Frequently Asked Questions
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How Much Are My Lost Wages Worth After an Accident?
The value of your lost wages depends on how much time you missed from work because of your injuries, whether you will lose income in the future because your injuries prevent you from working, and whether your injuries force you to take a job that pays less than your current job. Losing out on a promotion or other benefits, such as a retirement pension and health benefits, can affect the value of your lost wages in a personal injury claim.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. will discuss your case with you and review your wage records to determine a fair value for your lost wages in your injury case. Call us today at 404-474-0804.
What Are Lost Wages After an Accident?
- Lost current wages. When you cannot work after an accident because of your injuries, treatments, and recuperation time, your employer might not compensate you while you are away from work. You may also have to use vacation time, compensation for which we will seek to recover too.
- Lost future wages. There are two types of lost future wages: pay you will not receive during a lengthy recuperation time and money you miss out on because of debilitating injuries that prevent you from working in the future. To determine the value of your lost future wages, we will rely on evidence and testimony pertaining to your wages and medical evidence. If necessary, we may work with a rehabilitation or vocational expert as well.
What Happens If I Miss a Promotion Because I Was Not Able to Work?
Losing a promotion because you were away from work due to an injury may be compensable in your personal injury claim. For example, if you were likely to get promoted to a higher-paying position, we may seek compensation for the difference in pay you miss out on due to your injury.
What If I Have to Take a Lower-Paying Job Because of My Injuries?
If you are unable to perform your job and have to switch to a lower-paying career due to your injuries, you will have a claim for loss of earning potential. The value of your lost earning potential will be the difference between what you were making and how much you will make in the lower-paying career.
The calculations get tricky here because we will have to show how much money you would have made over the course of your working life in your previous career as well as how much you will earn during the rest of your working life with your impairments.
How Can Losing a Job or Missing Work Impact Me in Other Ways?
Missing time at work, having to switch jobs, or being unable to work altogether can mean that you miss out on more than income. Depending on your employer, you could also experience:
- Lost or reduced pension or retirement, including employer matching funds. If you are no longer working or if you are earning less money, you are not paying as much, (if anything) into your retirement account.
- Loss of benefits, such as medical, dental, and vision insurance; life insurance; free on-site daycare; paid vacation; paid parental leave; paid sick days; paid holidays; gym membership; and education subsidies.
Your personal injury claim should account for these additional work-related losses when seeking compensation for injury-related damages.
If you sustained injuries in an accident that was not your fault, call the personal injury team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. We are standing by at 404-474-0804 to take your call and set up your free consultation.
What Is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Claim?
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
You file a personal injury claim with an insurance company. For example, after a car accident, you can file a claim with your insurance company (if you have first-party coverage) or with the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.
Once you contact the insurance company, it will assign an adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will investigate the accident, including your damages such as medical bills and lost wages. If you file a liability claim (alleging another party caused you harm), the adjuster will evaluate fault.
The adjuster will either deny your claim or decide that your claim has merit. If they do not deny your claim, the adjuster will then calculate how much the insurance company will pay you for your injuries. If the insurer denies the claim, many people decide to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is an action filed with the court. Once you file the lawsuit, the case makes its way through the court system. The end of the process is trial, but most lawsuits settle prior to getting to trial.
It is sometimes necessary to file a lawsuit so you do not run out of time to take legal action. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury cases. If you do not file a lawsuit within this period, you can no longer file a lawsuit.
Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Claim?
We recommend working with a lawyer if you suffered serious injuries that another party caused. During your insurance claim, a lawyer will protect you from lowball offers and other tactics insurance companies use to minimize the value of your claim. Your lawyer will deal with the insurance company so that you do not have to.
Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Insurance companies keep teams of lawyers on retainer to defend their cases in the court system. So, we recommend working with a lawyer especially if the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement, in which case your lawyer can help you pursue a lawsuit.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
Depending on the facts of your case, your recovery can include your medical bills, lost wages, disability, disfigurement, loss of earning potential, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC will obtain relevant records and documents to build and prove your case and its value.
If you suffered a severe injury from an accident that another party caused, the team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC is ready to help you. Call us today at 404-474-0804, to set up your free consultation.
How Much Is a Herniated Disc Lawsuit Settlement?
If you suffered a herniated disc in a personal injury accident, the value of your settlement would depend on many factors, including the severity of your injuries and the circumstances surrounding your accident. The attorneys at the Law Office of Jason Schultz, P.C. can evaluate your claim and help you determine the value of your settlement.
How Much Is My Injury Worth?
