Answers To Your Workers' Comp & Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.
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Who's liable for damages in an accident involving a borrowed vehicle?
If you were involved in a wreck with someone in a borrowed vehicle or if you lent your vehicle to a friend who caused an accident while driving your car, understanding what Georgia law says about liability in these types of cases is vital. Here's what you need to know.
Insurance Coverage in a Borrowed Car
Auto insurance follows the car, rather than the driver, in the Peach State. This means that when a person borrows a vehicle, they essentially also "borrow" the insurance coverage on it. State law requires a minimum of $25,000 bodily liability coverage (a total of $50,000 for the deaths or injuries of more than one person) and $25,000 in property damage liability coverage. In Georgia, when someone borrows a car and causes an accident, the vehicle owner's liability insurance policy pays for the other driver's injuries (and injuries to their passengers), and the damage sustained to their vehicle.
In some cases, the liability coverage on the borrowed vehicle may not be sufficient to cover all of the other driver's injuries and damages. When that happens, the at-fault driver's insurance policy can kick in as secondary coverage. If you were injured, you can also may be able to take advantage of your own Uninsured Motorist (UM) and/or MedPay coverages, which follow the driver, rather than the vehicle.
If you loaned your car to someone else, or were driving a borrowed vehicle, it is important to know what to do regarding the damage to the borrowed vehicle. Collision and comprehensive insurance coverage can cover the damage, subject to a deductible. However, as optional insurance coverage, they can only help if you already have them. Review your auto insurance coverage periodically and consider adding these optional coverages to your policy.
Loaning your vehicle to someone or borrowing another person's car can be a risky decision. Make sure that the person borrowing your vehicle is a safe and responsible driver, and if you're borrowing a vehicle from someone else, make sure you can trust that the vehicle is in safe working condition.
Talk to an Experienced Georgia Attorney About Your Case
Need legal advice after getting into an accident with a driver who was in a borrowed vehicle or after loaning your vehicle to someone who caused a crash? Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss options and potential damages.
My teen is facing a Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge; can you help?
Yes. If your teen is facing a Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge (also known as a MIP), Rechtman and Spevak's highly-skilled Atlanta defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help protect their rights and future.
The State of Georgia Takes Underage Drinking Seriously
As a result, people under the age of 21 who are caught possessing, purchasing, or attempting to buy alcohol; misrepresenting their age or identity, or using a fake ID to purchase alcohol may be subject to MIP charges. MIP cases for individuals under the age of 17 are often heard in juvenile court.
As a misdemeanor charge, the consequences of a MIP conviction can be significant and may include:
- Fines (up to $300 for the first offense or up to $1,000 for a subsequent conviction)
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Community service or probation
In addition to the potential criminal penalties outlined above, a MIP conviction could also affect your teen's driving privileges, car insurance rates, and educational opportunities. For example, a first offense can result in a six-month license suspension, while a subsequent offense can increase the suspension to up to a full year, and minors whose driving privileges are suspended for MIPs may not be eligible for restricted driving permits that would allow them to drive to work or school. Students convicted of MIPs can face academic disciplinary action and lose eligibility for tuition assistance, scholarships, and sports programs.
Not to worry; things are serious, but we're here to help. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorney will review your teen's case and work to build a strong defense.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case With Our Accomplished Defense Attorney
Don't let a MIP charge or conviction limit your teen's opportunities now or in the future. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses.
My child was hurt in a car accident, can they file a personal injury claim?
As a parent, you do everything possible to protect your child from harm. Unfortunately, not everyone shares your commitment to safety. If your child was in a car accident caused by a negligent person or company, the traumatic experience can affect them physically, mentally, and financially for years to come. Fortunately, Georgia law allows car crash victims to take legal action to pursue compensation from an at-fault party—and while victims under the age of 18 can't file their own personal injury claim, as a parent or guardian, you can file one on their behalf.
In Georgia, personal injury claims involving victims who are minors are often comprised of two separate parts or actions: the parents' claim and the child's claim. The first claim allows parents or guardians to seek compensation for their child's medical bills and other accident-related costs, including future expenses incurred before the child turns 18. Parents can also pursue damages for wages lost as a result of missing work to care for their injured child.
The child's claim is for compensation for reasonable and necessary medical care required after their 18th birthday, as well as for any loss of earning capacity or loss of future earnings. Children can also recover compensation for physical and mental pain and suffering, in addition to other losses. In cases where the at-fault party's conduct is deemed particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded.
We Can Help You Fight For a Fair Recovery
If your child was injured in a car accident and you want to hold the at-fault party accountable, Rechtman and Spevak is here to assist you. Our accomplished personal injury lawyers can file claims on behalf of you and your child, and gather the evidence needed to build a strong case for damages. Let us ensure both you—and your child—receive the recovery you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Can I get a misdemeanor expunged in Georgia?
Potentially. State law allows some individuals to have certain charges or convictions expunged—or restricted—from their criminal records. This means that, while they'll still be visible to members of law enforcement and others in the judicial system, they won't come up in an employment, housing, or licensing background check. Here's what you need to know about record restriction eligibility, as well as the process, and how our skilled Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you through it.
