so that they can evaluate your claim. You are not required to give these statements or to sign the authorizations and you shouldn’t. Don’t let the insurance company trick you in to giving them a statement or a HIPAA authorization. They may tell you that they will close their file or take some other action if you don’t give them what they are requesting. Under Georgia law, as long as you file before the statute of limitations expires, the file can be reopened. Please note that this does not apply to your insurance.
  • Talk to a lawyer. It is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as you can after an accident. There are time limited requirements for notification of insurance companies that need to be addressed. If you don’t act relatively quickly, you may lose rights and potential benefits. A lawyer can help make sure that you give proper notice to all of the companies. Your lawyer can also make sure that the insurance company does not try to take advantage of you. Finally, a lawyer can help explain the process and what should happen from here.

4. How do I Know if I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you are injured in any way because of the carelessness or neglect of a doctor, hospital, or other medical provider in performing a medical procedure on you, you have a medical malpractice claim. With that being said, it can be hard to tell why an injury happened. A medical procedure can be done correctly and there can be a bad outcome. If that is the case, the medical care did not cause the injury, and there was not malpractice. Alternatively, someone can make a mistake or a policy can be missing that causes problems in a medical procedure that results in an injury. That is malpractice. In reality, it is hard for you to know if an injury after a medical procedure was caused by someone making a mistake or if it was just an unfortunate outcome. Medical professionals are also not always the most forthcoming when they have made a mistake that caused an injury because of the potential liability they have.

So you are still left with the question of how to know if you have a claim. To know the answer, you need to talk to a lawyer with experience handling medical malpractice actions who will want an in depth explanation from you of what happened and who may want to review your medical records. The initial evaluation of this material will determine if additional steps are warranted.

If the initial review determines that it is likely that medical malpractice occurred causing an injury sufficient enough to justify potential litigation, all of the relevant medical records will be gathered for the appropriate expert or experts to review. Those experts will then provide their opinions as to whether the medical provider made a mistake that caused an injury. Under Georgia law, filing a medical malpractice claim requires you to have an affidavit from a qualified expert setting forth the specific actions taken by the medical provider that were negligent and caused injury to the patient.

5. Can Third Parties be Held Responsible for Injuries Stemming From a Drunk Driving Accident?

Under certain circumstances, yes. If a third party knows that the driver is drunk and has the legal authority to prevent the person from driving, it may be possible to hold that third party (or his or her employer) responsible for injuries due to the accident. If a third party knows that a person to whom they are selling or providing alcohol is intoxicated and will be driving in the immediate future, it may be possible to hold that third party (or his or her employer) responsible for injuries due to the accident. Whether a third party can successfully be held responsible for injuries from a drunk driving accident really depends on the specific facts of what happened.

6. What is a Catastrophic Injury?

There’s no real definition of a catastrophic injury, but to paraphrase the words of Supreme Court Judge Potter Stewart, while I can’t define it, I know it when I see it. If you believe that you have been injured due to the negligence or carelessness of another, call us so that we can help you get through this hard time.

7. What Type of Damages Can I Receive for Injuries?

If you successfully pursue a claim, you will receive money damages for your injuries. The amount of a settlement or jury verdict depends on a number of factors including the extent of your injuries, how the defendant presents, how you present, where the injury occurred, and how much insurance coverage there is. Lots of other things can and do impact the amount of an award, but this is a good beginning list.

8. Who is Responsible for My Injuries?

If you were injured due to the negligence, carelessness, or intentional acts of another person or entity, that person or entity is responsible for your injuries.

9. I Was Injured When I Slipped and Fell in a Local Business Establishment, What Can I Do?

You can pursue a slip and fall claim. A slip and fall claim is a personal injury action. Based on the facts of your case, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. It does not matter if the property is public or private, the owners may still be held accountable for injuries on their property.

