A: Since Georgia is not a “no-fault state,” the person that causes a wreck is the person that is liable for the harm that is caused. The claim is first submitted against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
A: Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means that if the wreck is partly your fault, your claim against the at-fault driver may be reduced proportional to your fault. If you are worried that you might be partly at fault for your wreck, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Ideally, you should talk to an attorney before you give any statements to the insurance company so that the wreck can be investigated and liability against the at-fault driver can be secured.
A: As a starting point, if you are worried about the statute of limitations, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The reason for this is that even though there are general rules, there are many exceptions to the rules and it’s important for you to know specifically what the limitation is for your case. But in general, you have two years to either file a lawsuit or settle a car wreck injury claim in Georgia. Now, an important exception to this rule is that if an at-fault party is a government entity such as a police officer driving a county police car, you can have as little as six months to notify that government of your claim.
Additionally, if the at-fault driver was given a traffic ticket, you can sometimes have additional time while the ticket is pending before the two years start to run. What this really means is that if you’re worried that you’ve waited too long, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
It is possible there are exceptions that would allow you to still file your claim.
A: The first and most important thing to do is seek medical attention if you or anyone else was injured in an accident. It is important to remember that some injuries take a few days to develop. It is important to listen to your body and if you feel that something is not right, get prompt medical care and follow your doctor’s instructions. This advice is not only best for any possible claim you might have – it is best for your health as well.
The second thing that you need to do is notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company as well as your own insurance company of the wreck. Both of those insurance companies should tell you the name of the adjuster that will be handling your claim as well as the claim number to reference when you call back.
The next step is to consult with an attorney who can walk you through the specific steps in your case involving the property claim for the car, any other property damage in the car such as phone damage, and your injuries. Typically, an attorney will not charge you for a consult – I certainly don’t.
A: Yes, you should notify both your own insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company of the wreck. Typically, you are not going to have the other driver’s insurance information immediately after the wreck although some police officers will provide that to you at the crash scene. Instead, it’s going to be listed on the police report which should be available within a few days of the wreck. So as a starting point, you should notify your own insurance company. The reason you should do this – even if the other driver says that they’re at fault – is because it protects you in the event that the other driver has a problem with their insurance policy such as missed payments and no coverage at the time of the wreck.
If you have sustained significant injuries from a wreck, it is possible that the person who hit you may not have enough insurance to cover the costs. Notifying your own insurance company helps protect you from a situation in which there is not enough coverage available if you carry uninsured motorist coverage.
The reason you notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company is to simply make sure that they are aware of the accident. If the at-fault party’s insurance company is not notified by anybody and they don’t know about the wreck until weeks or months later, they can in some instances deny coverage because of the fact that they weren’t able to investigate the claim at the time that it occurred. You want to avoid that situation. When you talk to your own insurance company, ask for them to send you a copy of the coverage you have for your vehicle. Often times you will have coverage that will make your life easier such as medical payments coverage on top of the at-fault driver’s insurance, rental car reimbursement, and the like.
A: If your body feels like there’s something that’s not right, seek medical care as soon as possible. If you are conscientious about that, then you will put yourself in the best possible position not only as to your claim but as to your health as well. It’s not uncommon for there to be a delay before people start to feel symptoms. What is important is that you promptly get medical attention once you determine that there is something not right with your body. It is true that the longer you wait to get care after a car wreck, the harder it is to connect your injuries to the wreck. This, however, is not a reason to avoid seeking care later on. As long as there isn’t an intervening accident, (such as you fell down the stairs three days after you were in the car wreck) it is often possible to affirmatively link the delayed injury to the wreck.
A: In terms of doctor’s orders, sometimes there are patients who just don’t feel like the doctor’s recommendations are helping. If you are in that particular situation, it’s important to let the doctor know. If you feel like the doctor isn’t providing you with the care that you need or is giving you recommendations that aren’t appropriate, then it’s important to promptly seek a second opinion. You have to be conscientious about your care.