Do you and your case meet the criteria for record restriction? In the Peach State, you may be able to have a misdemeanor expunged if:
- You were charged, but not convicted (charges were dropped, dismissed, or you were acquitted at trial)
- You were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, first-time drug possession charges
- You successfully completed probation or a pretrial intervention program
However, there are numerous exceptions. It's important to discuss your case and record expungement eligibility with a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer. Your attorney can also help you determine if your record qualifies for automatic restriction (sometimes after a specified time period) or if you'll have to file an action in superior court.
There's Too Much at Stake to Go it Alone
Regardless of whether you made a mistake that landed you on the wrong side of the law or law enforcement had the wrong person in their sights, having an arrest, criminal charge, or conviction on your record can limit your opportunities and be downright embarrassing. Sound familiar? Fortunately, Rechtman and Spevak is here to help you wipe the slate clean. If you're ready to talk about your case, learn your rights, and discuss your options for record restriction, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation with our lead defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz. We look forward to hearing from you and find out how we can assist you.
If I hire a lawyer to handle my injury claim, what will I have to do?
When you hire an attorney to represent you in a personal injury matter, you can count on them to handle both the major and day-to-day aspects of your case. However, there are a number of essential things you can—and should—do to help your lawyer build a strong claim for damages.
Help Start Your Case Off on the Right Foot
You can help by providing your attorney with as much information as possible about the accident, your injuries, and how they've affected your life. Be honest and thorough, but don't embellish or exaggerate. Sign authorizations giving your attorney access to your medical records and other vital documents. Discuss and sign a contingency fee agreement; this allows your lawyer to take their fee out of the money they recover for you, rather than requiring you to pay for legal services upfront.
Talk about your goals for the case with your attorney and work on a strategy. The attorney will send a demand letter to the potentially liable parties and their insurers, and you'll work with them to decide the next step based on the response received. Your demand could be accepted, the other side could make a counter offer, or you could instruct your attorney to make another demand.
When and if your lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf, you'll be expected to participate in the discovery process, a six-month period where both sides answer detailed questions about the case. In-person, under-oath questioning sessions known as depositions are also generally held during this period. You'll need to work with your attorney to prepare for your deposition to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Other things you can do to help your injury attorney include responding to communications in a timely manner, attending all medical appointments, and following your prescribed treatment plan.
Talk to Us About Your Injury Case
Hurt because of another person or company's negligence? The skilled personal injury attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you fight for a fair recovery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
What should I do if I'm arrested for a crime?
Being arrested for a crime can be frightening, confusing, and even traumatizing—especially if it's your first serious interaction with law enforcement. What you do during and after an arrest plays a major role in determining what comes next. Protecting and asserting your rights from the beginning is essential. Here's what you can do and how a skilled Georgia defense attorney can help.
If you're under arrest, stay calm and go with the arresting officer, even if you aren't guilty of the crime you're being arrested for. Take care to avoid doing anything that could be construed as obstructing or hindering the officer, as this could result in charges of resisting arrest.
However, while you should never resist an officer, you should absolutely resist the urge to explain yourself or the situation to them, as anything and everything you tell them can be used against you in court.
You've probably heard the Miranda warning—which apprises arrestees of their rights to remain silent and have an attorney—countless times on television in police procedural dramas. This isn't just a tactic writers use to make episodes more interesting; they're real rights that you should assert the second you're placed under arrest.
You also have the right to a local phone call, which should be to an attorney or someone who can help you secure the defense representation you need. However, be careful not to share the details of your case with anyone other than your lawyer.
Keep in mind that being arrested doesn't necessarily mean you'll be charged with a crime. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible allows them to contact the prosecutor with mitigating information in the hopes of having any potential charges reduced or dismissed, or getting you approved for a pretrial intervention program.
Additionally, if you secure a defense attorney immediately after your arrest, they'll be able to represent you during your first appearance hearing. This is vital, as numerous crucial decisions are made at this time, including whether there will be bond and, if so, the amount and terms of release.
Arrested for a Misdemeanor in Georgia? We Can Help Protect Your Rights and Future
Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a consultation with our highly-skilled criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz. We look forward to discussing your case and how we can help.
Can I file a personal injury claim for malicious, intentionally-inflicted injuries?
Yes. If you were the victim of assault or battery in Georgia, the person who intentionally caused your injuries could face criminal charges and harsh penalties such as fines, jail or prison time, and other restrictions if convicted.
However, while a criminal prosecution and conviction may satisfy the state that justice was served in your case, the criminal justice process doesn't cover your medical treatment, wages lost
while out of work recovering from your injuries,
or other expenses related to your attack.
For a chance at collecting compensation for these and other damages, you'll need to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Here's what you should know.
Georgia criminal and civil cases have different standards of proof. While most people are familiar with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases, the standard for civil cases is the less stringent “by the preponderance of the evidence”—although you'll still have to prove the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, which led to your assault or battery, and caused your injuries and other losses.
