An insurance company’s primary goal is to pay out as little as possible when you file a personal injury claim. If they feel there’s a chance they can get out of paying at all, then they will likely deny your claim. So, what this means is that your insurance company is not motivated to act based on your best interests, but rather their own.
Georgia, in particular, has a high rate of denied personal injury claims because the state has what’s called a modified comparative negligence law. This law assigns a percentage of fault to all parties in an accident. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for a car accident, the insurance company has the right to deny you any coverage for medical bills or other benefits.
If this denial happens to you and you feel it’s unfair, you’ll need experienced and immediate legal help to file a personal injury lawsuit to get your insurance company to pay.
Here are 4 steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia:
File a claim
It’s important to file a lawsuit immediately after you’ve been denied. The insurance company will then be notified that you filed the claim and will have the opportunity to respond by putting together a defense.
At a discovery hearing, you (the plaintiff) will present your claim and the insurance company (the defense) will present their reasons for denying your claim. The judge will look mostly at liability to determine whether the defense is indeed responsible to pay for anything surrounding your personal injuries and to what degree. If the plaintiff is found to be primarily liable, then the judge may absolve the defense from paying anything towards your personal injury claim.
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled (or an agreement is made) at the discovery hearing, but there’s a small percentage of claims that aren’t. In this case, you’d then go to a formal trial.
In the case of suing your insurance company for denying your claim, you (the plaintiff) would present your side first—why you filed the personal injury lawsuit, evidence and reasons why your insurance should pay, and so on.
The insurance company (the defense) can then make the argument for why they shouldn’t have to pay. They will always try to make the argument that the accident was at least 50 percent your fault because of the modified comparative negligence law in Georgia. And because insurance companies tend to be so aggressive, it’s important to have an experienced attorney working on your side.
Deliberation and ruling
Ultimately, if your case is taken to trial, the final say on who is primarily at fault goes to a judge or jury. Their decision is going to be almost solely based on solid evidence provided by each side. This is why you need to make sure you have sound legal counsel to help you provide the evidence and support you need to win your personal injury lawsuit.
About the author
Thomas W. Herman is a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer with the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson in Macon, Albany and Warner Robins, Georgia. Mr. Herman has extensive experience at all levels of litigation, both in personal injury cases and workers’ compensation claims. In 2014, Mr. Herman was selected as a Fellow in The College of Worker’s Compensation Lawyers. Mr. Herman is the only attorney in the Middle Georgia area and only the 18th statewide to have been selected for induction in the College. He has been selected as one of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers” for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.