Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Every accident is unique, but many clients have similar questions about personal injury law. Read some of the most commonly asked personal injury questions—and answers to those questions—here.
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  • Which Parties May Be Liable for a Truck Accident?

    Depending on the circumstances, the driver or the driver's employer, and even the truck manufacturer may be liable for causing your accident.

    The truck accident lawyers at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can help you figure out who is liable for your wreck and file claims against them on your behalf. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to talk about your situation.

    Who Is Liable for Your Truck Accident?

    If we pursue damages on your behalf, we may file a claim against any party who contributed to the accident. One or more of the following parties may be liable:

    Truck Drivers

    Our attorneys file most truck accident claims against the truck driver.Truck drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and by state laws. When a truck driver operates his or her truck negligently or recklessly and causes an accident, they may be liable for any resulting injuries and damages. Negligent truck drivers may engage in one or more of these behaviors behind the wheel:

    Fatigued Driving: Truck drivers may have to drive through the night to ensure their deliveries reach their destination on time. Because of this pressure, many drivers do not adhere to the federal trucking regulations that require them to take frequent breaks and end up falling asleep at the wheel. When the driver falls asleep, the truck may veer into oncoming traffic and cause a serious collision.

    Distracted Driving: Truck drivers drive for long stretches of time. Some drivers may find it difficult to focus and resort to checking their phones, texting, adjusting the radio, reading, eating or engaging in other distracting behaviors. However, taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can have catastrophic consequences.

    Drunk Driving: Truck drivers that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an accident may be liable for the victims’ damages. Alcohol and drugs may impair the driver’s decision-making abilities, slow reaction times and cause blurred vision.

    Failing to Follow Traffic Laws/Driver Errors: The law holds truck drivers to a higher standard than drivers of passenger vehicles due to the risks posed by their large vehicles. Truck drivers who do not have proper training or enough experience are more likely to make errors behind the wheel. Truckers must adhere to all trucking regulations and state traffic laws. The most common violations include:

    • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
    • Disobeying traffic control devices such as red lights and stop signs
    • Making sharp turns
    • Failing to yield the right-of-way
    • Failure to apply brakes

    To file a negligence claim against a truck driver, we will establish the following:

    • The driver acted negligently by breaching a duty owed to you.
    • The driver’s negligence caused your accident.
    • You suffered damages in the accident.

    Trucking Companies

    Truck drivers are not the only ones responsible for an accident victim’s injuries and damages. We may also file our claim against the trucking company that employs the driver.Trucking companies may be liable under the following theories:

    • Respondeat superior – Under this theory, the trucking company is vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employee, as long as the company, in fact, employed them and they acted within their scope of employment at the time of the accident.
    • Negligent hiring – If a trucking company hires a driver without investigating his or her background, it could be liable for accidents the driver causes. For example, a company that hires a driver who does not have a commercial license can be liable for negligent hiring.
    • Negligent supervision – Companies must train their supervisors and drivers adequately according to federal trucking regulations. Failure to properly train employees may constitute negligent supervision. Trucking companies that encourage drivers to violate trucking laws to make deliveries on time may also be liable.
    • Failure to inspect – Trucking companies and drivers must conduct regular inspections to make sure their trucks are working properly. If a company fails to inspect a truck and a defect causes an accident, they could be liable for damages.

    Manufacturers

    In addition to truck drivers and trucking companies, truck manufacturers may also be liable for your truck accident. Tire blowouts, faulty brakes, defective steering and other mechanical defects can cause truck accidents. If a truck malfunctions and that malfunction causes an accident, the truck manufacturer and the manufacturer of the faulty part may be liable for damages if we can establish that the defect caused the accident. However, drivers and trucking companies also may be liable if they did not conduct regular inspections of the vehicle.

    File a Claim Against Liable Parties in Your Accident

    If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, talk the attorneys at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz P.C. We can evaluate your claim, determine who is liable for your injuries, and pursue compensation on your behalf. For more information, call 404-474-0804.

  • What Are the Requirements to Get a Motorcycle License in Georgia

    You must have either a Class M (motorcycle) license or a Class MP (motorcycle learner’s permit) to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle on Georgia roadways. Your age determines what kind of license you can get:

    • If you are 16 years old, you can only get a Class MP permit.
    • If you are 17, you can get a regular Class M motorcycle license, but your parents must sign your application.
    • If you are 18 or older, you can get a Class M license.

