Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on many factors, but there are some general guidelines for how to determine the value of your case. Primarily, the value of any case is driven by the permanence and severity of injury. If you suffered extensive third degree burn injuries, fractured several vertebrae, are paralyzed, etc. your injury is “worth more” than if you only got mild whiplash following a motor vehicle accident. A case dealing with severe catastrophic injuries can be worth several million dollars, while a case resulting in soft tissue injury or whiplash may be worth only $100,000, and possibly not even that much. Further, a case where liability is clear is generally worth more on settlement and at trial than a case where liability is in question. Unfortunately, sometimes there is not enough insurance coverage or assets to cover a catastrophic injury and this may also limit a recovery. This is why we urge all of our clients to have as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can afford.How long will it take to either settle or try my case?
Again, it depends. Generally, the more extensive and permanent your injuries and the more complex your case is, the more time it will take to get a fair result for you. A rear end motor vehicle collision causing only soft tissue (whiplash) injuries will normally take less time than a herniated disc which requires a surgical repair. Also, if there are complex liability facts, for instance a structure or bridge collapse, when there are multiple defendants involved in the construction, these can take as long as two to even four or more years to bring to resolution.What if I cannot afford to hire McAleer Law or pay costs in pursuit of my case?
In most cases, McAleer Law advances all costs on your case, and this means that when we obtain a verdict or settlement for you we will be reimbursed for these advanced costs when the settlement or verdict funds are disbursed at the conclusion of the case. Of course, all injury cases are prosecuted pursuant to a contingency fee agreement, meaning we are not paid one dime unless we recover money for you first.How long can I wait before I sue an at-fault party?
Most personal injury cases have a two year statute of limitations from the date you were injured. If the victim is a minor, different rules apply, and usually the two year statute begins to run once the minor reaches his or her eighteenth birthday. If the statute does expire, you will likely be barred from recovery. In addition to the statute of limitations, many official notices of claim against state and local government bodies must be served to that entity by way of an anti-litem notice within six (6) months from the date of the accident. Some governmental entities are immune from suit altogether. The above rules generally apply in all injury claims in the State of Georgia. Sexual Harassment cases based on federal law have yet an altogether different set of time limit rules. We encourage you to speak to an attorney immediately in a case involving sexual harassment.What if there is not enough insurance to cover my injuries?
We never stop searching for additional insurance coverage in the event of a catastrophic injury. For example, there may be umbrella coverage available through the defendant’s home-owner’s insurance. Another very common scenario is when a defendant is working at his job when he causes an injury, which would trigger potential liability on the part of the employer, which means the employer’s liability insurance will cover the accident. There could also be additional coverage through an excess or umbrella liability insurance policy. One way to learn about coverage is through the use of the subpoena power we have after a suit is filed. Through this process we can discover other insurance policies or other defendants.Why not just handle the case without an Attorney?
Experience tells us that the first thing the insurance company will do with unrepresented parties is to string them along until the statute of limitations – this is taught on the first day of insurance adjuster training along with the motto: “Pay as little as possible or nothing at all if possible.” An experienced trial attorney, such as those at McAleer Law, can get you a full and fair recovery because we are excellent trial attorneys who have built a reputation on getting substantial jury verdicts. That’s it. Each case is handled as if it is going to trial; without this up front effort, the value of a case will only suffer.
Firms that do not want to bring your case to trial should not be hired to begin with – they will settle your claim for much less than full value. That’s why it’s important to carefully research attorneys before hiring one – the worst thing you can do is represent yourself. McAleer Law has often had to clean up cases that were mis-managed by other personal injury attorneys. These messes were made because the attorneys did not handle the case from the beginning as if it were going to trial. When calling a potential personal injury attorney, ask them how many jury trials she has had in the last year and then, assuming there was even one, ask what the outcome was.
The lawyers at McAleer Law know how to deal with stubborn adjustors. We use the best investigators and retain skilled expert witnesses to work up your case for a top dollar settlement or verdict. We can also help you find doctors who are willing to delay billing for services until your case is resolved.If I don’t have health insurance how am I supposed to pay for doctor and hospital bills?
Many doctors, hospitals, surgery centers, MRI centers, chiropractors, and physical therapists offer their medical services on what is called a lien. What this means is that these providers agree to wait for payment until you settle or win your case. You may also use your PPO, or HMO coverage provided by your private health insurance even if your insurer tells you that you cannot use this insurance. Also, if you have medical payments coverage under your own auto policy, that can be used effectively to cover the costs for medical.In a car wreck where liability is clear, does the defendant’s insurance cover repairs to my car?
Most of the time, yes. Typically, you can also get reimbursement for a rental car for up to 30 days while your car is being repaired. If you do not get a rental car, typically you can be compensated for the loss of use of your car, which is calculated by taking the fair rental value for a car of your make and model for the period during which you don’t have your car.If I slip or trip and fall on another’s property, are they responsible for paying money damages?
Yes, if the property owner either knows of a dangerous condition that you were not aware of, or if the property owner should have known of the dangerous condition, the property owner may be liable. Basically, to be successful in a premises liability case, you must prove the property owner was negligent. Negligence can be shown through circumstantial evidence if a reasonable inspection by the landowner would have uncovered a dangerous condition. Common hazards are faulty flooring or stair boards, raised carpets or rugs, a wet floor not marked with appropriate warnings, unleveled sidewalks, loose handrails, etc. Despite the circumstances, insist that an incident report is made, take pictures, and get eye witness’ contact information to prove you were injured.Should I let an adjuster take a recorded statement?
ABSOLUTELY NOT, unless you are represented by an attorney, and your attorney agrees to the terms of the taking of the statement.If I am at fault, can I still recover damages for my injuries?
Under Georgia’s contribution rules, you can only recover damages when you are less at fault than the other party. In other words, if you are 50% at fault and the other party is 50% at fault, you cannot recover at all.Can I recover for lost wages?
Typically, you can, even if you are collecting disability insurance benefits, sick leave, or workers’ compensation benefits. The at-fault party is not entitled to reduce the amount they pay by the amount paid by these resources. This is called the “collateral source” rule.If I have a pre-existing condition or injury, can I still recover?
Absolutely. The at-fault party takes you as he finds you. If you are more susceptible to injury, and thus more likely to be harmed as the result of this susceptibility, you get paid for the worsening of that condition.