Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Accidents and Recoveries

The days following a serious injury can be very scary. Hospital bills start to pile up. Your employer wants you back on the clock as soon as possible. How are you going to pay for all of this? You will likely have lots of questions and need answers fast. Our attorneys have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions they hear when meeting with clients. 
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  • What damages are available for a personal injury claim in Georgia?

    personal_injury_couple After being seriously injured in a Georgia car collision, truck crash, motorcycle wreck, or other personal injury accident caused by someone else's negligence, victims may be entitled to pursue a wide range of damages.

    Two Types of Damages

    These damages are usually divided into two main types: special damages and general damages.

    Special Damages 

    Also known as economic damages, special damages compensate personal injury victims for quantifiable financial losses stemming from the
    accident in question. Examples include:

    • Medical bills
    • Future accident-related medical expenses
    • Property damage
    • Lost wages
    • Loss of earning capacity, if applicable

    General Damages

    While special damages compensate victims for quantifiable losses, general damages (or non-economic damages) deal with losses that can't be neatly measured, such as:

    • Pain and suffering
    • Mental and emotional anguish
    • Scarring or disfigurement
    • Loss of companionship
    • Loss of enjoyment of life

    Additionally, in cases where the at-fault party's conduct was particularly egregious, a third type of damages may be available. Known as punitive damages, they're intended to punish the at-fault party for wrongdoing and deter similar actions, rather than compensate the victim for an economic or non-economic loss.

    What If My Family Member Died As A Result Of An Accident?

    If a personal injury victim dies as a result of their injuries, their surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for special and general damages related to their loved one's death. Wrongful death damages may include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial contribution, the family's emotional suffering, and other relatable forms of compensation.

    If you were seriously injured in a Georgia personal injury accident, the knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you explore your options for compensation. We can advise you regarding which types of damages may be available in your case. Use the convenient contact information on this page to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.


  • Who's liable when a driver hits a pedestrian who was distracted while texting?

    distracted_pedestrianThe dangers associated with distracted driving are better known, but many people don't realize that distracted walking can also have serious consequences.

    Distracted walking accidents and injuries are on the rise, according to the National Safety Council. Pedestrians who text, play mobile games, or surf online while walking are most at risk.

    Pedestrian accidents are also on the rise, as noted by the Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2016 and 2017 reports, and distracted walking—particularly texting while walking—may be at least partially to blame.

    When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, the injuries they sustain can be absolutely devastating.

    Even in cases where the driver was traveling at a relatively slow speed, victims may require extensive medical care and time off from work. Pedestrian accident victims may be entitled to compensation from the driver who hit them. However, if the pedestrian was distracted and texting at the time of the accident, he or she may share in liability, which could potentially affect their financial recovery.

    Fortunately, Georgia is a comparative negligence state. This means personal injury victims may still be entitled to compensation, even if they were partially responsible for their accidents and injuries. Georgia courts use modified comparative negligence rules, which allow for personal injury claimants to collect damages if they were up to 49 percent responsible for the accidents in which they were injured.

    Consult an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney

    If you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, but are worried that your role in what happened may affect your ability to recover compensation, it's vitally important that you understand your legal rights and options.

    The knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you build a strong case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis. 


  • What are the benefits of settling your personal injury claim out of court?

    Out-of-court settlements

    People who are seriously injured as a result of another person's negligence often file personal injury claims or lawsuits to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses. Although some personal injury lawsuits actually make it to trial, the vast majority are settled long before they reach the courtroom. 

    Why Choose a Settlement?

    While resolving a personal injury case in court can sometimes lead to a higher financial award for plaintiffs, it can also be lengthy, costly, stressful, potentially embarrassing, and unpredictable. However, when a fair settlement amount is offered, settling out of court can actually have numerous benefits, including:

    • Faster resolution. Settling out of court can help personal injury plaintiffs receive compensation much more quickly than going to trial—it can take months or even years to receive a financial recovery from a trial, especially if a defendant decides to appeal an unfavorable decision. Out-of-court settlements usually take just days or weeks to negotiate.
    • Fewer expenses. Litigating a personal injury case can be expensive. Although most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and receive a percentage of the pre-trial settlement or court-ordered financial award, attorney fees aren't the only expenses to consider. Plaintiffs will also likely be responsible for court costs, expert witness payments, and more.
    • Less stress. Bringing a personal injury lawsuit is stressful enough without being subjected to intrusive questioning and cross-examination. Opting to settle out of court can help plaintiffs avoid emotionally taxing courtroom scenarios.
    • Maintain privacy. Trial details are public record, but settling out of court often lets both sides keep personal information private.
    • Compensation plaintiffs can count on. Trials can be unpredictable. Even if all of the evidence is admissible and your witnesses are convincing, there's no guarantee that the jury will side with the plaintiff and award the desired amount of compensation.

    Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

    If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Let a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer examine the facts of your case and help you explore your legal options. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.


  • Are there any exceptions to the usual statute of limitations rules for personal injury claims in Georgia?

    Statute of limitations laws are intended to promote the timely resolution of disputes. These laws place specific limits on different types of legal actions. For a personal injury claim in Georgia, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of injury. However, there are a few exceptions to be aware of if you’ve recently suffered injuries in an auto accident caused by a careless or inattentive driver.

    Cases Involving Traffic Tickets

    Citations for traffic infractions such as speeding, running a red light, or failure to yield can provide vital proof of negligence in a personal injury claim. They also serve to extend the statute of limitations, since Georgia law tolls the statute until the citation has been resolved.

    Cases Involving Children

    Children are offered additional protection under Georgia personal injury law. When a personal injury claim involves a child, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child is 18.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    Filing a claim with the driver’s insurance company is not the same thing as filing a personal injury lawsuit. Statute of limitations laws refer to the time you have to file suit in a court of law.

    Typically, evidence in a personal injury claim becomes more difficult to locate as time passes. This means it’s in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

    Your attorney can help gather evidence to prove liability and support your claim for damages. This will help maximize your compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak.

  • What is the likelihood my wrongful death case will settle out of court?

    Wrongful death claims, like other types of personal injury cases, rarely go to trial. It’s estimated that over 90% of cases are settled out of court. Of those that do go to trial, about 90% settle before the court reaches a verdict.

    Advantages of Settling Out of Court

    Settling out of court offers a number of important advantages:

    • Settling is less expensive. Preparing for a trial takes a lot of time, which increases legal fees. In many cases, settling before trial is the most cost-effective solution for everyone.
    • Trials are unpredictable. In your mind, you may have an open and shut case. However, trials are known for being unpredictable. The jury might not agree with your assessment of liability, or they may decide that your case is worth less than you think.
    • Settling protects your privacy. A wrongful death claim can involve a number of sensitive issues. If you settle out of court, you can control the release of this information. If your case goes to trial, you may have to deal with unwanted media attention.
    • Trials and appeals can take years. The legal system moves much more slowly than many people would like. Even a fairly simple wrongful death case may take years to resolve once the trial and appeals are taken into consideration. If you settle out of court, you can put the matter behind you and focus on moving forward with your life.

    Deciding to Accept a Settlement Offer

    If you’ve received a settlement offer in your wrongful death claim, it’s important to discuss the terms of the settlement in great detail with an attorney. A fair settlement should provide adequate compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, burial costs, and lost wages. You should also be compensated for the deceased person’s pain and suffering in their final moments as well as your own loss of his or her care and companionship.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    The experienced legal team at Rechtman & Spevak is dedicated to helping Georgia residents who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others receive the wrongful death compensation they deserve. Our attorneys will advocate for your rights throughout every step of the settlement process. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • How are future medical costs calculated in a personal injury settlement?

    Traumatic brain injury, amputation, paralysis, and other permanently disabling injuries can create a significant financial burden. If your injuries were caused by another party’s negligence, obtaining an accurate assessment of future medical costs is a vital part of ensuring a fair personal injury settlement.

    Anticipating Future Needs

    Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, your condition is classified as being stable enough that your healthcare provider can make a reasonable prediction about your future requirements.

    Your provider may recommend the following items as part of your treatment:

    • Surgery
    • Lab tests
    • Follow-up visits
    • Pain relievers or other prescription medication
    • Physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation
    • Wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, or other assistive devices
    • Home health care aides
    • Placement in a nursing facility for around-the-clock care
    • Mental health counseling

    Since the cost of medical care continues to increase at a rapid rate, you’ll need to use experts to estimate what funds will be required for your future treatment needs.

    Lifecare planning experts are professionals who specialize in estimating the cost of specific procedures, medications, and interventions given current rates of medical inflation. They also consider variables such as your age, general health before the accident, and treatment options in your geographic area.