    The requirements for a Class MP and Class M motorcycle license differ, though generally require submitting proper documents, passing written exams, and passing a road test.

    How Do I Get a Class MP Motorcycle Learner’s Permit?

    You must pass these tests to get your Class MP license:

    • Vision test
    • Motorcycle Knowledge Exam. You take this exam after successfully completing a motorcycle Basic Riders Course (BAC), which includes classroom time, a knowledge exam, and a skills test. The course currently costs $250 for Georgia residents.

    You must provide these documents:

    • Official documents showing your name, Social Security number, home address, and either U.S. citizenship or lawful status in the United States.
    • A Certificate of School Enrollment (DS-1), high school diploma, or GED.
    • Proof of the successful completion of an Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP/eADAP).
    • The documentation from your Behind the Wheel program.
    • You must surrender any driver’s license, permit, or ID card you have from another state.
    • Signature of a parent, guardian, authorized driver training instructor, or authorized responsible adult. Be aware that they can also request that the state of Georgia revoke your license at any time until you turn 18.

    If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must also comply with all the requirements of Senate Bill 226, also known as Joshua’s Law. This law mandates the completion of an approved driver education course, plus at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including six hours of night driving. Your parent or guardian must sign an affidavit that you completed the supervised driving requirements.

    With a Class MP permit, you can ride your motorcycle during daylight hours, but may not have have passengers or ride on limited access highways. You must wear a helmet and windshield or other eye protection, such as goggles.

    How Do I Get a Class M Motorcycle License?

    You must be at least 17 years old to get a Class M licenses in Georgia. If you are 17, you must get the signature of a parent or other authorized person, just as for a Class MP permit, and the person who signs for you may ask that your license be revoked at any time until you are 18.

    You must submit these documents to get your Class M license:

    • Official documents showing your name, Social Security number, home address, and either U.S. citizenship or lawful status in the United States.
    • You must surrender any driver’s license, permit, or ID card from another state. If you can no longer find your out-of-state license, permit, or ID card, you will have to submit a certified driving record from that state.
    • A Certificate of School Enrollment (DS-1), high school diploma, or GED, if you are 17 years old.

    You must pass these tests:

    • Vision exam.
    • EITHER a Knowledge Exam and Road Skills Test OR a Georgia Motorcycle Program Basic Course.

    If you are 17 years old, you must satisfy all the requirements of Joshua’s Law. Regardless of your age, you are required to wear a motorcycle helmet when operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle in Georgia.

    Which Vehicles Require a Class M or Class MP Motorcycle License?

    The following vehicles require a Class M or Class MP motorcycle license to operate:

    • Vehicle is a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle; and
    • It has a saddle instead of a seat like you would find in a car or truck; and
    • It is designed to travel with two or three wheels on the ground; and
    • It is not a tractor; and
    • It is not a moped having a 50 cc or smaller engine.

    To ride a moped (50 cc or smaller engine motor-driven cycle) on Georgia roads, you must:

    • Be at least 15 years old and carry a current driver’s license, instructional permit, or limited permit.
    • Wear a motorcycle helmet.
    • Follow the rules of the road.

    Your moped does not need a tag, but you are not allowed to ride it on roads with a minimum speed limit over 35 miles per hour.

    You should always take your safety seriously when riding a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. Be aware of and adhere to all motorcycle laws in Georgia. If you suffer an injury in a motorcycle accident, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. at 404-474-0804 for a free consultation.

  • Can I get compensation for a dog bite infection?

    Yes, you can recover compensation for a dog bite infection. Below, we detail how an infection from a dog bite can affect you and what you can expect to recover in a dog bite infection claim.

    What damages can I recover for an infected dog bite?

    Dog bites are notorious breeding grounds for infection. After a dog bite, you can develop bacterial infections like cellulitis, pasteurellosis, or capnocytophaga. These painful bacterial infections can spread through your body and cause severe tissue damage through flesh-eating strep or MRSA (antibiotic-resistant infection).

    There is also a risk of contracting rabies, even though cases in the U.S. are uncommon. Rabies is often fatal in unvaccinated humans.

