FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I know whether I have a personal injury case?
There is no simple answer to that question. However, getting an answer usually doesn’t take long. A good personal injury attorney should offer you a free initial consultation to help you evaluate if you have a valid legal claim. We have represented people who didn’t initially think they had a case, but who actually had great cases, and we have seen people who believed they had great cases who actually faced uphill battles. That’s why our initial consultation is always free. Call us about your case, and we’ll share with you our thoughts.
How much does it cost to hire you as my personal injury lawyer?
Nothing up front—meaning we charge you nothing to work with and represent you. We get paid only if you get paid, and we typically get paid directly from the insurance companies or at-fault driver. We work on a “contingency fee” which means we receive a percentage of the financial recovery we obtain for you. What that percentage is depends on the type of case you have and how long it takes to resolve. We don’t bill our time which means you can call us, meet us, and email us as often as you want. We work for you, and we want to be available to you whenever you want to talk to us. We take tremendous pride in all of our 5 star reviews from our former clients who all say the same things about us.
What are damages?
When someone suffers an injury, she can recover for her “damages.” There are three types of damages available in Georgia: (1) special damages, (2) general damages, and (3) punitive damages.
Special damages are readily quantifiable. Medical bills, lost wages from work, future medical expenses, and lost earning capacity are examples of special damages.
General damages are the person’s diminished quality of life–the type of life the person had before she was injured compared to the type of life she has after she suffered the injury. General damages are usually the largest part of damages. Pain and suffering or scarring are examples of general damages.
Punitive damages can be awarded to punish the wrongdoer or deter the wrongdoer and the community from acting dangerously. This specific type of damages can be awarded when your lawyer can show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the wrongdoer’s actions showed “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” O.C.G.A § 51-12-5.1(b). Drunk driving and hit and runs are examples of when punitive damages may be awarded.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
It depends on the type of case you have and the state you live in.
In Georgia, the “statute of limitations”—which is the rule setting out the time by which the lawsuit must be filed—allows two years for most personal injury cases and wrongful death cases, two years for medical malpractice cases from the date of the injury, and different lengths of time for different types of cases. For example, where a minor is injured, the statute of limitations for the injury is “tolled”; that means it doesn’t begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority though his parents still only have two years from the date of the injury to recover for the medical bills they’ve incurred on their child’s behalf. It’s important you speak with a knowledgeable injury attorney who understands when and how the statute of limitations actually starts.
There are exceptions, however, that can make the period of limitation longer or shorter. For example, where the at-fault driver in a car wreck gets ticketed, the two-year time period during which a lawsuit must be filed usually does not start “running” until the ticket has been handled. In cases where the government is at fault, there can be important deadlines that come before the “statute of limitations.” If you believe you may have a legal claim, it is wise to consult an attorney about the time limitations as soon as possible.
What if I call but you can’t take my case?
It’s no problem—it happens all the time. We take only a small percentage of the cases that come to us. If your case isn’t a good fit for our firm, we’ll tell you, and we can send you to a lawyer who handles cases like the one you’ve told us about. Through our leadership roles, speaking engagements, and trial experience, we have gotten to know many good lawyers who we trust.
We’re always happy to match people who need help with attorneys who can help them. So here’s our offer: tell us about your case, and if we can’t help you, we’ll introduce you to someone who can.
What makes your firm different?
Us—our people. Our lawyers and staff work with each other and with our clients. Every client receives our full attention; our firm’s financial resources; and our collective commitment to winning the case. Besides earning prestigious awards from the legal community within Georgia–including Super Lawyers Rising Stars and Legal Elite–our firm has also received national recognition as one of the Top 50 law firms in the nation. While winning is the goal, our clients know that their daily satisfaction always remains within our focus. Call us and we’ll answer. Email us and we’ll email back the same day. We believe that our clients should have direct access to us–the people they have hired. The bottom-line is when you hire us, you get us. That’s why we consistently win the legal awards, as well as customer satisfaction awards.
How long will my case take?
It depends. We have handled cases that resolved within weeks, and other cases that took years. Typically, the most important factor is whether the at-fault defendant or insurance company is willing to accept full responsibility for the wrongdoer’s actions. If an at-fault person—such as a negligent driver who causes an accident—or insurance company is willing to take full responsibility, the case can sometimes be resolved quickly. If the defendant tries to dodge responsibility, the case can take longer. In some cases, we have had to prove that the person who caused the injury was an employee of a business. For example, in some cases where we have represented victims of sexual assault, we have had to prove the person was an employee and not an independent contractor. That can require an in-depth investigation which means considerable time.
At Butler Tobin, we have found that the best way to resolve a case is to prepare it for the long haul—i.e., prepare to try the case in front of a jury. Experience has taught us that at-fault defendants and insurance companies are much more willing to come to terms with our clients if they know that we are ready and willing to take the case to trial.
What does “negligence” mean?
Negligence is when a person or a company does something wrong which causes someone else an injury. To show negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must show:
(1) that the wrongdoer had a duty to the plaintiff,
(2) the wrongdoer breached that duty,
(3) the wrongdoer’s negligent action caused the plaintiff’s injury, and
(4) the plaintiff suffered harm.