Helping Accident Victims in Atlanta Obtain Monetary Compensation for their Injuries
If you sustain personal injuries in an Atlanta car accident, or while you are on the job, you need a skilled Atlanta insurance claims lawyer on your side who can file a claim on your behalf. In many car accident cases, the injured accident victim can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking monetary compensation for the injuries and damages sustained. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is not sufficient, the accident victim may be able to look to his or her own insurance policy for recovery.
If you are injured in an accident on the job, you may be able to file a claim against your employer for workers compensation benefits.
At Brauns Law, our skilled Atlanta Insurance Claims Attorneys understands how insurance companies evaluate claims and what their adjusters tend to consider and exclude. We can file a claim on your behalf and, if necessary, litigate your claim through the civil courts.
Third Party Claims
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, Georgia is a fault-based state. This means that if another motor vehicle driver’s carelessness or negligence caused an accident, injured victims can file a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Once a victim files a claim and the insurance company accepts liability for the claim (which is not a given), the adjuster assigned to the claim will typically make an initial settlement offer. These initial settlement offers are usually very low and may require several rounds of negotiations to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to make an appropriate settlement offer, then the claim may require litigation. You can accomplish this by filing a lawsuit in the appropriate court and naming the at-fault driver as a defendant in the lawsuit. Even after filing the suit, the personal injury claim can still settle at any point along the way. In other words, just by filing a lawsuit, you are not guaranteeing that your accident case will go forward to trial. An insurance claims attorney in Atlanta can help you file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Damages available in a third-party claim include compensation for all related medical treatment and bills incurred, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and inconvenience.
First Party Claims
First party claims in Georgia include claims for uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits. Uninsured motorist benefits may be available to compensate you for damages in the event the at-fault driver did not have insurance coverage in place at the time of the motor vehicle collision. You may also be able to assert a claim for uninsured motorist benefits if the driver who caused the accident fled the scene (i.e., “phantom vehicle” accident cases).
You may be able to assert a claim for underinsured motorist benefits if the at-fault driver did have insurance coverage at the time of the accident, but the coverage was not sufficient to compensate you for all of your injuries and damages.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist claims are both first-party claims. When it comes to these benefits, Georgia does allow for stacking. In the case of a totally uninsured motorist claim, where the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may collect the full limits of your UM coverage for each vehicle that you own, in order to recover the full value of your damages which you sustained in the accident. Similarly, if the at-fault driver has some coverage—but not enough—you can look to that driver’s coverage first and then seek add-on coverage attached to the vehicles that you own.
The skilled Atlanta insurance claims attorneys at Brauns Law can help you assert a first party claim against your own insurance company to help you obtain damages in cases that involve uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you suffer serious injuries while you are working on the job, you may be entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation insurance benefits. In order to recover these benefits, you must have suffered an accidental injury, while you were on the job, and while you were within the scope of your employment. If you are were not injured on the work site—or while you were not in the scope of your job duties—then your employer may argue that you are not entitled to benefits.
There are several types of workers’ compensation insurance benefits for which you may qualify. Potential workers’ compensation benefits available to you may include compensation for:
- Permanent disability
- Temporary benefits
- Lost wages (usually a percentage of your average weekly wage)
- Vocational rehabilitation
Vocational rehabilitation benefits are in place to help you get back to work, and in some cases, obtain the necessary skills and training to get a different job. The experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers at Brauns Law can file a claim on your behalf and pursue the benefits that you need. If an insurance company denies your workers’ compensation benefits, an experienced lawyer can help you decide whether it might be worth your while to appeal that denial in the court system.
Atlanta Insurance Claims FAQ
Insurance claims of all types can be mystifying. One minute you are going about your life with the assumption you have protections in the event of an unfortunate circumstance, and the next, you’re wondering if you will ever get the compensation you deserve. It shouldn’t have to be this way.
Still, insurance companies are notorious for making the claims process burdensome and confusing in hopes that you will give up. If you give up, they keep more money in their pockets. Don’t let them win—instead, review our Atlanta insurance claims FAQs and call an experienced insurance claims attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm today for help.
How soon should I file an Atlanta insurance claim?
After any kind of loss, accident, or injury, you should file an insurance claim as soon as possible. If you need medical care, make sure you make that a priority. Then your next steps should be hiring an Atlanta insurance claims lawyer and filing the insurance claim.