    The damages you can recover for your infected dog bite depend on:

    • The severity of the infection itself (e.g., a skin infection will likely recover less than a case of sepsis);
    • How the infection has affected you;
    • The treatments you have undergone

    Each dog bite infection claim is different but you can expect to recover the following:

    Immediate Medical Bills

    A dog bite infection can leave you in the hospital for days, or even weeks, which can cause the costs to skyrocket. You can recover all immediate medical bills related to your dog bite infection such as:

    • Emergency room or urgent care center bills
    • The cost of your hospital stay
    • Cost of dressings and ointments to use at home
    • Medications
    • Antibiotics for the infection
    • Any surgeries necessary (e.g., some infections require amputation of a limb)

    Follow-up Treatments

    You can also recover compensation for the expenses of follow-up treatment, such as regular appointments or plastic surgery to modify scars and other types of disfigurement.

    We will clearly establish the link between the follow-up treatment and the dog bite infection.

    Lost Wages

    In many cases, a dog bite infection will require time in the hospital or, at the very least, a few follow-up visits. If you missed work because of a dog bite infection, we will ensure your settlement offer includes any wages and benefits you lost.

    If your dog bite infection required you to take a lesser-paying job or retire completely, we will ensure your settlement covers all these losses.

    Ongoing Issues

    It is not uncommon for people to suffer nerve damage or long-term damage to skin, muscles, connective tissue, and even bones or organs after a dog bite infection. Since dog bite infections can attack the nervous system or the entire body, the long-term harm can be significant and life-changing. You might face neurological damage, paralysis, or cognitive impairment. A high fever caused by the infection can also have similar effects.

    If you are suffering disabling or restrictive effects from a dog bite infection, we will demand compensation for those effects. If you are unable to work or must take a lesser paying job due to your dog bite infection, we include these losses in your demand.

    These are real consequences that can mean your life will never be the same. You are not limited to only compensation for the initial medical treatment if you have suffered long-term harm as a result of a dog bite infection. These long-term damages will be part of your injury claim.

    Emotional Damages

    We will also demand emotional damages if your dog bite or dog bite infection caused you substantial pain and suffering or keeps you from enjoying life the way you did before.

    Wrongful Damages

    Infections from a dog bite can be fatal. If your loved one died from a dog bite infection, we will demand compensation for:

    • Funeral and burial or cremation costs
    • Loss of income and work benefits
    • Loss of support and services
    • Loss of guidance, consortium, and community
    • Mental anguish
    • Pain and suffering

    Call Jason R. Schultz for help today.

    Do not think you need to handle your dog bite claim alone. Atlanta dog bite lawyer Jason R. Schultz is here to help. Call today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation: 404-474-0804.

  • How does motorcycle insurance work in Georgia?

    Motorcycle insurance works the same way as car insurance after an accident in Georgia. The insurer investigates the accident and pays out depending on the injuries, property damage, and coverage limits.

    Is motorcycle insurance mandatory in Georgia?

    Yes. Georgia law requires owners of all motor vehicles to maintain certain minimum amounts of insurance to cover injuries or property damage they cause. These requirements apply to motorcycles the same as they do for any other motor vehicle.

    These minimums include:

    • $25,000 bodily injury liability for one person;
    • $50,000 bodily injury liability for everyone in an accident; and
    • $25,000 property damage liability

    IMPORTANT: Your liability coverage only pays claims to people when you are at fault. It does not cover your damages if the other driver is at fault. When the other driver causes the accident, you make a claim against his liability insurance.

    What kinds of motorcycle insurance does Georgia law not require?

    Georgia law does not require you to buy motorcycle insurance that exceeds the minimum required coverage, also called 25/50/25 coverage. The law also gives you the option to decline uninsured motorist coverage or medical payments coverage.

    What happens if the damages are higher than the limits of the insurance policy?

    If you are at fault and the damages exceed the limits of your insurance coverage, the people you injured in the accident can sue you and try to take your personal assets. If the other driver is at fault and does not have enough coverage to pay all the damages, we can seek a judgment for the difference, and go after the at-fault driver’s assets.

    What optional types of insurance covers motorcyclists?

    Yes. Multiple types of optional motor vehicle coverage can protect motorcyclists in the event of a wreck, including:

    • Higher limits
    • Uninsured/Underinsured coverage
    • Collision coverage
    • Comprehensive
    • Medical payments
    • Accessories coverage

    What can I expect from my insurance after a motorcycle wreck?

    Once you file a claim with your insurer, a claims adjuster will begin investigating your accident. If you also filed a claim against another driver, his insurer will launch its own investigation. You will likely receive calls from both insurers asking for your side of the story. The insurance adjusters will also likely request a recorded statement. It is imperative that you do not grant a request for a recorded statement and instead direct any questions to us.