In Georgia, if a person is injured in a car wreck, they have a duty to do their best to recover from their injuries. That concept is called mitigation of damages. For instance, if a doctor recommends that you have an MRI after an injury and without good reason you choose not to show up for the appointment, it’s going to be hard to convince anyone that you are legitimately injured. It will also be hard to convince anyone that you are legitimately injured if your medical record shows gaps in care, meaning long gaps of time before or between your appointments, or appointments that were missed altogether. It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you, and to take your medical care seriously. If you don’t, nobody else will. This becomes easier when you have a lawyer to help guide you through the process of the claim while you focus on your medical care. Do your best to stay motivated about your recovery even when you have setbacks. Getting your health and wellness back to the fullest extent you can is the most important thing you can do for your health and your claim.
A: One of the sad facts of Georgia law is that neither the at-fault driver, nor their insurance company is going to pay for your medical bills until the end of the claim. The good news is that there are ways for a good lawyer to lessen the impact of the medical bills while your case is pending. Many drivers have insurance on their own cars that covers medical payments. If you have this type of coverage, it can provide some relief from medical bills while your claim progresses.
Medical payments coverage is over and above the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. I often get asked why a person’s own insurance policy should have to pay when it’s the other driver’s fault, and the short answer is that both insurance policies are going to pay. You are going to get money from both of them, but having medical payments coverage will lessen the impact on your own pocket book while the claim progresses.
You can also sometimes use your own health insurance to pay the medical bills while the claim is pending. If you do this, you will usually have to pay your own health insurance back for the bills that they paid when your claim is resolved. However, this is almost always better than self-funding the care, in large part because health insurance usually is able to discount your bills in amounts you aren’t able to do when you pay cash at the end of the claim. In instances where you have no health insurance, but you have significant injuries from a wreck that is not your fault, it is often possible to receive care from a doctor who agrees to wait until your claim is resolved in order to get paid. Whether or not it is a good idea to seek such a doctor depends on the specific facts of your case.
A: The answer to this question really depends on the specific facts of your claim. In general, it is better to have the bill resolved prior to settlement. But in many instances where there is a significant medical bill, you will not have the means to pay the bill until your claim settles. In those instances, we work with the medical debt holders. An assurance from us that a bill will be paid is usually enough to keep the bill out of collection until the claim settles.
A: In general, there are three factors that determine the value of an auto accident claim. One is liability, which means how easy is it to determine which person was at fault for the wreck. Liability is easier to determine in a rear-end collision that occurs while one person is at a stoplight than it is in a wreck that occurs when two people make simultaneously turns onto a single roadway.
Another factor that determines the value of an injury case is the extent of injuries and how easy is it for a doctor to conclude that they were connected to the wreck. For example, if an airbag deployment causes a fracture in your chest, then any doctor in that situation is going to reasonably conclude that the fracture was caused by the wreck. It is going to be harder to make that determination if, for example, you developed pneumonia as a result of that fracture. This second determination may require an expert witness or additional costs. In general, the more serious the injury and the easier it is to connect that injury to the wreck, the greater the value of the claim.
Finally, a big factor that determines the value of a case is simply going to be the at-fault driver’s ability to pay. If the at-fault driver has substantial insurance, then there is significant ability to pay. However, if you have $50,000 of medical bills and the driver that hit you has only $25,000 of liability coverage, then your claim has less value simply because there’s less insurance coverage. You may still be able to recover the full value of your claim, but it is going to require you to go after the at-fault driver personally over and above their insurance policy. Where the at-fault driver has assets in addition to the insurance coverage, it is possible to get them to pay personally for the wreck. This, however, is generally more difficult and costly to do, so it would impact the value of the case.
A: If other insurance such as health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or the like has paid your medical bills while your claim is pending, you may have to repay that bill from your injury claim. In those cases, you will have submitted the medical bill to the at-fault driver and asked that they be paid at the time of settlement. The at-fault driver would pay for that bill to you in your claim. It would then be up to you (or your lawyer if you have one) to make sure that if the bill has been paid by health insurance, that any required reimbursements are made.