10. What Should I do if have a Slip and Fall and Hurt Myself?

At the scene:

  • Get the medical attention you need. A slip and fall can result in serious injuries. Make sure that you get the medical attention you need as quickly as possible.
  • Report the fall. If you are at a business establishment, ask to speak to a manager and tell them that you fell and hurt yourself. If you’re at someone else’s house, tell them that you fell.
  • Don’t give a written or recorded statement. Any statement you give could be used against you later. You need to tell the business owner or manager generally what happened, but that’s different than giving a recorded statement. An adjuster for the property owner’s insurance carrier will often call and ask you to give a recorded statement. These adjusters are trained to ask questions in a way that tricks you in to making admissions of unfavorable things. The statements will then be used against you if a claim goes forward. To avoid that type of situation, it’s easier to just not give a recorded or written statement.
  • Make notes for yourself about what happened. If you elect to pursue a claim, one way the property owner or their insurance carrier may try to defend the action is by claiming that you do not remember what happened. An effective way to combat such an argument is with detailed notes you make around the time of the accident.
  • Ask to see any reports that will be made about the fall. Most business establishments will have policies in place for how to deal with people injured on their property, which will often include the creation of liability reports. It’s a good idea to ask to see any reports so that you can tell them immediately if they are reporting things differently than how you told them. If they won’t show you the reports, that’s fine, but ask.
  • Talk to a Decatur personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can really help you navigate the process, avoid the insurance company’s "gotcha" tricks, and make sure that you get all the compensation to which you are entitled.

11. I Have Been Injured By Medication My Doctor Gave Me, Do I Have a Claim?

You may. It really depends on the need for the medications, the warnings given, the alternatives available, and the drugs themselves. Not all medications are safe even when they are prescribed appropriately, and people do occasionally get hurt by drugs that are prescribed and use correctly. But not all physicians give appropriate warnings about the dangers of specific medicines, not all doctors prescribe medications appropriately, and not all pharmaceutical companies are up front about the dangers of their medications. Unfortunately, if you get hurt, your doctor is probably not going to tell you that your injury was a result of the mistake they made in giving you medications or problems with the medications themselves. So, to find out if you have a claim, you really need to talk to a lawyer. Due to the limited time available to pursue a claim, and the extensive work that will go into bringing claims against the correct individuals and entities, it’s important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury.

12. What is Negligence?

While there are some pretty technical legal definitions, negligence really just means being careless or reckless. As part of a society, we all know that when we act carelessly or recklessly that other people can get hurt. That’s why the law allows you to recover for injuries caused by another person’s or company’s careless or reckless actions.

13. Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries if an Accident Might Have Been Partly My Fault?

Under Georgia law, as long as the incident that caused your injuries was not mostly your fault, yes. Your damages can be reduced in proportion to the amount you were at fault, but you still have a right to recover as long as you were not mostly at fault.

14. Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries if I Have a Preexisting Medical Condition?

If you have a preexisting medical condition that is aggravated or worsened due to the negligent or intentional acts of another, yes, you have a right to recover compensation. The rule is that you can recover for injuries that are caused by the other individual or entities acts. If the incident made your preexisting problems worse, you can recover.

15. What is Liability Insurance?

Liability insurance is insurance that a business or individual has that will pay for injuries to others due to the negligence of the insured.

Car insurance has a component of liability insurance to it. If you have been injured in a car wreck where the other driver was negligent and has car insurance, the liability portion of the other driver’s insurance will likely be available to compensate you for your injuries. Most restaurants and other business carry general liability insurance that addresses injuries related to the business like when a customer slips and falls because of a dangerous condition. Some individuals carry general liability policies. Homeowners insurance also has a component of liability insurance to it. Finally, professionals often carry some form of professional liability insurance that will be available if the individual carelessly performs some professional function that injures someone else. As an example, if you are injured due to a doctor’s negligence, you would normally pursue your claim through the doctor’s professional liability insurance policy.