    Insurance adjusters are notorious for using what accident victims say in these statements against them. And do not assume that your own insurer has your best interests in mind. Insurance companies are only concerned with one thing: saving money. And they will use some nefarious tactics to do so.

    For example, you were riding your motorcycle when you had a collision with a car turning left at an intersection. It is clear the other driver was at-fault; however, you admitted in your recorded statement that you might have been riding a few miles over the speed limit. The insurer will use that to reduce your compensation and assign liability to you.

    Consider another example: you were riding through an intersection when you collided with a car turning left. You admit you saw the car turning left in front of you but did nothing to slow down or avoid the crash. The insurer will likely try to assign significant liability to you. This means that you will only be able to recover a certain percentage of your injury settlement and you could be liable for a portion of the other person’s injuries.

    Depending on the severity of the injuries the other driver suffered, you could end up paying for a portion of your and his injuries out of pocket.

    If you have optional coverage above the minimum required coverage, it could help with the payment of damages. If the other driver is uninsured, your insurance will pay the costs if you carry uninsured motorist coverage. If the other driver is insured but your damages are greater than the amount of the other driver’s insurance, your policy will cover your excess damages if you purchased underinsured motorist coverage.

    Get help from an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer.

    Recovering compensation from the other driver’s insurer or your own can be difficult. The motorcycle accident team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. is ready to help you. Call 404-474-0804 for your free consultation.

  • Can a slip and fall cause a bulging disc?

    Can a slip and fall cause a bulging disc?

    Yes, a slip and fall accident can cause a bulging disc in your spine. In fact, a bulging or herniated disc is a common slip and fall injury.

    A series of individual vertebrae make up your spinal column. Between each one of these vertebrae is a spinal disc. Your discs contain a squishy substance and serve as shock absorbers, protecting your vertebrae and holding them in place as you go about your day. When portions of your back or neck move out of place because of an injury, your discs can bulge between vertebrae and rupture.

    Falling can directly damage the vertebrae or discs, especially if you land on your back or strike it in the process of tumbling down. The sudden, jerky motions people experience when falling can cause strains of deep muscles in the back, which can wrench a disc out of place.

    If you suffered a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may need extensive medical treatment to repair your bulging disc and manage the pain that comes along with this back injury.

    What is the treatment for a bulging or herniated disc?

    If your doctor suspects you have a bulging disc, he or she will first conduct a physical examination to evaluate your pain and look for weakness or changes in sensation or reflexes. Sometimes your doctor will order imaging tests, such as an x-ray, CAT scan, or MRI, before making a diagnosis.

    Depending on the level and severity of your injury, your doctor may prescribe a few days or weeks of rest, pain medication, and anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe cases, you may need physical therapy or surgery to reduce back pain and return to your previous level of mobility.

    Most people recover from a herniated disc, but some do not. A bulging disc can cause long-term or permanent injury, especially if you have an underlying medical condition, a history of back problems, or your back injury is particularly severe. Even if you initially recuperate well from your spinal injury, 3 to 5 percent of patients experience a second rupture sometime later.

    Treating a bulging disc can mean you will face costly medical bills and significant time off work while you recuperate and undergo physical therapy. If you are facing a permanent disability, you may never earn the same income you did prior to your fall.

    How can I recoup my losses after a slip and fall accident?

    If your bulging disc occurred after a fall on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation for your expenses. The premises liability attorneys with the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, can file a claim on your behalf to help you recover the costs you are facing because of your injury.

    We can calculate the value of your claim, including all of your medical expenses and lost wages. We will also consider the long-term impact of your injury and the costs you will face down the road. Then, we will negotiate directly with the property owner’s insurer to get you the full compensation you deserve.

    Our initial consultations are free, so call us today at 404-474-0804 to set up an appointment. 

  • What is a wrongful death settlement worth?

    Every wrongful death settlement is different. The amount of compensation you can recover for the wrongful death of a loved one will depend on the details of your particular case.

    What is the standard for compensation in a wrongful death case in Georgia?

    While there is no specific standard, the purpose of wrongful death damages in Georgia is to compensate for the “full value” of the decedent's life.

    What does "full value of the life" mean?

    Per Georgia Code § 51-4-1, full value of the life means “the full value of the life of the decedent without deducting for any of the necessary or personal expenses of the decedent had he lived.” Essentially, it is the contributions — both economic and noneconomic — the decedent would have made.