If your attacker was charged or convicted in criminal court, it can lend credence to your personal injury claim. A skilled injury lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case and gather the necessary evidence and documentation to recover compensation for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages, including, but not limited to:
- Medical treatment expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma
- Scarring or disfigurement
As the victim of an assault or battery, you may also receive punitive damages. Rarely awarded, these damages punish the defendant for behavior deemed particularly egregious.
Take Advantage of a Free Consultation
Not sure which types of damages may apply in your case? We can help. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary, no-obligation initial consultation with a member of our experienced team of Atlanta personal injury attorneys. Don't wait—the law restricts how long you have to file a claim.
What workers' compensation benefits can I collect after falling from a height in the workplace?
If you were injured after falling from a height in the workplace, you are not alone. Falls from one level to another are a leading cause of on-the-job accidents, injuries, and deaths, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fortunately, if a work-related fall to a lower level leaves you in need of medical attention and unable to work while you recover, Georgia workers' compensation benefits can help.
After an on-the-job fall, workers' comp will cover all reasonable and necessary medical care associated with your accident, including emergency treatment, doctors' visits, diagnostic tests, hospitalizations, surgical procedures, prescription drugs, physical therapy, prosthetics, assistive devices, and more. You can see a doctor from the list provided by your employer or doctor of your own choosing if your employer does not have properly posted panel.
You can also collect wage replacement benefits while you're out of work recovering from your injuries, or partial wage replacement benefits if your condition forces you into a lower-paying position.
- Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) for when you're out of work are two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- Temporary partial disability benefits (TPD) are two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and what you're making now.
If you have a permanent impairment, you may be entitled to a scheduled loss of use award, which allows you to collect benefits for a specified number of weeks, depending on the affected part of the body. These benefits are known as permanent partial disability benefits (PPD).
Talk to Us About Your Georgia Workers' Compensation Case
At Rechtman & Spevak, our highly-skilled Georgia workers' comp attorneys help injured employees explore their rights and options, and collect the benefits they deserve. Did you fall from a height in the workplace? We're ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
I've been charged with shoplifting. What penalties am I facing?
Shoplifting is taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. In Georgia, theft by shoplifting is a serious crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods, and whether this is a first or subsequent offense. Regardless, you'll need the representation of a skilled attorney if you hope to avoid harsh potential penalties.
You can be charged with theft by shoplifting in Georgia for:
- Concealing or taking merchandise from a store
- Altering price tags or other price markings
- Transferring a store's merchandise from one container to another
- Changing labels or price tags between pieces of merchandise
- Causing merchandise to be sold for an amount other than the store's stated price
If this is your first shoplifting offense and the value of the property involved in your case is less than $500, you'll likely be charged with a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you could spend up to a year in jail, and/or face a fine of up to $1,000.
The possible penalties for theft by shoplifting grow more severe with each subsequent offense. A second misdemeanor shoplifting conviction carries an additional fine of $500 or more.
The consequences for a third misdemeanor shoplifting conviction are particularly harsh and include:
- A minimum of 30 days in jail or up to 120 days on house arrest or in an alternative correctional program
- Psychology counseling and treatment at your expense
Fourth or subsequent shoplifting convictions are felonies punishable by between 1 and 10 years in prison.
Don't Let a Mistake or Misunderstanding Destroy Your Future
Shoplifting charges are no laughing matter. If you are convicted, you could be forced to pay steep fines, spend time in jail or prison, undergo psychological evaluation and treatment, and suffer limited employment opportunities.
Let Rechtman & Spevak's talented criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, handle your defense and protect your future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss the details of your case, as well as whether you qualify for participation in a pretrial diversionary program.
What do I need to prove to recover damages in a Georgia personal injury case?
When you're hurt in a Georgia car crash, truck wreck, or other accident caused by negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for related medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, in order to recover damages, you'll have to show that the party named as the defendant in your lawsuit—whether a person or business—was, in fact, negligent.
To do this, you and your attorney have to prove the following four elements of a personal injury claim:
- Duty of care. The defendant had a legal responsibility to take reasonable care to avoid injuring others. In car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, this generally means operating the vehicle safely to avoid causing crashes.
- Breach of duty. The defendant breached the duty of care with an intentional act or an act of carelessness, such as driving while distracted or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Causation. The defendant's breach of duty of care caused the accident in question. For example, driving while distracted or failing to stop for a stop sign resulted in a crash.
- Damages. You suffered physical injuries and other losses as a result of the defendant's negligence. These injuries wouldn't have occurred if not for the defendant's conduct.
Unfortunately, personal injury litigation can be very complicated—and it can be difficult to recover the compensation you deserve without the help of an experienced accident and injury attorney. At Rechtman & Spevak, our skilled Georgia personal injury lawyers will investigate your case, and gather and preserve the evidence necessary to prove negligence and recover fair damages.
Talk to Us About Your Georgia Personal Injury Case
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation. We look forward to discussing your case, and helping you understand your legal rights and options. Act now, as Georgia law gives you just two years to file an injury claim.