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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  • If I was injured in a crash caused by municipal negligence, do I have any legal options?

    Car accidents happen all the time. In most cases, one driver makes a poor decision and causes a crash with another vehicle. In these incidents, if injuries occur, it is usually clear exactly who is responsible.

    However, what happens when an accident is caused by a condition on or near the roadway? Even in single-vehicle accidents, the driver may not be the one to blame. In some situations, municipal government negligence can lead to serious crashes, causing damage to property and inflicting injuries on drivers and passengers. Though these cases are more difficult to prove, victims do have legal options to pursue justice and obtain compensation against the government entity responsible for keeping up the road.

    You may have a legal claim against municipal government if poor pavement maintenance has led to your injuryWhat Is Municipal Negligence?

    Municipal negligence—as it applies to car crashes—is the notion that a city, state, township, or other government entity did not act with reasonable care in maintaining, marking, or designing roads. Just as drivers are expected to exercise caution and care for the safety of other drivers, municipalities are also expected to create and maintain roadways that are safe when used in the expected manner.

    Some examples of municipal negligence include…

    • Lack of appropriate road signs or warnings of danger
    • Lack of guard rails
    • Potholes
    • Unmarked or unsafe construction zones
    • Poorly designed roadway
    • Dangerous shoulder drop off
    • Uneven pavement

    Proving Municipal Negligence in a Georgia Court

    In many ways, bringing a lawsuit against a municipality is similar to pursuing a case against a private citizen. Certain factors must exist to mount a successful case. While it can be more difficult to win a suit against a city or county, the basic concepts remain the same. The victim must show that:

    • The responsible government entity did not exercise reasonable care in its maintenance, marking, or design of the road.
       
    • The responsible entity knew or should reasonably have known that the danger existed.
       
    • Its inaction led directly to the accident and injury of the victim.


    In short, municipalities cannot be held accountable for poor weather conditions or situations they could not have known about to address. If a sinkhole appears in a roadway and causes an accident minutes later, the municipality cannot be held responsible. In that situation, it would have no way of knowing about the problem, and thus not have the ability to fix it or warn people of the danger in that time frame. On the other hand, if a roadway has been eroding over time and many drivers complained about the hazardous conditions, the municipality may be held accountable if it did not complete a timely repair or post warnings to prepare drivers.

    Difficulties in Municipal Negligence Cases

    It can be difficult to bring an injury lawsuit against a government entity. While the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit on an injury claim in Georgia is two years from the date of accident, there is an additional requirement of having to provide notice of the claim to the government entity. Depending on whether the defendant is a city, county, or the state of Georgia, the notice period varies between six and twelve months.  The form of the notice is regulated by statute, and if you fail to comply with all elements of the notice requirement, you may lose the right to maintain a lawsuit against the responsible party.

    Additionally, government entities are often protected by what is known as sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is meant to protect the government and its officials from constant litigation when constituents are unhappy with its operations. However, in some cases, negligence in maintaining, designing, or marking a roadway creates an exception to this rule.

    Similar to other personal injury cases, the victim of a potential municipal negligence case might be forced to defend his actions at the time of the accident. The courts may determine that the victim shares some amount of responsibility for the crash, and if that is the case, it could affect his or her ability to sue and receive a potential settlement or judgment.

    An experienced and skilled attorney can help victims understand the laws concerning municipal negligence, based on what type of government agency is responsible for their accident and injuries. If you are unsure as to whether your accident falls into this category, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member of our team who can answer your questions and help you learn more about your rights. You may also call our Atlanta office at 888-522-7798.

  • Who can be held liable if I’m hurt in a truck accident?

    In 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available, approximately 132,000 people were injured in large truck and bus crashes in the United States. In Georgia alone, 144 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks that same year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

    With so many commercial vehicles on the road and their drivers under pressure to perform as quickly and efficiently as possible, truck accidents are an unfortunately common occurrence. For the victims injured in those crashes or the surviving families of those killed, the road to recovery can be long and frustrating. Victims are left to recover from their injuries or manage their grief while still trying to maintain the financial stability they enjoyed before the accident. This is often a difficult task, as injuries can prevent victims from working or the death of a loved one can leave the rest of the family without an income provider.

    The law, however, does allow victims to pursue justice and compensation from those responsible for the accident. In car crashes, it’s often simple to determine who is at fault—one driver made a choice that impacted another driver. In cases of commercial truck crashes, however, the situation can be much more complicated, with a number of parties playing a role in the operation of the vehicle. So, what can a victim do? Who can be held accountable for the accident?

    Who Is Responsible for a Truck Crash in Georgia?