    Full value includes both economic and noneconomic losses. This means that if a surviving family member or personal representative brings an action, that party can recover compensation for:

    • Medical bills, funeral, and burial expenses
    • Any other necessary expenses
    • Lost earning capacity
    • Loss of employment benefits
    • Lost support and services (e.g., childcare)
    • Pain and suffering the decedent experienced from the time of the injury until death
    • Loss of companionship
    • Loss of advice and counsel
    • Loss of care

    The “full value” of one person’s life can vary significantly from that of someone else.

    Why is the “full value of the life” different from one person to another?

    While it is difficult to put a monetary value on a life, the courts must do so to determine how much you can receive for that death. This value rests on the contributions the decedent made and how the death will affect survivors.

    If, for example, a person works part time at a minimum wage job, that person will not contribute financially to the family as much as an individual who earns six figures. The more a person makes, the greater the financial loss to the household if the individual dies before his time.

    However, it is important to remember that the full value does not only consider the economic contributions your loved one made. We always ensure a settlement includes the value of your loved one’s advice and counsel, companionship, and taking care of the household, as well as other intangible losses, in addition to the amount of money he earned.                                 

    Is it possible to recover punitive damages in a Georgia wrongful death claim?

    Yes. If you can show that the wrongdoer acted intentionally or with conscious disregard for the consequences of his actions, the court may award punitive damages.

    Call Jason R. Schultz for help with your wrongful death case.

    Damages in wrongful death cases are different from other personal injury claims. Talk with Georgia wrongful death lawyer, Jason R. Schultz, for guidance on how to recover the compensation you need to live the best possible life after this tragedy in your family. You can call us at any time. We will always treat you with compassion and sensitivity. Set up your free consultation by calling 404-474-0804 today.

    Before our meeting, feel free to check out our wrongful death checklist to keep everything organized during this very trying time in your life. 

  • Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia?

    Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia depends on whether the person who died is a child or an adult.  

    When a child dies, who can file a wrongful death action in Georgia?

    When a child dies from something other than natural causes, Georgia law provides guidance on who has the legal authority to sue for the wrongful death. The people entitled to bring a wrongful death action for the passing of a child are:

    • The deceased party’s spouse
    • The parents/legal guardian of the deceased child
    • If there are no surviving parents of the deceased child, then the administrator or executor of the estate of the deceased child or his personal representative

    Does it matter if the parents are living together?

    No. If the parents are divorced, separated, or living apart, both parents have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If one of these parents is absent or refuses to go forward with the action, the other parent can file the lawsuit alone.

    Note: If one parent has abandoned or failed to provide support to the child, he may be unable to bring a claim.

    Who has the right to sue for the wrongful death of an adult?

    The following parties have the right to file suit for the wrongful death of an adult:

    • A surviving spouse (the primarily eligible party)
    • A child of the deceased person.
    • Parents (only if there is no surviving spouse or children, or if the spouse is the alleged negligent party)
    • Personal representative

    What can I recover in a Georgia wrongful death suit?

    What you can recover depends on your relationship to the deceased.

    If you are a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, the damages are the full value of the life of the deceased. If you are a personal representative of the deceased, the damages available include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and all other necessary expenses that arose from the injury and death.

    Who are the possible beneficiaries of a wrongful death action?

    In a claim for the passing of a child, the surviving spouse or parents of the deceased child can be the beneficiaries. In cases where the parents are the beneficiaries, they both split the award, but the court can order a different distribution. If an absent parent does not appear within two years, the court can award that person’s share to the parent who brought the action.

    If one parent abandoned the child or failed to provide support, he may be unable to recover from the award.

    In a claim for the death of an adult, the surviving spouse and children can be the beneficiaries. Also, the estate can be the beneficiary, if the administrator or executor of the estate or the personal representative of the deceased adult brings an action.

    Call Jason R. Schultz for help filing a wrongful death claim.

    If a member of your immediate family has died due to a negligent or intentional act, call on Georgia wrongful death attorney Jason R. Schultz for help. Before our meeting, feel free to read through our wrongful death checklist for more information about the process you can expect to go through.

    Set up your free consultation today: 404-474-0804.

  • How do I choose a personal injury lawyer?

    Not everyone knows how to choose a personal injury lawyer. When considering prospective lawyers, make sure you ask about experience, testimonials, memberships, and the firm’s communication policy.

    What should I ask a potential lawyer about his experience?