Whether or not you will have to reimburse health insurance for bills that were paid in your claim depends on whether or not you have health insurance covered by a government entity such as Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage. If so, then the answer is almost always yes- you will have to repay the amount that they paid.
With that being said, the process of repaying medical health insurance back is almost 100% computer-based. The government’s request to repay will include care that isn’t related to your injuries. Therefore, it’s important to have an attorney look over the request carefully and to object to any care that wasn’t connected with the wreck.
If you have health insurance provided by an employer, you will usually have to pay back your health insurer, but there are important exceptions to this rule. If the exceptions apply, you may not be required to repay your health insurer or you may be required to repay only a portion of the bills. If you are confronted with the demand to repay health insurance, it’s important to talk to an attorney.
If you have health insurance that you obtained directly from a private health insurance company, then it is likely you would not have to repay your health insurance. However, you should consult an attorney so that your specific plan can be reviewed before you make decisions on how to proceed.
When my firm handles these types of considerations, they are included in the cost of representation at no additional fee.
A: In Georgia, car damage (and other property damage such as a broken cell phone) is handled separately from the injuries to the body. Since there are two separate claims, you can typically settle the car damage claim within a few weeks to a few months of the wreck. The bodily injury claim takes much longer to resolve. In some rare instances where the property claim is unable to be resolved for one reason or another, it is possible to do a demand for payment as to both claims or to actually sue on both claims. In most instances, the property damage claim is settled early on in the claim and the bodily injury claim isn’t settled until the claimant has recovered from their injuries sufficient to file their claim.
A: Any firm that is serious about handling personal injury cases has to be prepared to go to trial. The reason for this is that when insurance companies are dealing within a particular region, they know which attorneys are willing to go to trial and which are not. Typically, the best way to handle a case is to prepare it for trial immediately, even if you think that the case is going to settle for a fair amount prior to trial. If the case is set to go to trial and it isn’t prepared until that point, then it is more costly to get the case ready. There are things such as depositions as well as expert doctors that need to testify and those costs can impact the settlement or the recovery after trial.
There are numerous factors which help determine which cases go to trial rather than settle. One of the biggest factors in determining whether the claim goes to trial is the at-fault driver’s (and their insurance company) willingness to place a fair value on your injuries.
What you need to do is speak with your attorney and consider the benefits of proceeding to trial against taking a settlement today in order to determine the better option for you.
A: One of the first things that a good personal injury attorney does when reviewing your claim is determine insurance coverage. This coverage includes the at-fault driver’s coverage and in many instances, additional coverage of family members who might live in the same household as the at-fault driver. It also involves looking at any potential coverage that you – the injured driver – might have. This includes uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage and health insurance. One of the biggest benefits to having an attorney working on your claim is that they will consider all the available coverage options early on in the case. There are often ways to find additional available coverage other than the single policy that’s supposed to be on the accident report.
In one particular instance, I worked on a claim in which the injuries were more than the available coverage of the at-fault driver. I conducted a thorough investigation and was able to uncover a second at-fault driver’s policy that provided an additional $30,000 worth of coverage. In addition to that, my client had coverage of his own including additional medical payments coverage. Ultimately, we were able to provide him with a fair recovery in light of his injuries due to this increased insurance coverage.
In some cases where all the available coverage is just simply not enough to compensate you fully, we would have to consider the assets of the at-fault driver. That is, what does the at-fault driver own? Do they own a house? Do they have other cars or boats? If the driver has enough assets, it’s possible to sue that driver for the full harm they caused over and above the insurance coverage. What that means is that the driver is responsible for the full harm that they caused, and that’s true whether they have $25,000 of insurance coverage or a million dollars of insurance coverage. If they did not take the necessary steps in order to get adequate coverage for the harm that they caused, then they are in fact personally liable for the additional harm. Whether or not it makes sense to go after the driver individually depends on their assets and your injuries.
