According to the Judicial Council of Georgia, a total of 52,542 civil cases were filed in Georgia state courts in 2016 alone, and 9,357 of those civil cases were filed filed in Fulton county. These statistics encompass civil matters of all types, but they also shed light on just how many civil cases enter our states court system every year. The more shocking fact is most civil cases end in a settlement before a trial ever occurs, and in many cases, a settlement agreement is reached between the parties without even entering into the court system at all.
However, the success of a civil case often rests on an attorney’s willingness and confidence in taking a case to trial. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics analyzed 26,948 civil cases that were concluded nationwide in 2005 and found that plaintiffs prevailed 56% of the time in all general civil trials. This shows the risks associated with bringing a case to a full conclusion as permitted by law, which is why each claim needs to be initiated with the guidance of an experienced lawyer to ensure its success.
Initiating an Insurance Claim in Georgia
When you are building a case after a car accident, your claim for injuries sustained in the accident will typically not be initiated right away. The reason being, the full extent of your injuries is usually not immediately apparent until you have received treatment from a doctor. If you are carrying the minimum amount of insurance required by law, there are a few ways you can cover the costs of your medical bills.
Putting Medical Bills Through Health Insurance After a Car Accident in GA
Your first option is putting you medical bills through your health insurance. When this option is utilized, your health insurance carrier will normally pay for the medical expenses initially and place a medical lien on any proceeds you recover from your claim. The lien will must be satisfied before any proceeds from the settlement can be dispersed to you. Normally, after a settlement agreement has been reached, your car accident attorney will try and negotiate the amount the health insurance carrier will accept to satisfy its lien in order to maximize the amount of money you are able to recover.
What is a Letter of Protection?
If you don’t have health insurance or any other mechanism to get your medical expenses paid such as medical payments insurance, your car accident attorney will usually have several local doctors that they send their clients to for medical care. These physicians will typically render medical care without requiring immediate payment after receiving a letter of protection, which is an official document prepared by your attorney that guarantees payment for medical services rendered by the physician out of the proceeds of any settlement or award in your case.
When Does my Claim Against At-Fault Driver Get Initiated in GA?
Choosing the appropriate time to initiate a claim in a car accident case is a decision that is strategic in nature and can change based on the facts of the accident. Your car accident lawyer will normally gather some preliminary information such as the policy limits of the at-fault driver, the total value of medical expenses you have incurred, and a calculation of the amount of pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the accident. All of this information is summarized in a “Demand Letter” that is sent to the insurance company.
Demand letters are used prior to formally filing a lawsuit in a court of law, and demand letters should be prepared by your lawyer in a form consistent with O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1. As indicated in the name of the document, your attorney uses a demand letter to “demand” as sum of money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company as compensation for the damages you have incurred as a result of the accident. These damages are quantified and demonstrated through medical bills, proof of lost wages, and medical records that demonstrate the severity of your injuries.
Does an Insurance Company Have to Accept a Demand?
Each demand letter normally gives a time limit to respond which cannot be less than 30 days in Georgia. The insurance company will usually either accept the demand, submit a counter offer, or reject any type of settlement negotiation, at which point your attorney will normally file suit.
Car Accident Attorney in Atlanta, GA
Initiating an insurance claim in Georgia is a complex task, which is why you should always obtain the services of an experienced car accident lawyer to guide you through the legal system. At Cambre and Associates, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the legal landscape in our state in order to ensure a successful outcome in your case. So, give our office a call today for a free consultation to find out how a car accident lawyer can help you.