    When you are vetting several attorneys, ask each one how long he has been practicing law, and in particular, personal injury law. How many cases has he handled, and what were the verdicts and settlements in those cases? Do not be afraid to ask for the dollar amounts from typical cases he has handled.

    Ask the lawyer for any reviews and testimonials his clients have left him. If he seems hesitant to produce those testimonials, consider moving on to the next lawyer on your list.

    What are important traits to look for in a personal injury attorney?

    You want a lawyer you can work with comfortably. You are going through a stressful time, and you do not need additional tension from your attorney’s office. When dealing with a personal injury lawyer, ask yourself these questions:

    • Does the firm treat me with courtesy and respect?
    • Does my legal team seem to care about me and the outcome of my case?
    • Are they honest with me?
    • Do I have a voice in how the legal team handles my case?
    • Is my overall feeling toward my lawyer’s office positive?
    • Does my lawyer explain things without talking down to me or talking over my head?
    • Does the representation agreement or fee agreement clearly lay out the entire financial arrangement, including litigation expenses and how much compensation my lawyer will receive?

    What is the firm’s communication policy?

    Lawyers are very busy; however, that does not mean that your lawyer should leave you hanging for days at a time.

    Before you sign on with a lawyer, ask what the firm’s communication policy is. Consider asking the following:

    • Will you receive updates each week or only if something happens in your case?
    • How long will it take for the lawyer to get back to you?
    • Will you be in touch with the lawyer directly or with a paralegal?
    • Is it best to contact the firm through email or over the phone?

    You want a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable. You should be able to sit down with your lawyer and ask any question about your case. It is better to ask a question than to worry about things. Communication is necessary for the attorney-client relationship to work best. We welcome your questions and any input you may have about your personal injury claim.

    Are there other benchmarks of a good personal injury lawyer?

    Yes. A highly qualified personal injury lawyer often has these accomplishments:

    Are there online resources for finding a personal injury lawyer?

    Yes. In addition to directories like Martindale-Hubbell and associations like Georgia Super Lawyers, there are other helpful online resources for finding a personal injury lawyer:

    Armed with all the information in this FAQ, you should now be better prepared to find and choose the right lawyer to handle your personal injury case. But do not stop reading yet. We have one more resource for you.

    The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. will send you our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Injury Cases in Georgia – The Truth about Your Injury Case, for FREE. Our guide is an easy read that will help you understand the claims process and will warn you about pitfalls to avoid.

    Schedule a free consultation with Jason R. Schultz today.

    If another party’s negligence caused your injuries in Georgia, do not delay. There are time limits for bringing claims for personal injury claims. The compassionate personal injury team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. is standing by to speak with you. Contact us at any time. You can either live chat with our team or call us at 404-474-0804 to set up your free consultation.

  • Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable in Georgia?

    Is my personal injury settlement taxable?

    In Georgia, portions of your settlement may be taxable. Often, part of the proceeds from your personal injury settlement will be taxable, while other parts will not.

    Which part of my settlement is not taxable?

    The portion of your settlement that the court awarded for your physical injuries or physical sickness is usually not taxable.

    This changes, however, if you deducted the cost of your medical treatments on a prior year’s tax return. If that deduction gave you a tax benefit, you will have to report that amount as taxable income.

    Are my lost wages taxable?

    Any payment the court awarded for your lost wages is taxable income to the IRS. This is because this portion of your settlement is replacing wages that would have been taxable. The IRS will use the same Social Security and Medicare tax rates for the year you received your settlement to determine your tax obligation.

    What about the amount I received for emotional distress or mental anguish?

    The IRS will not tax settlement proceeds for emotional distress or mental anguish, as long as that distress occurred due to a physical injury or sickness.

    If this was not true in your case, this part of your settlement is taxable. However, you can reduce the amount you need to report by doing the following:

    • Deduct any medical expenses you paid as treatment for your emotional distress; and
    • If you deducted these costs on a prior year’s tax return but did not receive a tax benefit, deduct them from your total amount.

    I got punitive damages in my personal injury settlement. Are they taxable?

    Yes, punitive damages are taxable even if they were directly for personal physical injuries or physical sickness. You will report them as "Other Income" on line 21 of your federal Form 1040.

    Is the interest on my personal injury settlement taxable?

    The general rule is that interest on any type of settlement is taxable. You will report it as "interest income" on line 8a of your Form 1040.