If you are filing a claim against your own insurance policy, the policy declarations or contract likely require you to file one as soon as you are able. Waiting to file one can increase the risk of further damages and possibly decrease your financial recovery.
An insurance policy is a legal contract between the insured and the insurance carrier. When an accident occurs, the insurance company has a responsibility to fulfill their end of the agreement to take care of you.
You also have obligations that are in the cooperation clause of your policy. Typically, you are required to take part in and cooperate with any investigations involving your claim.
For instance, you have the responsibility to:
- Promptly report your accident
- Share any information necessary for the investigation of your claim
- Sign medical releases so that the insurance company can review your medical records
Not upholding your contractual obligations can result in your insurance company refusing to renew your policy. They could also raise your rates or potentially even cancel your policy.
Once you decide if you should file a first-party or third-party claim, you should report your accident to the appropriate insurer as soon as you can. These reports can be done by phone, in-person if the insurer has a local office, or through an app or their website.
One of our knowledgeable insurance claims attorneys can help you report the accident and file your claim.
First, you will need to collect related paperwork and information that you can, including the:
- Contact and insurance information for the other driver
- Police report (if not available, the insurer can make arrangements to get it directly from the responding police department)
- Names and badge numbers of any law enforcement officers that responded to the incident scene
- Witness contact information and statements, if available
- Medical reports detailing your injuries
- Notes you might have recorded about what happened before, during, and after the accident or about your injuries
What questions will the insurance company as me when I report my claim?
When you report your accident and file your claim, you not only need to be prepared with the above documents and information, but you also need to be ready to answer many questions. These questions begin the insurance company’s investigation into the accident. You must answer them as thoroughly and accurately as you can. However, be honest and don’t speculate. If you just can’t be certain of your answer, tell the insurance company you don’t know.
Prepare for these questions, among others:
- When did the accident happen?
- Where did the accident occur?
- Who was involved?
- How did the accident happen?
- In your opinion, who caused the accident?
- Were you injured? If so, what are the types and extent of your injuries?
- Are you under the care of a licensed physician?
- Did someone file a police report?
- Call us. We can help you answer those questions honestly without jeopardizing your claim.
Which insurance company will handle my claim?
Car insurance companies handle the majority of personal injury claims.
After sustaining an injury in an auto accident, you have the choice to file either:
- A first-party claim with your insurance company
- A third-party claim against the other driver’s insurance policy
The party that pays the insurance policy’s premiums is the first party, and the second party is the insurance company. The individual who suffers injuries or property damage because of the first party’s negligence is the third party.
To determine which type of claim to file, you will need to examine the facts of your accident and be familiar with Georgia’s insurance laws. Many injury victims elect to hire an Atlanta insurance claims attorney to handle these details for them while they heal.
Is Georgia an at-fault state?
Georgia’s insurance laws determine which type of claim you can file. Twelve states have passed no-fault legislation to decrease potentially frivolous lawsuits and stop clogging up the court system with small claims. However, Georgia is not one of them and is an at-fault state.
No-fault states require drivers to have their own insurance to cover their injuries instead of filing the claim with the other party’s insurance company. Drivers must carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Sometimes called no-fault insurance, PIP covers the medical expenses for you and your passengers in a car wreck up to the policy’s limits. People who live in a no-fault state, such as Florida, have to file a first-party claim with their own insurance carrier to cover their injuries.
However, if you live in a fault state, such as Georgia, you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. Their bodily injury (BI) coverage will pay for your medical expenses up to their policy limits.
What is a deductible?
If you file a claim on your own insurance policy, the deductible is the dollar amount you have to expend before your insurance policy kicks in and covers the remaining expenses.
Deductibles aim to help lower policy premiums. Most of the time, if you have a higher deductible, you will pay a lower premium for your coverage and vice versa. Suppose the value of the property damage is less than your deductible. In that case, you won’t receive anything from the insurance company for it. You will need to pay for it entirely out of your own pocket.
Your car insurance company finds that your vehicle needs $3,000 worth of repairs. You have a $1,000 deductible for property damage coverage. You take your car to an insurance-approved repair shop and pay your $1,000 deductible. Your car insurance company must pay the remaining $2,000 directly to the repair shop. You owe nothing further after your deductible. However, if your damages were only worth $800, you would be responsible for paying them on your own since the repairs don’t exceed your deductible amount.