    There are a number of parties who may be held liable for a commercial truck accident in Georgia. Deciding just who to name as responsible depends on a number of factors, including the details of the accident and the relationship among the parties involved with the truck. In general, it is possible that victims can pursue a claim against:

    • The driver. Just like the drivers of other vehicles on the road, commercial drivers have a responsibility to act safely on the road and follow all traffic laws. When a driver’s negligence and bad decisions lead to an accident, he can be held accountable for his actions.
       
    • The trucking company. In general, businesses are responsible for the behavior of their employees while they are working. Additionally, it has been shown that shipping companies often place pressure on their drivers to deliver their goods and services as quickly as possible, sometimes encouraging their drivers to ignore federal regulations in order to do so. These practices are illegal, and the company can be held liable.
       
    • The cargo company. Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo is often a factor in truck crashes. If the cargo shifts during transit, it can make the large vehicle unstable and difficult to control even in good weather and on well-maintained roads.
       
    • Truck manufacturers. If the design or production of a truck does not meet safety standards, the company that produced the defective part can be held liable. Bad tires or braking systems are common causes of truck accidents. While commercial vehicles can overcome some issues, sometimes even minor problems can be exaggerated due to the large weight and height of the trucks.

    Determining Fault After A Georgia Truck Accident

    It is possible that more than one party holds some responsibility for the accident. How is a victim to know who should be held accountable? A skilled attorney can help victims examine the details of their case and decide how best to move forward. Experienced injury attorneys have pursued these claims in the past, and they understand what is necessary to mount a successful case. In truck accident cases, this is especially important.

    In some cases, the responsible parties will try to shift blame onto others, sometimes even including the victim. As a general rule, companies are responsible for the behavior of employees, but not those whom they hire as independent contractors. Additionally, the company can only be held liable if the employee was operating within the scope of the job and if the act was not intentionally done against a specific person. So, determining and proving the relationship between the trucking company and the driver can be critical.

    The other parties may also try to point fingers: the manufacturer blames the driver for lack of maintenance, or the cargo company claims the trucking company affected the way the cargo was secured. Sorting through every version of events can be time consuming and frustrating.

    Finally, the state of Georgia follows the rules of comparative negligence. In short, if the courts determine that the victim holds some degree of accountability for the accident, it could affect any settlement or judgment awarded. All these factors will determine just who can and should be held responsible for an accident and for the injuries of the victim.

    At Rechtman & Spevak, we’ve worked with accident victims to successfully pursue justice and fair compensation for their injuries, and we may be able to help if you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident. Call our truck accident lawyers at 888-522-7798 to learn more about your rights and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

  • Is it okay to talk to an insurance company after my car accident?

    Shortly after an accident, your phone may start ringing. The insurance company who covers the other person involved in your accident will likely contact you seeking all sorts of information.

    Remember, The Insurance Adjuster Is Not On Your Side

    Be very cautious when talking to an insurance adjuster after your accident

    An important fact to remember when this happens is that the insurance adjuster is not working for you. Even if you are an honest, fair person and you feel you have a solid claim, the adjuster is out to protect the interests of the insurance company and minimize any money they might have to pay. He may seem friendly and understanding on the phone, but he will certainly use any information he is able to learn from you to his company’s advantage if possible.

    Sometimes, it is difficult to avoid these calls. If you find yourself on the other end of the line with the opposing insurance adjuster, follow these helpful tips to protect your rights and preserve your claim.

    DON’T…

    • Discuss your medical care. Do not elaborate on your injuries. It is possible that you will not fully understand the nature of your injuries until later, so do not offer details that could hurt your case in the future. If pressed, tell the adjuster you simply do not know the full nature of your injuries and that you are seeking medical treatment.
       
    • Give details of the accident. The adjuster can find the basic information from police reports or his own insured driver. Do not offer your version of events to the adjuster at this time.
       
    • Sign anything. Never sign anything, no matter what the adjuster says. This applies to a medical release as well as documents related to fault. If you sign a medical release, the insurance company will have free reign to examine the full scope of your medical history, and may try to use your past medical records against you.

    DO…

    • Be polite. You may be feeling angry about the accident or suffering from the physical consequences of the crash, but taking your frustration out on an insurance company representative will not help. The adjuster will play a role in your case, so it is best to stay on civil terms.
       
    • Remain vague. Offer the adjuster only basic information, such as your name, address, and birthdate. You may share the minimum details about the accident. Where it occurred, what day and time, and what vehicle you were driving.
       
    • Identify the person to whom you are speaking. Take note of the date and time of the call, the name of the insurance company, the name of the representative, and how to contact him if necessary. Make sure to keep your notes.
       
    • Tell the adjuster to contact your attorney if further information is necessary. It is a good idea to only talk to insurance companies in the presence of an experienced accident attorney. The attorney can help you understand what information can and should be shared and when.