    Do I have to pay Georgia state income taxes on my settlement?

    If a portion of your settlement was taxable on your federal return, it is also taxable on your Georgia state return. This is because Georgia uses your Federal adjusted gross income from your federal return on your state income tax return. Whatever is not taxable on your federal return is not taxable on your Georgia state taxes.

    Our attorneys can help you understand your settlement.

    The personal injury attorneys at Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, will help you navigate your claim and settlement. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.

  • What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?

    What is the purpose of damages in a wrongful death claim?

    Wrongful death damages offer compensation to loved ones for the full value of the decedent’s life. Any living expenses the decedent would have had if he had lived do not reduce this amount.

    It is impossible to put a price on the value of a person’s life. While no amount of money can stop the suffering when a life ends because of a wrongful act, the courts have developed standard approaches to calculate how much compensation the survivors should receive. For help with your wrongful death claim, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804.

    What are economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim?

    Economic and non-economic damages are the two types of compensatory damages available in a wrongful death claim. These damages offer compensation to the decedent’s loved ones so they can recover.

    Economic damages can include:

    • Medical bills from the injury or illness until death;
    • Funeral and burial expenses;
    • Loss of income and future financial support; and
    • Loss of services within the family, such as housekeeping, raising the children, and maintaining the house and yard.

    Non-economic damages may involve:

    • The decedent’s physical and mental pain and suffering from the time of the injury or illness until the moment of death;
    • Mental anguish of the survivors;
    • Loss of companionship; and
    • Loss of a parent or child’s society, advice, and counsel.

    Can I get interest on my wrongful death claim?

    All judgments in Georgia carry interest at the Federal Reserve prime rate plus 3%, until paid. Post-judgment interest is automatic, so the judgment does not have to specifically mention interest.

    It is also possible to get pre-judgment interest. If, on your behalf, we make a written offer by registered or certified mail with a demand for your unliquidated damages and the court awards an amount of damages equal to or greater than the amount of the demand, you are eligible for pre-judgment interest if the wrongdoer does not pay within 30 days. Pre-judgment interest is the same amount as post-judgment interest—prime rate plus 3%.

    What are punitive damages?

    Georgia law provides that punitive damages, also known as vindictive or exemplary damages, may be appropriate when there are aggravating circumstances in a wrongful death case. Courts do not order these damages as compensation to the injured party. Instead, punitive damages are strictly to punish, penalize, or deter the wrongdoer. With that in mind, the courts place certain limitations on the amount of punitive damages recoverable in some wrongful death actions.

    To prove that punitive damages are appropriate, we must prove that the wrongdoer’s actions showed:

    • Malice;
    • Willful misconduct;
    • Wantonness;
    • Fraud;
    • Oppression; or
    • An indifference to the consequences of their actions.

    Depending on the specifics of your case, a portion of any punitive damages the courts award may go toward the state. If a defective product caused the wrongful death, for example, 75% of the punitive damages—minus the litigation costs and attorney fees—will go to the treasury of the state of Georgia.

    How can I prove the damages in my wrongful death claim?

    While making arrangements after the death of your loved one, keep in mind that your wrongful death claim will require evidence to prove. For help gathering this evidence, contact our wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible.

    An autopsy may be necessary to prove a link between your loved one’s death and the wrongful act. An autopsy can provide essential evidence to prove wrongful death, while ruling out other medical conditions or events the negligent party may claim were the cause of death. If your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, we recommend scheduling an independent autopsy, rather than relying on the hospital’s autopsy.

    Police reports can provide evidence in wrongful death cases that arise out of motor vehicle accidents or violent acts. We can use expert witnesses to prove causation in wrongful death cases involving defective products, hazardous conditions, or toxic substances.

    Employment records will give the data we need to calculate the decedent’s lost income and to extrapolate the loss of future earnings. Expert witnesses often prepare reports and testify on income and earning damages.

    We can also use bills from the doctors, hospital, and pharmacy to establish the cost of medical expenses, while statements from the funeral home will show the funeral and burial expenses.

    Note that only medical bills relating to final illness or injury are recoverable as damages in a wrongful death action. You cannot recover for medical bills for a condition the decedent had before the wrongful act occurred.

    At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we can help.

    The wrongful death attorneys at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC will show you the compassion and respect you deserve. We will discuss how the tragic loss of your loved one has impacted you and your family and evaluate your claim for damages. Call us today at 404-474-0804 for your free consultation.