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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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.
What workers' compensation benefits are available in Georgia for a permanent disability?
After an on-the-job accident, Georgia workers' compensation provides medical and partial wage replacement benefits to help injured workers recover and return to the workforce.
Unfortunately, while many people make a full recovery, others are left with permanent disabilities that threaten to keep them out of work indefinitely.
If this happened to you, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, which are available once temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) payments stop. Rather than compensation for lost wages, PPD benefits are intended to compensate workers for the loss of a body part, loss of use of a body part, or impairment of the body as a whole.
PPD benefits are paid weekly, based on the type and extent of your permanent disability, as rated by your authorized treating physician, using the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Your doctor's rating determines, by body part, how long you can receive PPD benefits, which are two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
For example, the maximum number of weeks you can receive PPD benefits for the following injuries are:
- 20 weeks for the loss of a small toe
- 30 weeks for the loss of the big toe
- 25 weeks for the loss of a little finger
- 30 weeks for the loss of a ring finger
- 35 weeks for the loss of a middle finger
- 60 weeks for the loss of a thumb
- 75 weeks for the traumatic loss of hearing in one ear
- 135 weeks for the loss of a foot
- 150 weeks for the traumatic loss of hearing in both ears
- 150 weeks for the loss of vision of one eye
- 160 weeks for the loss of a hand
- 225 weeks for the loss of an arm or leg
- 300 weeks for disability to the body as a whole
Additionally, some permanent disabilities—such as neck or back impairment—are evaluated as disability to the whole body.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Georgia Workers' Comp Attorney
If you have a permanent disability after a workplace accident, let Rechtman & Spevak's skilled workers' compensation attorneys help you fight for the PPD benefits you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation.
I've been charged with shoplifting. Could I benefit from a pretrial intervention program?
Yes. If this is your first time being charged with a crime—or you've been previously charged and convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses—a pretrial intervention program could minimize the damage a shoplifting charge or conviction could have on your future.
In Georgia, the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which is also known as the Pretrial Diversion Program, allows you to avoid going to trial in exchange for paying fines, doing community service, and meeting other conditions.
If you complete the diversion program successfully, the shoplifting charges are dropped and won't appear on your record—although it will still show up in searches conducted by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges. You won't have to worry about the cost and pitfalls of a trial, or having to explain a criminal record during a job interview.
While completing a PTI can be extremely beneficial if you're facing charges for shoplifting, most criminal defendants don't know about them—and most prosecutors aren't going to tell them. You need a knowledgeable, experienced, and trial-savvy criminal defense attorney to review your case, determine if you're eligible for a pretrial program, and then help you apply to participate in one.
A skilled defense attorney can also help you understand and comply with the terms of your program. This is absolutely vital to your case, as failure to successfully complete a diversion program gives the prosecutor a green light to move forward with the original charges against you.
Consult Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Made a mistake or found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? A shoplifting charge shouldn't have to destroy your future. Participating in a pretrial program may be the best way to mitigate potential consequences of this unfortunate incident. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to discuss your case with our top-notch defense lawyer, Dantel D. Ruiz.
What consequences could I face if I'm convicted of a domestic violence charge in Georgia?
Family violence crimes are considered serious offenses in the Peach State. As a result, if you're charged with committing certain criminal acts against protected family or household members, you could face significant, wide-ranging, and long-lasting consequences upon conviction.
In Georgia, crimes like simple battery, battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, and other felonies can be charged as domestic violence offenses when committed between:
- Current or former spouses
- Parents and children
- Parents who share a child
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Other current or former household members
Penalties for Georgia domestic violence convictions may include:
- Fines of up to several thousand dollars, depending on whether it's a first or subsequent offense
- Jail time of one year for an initial offense, or up to five years in prison for subsequent offenses, which are considered felonies
You could also face:
- Loss of parental rights. A domestic violence conviction could count against you in a future custody proceeding, or result in your parenting time being reduced or supervised.
- Employment issues. Having a domestic violence conviction on your record can severely limit your future employment opportunities.
- Loss of gun rights. Under federal law, a domestic violence conviction may prohibit you from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition.
Being convicted of a family violence charge can negatively impact nearly every aspect of your personal and professional life. Additionally, criminal penalties for domestic violence convictions are often much harsher than those imposed in cases where similar crimes were committed by individuals who didn't have a familial or domestic relationship with the victim. Even worse, the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction can continue to haunt you long after your sentence is complete. Fortunately, a strong criminal defense can help protect your future.
Schedule a Consultation
There's far too much at stake to go it alone. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz.
I've been charged with a misdemeanor. How can you help me?
Misdemeanors won't send you to prison, but they can still lead to significant consequences such as fines, jail time, and stringent probation requirements.