How long will it take for the insurance company to investigate my claim in Atlanta?
Since an investigation is a significant portion of handling any insurance claim, it may take as many as four to six weeks until completion. A thorough investigation could take longer if the claims adjuster lacks information or the accident was incredibly complex. You can help keep the process moving by responding to any requests for additional information from your Atlanta insurance claims lawyer or the insurance company as quickly as you can.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often attempt to drag out their investigation process to confuse or frustrate the claimant. If they succeed, the claimant might miss the statute of limitations or even lose the desire to pursue their claim. Insurance company tactics like this frequently allow them to indirectly shirk their obligation to pay on a claim.
Even if you’ve already filed your claim, you can still hire an Atlanta insurance claims attorney. It doesn’t matter where in the process you are, as long as you have not accepted a settlement offer. Many times, claimants hire us after waiting far too long to even receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. They know that the insurer is intentionally dragging their feet. They want the protection and backing that our legal representation can provide them.
What is an insurance adjuster?
Also known as a claims adjuster, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your insurance claim after you file. An insurance adjuster is a type of investigator. Internal insurance adjusters provide an estimate of repairs or damage compensation. They gather documents and other required information about the claim to make an informed decision about fault, financial responsibility, and a claim’s value.
Always remember that the claims adjuster works for the insurance company; they do not work for you. As such, their goals and loyalties are to benefit the insurance company and not you. In the insurance company’s eyes, their job is not to pay you fully and fairly for your claim. Their job is to save the insurance company as much money as possible and to employ whatever games or tactics are necessary to make that happen.
Should I speak to the insurance adjuster in my Atlanta insurance claim?
You don’t have to speak to the insurance adjuster. In fact, it’s generally a bad idea to do so unless you have your attorney there with you or your attorney is aware and okay with your communications. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster can be twisted and turned around to use for their benefit of the insurance company. In other words, you could naively devalue your claim by speaking to the insurance adjuster.
Insurance adjusters may come across as friendly and genuinely concerned about your well-being after an accident. However, they are generally great actors. Most of the time, this is just one technique they use to pay claimants less. They want you to trust them and feel comfortable telling them anything, even though you shouldn’t. If they can get you to be friendly back and build a positive rapport with you, you might slip up and accidentally say something to hurt your claim.
Once an Atlanta insurance claims attorney represents you, simply and politely refer the adjuster to their office. They shouldn’t attempt to engage with you once they are aware of your legal representation. From then on, they will need to go through your attorney to talk to you or get information from you. This is just one benefit of having an attorney on your side. Not only do you not have to risk your claim by talking to the adjuster, but you can have the time and space you need to heal from your injuries by not dealing with them directly.
Do I have to give a recorded statement in my Atlanta insurance claim?
No. And you shouldn’t—not until your lawyer advises you to, and generally not unless your lawyer is present.
When an insurance adjuster calls you, they will ask for a recorded statement. It might seem routine, simple, and innocent to oblige. However, you should think twice and talk to an attorney before agreeing to give one. Not only will the adjuster attempt to get you to say something to hurt your claim, but they will also have it recorded. There’s no denying that you said something if there’s a recording.
During this time, they will often ask leading or confusing questions, such as:
- You did see the car coming, right?
- You said the sun was in your eyes?
- You apologized at the scene of the accident, correct?
- Are you feeling better now?
- Whom were you texting when the accident happened?
Speaking to the insurance adjuster, especially providing a recording statement, is ill-advised by nearly all insurance claims attorneys.
Do I have to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?
Far too many accident victims falsely believe that they must accept an insurance settlement offer or that they don’t even have a choice. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You are under no obligation to accept any insurance settlement offer. Always discuss your offer with an experienced attorney to determine if it is full and fair, and if not, what your next steps should be.
Whether you are just filing your claim or have received a settlement offer and want to find out if it’s fair, give our office a call today.
Talk to an Experienced Insurance Claims Attorney in Atlanta Today
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may be entitled to a variety of different benefits. With his experience as an Atlanta insurance claims attorney, David Brauns can review the circumstances of your accident and help you decide which type of claim or claims you should pursue to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible. David Brauns can then file the necessary claim or claims on your behalf and pursue monetary compensation for you.
When it comes to personal injury cases, our lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning that we do not get paid until you do. If we do not recover any money on your behalf, we do not take a fee. Therefore, it is in our best interests to zealously advocate for you.