    In your personal injury claim, a life care planning expert will estimate expenses for the future before calculating a discount rate to bring costs to their appropriate present value. A total lifestyle approach will be used if your injury will require ongoing nursing care or placement in a facility, while an added expenses approach will be used if you’ll still be able to live independently as long as your specific treatment needs are addressed.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    Even if your personal injury claim involves permanently disabling injuries, you’re not allowed to ask for additional funds once a settlement agreement has been reached. Therefore, it’s vital that you work with an attorney who can advocate for the maximum possible compensation.

    The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak have extensive experience helping injured Georgia residents resolve their claims for future medical expenses. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

  • What are duties under duress?

    If you've been injured in an auto accident, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms in the process of settling your claim. One of these terms is duties under duress, which is related to your pain and suffering compensation.

    About Duties Under Duress

    Duties under duress are tasks that you could easily perform before the accident, but now struggle to accomplish because of your injuries. For example, if you suffered a back injury, you may struggle to handle any task that involves lifting, bending, or sitting for long periods of time. Or, if you suffered a concussion, you may have lingering headaches and trouble concentrating at work.

    Most duties under duress are related to symptoms of physical injury, but anxiety and depression may also play a role. If you're suffering from panic attacks, nightmares, or other mental health symptoms that are making it difficult to complete tasks that are a part of your daily routine, this should be included in your settlement.

    Duties under duress can be related to work, education, household, or domestic duties. Some common examples of duties under duress include:

    • Work activities. Limited range of motion, decreased physical strength or stamina, trouble remembering information, difficulty following directions, and other challenges related to your specific occupational duties.
    • Education activities. Carrying books and supplies to class, sitting without pain during lectures, concentrating while studying, and other tasks related to performing successfully as a student.
    • Household activities. Mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, maintaining your garden, washing windows, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, running errands, providing transportation for children, and other related tasks performed outside the home.
    • Domestic activities. Washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, making the bed, cooking meals, taking care of young children, and other tasks performed inside the home

    Identifying Relevant Duties Under Duress

    Duties under duress are important in a personal injury claim because they illustrate the extent of your pain and suffering related to your injuries. You can identify your duties under duress by thinking about the following questions:

    • Have you had to hire someone to help with household or domestic tasks because of your injuries?
    • Are friends and family currently assisting you with your chores?
    • Has your supervisor made modifications to your job duties or are your coworkers assisting you with tasks at work that are difficult?
    • Are there any duties you had trouble performing immediately after the accident, but can now successfully perform?

    If you're not sure what duties under duress you've been experiencing, try keeping a journal to note what tasks are more difficult to accomplish as you go about your day. You may also want to consider asking close friends and family if they've noticed that you are struggling to complete certain tasks.

    For each task you note, record what specific problems you are having and how much of your day is normally spent performing the task. Tasks that make up a significant portion of your daily routine are the most valuable duties under duress for the purpose of your personal injury claim. For example, not being able to focus on a computer screen due to visual impairments or headaches is more problematic for someone who works in an office than it would be for a stay-at-home parent.

    Reporting Duties Under Duress

    Any duties under duress that you note should be reported to your physician. Having your difficulties listed in your medical records clearly links them to your accident-related injuries.

    When you're experiencing symptoms that are ongoing, you need to report them to your physician at every visit. If you do not report the symptoms at every visit, they won't appear in your chart notes. This will lead to the mistaken assumption that the issue has resolved itself.

    Protecting Your Right to a Fair Settlement

    In addition to sharing a detailed description of your duties under duress with your healthcare provider, it's important that you enlist the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your right to a fair settlement. Attempting to resolve your case without representation will likely result in a settlement that doesn't adequately compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • How will my attorney help me prepare for my injury case deposition?

    If your personal injury claim is the first time you’ve been involved in any sort of legal action, the thought of giving a deposition can be intimidating. However, your attorney will help you prepare for your testimony to make sure your statements do not inadvertently harm your case.

    About the Deposition Process

    Depositions are an important part of the discovery process in many different types of legal actions. A deposition is essentially a formal question-and-answer session with a witness. The purpose of a deposition is to allow the other side an opportunity to find out what information you have so they can be prepared for a trial.

    When you give a deposition in your personal injury case, you and your attorney will meet with the defendant’s attorney. A court reporter will be present to record your answers and the meeting may be videotaped. The defendant has a right to appear at the deposition, but he or she is not required to be present. Everything you say during a deposition is under oath, so you’ll be sworn in before the questions begin.

