We at Gautreaux Law want you to understand how the personal injury process works and what to expect if you have a personal injury case in Georgia.
Outcomes of a Personal Injury Case
There are basically three outcomes for any personal injury case:
- SETTLEMENT– This is when both sides, the plaintiff (the person injured) and the defendant (the person or entity that caused the injury) agree on an amount of money that will satisfy both parties.
- JURY VERDICT – This is the result of a lawsuit. If the two parties cannot reach a settlement agreement and the case goes to trial then the jury will decide if and how much money to award the injured plaintiff.
- NO RESOLUTION– The case is investigated but for some reason cannot be pursued successfully.
Three Phases of a Personal Injury Case
Before reaching either of the three outcomes, the following phases will generally occur in every personal injury case:
Phase I: The Opening Phase
There is a lot of activity and communication between you and your lawyer at the beginning of your case. Below are some of the things that will happen immediately upon hiring us:
NOTICES of REPRESENTATION – We will send a notice of representation to all insurance companies relevant to the case. This lets them know that you have an attorney handling your case and they are no longer allowed to contact you. Insurance adjusters will know to deal with our office instead of you.
GATHER DOCUMENTS – We gather all relevant information and documents that will be used to prove your case. This may include gathering medical records, employment information, photos, police reports, insurance policies, witness interviews, etc.
PROPERTY DAMAGE – If you hire our firm to handle your injury case, we can also help you with your property claim. This may include helping you to get a rental car, to get your car fixed, and with your diminished value claim.
Phase II: The Investigative Phase
Things will appear as though they’ve quieted down during this phase, but our lawyers and staff are hard at work behind the scenes gathering information, investigating your claim, and dealing with insurance adjusters. Your main job during this phase is to continue with medical treatment as necessary, update us on any changes in your status, and continue to get better.
The investigative phase may take longer or shorter depending on the type of accident (i.e., motor vehicle injury, slip and fall injury, nursing home abuse, sexual assault etc.), how the accident happened, the severity of the injuries, and the responsiveness of other parties to our requests. It can include, but is not limited to, investigating and handling the following:
- Disputes about who was at fault if there is no clear liability
- Locating and interviewing witnesses
- Investigating and reconstructing the accident scene
- Requesting and reviewing records such as video, cell phones, 911 calls, etc.
- Obtaining medical and work-related records
Phase III: The Settlement Phase
A flurry of activity will begin again once the investigation of the case has been completed and the client has finished medical treatment or knows the prognosis for future treatment.
DEMAND LETTER – After obtaining all evidence and records that could affect the monetary value of your case, the information is normally sent to the insurance company in the form of a Demand. The demand is a letter that states a legal claim and demands the recipient take action to compensate the person injured. In personal injury cases, compensation is almost always monetary payment for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
NEGOTIATIONS – The recipient will either agree to pay the amount in the demand or respond with a counteroffer. The Plaintiffs and the Defendants will continue to make counteroffers until an agreement for settlement is reached. If no settlement can be reached, then our attorneys are ready to take your case to trial.
SETTLEMENT OR LAWSUIT – Once a settlement is reached and the proper paperwork is completed the insurance company will send a check for the agreed-upon amount. If no settlement is reached and a lawsuit is filed then the case will continue through the phases of filing a lawsuit.
The Attorneys at Gautreaux Law work for you -this is your case. We keep our clients updated throughout their case and during the negotiation process. Our Attorneys will never make or accept an offer or counteroffer without client consent. How much money you accept, or whether to file a lawsuit or not, is ultimately your decision.
I hope this overview of the Personal Injury process has been helpful and provides you with a basic understanding of what to expect if you have a personal injury case in Georgia.