This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of ‘Do I Need a Lawyer?’ hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
Let’s go to the next question from one of our viewers.
I have a question about my daughter’s personal injury claim. She was in a wreck last year. The other driver turned left in front of her at a traffic light. My daughter was pretty banged up. Thankfully, nothing was broken. The other driver is trying to put the blame on my daughter for causing the wreck even though 2 other witnesses saw that man cause everything. Her attorney is telling her it will require them to file a lawsuit. What is involved with this process.
-P. Monroe in Stone Mountain
Ms. Monroe, thanks for the question.
I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter’s accident and her injuries.
These situations are very frustrating.
You know your daughter didn’t do anything wrong to cause the wreck.
You have two independent witnesses that were identified at the scene of the wreck that told the police officer your daughter had the right of way and the defendant caused the wreck when he turned left in front of her.
Yet, you have an insurance company not wanting to accept responsibility for the wreck and compensate your daughter for her medical bills, lost wages, injuries – or to even repair her vehicle.
This happens a lot more often than people think.
I wrote about this situation in 2012 in the bestselling book “Protect and Defend.”
Insurance Companies like to practice the 3 D’s when adjusting claims:
Delay, Deny and Defend
When injured victims are bent over the financial barrel, the insurance company knows they can get most people to accept less money by delaying settling the claim.
If you submit a claim that you were injured, the claims adjuster will attack your injuries in a variety of ways by alleging:
* you are faking your injuries;
* your are exaggerating the severity of your injuries;
* and if you are really hurt, it is because you were injured BEFORE the wreck;
* if you were really hurt, you should have gone to a different doctor than the one you chose.
If you do not like what the insurance company is offering, or if the insurance company denies your claim, you have three choices:
* drop your claim;
* accept the low-ball offer; or
* file a lawsuit.
They will use the court system to delay the claim as your case falls in line behind other civil matters, including business disputes and collection claims.
In your daughter’s situation, it appears as though litigation may be her only alternative. Since she is currently represented by an attorney, I strongly encourage your daughter to schedule a time to meet with her lawyer to discuss options.
Let me talk about what happens when a case goes into litigation in Georgia.
A personal injury lawsuit begins in Georgia with the filing of a Complaint by the person who was injured the Plaintiff – against the person who caused the wreck – the Defendant.
The complaint is a written document that is filed with the court that must set out the basic factual allegations against the Defendant.
Next, a sheriff’s deputy or marshall will then take a copy of the lawsuit and a summons to the defendant. They are “served” a copy of the lawsuit and this puts them on notice of the lawsuit against them.
After the Complaint has been properly served, the Defendant has 30 days in which to file an Answer to the lawsuit. The answer is the legal document in which the Defendant responds to the allegations set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint.
Once the answer is filed, Georgia law sets forth a 6 month discovery period. This essentially provides both sides with a 6 month window to learn about or “discover” all facts about the case. They can take depositions of the parties, of witnesses to the wreck, or from experts or treating physicians.
Both parties can also send:
* interrogatories: written questions which must be answered under oath;
* request for production of documents: written request for documents or materials;
* request to admit: a series of questions which the other party has to admit, deny, or tell the party that sends the questions that can neither admit nor deny as they do not know the answer to the question.
Once the discovery period is over, either party can ask the court to stipulate the case to the next available trial calender. Some courts automatically put the case on the next calendar after the 6 month period has ended.
It takes a lot of time for a case to move through the system.
Further, litigation can be expensive.
Insurance companies know this and certainly try to use this to their advantage.
Don’t let them wear you down though.
Just give us a call.