Personal Injury 101: How the Claims Process Works in Georgia
Filing a personal injury claim in Georgia can be confusing if you don't have a clear overview of the process. Before you can sue for damages, you have to follow the steps set out by your insurance company for making a claim and resolving the issue.
Although this may sound simple enough, there are many steps involved in the procedure that can be difficult to navigate on your own. Below, we have outlined the claims process to give you a better understanding of how it all works.
Seek Medical Assistance
By law, victims of injuries are required to take reasonable steps to discover and treat their injuries. If you fail to seek treatment immediately after an accident, the insurance company may offer you a lower amount of compensation for the damages you sustained.
They can allege that you are partially to blame for allowing your symptoms to progress when a reasonable person would have sought treatment. They may also claim that, because you waited a period of time to seek medical attention, your injuries may not have been due to the accident.
Obtain the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney
The rules of personal injury cases in Georgia can be complex and hypertechnical. The smallest detail may move a case one way or another. This can make it difficult for victims of accidents to represent themselves in a personal injury claim.
A seasoned personal injury attorney represents accident victims day in and day out and will have a thorough understanding of how the claims process works. They can ensure that you effectively take the steps needed to protect your rights to compensation while taking the stress off of you so that you can focus on recovering.
Georgia’s Fault and Insurance Rules
Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to accident claims. This means that who is determined to be at fault will determine what you options are for pursuing compensation for your losses. Accident victims can either bring a claim against their insurance company, bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or file a lawsuit in court.
Most insurance policies have provisions that require policyholders to contact them within thirty days or less to notify them when an accident occurs. This is extremely important in Georgia cases because Georgia uses a "modified comparative fault" insurance rule to analyze claims. What this means is that accident victims may be found to be partially at fault for the accident, in which case their compensation will be reduced by their own fault-percentage.
An attorney can help you determine what elements apply to your specific accident case and what your best bet is when it comes to pursuing compensation.
Make Note of Your Damages
When it comes to determining what your total compensation should be, your attorney will advise you to always keep very detailed notes of the entire process. If you maintain records and receipts of any bills related to the accident; including medical, cost of living, and repair costs; you can calculate these damages into your awards later on.
Keeping a video diary of your medical progress as you heal and go through rehabilitation can also help to demonstrate the pain and suffering that you've experienced as a result of the accident. Keep detailed notes of the medications you took, bills you paid, and your experiences throughout recovery.
Submit a Demand Letter
A demand letter is a brief statement sent to the insurance company that lays out the essential elements of a claim and backs the extent of damages with evidence. Your medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other damages should all be carefully presented in this letter.
The insurance company may have thirty days to respond with any disputes of the core facts or reassessments of the potential damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help draft this letter, which puts the insurance company on proper notice of a claim early on in the litigation. This is the quickest method of ensuring a full and fair settlement.
Let the Negotiations Begin
The insurance adjusters are trained to settle cases at the low end of the pay scale. Their first offer is usually intended to see how long you are willing to hold out. They know if they delay settlement, you may face foreclosure, negative marks on your credit report, and lost wages that make it hard to resist even an unfair settlement.
Remember that an unnecessary delay in a settlement may mean that the insurance company is acting in bad faith. Your personal injury attorney will present your evidence to show what damages you should get compensated for and work to ensure the insurance company pays you what you need to financially recover.
Contact Studstill Firm
If you’re injured in an accident, remember that you don’t have to go through the claims process alone. When you need experienced legal representation in Georgia, turn to Studstill Firm to effective and seasoned legal advocates in your corner. We are committed to keeping our clients informed throughout the recovery process and will work hard on their behalves to obtain the maximum value for their claims.
Contact Studstill Firm at (229) 515-8900 or by completing an online form to schedule a no-fee, no consultation with our firm.