A: In any collision where you have significant injuries, it’s preferable to have an attorney. As a starting point, you are going to want to ensure that you can prove that the other driver was at fault for the collision. The fact that the other driver is cited in the police report is great, but it’s not the end of the world. If there are witnesses to the collision, you want to make sure that they are interviewed. Secondly, you’ll want to have an attorney to ensure that all available sources of insurance have been identified and that those insurance carriers have been notified of a potential claim. This includes your own insurance company. The reason for this is that if there’s a problem with the insurance contract between the at-fault driver and the insurance company or if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance, you’ll want to have all available sources of insurance identified.
The biggest reason to hire an attorney in any claim is simply so that you can focus on the most important part of the claim, which is getting yourself better. In small claims where you are not seriously injured, it’s sometimes okay for you to handle the claim yourself. I offer a free consultation to anybody who’s been hurt in a wreck. In situations where the you have only minor injuries and want to handle the claim yourself, we can at least give you a good overview of the process to help you get started.
A: One thing sets my firm apart from the rest: personal attention. I handle everything myself. A lot of the billboards in this area are for personal injury attorneys. Those attorneys are good, but if you look at just how many people are calling their firms, it’s easy to understand that the person handling their claims isn’t the guy on the billboard- it’s some lower level attorney, or in a lot of instances, not even an attorney at all. You may be working with the case manager or a paralegal, and most of your contact will be with somebody other than the person who is actually handling your claim. That’s not the way it is at the Roch Law Firm. I handle everything personally. When you call the firm, you talk to me. There is no real barrier between myself and those I am honored to represent. While I may hire investigators and experts and have people to help write routine letters and documents,your main point of contact about your claim will be the attorney handling the claim – me. So if people want a one-on-one relationship with the attorney that’s representing them, and if they want to deal with an attorney that they can trust, they should hire my firm.
A: Do not be afraid to file a claim against your own insurance coverage where you did not cause the wreck. I have noticed that a lot of people become angry with the person that hurt them. Wrecks can simply be horrible inconveniences, or they can result in life-changing injuries. On top of that, I am telling them, “In addition to talking to the insurance company for the person that hurt you, I want to talk to your own insurance company.” In response, people will often worry that their rates will be raised and ask why their insurance company should have to pay for damage that another person caused. The answer is that when you have your own coverage, oftentimes you are paying extra for benefits available to you in the event that you are injured. Many people aren’t even aware that they are paying extra for these extra benefits. This is true regardless of whether it’s your fault or not, and it includes medical payments coverage. If you have medical payments coverage, it will be provided in addition to the coverage provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
Uninsured motorist coverage can also provide a cushion in a situation where your claim exceeds the value of the coverage that the at-fault driver has. In Georgia, there is a statute that states it’s illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates because you filed a claim in a car wreck that wasn’t your fault.
Where the wreck isn’t your fault, make sure you know what coverage your own insurance provides. It may not merely duplicate coverage – it may provide coverage on top of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
A: I like to help people. When I first started out as an attorney, I was a public defender and was focused on community service and helping people who are less fortunate. When I opened up my own law firm in 2006, I realized there was a real need in Cherokee County, North Georgia for lawyers that are dedicated to helping those that have been injured. Once I started working with people and helping them through their claims, I realized I could do an abundance of good helping others
A: The bread and butter of my practice revolves around helping people who have been injured in car accidents. I also handle premises liability claims, where individuals are injured on a business property. These claims frequently happen because shop owners do not take care of their properties.
A: When you are hurt in a car wreck and it isn’t your fault, many believe that the insurance company for the at-fault driver will take care of everything. Many of my clients come to me very frustrated by how the at-fault driver’s insurance company is treating them. Many of my clients come to my office expecting that hiring an attorney will somehow make their claim proceed to a lawsuit instead of a settlement. That’s simply not the case. Many of my clients are reluctant to hire an attorney at first because they had hoped that the at-fault insurance company would treat them fairly but are forced to hire an attorney because the other side has been so unreasonable.