    In some cases, such as in accidents where the at-fault driver is uninsured, the victim may have to pursue a claim with his own insurance company. Victims are required to cooperate more fully with their own companies, so you may have to offer more information to the adjuster in those situations. A skilled attorney can help victims understand their rights and obligations and make decisions on how best to move forward.

    Talk To An Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and a member of the car accident attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak will help you learn more about how to proceed after an accident.

  • What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Georgia?

    Car insurance in GeorgiaEvery state sets different rules about car insurance—rules about fault, minimum insurance limits, and penalties for failure to comply with the laws. The state of Georgia is no different. Drivers are required to carry insurance to cover any property damage or personal injury that may occur in a car accident. Georgia is a fault state, meaning that blame is assigned after an accident and the party responsible for the crash must pay for the damage. Auto insurance covers these costs, up to a certain limit.

    Georgia Car Insurance Coverage Requirements

    The state requires every vehicle to carry minimum coverage. In Georgia, the state mandates:

    • Bodily injury liability:  $25,000 per person. $50,000 for multiple people in an accident.
    • Property damage liability:  $25,000 for one incident.

    Bodily injury liability covers the injuries suffered by a person in an accident. It could cover medical expenses, lost income, as well as pain and suffering. Property damage liability provides compensation for the damage done to another person’s property, such as a car, bicycle, mailbox, home, and more.

    These amounts are the minimum amounts required by Georgia law, though many drivers elect to purchase larger policies in order to further protect themselves from the possibility of personal financial responsibility in the case of a serious accident. Drivers who fail to secure the appropriate levels of insurance can be penalized. Uninsured motorists are subject to fines, the loss of driving privileges, and the revocation of vehicle registration. Driving an unregistered vehicle is a misdemeanor in Georgia.

    Additional Coverage Available to Georgia Motorists

    State law requires only bodily injury and property damage coverage, though many drivers opt to purchase additional insurance to offer further protection from accidents. Most insurers also offer policies that cover:

    • Medical payments. This coverage can provide payment for medical expenses due to injuries as a result of an accident.
    • Collision. Collision coverage can pay for the replacement or repairs to a vehicle after a crash.
    • Comprehensive insurance. This coverage offers protection from damages or losses not related to road accidents, such as theft or weather damage.
    • Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. If a driver with no insurance or not enough insurance is at fault for an accident, this coverage can cover the expenses related to the accident.

    Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers You Can Count On

    If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation, even if the driver responsible doesn’t have auto insurance. Call the experienced car accident attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak at 888-522-7798 to learn more about your options and find out what we can do to help, and download our FREE book, The Ultimate Guide to Accident Cases in Georgia.

  • Do I need to see a doctor after an accident?

    Many people are reluctant to seek medical help after an accident or injury. They may think a doctor visit is unnecessary because they feel fine, they aren’t sure where to go, they are worried about the cost, or for any number of other reasons. However, if you’ve been involved in an accident, it is very important to have your health evaluated by a physician. Seeing a doctor will strengthen any lawsuit you may wish to bring in the future, and, more importantly, promote recovery and ensure your continued well-being.

    Protect Your Health Even If You Feel You Have No Symptoms

    Often, accident victims downplay the severity of the symptoms and injuries. Even if you feel like your injuries are minor or non-existent, visit a medical provider to get checked out. This visit is important because:

    • Doctors are trained to recognize symptoms patients easily overlook. Medical professionals can identify signs of health problems that a victim may not even think are related to the accident. They are trained to recognize concussions, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, and more.
       
    • The body may still be on a “high” after an accident. An accident can be a high energy time for the body. Typically, the body’s response to the high stress situation is to release endorphins. Accident victims will experience a rush of endorphins that evoke extra energy and block the feelings of pain. Once this feeling subsides, which can take time, the true nature of any injuries will be revealed.
       
    • Minor injuries can develop into more significant health concerns. In rare circumstances, a seemingly minor injury can progress into a much more serious health problem. If the problem can be addressed early, accident victims may be able to avoid future suffering. Additionally, if the future issue cannot be avoided, the insurance company will have documentation that the problem is related to the accident.

    The Legal Effects of Seeking Medical Treatment

    In addition to addressing important health concerns, seeking medical treatment helps to add credibility to a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation case related to the accident or injury. Today, insurance companies gather as much information as possible. They calculate what they think is an appropriate settlement offer based upon a number of factors, including how quickly a victim saw a doctor. If the victim sought medical treatment within 72 hours of the accident, this adds significant value to the claim.

    Additionally, those involved in workers’ compensation claims need documentation from a doctor to prove the injury has negatively impacted their health and their ability to work.

    Where To Seek Medical Help in Georgia

    For some people, doctor’s visits are rare. Many victims don’t seek treatment because they simply aren’t sure how or their employer is preventing proper medical treatment. If you are concerned about finding the right treatment, try:

    • Calling your family physician. Most general practitioners can easily see a patient before the 72 hours are up. If your doctor is particularly busy, explain the situation to the office staff. They will work with you to find a good time or set you up with a partner in the practice.
       
