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Your Atlanta Personal Injury Case: The Basics

Last updated: September 30, 2013

You're shopping with a friend at Lennox Square and decide to head down the stairs to the first floor when, suddenly, you slip on something. Your feet come out from under you, and you hit your head on the step above, losing consciousness. As you regain awareness, you smell cleaning solution and notice a bucket and mop at the bottom of the stairs left unattended. Your friend has called an ambulance, and the EMTs take you to the hospital for your head injury. This is just one type of injury for which you may be able to recover money under personal injury law.

Personal injury law allows a person who has been injured because of the negligent, wrongful or reckless act of another to recover money for his or her losses resulting from the injury. Each state has its own set of personal injury laws. Counties and cities may also have rules and regulations that affect the people involved in a personal injury lawsuit.

If you've been injured in Atlanta, this article has some important personal information that applies to your case. Visit FindLaw's section First Steps After An Injury and then come back to this page to learn more about your Atlanta personal injury case.

When should I file my personal injury lawsuit?

When you've been injured, you should always take care of your health before worrying about a potential lawsuit. However, it's important to note that all states have laws called statutes of limitations that limit the amount of time you have to file lawsuits in certain types of cases.

In Atlanta, under Georgia state law, you generally have 2 years from the date the injury occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, the time period to file your lawsuit begins when you first knew or should have known about the injury rather than when the injury occurred. The statute of limitations for personal injury claim is based on medical malpractice also has some exceptions to the two-year rule.

What if I might be partly at fault in the accident?

Personal injury law is grounded in the legal theory of negligence. Under traditional negligence theory, if an injured person bringing a claim was found to have contributed to the accident in any way, he was barred from recovering money for his losses, even if another party was 99% at fault.

Today, many states, including Georgia, follow a system of modified comparative negligence under which an injured person can still recover a portion of his losses even if he is partially at fault in an accident. In an Atlanta court, you will have to prove that: 1) you were less than 50% at fault for your injuries, and 2) that you could not have avoided your injuries using ordinary care. Then you may recover from another person at fault in the accident or injury. However, if the court finds that you are partly at fault in the accident or injury, the amount of money you can recover will be reduced proportionate to your fault.

As you may have read in FindLaw's First Steps in a Personal Injury Claim, you should do your best to collect evidence related to your injury. This could include statements of witnesses, photographs of the site and damage, first responder reports and other medical reports, and more. Sometimes it's difficult to determine who is at fault for an injury, so this kind of evidence could be important to your case.

What do I need to know about insurance claims related to my injury?

The person or entity liable for your injury will have insurance that may cover some or all of your losses. However, it can sometimes be difficult to work with insurance companies to make sure you're fully compensated for your losses. If you don't know where to start with your insurance claim, take a look at FindLaw's article on insurance claims after an accident.

Georgia's Consumer Services Division's website has a section entitled Helping Georgia Consumers with Insurance Issues that may have information relevant to your insurance claim.

How do I file a personal injury lawsuit in Atlanta?

If you haven't done so already, consider meeting with an Atlanta personal injury attorney. A consultation with an attorney can give you a better idea of whether or not you have a strong case and the costs and benefits of bringing a lawsuit.

If you're filing your claim in an Atlanta court, your personal injury case will be heard by either the State Court of Fulton County or the Superior Court of Fulton County. Both courts have unlimited jurisdiction over civil cases.

What kinds of losses can I claim in my personal injury case?

If you can show that someone is liable for your injury, you're entitled to recover any economic losses that resulted from the accident or injury. Examples of common economic losses in personal injury cases include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Cost of damage to property or loss of use of that property
  • Loss of services or income from your spouse, if your spouse was killed or injured
  • Losses resulting from disability or disfigurement

Non-economic losses resulting from an injury, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress, are often difficult to quantify. Therefore, Georgia has laws that cap the amount that you can recover for non-economic losses. However, in 2010, Georgia's Supreme Court ruled that one such law capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was unconstitutional, so the applicability of these laws has been called into question.

Conclusion

Now that some of your questions about your Atlanta personal injury case have been answered, check out FindLaw's Injury Law Basics section for more general information about personal injury law.