A: The biggest misconception is the amount of time that it takes to resolve your claim. I handle cases where people have painful injuries, and those injuries take the time to heal. After you’ve recovered as much as possible, we still want to wait some time to make sure that you’re not going to need further treatment. The reason for this is that once we settle your claim, we cannot go back and ask for more money. It is important that you’ve completed all medical care before making your request for final payment. Another misconception is that one call is all it takes to resolve your claim. My firm is a client-centered firm, and I look at myself as a partner with the clients I represent in this process. I work with them, not at them. I feel it’s important that they have regular updates on the progress of their claim. I do this using regular communications through phone calls, office visits, e-mails, and texts.
A: Any claim with an insurance company is always going to be a fight. By definition, they want to keep their money instead of giving it to you. Several factors can influence the difficulty of a car wreck claim. These include the severity of your injuries, the amount of the insurance the other side has, the difficulty in proving who caused the car wreck, the amount of car insurance you have, whether you have pre-existing injuries to the part of your body injured in the wreck and the insurance carriers involved in the claim. Some insurance carriers are simply easier to work with than others. Another factor that influences the difficulty of a car wreck claim is the extent of property damage to your car and the at-fault driver’s car. The property damage helps show how hard the impact was which can relate to the severity of forces at work inside of the vehicle at the time of the wreck. This is not always the case, however and even minor impacts can cause severe injuries.
A: Most personal injury cases settle before they go to trial. Nevertheless, it is nearly impossible to tell whether a case is going to settle or go to trial until a long time after the wreck. It’s important that you begin investigating and preparing your claim early on. Witnesses’ memories fade quickly. I start working all of my cases from the perspective that each one of them will go to trial. This level of preparation is what helps me obtain a fair settlement for my clients. Of course, if the case doesn’t settle, we will be ready for trial.
A: There are numerous reasons why your case might settle. Some claims settle because the insurance company has exhausted their resources. That is, the insurance company paid all the money for the policies that covered your injury. Other times, you might be entirely satisfied with the amount offered, and other times, you might make a decision that having the settlement on the table is better than the possibility of obtaining more money later through trial. There are numerous ways that I will help you decide on the value of your case and help you understand whether any particular settlement is a reasonable settlement for your case.
A: In Georgia, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay you for lost wages while your claim is pending. If you are missing work because you were hurt in a car wreck, it is best that you begin planning as soon as possible. If your employer provides paid sick or vacation time, you may be able to use sick or vacation days to keep income coming in while you recover. Much of the time, you will also be able to make the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay you for having to use up these vacation or sick days. In addition, some creditors may be willing to give you extended time to make payments if they are contacted early on. As a last resort, there are funding companies that may give you a loan based on your promise to pay the loan back after your personal injury claim settles. These loans have many drawbacks including high interest but for those who have no other way of providing for their family while they recover from injuries, they can be the best option.
A: One of the most frustrating things about being in a car accident in Georgia is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay for your bodily injuries until you are ready to finally settle your claim. This means that if you need medical treatment after a car wreck and have no health insurance, you will need to make arrangements for paying for that care on your own. There are several things you can do in this situation. First, if you have medical payments coverage on your own car insurance, you can use this coverage to pay for your medical bills while you wait for the at-fault driver to settle. Secondly, in some situations, you can use your own health insurance to pay for your medical bills while you wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance to pay at the end. Third, you may be able to find a doctor who treats on a lien. These doctors agree to treat you based on your promise to pay them back at the end of your claim from the insurance proceeds.
A: If the other side’s insurance company calls you, the general rule is we do not provide a statement, but there are some exceptions to that rule. If it is your insurance company, the general rule is that we would provide a statement to them, but there are extremely limited circumstances when I would advise against that. The simple fact is that if you do not have an attorney and an insurance company wants to take your statement, the best advice is to talk to a lawyer before giving that statement.
A: Regarding the at-fault driver’s insurance company, I would not agree to provide them with a statement without talking to a personal injury attorney first. That insurance company is not entitled to a statement unless you have filed the lawsuit and they are only looking for ways to deny payment. Giving such a statement, even when you have a strong claim for serious injuries, can hurt you in ways that you wouldn’t realize early on in your case. Some injuries take the time to develop. For instance, they might ask you if you have any injuries to your neck, and because your neck feels fine at the time, you say no. If later your neck starts to hurt and you go to the doctor and have a neck injury, the insurance company will use the tape to show that they are not responsible for that neck injury. I will sometimes agree to give a statement when I have done my investigation into the claim but in general I believe that giving the statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company early in the claim is a bad idea.