Generally, your settlement will comprise of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to medical expenses, lost wages, and other tangible expenses. Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other less-tangible damages.
To determine how much your injuries are worth, we will need to consider some factors that affect the value of your settlement. While we cannot predict the exact value of your claim, we can say that herniated disc injuries may result in a substantial settlement value if they cause severe pain, expensive medical bills, and have long-lasting effects. Our attorneys can evaluate your claim and identify a reasonable settlement value based on statistics and other criteria.
The amount you receive in settlement will depend on the following factors:
The Severity of the Injury
The more serious your injury, the greater your expenses, losses, and other damages. And therefore, the more compensation you may recover in your settlement. The following factors may go into determining injury severity:
- Whether the injury affects other parts of the body – Herniated discs can cause pain in your arms, legs, shoulders, and buttocks in addition to your back.
- How the injury affects the victim’s everyday life – Herniated disc victims may not be able to go to work, drive, or perform household services.
- If the injury causes a loss of body function – Herniated disc victims may suffer from limited mobility, numbness, and weakness.
- The severity of the victim’s pain – Accident victims with herniated disc injuries may suffer severe pain for an extended period.
- If the injury is long-term or permanent – Many accident victims find that the pain from the herniated disc injuries is permanent, even with treatment and surgery.
One common argument insurance adjusters use to lower settlement awards is that the victim’s injuries were pre-existing. The adjuster may say that the victim is prone to back injuries because of their medical history of back injuries. However, the plaintiff can counter that the accident aggravated their previous injuries, and thus that they are still entitled to recover damages. If you previously suffered a herniated disc injury, but your accident aggravated it, you may still be eligible to file a claim and recover compensation for damages.
Circumstances of the Accident
The circumstances surrounding your accident may affect the settlement the insurance company offers. For example, when evaluating a settlement after a car accident, the insurer may look at the severity of vehicle damage. If the accident was a low-speed collision, the adjuster may argue that such a minor crash could not cause such a serious injury. However, even if your vehicle damage is minor, you are still entitled to compensation if the accident resulted in a herniated disc injury. Do not let the adjuster convince you that just because your vehicle damage is minor that you are not entitled to full compensation for your damages.
Our attorneys will contact medical experts, accident reconstructionists and witnesses to help us establish the severity of your injuries and the value of your damages.
We must also establish that the other party was at fault for the accident. Under Georgia law, the party who casued the accident is liable for the injured party's damages. But even if you were partially at fault, you may recover compensation for your injuries. Comparative negligence law in Georgia allows negligent parties to recover damages for their injuries as long as they are less than 50 percent at fault. For example, if you suffered a disc herniation when you fell on a broken step at a department store, but you were 40 percent at fault for your injuries, and your damages total $100,000, you will recover $60,000 ($100,000 minus 40 percent).
We Can Help You Recover Monetary Compensation
We can evaluate your case using all the above factors to determine how much your lawsuit settlement may be worth. Your settlement should include past, present, and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic costs.
For a thorough case evaluation, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. at 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:
- Teaches legal education courses to other lawyers
- Is a member of Georgia Super Lawyers
- Is rated by the AV Peer Review Rating of Martindale-Hubbell (an information service that provides detailed information and ratings on attorneys)
- Is a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
- Is a member of the American Association for Justice
- Has published books and articles for the legal profession and the general public
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:
- The Atlanta Bar Association has a lawyer referral service. The referrals are free, but there can be a fee to meet with an attorney.
- Avvo.com, which is totally free to use, provides detailed information and ratings on attorneys.
- Findlaw.com posts details on the education and accomplishments of lawyers. FindLaw does not charge the public to access this data.
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?
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 does 'mitigate damages' mean?
What does “mitigate damages” mean?
Georgia law requires that when a person suffers injury because of the negligence of someone else, the injured person must mitigate his damages to the extent that is practical. What does the word mitigate mean? According to Black's Law Dictionary, to mitigate means to reduce or lessen.
How far do I have to go to mitigate my damages?
You do not have to take extraordinary measures to mitigate your damages. Georgia law merely requires you to lessen your damages by using ordinary care and diligence. If you take the steps that a reasonable person would do under the circumstances, you have exercised ordinary care and diligence.
What steps can I take to mitigate my damages?
Get medical treatment.
If you have an injury, you should seek professional medical attention right away. For example, if you suffered large cuts in a car accident, you should go to an urgent care center, an emergency room, or a doctor's office to get the cuts properly cleaned and dressed. If you fail to do so and the wounds become infected, you have not mitigated your damages. A reasonable person would have gotten the cuts cleaned and dressed to prevent the injuries from getting worse.