With almost all liability insurance policies, there is a limit to the amount of liability coverage that is available. The amount of insurance available will significantly impact the potential for recovery.

16. How Much is My Case Worth?

The value of your case depends on a lot of different variables and how they interact together. While every case is different and might be influenced by other things, assuming that there is provable liability, here’s what we normally look at to value a case:

  • The injuries. The value of your case is determined to a large degree by the extent of your injuries. The more significant your injuries and the more medical bills you have incurred (whether paid by you, your insurance, or some other source), the more likely you are to receive a larger recovery.
  • The extent of property damage. Especially in auto accident cases, the amount of damage to all vehicles impacts damage. If the cars are totaled as a result of the accident, and we have pictures that show significant damage, that will increase the value of the case. Alternatively, if there are photos of the vehicles that show limited to no damage, that will decrease the value of the case.
  • The amount of insurance available. Someone has to be available to pay a judgment or a settlement. A lot of times when there is a large award against an individual who does not have insurance, that individual will file bankruptcy, which will usually mean that the injured person can never recover the award. That is not normally a problem with insurance companies because of the reserves they are required by law to have. Insurance companies are available to pay a settlement or jury award at least up to the policy limits. That’s why the amount of insurance available is important to determining the value of the case.
  • The defendant’s and plaintiff’s overall appearance. If a case goes to trial, the jury will be constantly evaluating the plaintiff and the defendant. While the jury will be instructed not to rule in favor of the plaintiff or defendant based on like or dislike of a party, the truth is that how well the jury likes each of the parties will impact the award that they give. How well the jury likes the plaintiff and the defendant will to a large degree be determined by how the individuals look, talk, carry themselves, and just the overall impression they give off. Insurance adjusters and attorneys know that juries take into consideration how the parties appear, and they value the cases accordingly.
  • Where the incident occurred. The real issue is where the case can be filed. The legal determination of the available counties where the suit can be filed impacts the value of the case. Juries in different counties usually respond to things differently and in a somewhat predictable way. As a general rule, juries in more conservative jurisdictions give smaller awards than juries in more liberal jurisdictions. Cases where suit will be filed in Clayton County generally have a higher value than cases filed in Cobb County. Again, insurance adjusters and attorneys know how juries in various counties generally respond, which impacts the potential settlement value of a case.
  • How clear the liability is. When the defense has a good argument that they did not do anything wrong or that their actions did not cause the injury, it will reduce the value of the claim because the jury might find that the injured party is not entitled to get anything. Alternatively, if the conduct at issue was really bad and clearly reckless, it will increase the value of the case because the jury might use its verdict to show its displeasure with the conduct at issue.

Other variables can impact the value of your case, but these are normally the most important issues.

17. I Have Been Hurt by Using a Defective Product, Who is Responsible for My Injuries?

The manufacturer of the product, the designer of the product, the distributor of the product, and the company that sold the product could all be liable depending on the specific facts of your case. If the product is designed in such a way that makes it dangerous, the designer of the product is likely liable. If the product was designed correctly but there was manufactured negligently, the manufacturer is likely liable. If the designer, manufacturer, distributor and/or final seller of the product knew about the dangers of a product, but didn’t warn consumers about the danger, any of them could potentially be liable. Again, who will be responsible is highly dependent on the specific facts of your case.

18. What Can I Do If I Was Injured by a Defective Product?

One option is to bring a claim against the various responsible parties and demand that they compensate you for your injuries. In the event that the responsible parties are not willing to pay the appropriate amount for the injuries they caused, you could then file a lawsuit against them and pursue the action in court. It is important to make sure that you bring your claim and/or lawsuit against the correct entities and individuals and in the correct court, so you probably want to get a lawyer to help you.

19. What is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage in Georgia is a protection you may have on your automobile insurance policy that protects you in the event that you have an accident with someone who does not have insurance but was at fault in the accident. Underinsured motorist coverage is the same thing, but it comes into play when the at fault driver who injured you does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries.