As to giving a statement to your own insurance company, most insurance companies will have a clause in the contract that says that you have to cooperate with them and that cooperation includes giving a statement. In most instances, you are going to give a statement, but again, I would talk to a personal injury attorney first and just make sure there are no reasons that are unique to your case not to do so.
A: Evidence or witnesses are often an important component of an injury claim. Investigating and documenting your claim is one of the main reasons it helps to have an attorney manage your claim. Whether these statements end up being important in your claim depends on the individual facts. For example, if you have an accident caught by surveillance cameras, witnesses might not be nearly as important in that case as they would in the case where there was another driver who claims you were at fault.
A: In general, any injury claim needs three things to be successful. First, you have to have an injury that required medical care; second, the injury has to be someone else’s fault; and finally, there has to be available money to pay for the injuries. For instance, your claim may not have significant value if: 1) even though you were injured, you did not have a significant injury requiring medical care; 2) after an investigation, we determine that we cannot prove that the other person caused you to be injured and it was their fault; and 3) we determined that the other driver or at fault party didn’t have insurance or enough personal money to make it worthwhile to go after them.
A: I often advise clients to maintain a journal. When we are ready to present your claim, it is helpful to have a list of doctors you have seen for your injuries. Adding the dates and times is extremely useful. It enables me to get your medical records quickly and to verify that I have all the records for all the dates of treatment. I also find that it is helpful to keep a simple calendar of symptoms related to your injuries. This type of a schedule is useful when talking to doctors about your symptoms. When you visit the doctor’s office, it’s hard to remember how you felt earlier in the week or the prior week if you happen to be feeling well on the day you see the doctor. Having this calendar will allow you to have an intelligent conversation with your physician about how your care and treatment is progressing. It will also help you track your progress as you recover.
A: If you injured following an accident, and you don’t feel well, it’s important that you report this to the police officer and that you have him summon for medical assistance immediately. However, for some people, it takes some time after a wreck for you to feel the effects of trauma. Follow your instincts since you know your body best. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out by a doctor promptly. If something feels really wrong, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room. Try not to focus too much on how your medical care is going to affect your personal injury claim. Follow your doctor’s advice, don’t miss appointments unless necessary, and concentrate on getting better.
While there is such a thing called gaps in treatment, which just means that the insurance company is disputing that the wreck caused your injury because you delayed getting treatment, there is no magic number for how long is too long. Instead of worrying about this, simply listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, get care as soon as you can and be diligent in following up on your care.
A: Having your medical bills paid while receiving money to compensate you for your injury is one of the main reasons that you hire a personal injury attorney. Many times, medical bills can be negotiated and reduced. How your medical debt is handled is big factor in how much money will end up in your pocket when your claim is resolved. You should confirm that your attorney is going to attack your medical debt in their representation for you aggressively.
I have had many cases where reducing the medical debt had a greater impact on the client’s recovery than the amount of the settlement. In one instance, the at-fault driver did not carry enough car insurance to fully pay the medical bills. I was able to convince the medical debt company to take much less and my client received a fair amount of money in their pocket. If I had not been able to reduce the medical debt, they would have received nothing.
A: The biggest challenge for the client is to get better. It’s to recover fully to the extent that you’re able to do so. Having a lawyer is supposed to take care of everything else that you cannot do.
A: I find that the length of time that personal injuries take is often the most frustrating issue for my clients because frankly, personal injury cases take longer than anybody would like them to take. The length of a claim depends on many things including how badly you are injured and how long it takes for you to recover from your injuries. The settlement is final when we sign the papers; we want to make sure that you have stopped all medical treatment, if possible, before submitting a demand to the other side. Since it takes the time to heal fully, it takes time to settle the case.