Complete your treatment.
If your doctor prescribes three months of physical therapy to treat your injury, you should complete the full three months unless there is a sound medical reason to do otherwise. If you go to one therapy session and do not return or fail to perform the exercises your therapist directed you to do at home, you have not exercised ordinary care and diligence to restore function to your injured area and have not mitigated your damages.
Follow medical advice.
If your doctor prescribes painkillers and directs you not to drive a vehicle while taking the medication, you should follow this advice. If you drive your car and crash, the party at fault in your original car accident will not be liable for your new injuries.
Do not do anything that makes your injuries worse.
If you broke your leg because of a dangerous condition on a property and then rode a motorcycle with your leg in the cast, the jarring impact could cause your bones to shift out of alignment and not heal properly. Since your actions worsened your injuries, the party at fault in the original premises liability accident will not be liable for the additional damage.
Take reasonable steps to get better.
Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, get moderate exercise as approved by your doctor, and avoid harmful behaviors during your recuperation. Use common sense to get well.
You can exercise ordinary care and diligence by attending all of your doctor appointments, taking your medication as directed, and focusing on getting well. Avoid complicating your injuries.
What can happen if I do not mitigate my damages?
It can reduce the amount of financial compensation you will receive if you do not mitigate your damages or if you worsen them. The reasoning behind this is that the person at fault in your accident should only be responsible for the damages he caused. He has no control over whether you make a good-faith effort to recuperate or whether you exercise ordinary care and diligence.
If you need help with your negligence claim, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free consultation.
What to do after an elderly slip and fall accident?
Elderly slip and fall accidents are a serious concern, causing our loved ones severe injuries and threatening their independence. Health and medication issues and decreased strength and balance make seniors more susceptible to fall injuries. In fact, “Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If your parent or other loved one is of advanced age, educate yourself about ways to reduce the risks of falls, as well as how to handle emergency situations in the event she slips and falls. Below we share some tips on handling slip and fall accidents involving older adults, concerning both medical and legal issues.
If you have legal questions regarding an elderly slip and fall accident, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC for a free consultation: 404-474-0804.
What steps should I take if my elderly loved one falls?
How you handle a fall depends on the severity of the accident and whether your loved one is conscious.
Conscious – If your loved one falls and is still alert:
- Quickly assess the situation. Look for bleeding and swelling.
- Ask her if she feels any pain or light headedness.
- Try to keep her relaxed.
- If there does not appear to be any injury and she feels okay, help her to her feet, slowly and carefully.
- Call 9-1-1 for medical assistance, if necessary.
- Call her doctor to schedule a check-up and to discuss your concerns.
Unconscious – If your loved one is unresponsive:
- Call 9-1-1 for medical assistance.
- Check her vital signs, e.g., her pulse, pupils, bleeding, etc. and relay the info the dispatcher.
- Do not attempt to an unconscious person.
- Stay by her side until emergency personnel arrive.
How can I prevent future fall injuries for older adults?
Before we get into the legal issues you might face following an elderly slip and fall accident, let’s review how to prevent future occurrences of these serious accidents.
Older adults are at greater risk for falls than other populations for several reasons. They may have health issues or medication side effects that affect their vision and balance, and they often have bone loss, decreased muscle tone, and reduced flexibility that can affect their coordination, gait, and strength.
And once your loved one is hurt in a fall accident, she is more likely to fall again in the future. Prevention is key. There are simple measures you can take to reduce the risk of your loved one falling again:
- Talk to her and her doctor about any medications or contraindications that could cause balance issues.
- Evaluate the home for fall hazards like loose rugs or cords, and install rails or emergency responsive devices if needed.
- If your loved one is in a nursing home or other facility, ask the nurses or administration about their fall prevention policies.
- Encourage your loved one to exercise and engage in physical activities approved by her doctor, such as walking or light stretching, for example.
Are there any legal measures I can take for my loved one’s fall?
Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s fall, you might be able to file an insurance claim or lawsuit and recover damages. Attorney Jason R. Schultz has handled numerous slip and fall cases over the last 25+ years and would be happy to discuss your case with you and determine if you qualify for compensation. You can reach his office by calling 404-474-0804.
To have a valid claim or suit for an elderly fall accident, another party must have caused or contributed to your loved one’s fall. We will review the facts around the accident and determine if someone is liable.