When you're facing misdemeanor charges in Georgia, you need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney who has a strong grasp of the relevant legal statutes, as well as a keen understanding of jurisdictional “unwritten rules” such as knowing which prosecutors are most amenable to plea agreements,
and which judges allow work release or weekend jail.
There's a lot a skilled attorney can do for you. In short, defense attorneys examine cases to identify unique elements; develop and present strong arguments against conviction; and help clients navigate the criminal justice system. They also present mitigating information to reduce fines, jail time, and other penalties in case of conviction.
Here are just a few of the many things our adept Atlanta defense attorney can do when you hire Rechtman & Spevak to represent you:
- Investigate the case, including gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses
- Assess the prosecutor's case against you
- Review your criminal history (if any), and work to understand your personal situation and goals for the case
- Assess the potential sentences you're facing
- Explore your eligibility for special courts or sentencing programs
- Review police reports, as well as dash cam and body cam videos
- Review search and seizure procedures
- Question the way your arrest was made
- Challenge the evidence chain of custody or reliability of a breathalyzer test (older models may have higher fail rates)
- Negotiate reduced charges or a plea deal
- Negotiate reduced bail and more reasonable release conditions
- Negotiate reduced sentences
Consult a Seasoned Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
If you're facing probation, fines, or jail time, you need an attorney who's familiar with Georgia's criminal statutes and court process to advocate for you each and every step of the way. Fortunately, you've come to the right firm. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to find out what we can do for you and your case.
What is Georgia's marijuana-specific first offender statute and how might it apply to my misdemeanor drug possession case?
The Georgia First Offenders Act (FOA) allows individuals charged with certain crimes to plead guilty or no contest, and have the offense removed from their official criminal record after they've successfully completed their sentence. Sentences in these cases may include probation, fees, jail time, or a combination thereof. If you've never been convicted of a felony in any state or sentenced as a first offender, you may be eligible for sentencing under the FOA.
Additionally, if you're a first-time offender who's charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, you may qualify for a conditional discharge. Like sentencing under the FOA, a conditional discharge makes it possible for your charges to be dismissed once you've completed your sentence—which in this case may include probation, fines, community service, drug screenings, and risk reduction courses.
However, inclusion in Georgia's alternative plea and sentencing programs isn't automatic. You need a skilled Atlanta defense attorney to:
- Convince the judge that you qualify.
- Determine whether you should ask to be sentenced as a first offender or request a conditional discharge.
- Help ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of your sentence.
Requests for FOA sentencing or conditional discharge are made early in the case process—before you enter a plea—and granted at the judge's discretion. Denials can't be appealed. Having a knowledgeable attorney with a firm grasp of the relevant laws and the specific facts of your case is absolutely essential.
A capable defense attorney can also help make sure that you don't waste your opportunity for FOA sentencing on a misdemeanor drug crime when asking for conditional discharge may be more appropriate and beneficial. They can also advise you on how to comply with the terms of your sentence to avoid the risk of having your alternative plea revoked.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney
Find out how Rechtman & Spevak's seasoned criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What if I'm injured in a truck crash caused by a drowsy or ill trucker?
If you were hurt in a truck crash caused by a fatigued or sick commercial driver during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be an inadvertent victim of a plan to increase the availability of vital medical equipment, providers, and other necessary items.
Since February 2020, medical facilities throughout the country have struggled to maintain adequate personnel, equipment, and protective supplies.
Grocery stores, too, have worked diligently trying to keep shelves stocked.
On March 13, 2020, in response to the nationwide shortage of supplies and personnel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the agency in charge of regulating interstate trucking industry in the United States—announced the suspension of its Hours-of-Service safety regulations for commercial drivers carrying specified goods or medical personnel.
Prior to the suspension, the rules limited cargo-carrying truckers to 14-hour shifts with no more than 11 consecutive driving hours, following a 10-hour rest period. Commercial drivers tasked with transporting passengers were permitted to drive for 10 consecutive hours if followed by eight hours of rest. These restrictions were temporarily lifted for some drivers. While this may help important supplies get where they're needed faster, it also increases the risk of serious truck accidents.
The FMCSA developed and implemented the driving time limitations in an attempt to prevent the exhaustingly long shifts that can lead to drowsiness and in turn, cause horrific truck crashes. Now, with drivers working longer hours and feeling more pressure than ever to make good time on their routes, some truckers abandon safety practices designed to protect everyone on the road.
Additionally, due to their extensive travel, commercial truck drivers may also be exposed to the coronavirus. Should they become ill, they could get extremely sick, extremely fast, further increasing the risk of an accident. Some COVID-19 patients experience waking hallucinations, which contributes an extra layer of potential danger.
We Can Help You Fight for Fair Damages
A commercial bus or truck driver's status as an essential worker doesn't prevent them from being held responsible for injuries and other damages caused by their negligence. If you were hurt in a truck crash caused by a drowsy, distracted, or ill driver, the adept truck accident attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak will review your case, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.