A: An issue that can sometimes happen to somebody, especially when they received a serious injury, is they get depressed and give up seeking treatment. If you have been injured and you delay treatment, or you just decide to give up and don’t seek treatment, then that can damage your case. More importantly, it can hurt your ability to get well. It’s important if you are injured that you seek care and follow your doctor’s advice. If you have scheduled appointments, try to make that appointment unless there is no way for you to do so.
A: My personal injury cases are handled on what is called a contingency basis. That means that I am paid from a portion of the recovery. It gives me an incentive to work hard for you since the more I recover, the more we both make. It also reduces the risk to you. I handle all of the expenses in the case, and it doesn’t cost anything to hire me. If for some reason, the claim does not result in a recovery, no fee is paid to my firm.
A: Remember when hiring a personal injury attorney that the bigger firms aren’t necessarily better. When looking at hiring a personal injury lawyer, ask who will actually be handling your case? Is it an attorney, case manager, or someone else? Another thing to consider is just how hard is it to get that attorney on the phone if you have concerns? Some firms are vast. They advertise on television and billboards and take in dozens, or even more, cases each month. If you do the math, there is no way that the attorney whose picture is on the billboard can handle all the cases they represent.
The truth is if you hire that firm, you are almost certainly not going to work with the person who you see on television. You will be working with another attorney, case manager, or paralegal. At my firm, I handle everything. If you call my office and want to talk to me, you are going to talk to me. It’s that simple.
A: No way. When you are hurt, you have questions and you want a law firm that will take the time to give you answers. My goal in every claim is to give you the piece of mind of knowing that your claim is being handled effectively and competently. This piece of mind only comes from a concerned attorney who takes the time to explain the process in language that a non-lawyer can understand. This knowledge will give you the freedom to focus on getting yourself better knowing that I’ve got the rest under control.
A: While I am glad to review different types of civil cases, my civil caseload focuses on helping people hurt in car wrecks as well as those who suffer preventable falls in stores.
A: Time and attention! The thing that most people notice first about working with The Roch Law Firm is that Don Roch handles everything himself. Unlike many law firms who will “hand off” your case to a paralegal or support staff, I handle you case myself. Some lawyers at large personal injury law firms advertise on television and with billboards across North Georgia. Do the numbers – you’ll soon realize that while you might be hiring “Joe Lawyer and Associates” and you might even meet Joe Lawyer when you sign up, Joe Lawyer won’t work your claim. Instead, you’ll be working with one of his less experienced associates or a paralegal.
A: Since The Roch Law Firm is a smaller law firm, I am selective of the cases that I take. I make a commitment to attention and communication to clients when I take your case and this means that I am not able to take every good claim I review.
In general, I look for two things when I consider a claim:
- Liability – In order for there to be a valid claim, I must show that someone else is responsible for your Injuries. Typically in a car wreck, this is because someone else was responsible for causing the wreck. In a preventable fall case, I typically show this by showing that the shop owner could have prevented your fall by taking better care of their store. While the law does not require for the other party to be completely at fault, that is, 100% responsible for your injuries, I expect there to be a clear theory of liability in cases I agree to handle.
- Injuries – Obviously, you can not have a good injury claim without injury. While I am happy to evaluate any claim for you, I look for claims where the claimant needed hospital or other doctor care in order to get better. The greater the injury, the more likely I will be interested in taking the claim.
A: The “statute of limitations” in Georgia is typically 2 years for typical motor vehicle collision cases and for preventable fall cases but there are times when you must give notice for a claim within six months of your injury. This is especially the case where your car wreck involves a person who works for a City, County, or State government. Creative attorneys can also find ways to extend the typical two year statute of limitations if the driver of the other vehicle was cited and convicted of a driving offense.
A: It is true that some car insurance companies look down on claimants who hire attorneys early on in claim. That said, if your case goes to court, it is unlikely that the jury would ever be told that you hired an attorney early. The main reason to hire an attorney early on in the process is that there may be documents that need to be obtained, video that needs to be preserved, evidence that needs to be photographed, and witnesses who need to be interviewed in order to prove your claim. If you delay hiring an attorney to investigate your claim, it is possible that this evidence will no longer be available when it is time to submit your claim or that any witnesses will not remember your incident clearly. If you were involved in a car wreck and the other driver was given a traffic ticket, hiring an attorney prior to court will allow that attorney to make sure that the court knows your wishes in the traffic ticket prosecution. While it is not the end-of-the-world if the at-fault driver pleads “nolo contendre,” it can complicate your car wreck insurance claim because that plea can not be used to prove the at-fault driver is actually at fault.