    Depositions do not take place in a courtroom. Typically, you’ll meet in your attorney’s office. The time required for a deposition varies, with some lasting just 15 minutes and others taking several hours.

    Common Deposition Questions

    Every deposition is a little different, but here are some examples of the types of questions you can expect to be asked:

    • Where do you work? What jobs have you had in the past 10 years?
    • Where do you currently live? Where did you live in the past 10 years?
    • What injuries or illnesses have you had in the past 10 years?
    • What past legal claims or lawsuits have you been involved in?
    • Have you previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor criminal offenses?
    • Can you please describe the details of your accident?
    • Can you please describe what injuries you have suffered following the accident?
    • What specific physical limitations have you been experiencing as the result of your injuries?

    Preparing for Your Deposition

    To help you prepare for your deposition, your attorney will go over the process with you and have you practice answering questions that might be asked. He or she may also go over your medical records or ask you to revisit the scene of the accident to clarify that you’re both on the same page.

    Tips to keep in mind as you prepare include:

    • Dress conservatively. To make a good impression, dress as if you were attending church or a job interview.
    • Keep your answers short and to the point. It’s important to provide the truth in your deposition, but you don’t need to offer up additional unnecessary or irrelevant information. Answer the specific question being asked as briefly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” instead of guessing.
    • Pause before answering. There is no judge during a deposition. If your attorney objects to a question, the objection is noted and the questioning continues. However, your attorney can instruct you not to answer a question if it pertains to attorney-client privilege. Pausing slightly before answering the question gives your attorney time to object if necessary.
    • Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what a question means, ask for clarification before answering. Generally, the opposing attorney is not trying to trick you.  He just wants to get answers to his questions. It’s important that you understand what is being asked, which will help you avoid giving an answer that could hurt your case.
    • Ask for a break when you need one. A deposition can be mentally taxing, but you’re allowed to ask for a break if you need to get a drink, stretch your legs, or use the restroom. Don't be shy about asking to stop for a few minutes if you need a break.

    The Value of Experienced Legal Representation

    Helping you prepare for your deposition is just one thing that an experienced personal injury attorney can do in order to help secure a fair settlement in your case. The team at Rechtman & Spevak is committed to advocating for the needs of injured Georgia residents throughout every step of a personal injury claim. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

  • What does tolling the statute of limitations mean?

    The statute of limitations refers to the length of time an injured plaintiff has to take legal action against a defendant. There are different limitations for different types of cases, including circumstances where tolling can occur to increase the length of time you have to file a claim.

    Understanding Georgia’s Statute of Limitations

    Georgia’s statute of limitations laws are intended to ensure that litigation proceeds in a timely fashion. They allow cases to proceed while evidence is still readily available and prevent defendants from worrying about someone taking legal action decades after an event occurred.

    Statute of limitations laws for Georgia specify these time limits to start a lawsuit:

    • General personal injury claims: two years.
    • Loss of consortium: four years after the right of action accrued.
    • Property damage: four years.
    • Wrongful death: two years.
    • Product liability: two years.

    Extending Deadlines by Tolling the Statute of Limitations

    In most cases, the statute of limitations is non-negotiable. If you miss the deadline to file, you can’t take legal action. However, under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations can be tolled. Essentially, this means that the clock has been temporarily stopped to allow extra time for taking action.

    The most common reasons for tolling the statute of limitations are as follows.

    • The victim is an injured child. When the victim is a child and the case does not involve medical malpractice, the statute of limitations begins to run when he turns 18.
    • The victim was not mentally competent at the time the injury occurred. When an injured person is considered mentally ill or otherwise not legally competent, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until after his disability is removed.
    • The incident of wrongful conduct involves the commission of a crime. If you’re injured in an accident involving someone who committed a crime, the two-year statute of limitations is tolled for the time between when the offense is committed and when the criminal case is resolved, provided that such time does not exceed six years. For example, if you receive injuries from an accident involving a drunk driver, the statute of limitations is extended by the amount of time it takes for his DUI charge to be resolved.
    • There was no opportunity for reasonable discovery. The statute of limitations may be extended if there was no way for an injury or medical condition to have been reasonably discovered within the specific timeframe.
    • The defendant has declared bankruptcy. The “automatic stay” that is granted as the result of filing bankruptcy generally tolls the statute of limitations until the bankruptcy is resolved or the stay is lifted.
    • The defendant has committed fraud. When the defendant has fraudulently deterred the plaintiff from bringing legal action, the period of limitations runs only from the time of the plaintiff’s discovery of the fraud.