    • Visiting an urgent care facility or emergency room. These are set up to see patients short on time or for injuries that need immediate attention.


    Hospital emergency rooms are obligated to evaluate everyone who comes to them for help following an accident, regardless of whether they have insurance or the ability to pay. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, the experienced lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak may be able to help. Call our Atlanta office today at 888-522-7798 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

  • How will I pay my bills if I am unable to work after a workplace injury?

    If you’ve been hurt at work and you can’t go back to your job, or if you can’t earn the same income that you did prior to the accident, then you are understandably concerned about how you are going to pay your bills and afford medical treatment.

    Workers’ Compensation Can Help

    If you are eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia, then you may get help paying your bills in the following ways:

    • You may be eligible for income benefits. Once you have been out of work because of your workplace injury for seven days, then you become eligible for income benefits. More specifically, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly pay up to the statutory maximum. Income benefits should start within 21 days of your first missed day of work. If you are out of work for more than 21 consecutive days, then you will also be paid for the first seven days of work that you missed.
       
    • You may have your medical bills paid. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer should pay your injury-related medical bills directly to the provider so that you don’t have to worry about paying these expenses. You are required, however, to use a medical provider from a list provided to you by your employer.
       
    • You may be entitled to more than the amount you are receiving. Just because your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer has started paying you income benefits, it doesn’t mean that you are being paid the correct amount. Calculating the correct benefit rate can be complicated in some situations, and the insurer will not always go out of their way to make sure that it has been done right. Sometimes, your past earnings are not as important as what a co-worker earned if you haven’t been on the job that long. Tips, bonuses, and meal allowances can also be factors. The only way to know for sure if you are being paid the right amount is to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

    This Can Change If Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied

    If your employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, then you will not be paid income benefits while your claim is disputed. However, you may qualify for unemployment if you can show that you were not fired for cause. If you receive unemployment benefits, and then subsequently are awarded workers’ compensation for the same period, then your employer will be able to take a credit for the amounts previously paid in unemployment. This is because under Georgia law you are not entitled to a double recovery of benefits.

    An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the benefits that you deserve so that you can pay your bills during this difficult time. For more information, please contact us via this website today.

  • Am I going to lose my job if I file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia?

    Many employees who have been hurt on the job are concerned that their employers will fire them for making a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if your employer is going to terminate your employment because you assert your right to file a workers’ comp claim after being hurt on the job.

    In Georgia, employees are hired on an employment at-will basis unless there is a contract that says otherwise. That means that your employer can fire you at any time for cause—or for no cause at all—so long as the employer does not fire you for a reason that is protected by federal or state law. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is not a reason that is protected by federal or state law.

    Three Things You Need to Know

    If you’ve been hurt at work and you are concerned about losing your job, then it is important to know that:

    • You may lose your job regardless of whether you file a workers’ compensation claim.   However, a workers’ compensation attorney will be able to give you advice which may help you keep your job.
    • You may file for workers’ compensation even if you are fired.
    • You have the right to contact an attorney to discuss whether or not you should pursue a workers’ compensation claim. You and your lawyer can discuss whether workers’ compensation benefits are worth pursuing given your unique injury and employment situation.

    If you are disabled or you can’t work because of your workplace injuries then you need help. You need information that you can trust so that you can make informed decisions about exercising your rights and protecting your future. Please start a live chat with us today to learn more.

  • Can I get workers’ compensation if I am injured in a fight on the job?

    In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, you must show that your injuries arose out of and in the course of your employment. In other words, if you were injured while doing something work-related and during work hours, you are typically covered by GA workers’ compensation. However, you are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits if your injuries were the result of your willful misconduct. For example, if you get into a fight at work unrelated to the performance of your job, and suffer injuries as a result, you are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Georgia.

  • Can my Workers' Comp claim be denied for lying on my application?

    Georgia workers’ compensation laws allow employers to deny work injury claims based on certain conduct on the part of the injured worker. This includes instances in which an injured employee lied about his medical condition on his job application if the new injury is associated with the worker’s misrepresentation. Called the “Rycroft defense,” the employer must prove the following three elements in order to properly deny your claim:

    • The employee knowingly and willingly made a false representation as to his physical condition
    • The employer must have relied on the false representation, and this reliance must have been a substantial factor in the employee’s hiring
    • There must have been a causal connection between the false representation and the injury

  • Can I Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits If I Re-injure A Body Part I Hurt Previously?

    In Georgia, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you aggravate a preexisting injury or condition on the job. In some cases, workers with preexisting injuries or illnesses are still able to perform their duties at work. However, if your job exacerbates your condition and you become unable to work or you need medical treatment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.