A: I have experts and private investigators to help with my claims. Since I am selective in the cases I accept, I have the ability to give my clients the attention they deserve.
A: The process varies depending on the exact nature of the claim and the applicable law but, in general terms, most claims follow these steps:
- Initial investigation
a. Police reports
b. Photograph car
c. Photograph injuries
d. Wreck witness statements
e. Dashcam video
f. 911 calls
g. Consider pulling evidence from vehicles
h. Attend disposition hearing, oppose NOLO
i. Send letters of representation to insurance companies
- Damages and Treatment State
a. Obtain initial medical records and bills
b. Assist client in navigating through treatment – goal is to obtain maximum medical improvement
c. Obtain evidence of lost wages as appropriate
d. Obtain witness statements from “damages” witnesses as appropriate
- Demand Letter
- If no fair offer, filing a law suit
a. Filing Complaint and Discovery Documents
d. Additional Negotiations if needed
e. Trial of the case: If a fair settlement is not made by the insurance company then your case will resolve with a trial on the merits of the case.
A: The Roch Law Firm is paid out of the money I recover for you. If I do not win, I do not take a fee and you owe nothing.
A: Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for the time it takes for an injury claim to be over. The factors that influence the length of a claim include 1) the type of medical treatment you require, 2) the length of time needed for you to get better and 3) the at-fault parties’ willingness to provide fair compensation to you.
A: While my firm handles claims where you or the other driver were “on the job” while in a car wreck caused by someone else, my firm does not represent individuals before the State Workers Compensation Board on pure “workers compensation” claims. If you call me, I would be happy to provide a referral to attorneys who practice in this niche practice area.
A: My firm does not represent individuals with claims before the Social Security administration. If you call me, I would be happy to provide a referral to attorneys who practice in this niche practice area.
A: No. My firm does not handle medical malpractice claims. If you call me, I would be happy to provide a referral to attorneys who practice in this niche practice area.
A: In general as to your bodily injuries, Georgia law allows you to recover 1) wages lost due to your inability to work while recovering, 2) compensation for your medical bills including future medical expenses, and 3) an amount to compensate you for the pain and suffering you are enduring.
If you have property, such a car that was damaged in a collision, you have a separate claim for property damage as well.
A: If you have “uninsured/underinsured motorist” coverage (called “UM” coverage within the industry) then your policy may be used to supplement the available insurance coverage. I will help you assess all available coverage and utilize it to the best position possible.
A: Georgia tort law allows for you to recover a fair settlement even if you were partially at fault. In general, a jury must first decide that you are less than 50% at fault. Your recovery in the case will generally be decreased by the same percent that you are found to be at fault.
A: Depending on the individual wreck and the individuals inside the cars, there may be half a dozen or more potential insurance sources involved in your individual claim in addition to the personal assets of the person at fault for the collision. These insurance sources may include the car insurance for the person responsible for the collision, the insurance policy for the owner of the car, umbrella polices for those at fault for the collision, your own uninsured/underinsured policy, the uninsured/underinsured policy for the driver and/or owner of the vehicle you were in; the uninsured/underinsured policies for anyone who you reside with who is a blood relative, your personal health insurance, and workers compensation insurance if you happened to be working at the time of the collision – just to name a few.
One of the important duties of your personal injury attorney will be to identify and prioritize the various insurance policies that may apply to your claim. While most claimants simply want their medical bills paid, the truth is that WHICH insurance policy pays the bill can have a great impact on how much money is left over at the end of the claim for your pain and suffering.
At The Roch Law Firm, I work to ensure that your bills are paid with an eye toward the ultimate goal – full and fair compensation for your injuries.