    Tolling the statute of limitations does not affect a case in terms of your burden of proof or your eligibility for compensation. It only affects how much time you have to bring legal action against the defendant.

    Seeking Legal Assistance

    If you’ve suffered damages due to another party’s negligence, it’s in your best interests to seek legal representation as soon as possible. When you begin the process of filing a claim immediately after the incident, it’s easier to locate the evidence you need to build a strong case. In fact, some attorneys may refuse to accept a case if the statute of limitations deadline is rapidly approaching, due to the length of time it takes to properly prepare for legal action.

    However, don’t assume that you are entirely out of luck if it appears that the statute of limitations for your case has passed. In many cases, it’s possible to bring multiple causes of action from a single occurrence of wrongful conduct. This means that you may still have options even if it appears that the statute of limitations for your case has run out.

    The experienced personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak can help interpret the statute of limitations, assess the value of your case, locate relevant evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • Who is responsible for damages in a multi-vehicle accident?

    Multi-vehicle accidents present special issues in a personal injury claim because it’s not always immediately obvious which driver—or drivers—may be at fault

    How Fault Is Determined

    In any accident, the first priority is attending to the immediate medical needs of injured drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. After arrangements have been made for this care, law enforcement officers begin their investigation.

    Evidence gathered can include:

    • Testimony from drivers.
    • Testimony from passengers.
    • Witness testimony from pedestrians or people who were nearby when the accident occurred.
    • Traffic camera footage.
    • Notes and photos regarding location and type of vehicle damage.
    • Past driving records to see if anyone involved has a history of reckless driving, DUI, or other unsafe behavior.
    • Black box data.

    Fault Options in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

    In a multi-vehicle accident, there are three possibilities for who is responsible for damages.

    • Single at-fault driver. In most cases, a multi-vehicle pileup happens when one driver makes a mistake that begins a chain reaction. This may include turning the wrong way down a one-way street, running a red light, or abruptly stopping.
    • Multiple at-fault drivers. Although the driver who sets off the chain reaction is primarily responsible for the accident, it’s likely that other drivers may also share some degree of fault. For example, consider an accident where driver A is tailgating and rear-ends driver B. If driver C was speeding, he could easily strike the back of driver A’s vehicle. Driver D might hit the back of driver C’s vehicle because he was distracted by texting and driving. In this case, everyone is partially at fault except for driver B.
    • No at-fault driver. In very rare cases, an accident may be determined to be nobody’s fault. For example, a driver who loses consciousness due to a genuine medical emergency can’t be held responsible for the damages that result. 

    Collecting Compensation as an At-Fault Driver

    When more than one driver is at fault, Georgia uses a modified comparative negligence system for assigning responsibility for accident related expenses. This means you can still collect compensation as an at-fault driver, but only if you were 49% or less at fault for the accident. If you are 50% or more at fault, you can’t recover any accident-related expenses.

    Additionally, your percentage of fault proportionally reduces your ability to recover damages. For example, if you were 25% at fault for the accident, you’d only be able to recover 75% of the damages you’d receive if the other driver was 100% at fault.

    How Policy Limits Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

    Unfortunately, policy limits often play a big role in personal injury settlement for multi-vehicle accidents. Since accidents of this type often involve multiple people with serious injuries such as organ damage, traumatic brain injury, or paralysis, medical bills can be substantial. Lost wages can also add significantly to the settlement, especially when more than one person has been left with a permanent disability that prevents him or her from returning to work.

    Although drivers are generally encouraged to take out substantial liability coverage to protect themselves in the event of an accident, most drivers only carry the state-mandated minimum insurance. Georgia’s minimum car insurance requirements are:

    • Bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person.
    • Bodily injury liability of $50,000 per accident.
    • Property damage liability of $25,000 per accident.

    If an accident exceeds the policy limits of the people who are at fault, you may then go after any uninsured motorist coverage that you have on your own policy.  If there is not adequate insurance coverage, then you will need to try to collect from the at-fault driver(s) personal assets. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    Maximize your available compensation in a personal injury settlement by hiring an experienced attorney to line up the necessary evidence to document your expenses and negotiate on your behalf. The dedicated team Rechtman & Spevak serves clients throughout Georgia, advocating for the funds they need to recover from their car accident injuries. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.