For instance, if the doctor gave your loved one too much medication or prescribed the wrong medication which subsequently led or contributed to your loved one’s fall, there may be a cause to file a claim. Likewise, if a nursing home worker abused your loved one or neglected basic caregiver duties (like cleaning up a spill) and your love fell as a result, you may be eligible to file a claim. In other situations, a manufacturer (e.g., a defective walker manufacturer) or a place of business (cords or merchandise in the aisles) may be the liable party.
Because there may be various factors involved, determining liability can be complex. Our firm has the resources and knowledge to investigate and pursue all types of injury claims, including elderly slip and fall cases. We can explain your rights and responsibilities, gather evidence to support your claim, and help you take the next steps. Explore your options with Jason R. Schultz today.
What types of damages can I recover after my loved one’s fall?
If your loved one’s fall was another party’s fault and you successfully file a liability claim, you might be able to collect reimbursement for all her expenses and emotional losses related to the fall, such as:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Hiring in-home nursing care
- The cost of adding features to the home like railings or a wheelchair ramp
- Pain and suffering and reduced quality of life
If your loved one’s fall injuries were fatal, you can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim, such as for funeral and burial expenses, loss of support, and other harms.
To determine the potential value of your claim or for general legal questions about elderly slip and fall accidents or legal representation, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC. for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
What are the common types of personal injury that may warrant a claim?
Common types of personal injuries that may warrant a claim include those from traffic accidents, medical treatment, slip and falls, and dog bites. Of course, no two claims will look the same. It’s important to consult an attorney who specializes in the area of law particular to your case.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims Filed
Traffic accidents can include crashes involving pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, motor vehicles and trucks. This type of claim must establish that someone else acted in a careless or reckless manner and as a result, it caused an accident and resultant injuries.
Some examples may include:
- a pedestrian is struck by a motorist who failed to yield the right-of-way;
- a driver, who is texting, doesn’t see an oncoming motorcycle and turns left into its path; and
- passenger cars collide when one of them runs a red light.
Medical malpractice claims address personal injuries from a healthcare provider’s negligence that cause injury to a patient.
Most any type of healthcare practitioner can contribute to harm, a(n):
- outpatient clinic;
- hospital; or
There are a variety of negligent acts that could lead to a medical malpractice claim:
- failure to diagnose;
- leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient;
- using contaminated medical equipment; and
- mixing up medications.
Slip and falls may occur on someone else’s property. Whether it’s a private residence, a business, or a government entity, if there was a dangerous condition that caused someone to be injured, the victim may file a claim if the property owner or manager was negligent.
Some examples of factors that could contribute to slip and fall accidents include:
- a railing that gives way;
- broken stairs;
- wet floors without signage; and
- poor lighting.
Dog bites: when a dog bites or attacks, the owner may be liable. There are specific dog bite laws that determine one’s right to seek compensation. These types of cases can be difficult to prove because victims must prove the dog was previously deemed dangerous and that he or she did nothing to antagonize the dog.
Jason R. Schultz helps file claims for benefits on behalf of Peachtree City residents. Call 404-474-0804 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment to review your case.
Should I release my medical records to the insurance company?
As you talk to insurance adjusters after an accident, they might request medical documentation of your injuries. In most circumstances, it is not a good idea to release medical records to the insurance company. Of course, the insurer will need to have some of your information as you file your claim. The important thing is differentiating between what is necessary and what isn’t.
Medical Records the Insurance Company Will Need
When an injured person in Atlanta gets to the point of the claims process where she sends a demand letter outlining the damages sought and supporting evidence, it will be necessary to send some medical documentation. It should only be records and information that proves the severity and extent of injuries, though.
Release anything of relevance to the insurance company. For instance, if the demand letter is asking for compensation because of a back injury that has resulted in chronic pain, it might require a copy of an MRI showing the specific injury and a pain journal that tracks its effects on a day-by-day basis. Records might also include hospital discharge papers that include notes on the injury.
Keep in mind that the burden of proof lies with you when it comes to establishing injuries. So there must be enough medical evidence to build a strong case.
Medical Records the Insurance Company Won’t Need
On the other hand, you don’t want to allow the insurer open access to all of your records. Don’t make anything that isn’t of relevance available to the insurer. It would be unreasonable for the insurer to ask for immunization records when the claim is about a head injury, for example.
The insurance company also won’t need to see medical records that show pre-existing injuries; unless of course, the previous injuries were made worse as a result of their insured’s negligence. Oftentimes the insurance company will try to dig deeper into someone’s medical history to uncover other information that can help diminish the claim.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you were seriously injured in the Atlanta area, talk to attorney Jason R. Schultz before you release any medical records to the insurance company. Call 404-474-0804 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment.