Georgia law allows residents who sustain injuries through another’s negligence to file a claim for compensation; however, to file a successful claim, you must know the stages of the personal injury claim process which we will detail below.
Stage One - Finding a Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You
Some individuals may feel it is unnecessary to hire a Georgia lawyer to represent them in their case. This is a mistake. The fact is, filing and managing a lawsuit, handling complex discovery issues, and negotiating settlements are best left to those who understand the system and can objectively represent the interests of an injured party.
Note: Injury victims have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury claim. For minors, the statute of limitations “tolls” until the child’s 18th birthday. After this date, the victim has two years to file.
A personal injury attorney will help you assess your situation, determine who you can or should hold responsible, and figure out what information you need to gather and maintain.
Stage Two – Beginning the Lawsuit
Once you and your lawyer have clarified the facts and identified any potentially responsible parties, you must file a complaint with the court. This is a formal announcement of the legal action and serves to identify those named in the lawsuit as well as the facts, legal theories, and remedies being sought. In other words, the complaint serves to:
- Identify the parties you intend to hold liable
- Specify the legal cause of action and supporting facts
- Define the damages
In order to recover damages, you must prove the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty/negligence
Stage Three – Responses
As soon as you file the lawsuit, you must “serve” the defendant(s). This communication will originate from the court that has jurisdiction over your injury claim.
After the liable party in your injury claim learns of the lawsuit, the claim will likely progress in the following manner:
- Answer: This is a formal legal response to the complaint and there is usually a specific amount of time defendants have to file this document.
- Counterclaim: Defendants bring this claim against the plaintiff (injured party) using the same set of facts that the plaintiff identified in the lawsuit. The plaintiff must file an answer in response to the counterclaim within a specified time period.
- Cross-claims: Common in multi-car accidents, such as if you are suing Driver A and Driver B for damages, and Driver B also files suit against Driver A for injuries stemming from the same accident. Again, with a cross-claim, defendants must answer within a certain time period.
- Answer to cross-claim: The defendant named in the cross-claim will respond to the complaints issued in a cross-claim.
Stage Four – Resolution of Claims
Every claim will resolve one way or another. Parties can resolve cases through negotiation and settlement, through a trial either in front of a judge or jury, through arbitration or mediation, or through dismissal or withdrawal.
Is there anything else I need to be doing while the case is going on?
It is extremely important that you continue receiving medical care while your case continues. If you stop going to doctor’s appointments or ignore your doctor’s instructions, the defendant’s lawyer can use that to prove your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Your lawyer can also use your ongoing medical treatment as proof that your injuries are as severe as you are claiming.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence and are possibly thinking about pursuing a recovery, talk to personal injury lawyer at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz. Let a professional handle the legal actions while you focus on your recovery process. Call us at 404-474-0804 or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation today.