Georgia insurance providers are required to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your automobile coverage. Depending on the amount of uninsured/underinsured coverage that you have, the type of uninsured/underinsured coverage that you selected, and the extent of your injuries, you may be able to access the uninsured/underinsured benefits of your insurance policy to compensate you for your injuries in addition to the at fault driver’s liability policy.

Who is Usually Included in my Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Generally, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage will include the named insured (person who has the insurance policy) and the family members who reside in his or her household. Usually, the injured insured person and/or family member must be a passenger in the vehicle, a pedestrian injured by the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle in the accident.

As an Employee, Am I Covered Under My Employer's Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Policy?

It really depends on the employer’s automobile policy and what the employer selected when they obtained the policy. A careful and thorough lawyer will review all potential policies and try to access all potentially available coverage.

20. What is a Wrongful Death Action?

A wrongful death action is a claim for damages due to the death of a person that was caused by the actions or inactions of another person or entity. Under Georgia law survivors of the deceased individual are permitted to bring a claim for wrongful death. If they win the claim, they are entitled to recover for the full value of the life of the deceased person. The value of the person’s life is comprise of the economic value of the life (lost past wages, lost future wages, lost value of household services, etc.) and the value of the life to the deceased individual (basically the value to that individual as determined by the jury). The deceased individual’s estate is also entitled to bring a claim to recover for the medical bills, funeral expenses, and any conscious pain and suffering that the deceased individual experienced.

21. My Elderly Relative was Injured While Residing in a Nursing Home in Cumming, What Can I Do?

Your injured relative has the right to bring a legal action for injuries caused by the nursing home. If your relative is not capable of bringing an action, you can bring a claim on their behalf. There are various claims that may be brought depending on the specific facts of your case. These actions range from a straight negligence claim, to negligent hiring, to medical malpractice. It just depends on what happened in the home.

You can also report the nursing home to the state. The Georgia Department of Human Resources’ Office of Regulatory Services is one of the bodies that regulates nursing homes in Georgia. They also investigate reports of abuse and neglect. Their contact information can be found here.

Both state and federal statutes exist that protect nursing home residents against abuse, neglect and other forms of mistreatment. Forms of abuse may be physical or mental in nature and may be discovered in different ways. Neglect is usually the failure to provide an individual with basic needs, such as clothing, food, shelter and medical care. Mistreatment may also be nonphysical in nature, such as an employee taking advantage of a resident and stealing or taking control of his or her finances. These types of occurrences have become more common in recent years. For this reason, state and federal statues were created to provide protections and rights for care facility residents.

22. What Type of Claim May I Have for an Animal Bite Injury?

If you meet the requirements of the Georgia Dog Bite Statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, you may have a claim for an injury due to an animal bite. The statute allows for recovery if the owner of the dog knows that the dog has a history of being vicious and carelessly manages the dog in such a way that causes another person to be injured. Under certain circumstances, the animal’s viciousness is established by the owner not having it on a leash.

23. Who Is Responsible for Birth Injuries?

If we can show that a doctor, nurse, midwife, or other individual performed an intentional act or was negligent in such a way that caused a child to be injured, those individuals, and usually their employers, may be held responsible. While each case is different, normally, an action for birth injuries will include claims against the physician who was delivering the baby, his or her practice, and the hospital that was employing the nurses. The hospital may also be held responsible if we can show that it did not have policies or procedures in place that it should have, which caused the child to be injured.

24. What Damages May I Be Awarded if My Child Suffered Birth Injuries?

All the law can offer as damages is money. We wish we could tell you that the law could undue the harm to your child, but it can’t. Money damages may be awarded for the child’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and for his or her long term care. Damages may also be available for the loss of the child’s lifetime earning capacity. The more significant the injuries, the more significant an award likely will be. Talk to a lawyer if your child was injured during birth. The recovery you may be able to receive could provide vital resources for you to be able to give your child the care that he or she needs.