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What does an automobile accident lawsuit look like in Georgia?

After an automobile accident, there are a number of questions, especially if an insurance company is not having meaningful negotiations, and you may begin to wonder: “What is my next step?” Well, the next step often times involves putting together a lawsuit. Formally, a lawsuit is called a complaint, which is the mechanism to bring your case before a judge and, ultimately, a jury. Drafting a lawsuit requires legal expertise, but there typically is a general framework for one, and it looks like this:

IN THE STATE COURT OF [INSERT] COUNTY

STATE OF GEORGIA

[INSERT YOUR NAME],

Plaintiff,                                                                                     Civil Action File No.:

                                                                                                 JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

[INSERT DEFENDANT’S NAME],

Defendant.

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

           COMES NOW [INSERT YOUR NAME] (“Plaintiff”), by and through undersigned counsel and files this Complaint for Damages against [INSERT DEFENDANT’S NAME] (“Defendant”), and avers as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

1.

            Plaintiff is a resident of Georgia and is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court.

2.

           Defendant resides at [INSERT DEFENDANT’S ADDRESS] in [INSERT] County and may be served with the Summons and Complaint at this address.

3.

          Defendant is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court and venue is proper.

BACKGROUND

4.

          On or about [INSERT DATE], Plaintiff was lawfully operating a vehicle eastbound on [INSERT ADDRESS OF ACCIDENT] in the city of [INSERT], [INSERT] County, Georgia.

5.

           Defendant was operating his vehicle traveling [INSERT FACTS, i.e. “directly behind Plaintiff’s vehicle”].

6.

          Defendant negligently [INSERT FACTS, i.e “followed too closely and struck the rear of Plaintiff’s vehicle”].

7.

          As a result of the collision, Plaintiff suffered injuries to his/her body.

COUNT 1: NEGLIGENCE

8.

          Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates herein the allegations contained in paragraphs 1-7.

9.

          Defendant owed a duty to Plaintiff to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the operation of his/her vehicle and to adhere to the laws of the State of Georgia in the operation of said vehicle.

10.

           Defendant was negligent and breached this duty.

11.

          Defendant was negligent in the following manner:

                   [INSERT REASONS, i.e. “Following too closely.”]

12.

          Defendant was negligent for [INSERT REASONS, i.e. “Following too closely.”] pursuant to O.C.G.A. § [INSERT LAW, i.e. “40-6-49”], which constitutes negligence per se.

13.

         Plaintiff did not cause or contribute to the incident and was not negligent in any manner.

14.

          As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s negligence, Plaintiff sustained injuries to his/her body.

15.

          Defendant’s negligence is the sole and proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries.

16.

          As a result of Defendant’s negligence, Plaintiff has incurred special and compensatory damages, including past, present, and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays that he/she have a trial on all issues and judgment against Defendant as follows:

That Plaintiff recover the full value of past and future medical expenses and lost wages in an amount to be proven at trial;

That Plaintiff recover for mental and physical pain and suffering and emotional distress in an amount to be determined by the enlightened conscience of the jury;

That Plaintiff recover such other and further relief as is just and proper; and,

That all issues be tried before a jury.

This _____ day of _________, ________.

Respectfully submitted,

____________________________________

[INSERT NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION]

At Kevin Patrick Law, LLC, we have the legal expertise to handle automobile accident cases, and we have successfully tried these cases in Georgia. A complaint may look simple, but there are a lot of pitfalls if you don’t have a lawyer or even the “right” lawyer. We never settle for less and are here to help! Please contact us at (404) 566-5880 or information@patricktriallaw.com if you have any questions about your case and need legal assistance.

 

What are letters of representation, and why should you send them?

 

One of the first steps in a personal injury case is determining the amount of available insurance coverage for the at-fault party. The amount of available insurance oftentimes will dictate the amount of the maximum recovery in a case. Some companies and people carry large insurance policies, but there are also situations where they are either uninsured or carry small insurance policies. For example, all drivers of automobiles are required by Georgia law to have insurance coverage of $25,000, but obviously cases involving serious injures, especially ones that require surgery or long-term care, may easily exceed that amount. So a key first step in evaluating a case and your possible recovery involves getting the insurance information. Georgia, unlike some other states, has a law, O.C.G.A. 33-3-28, that requires people and companies to provide this information.

Here is a general template of the letter we send to the at-fault party’s insurance company:

[Insert Date]

SENT VIA CERTIFIED MAIL/ RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

[Insert Address]

RE: Letter of Representation and Request for Insurance Policy Information

Our Client:
Claim No.:
Date of Injury:
Policy Holder:

Dear Sir or Madam:

We have been retained to represent the interests of [Insert Client Name] who suffered personal injuries as a result of an automobile accident on [Insert Date] at [Insert Location]. All future correspondence and communication should be directed to our firm. The purpose of this letter is to notify you that our client may have a claim against any policy(ies) issued by your company depending on the amount of coverage, if any, for the at-fault driver.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 33-3-28, we request that you provide us in writing with the following information

a. Any and all known policies of insurance insuring the above-referenced policy holder including, but not limited to any excess or umbrella insurance;
b. The exact name of the insurer;
c. The name of each insured; and,
d. The limits of coverage.

You may provide a copy of the declaration page of any policy in lieu of this information. We trust that you will provide this information within the statutory time period. We are enclosing an affidavit executed by our client for your records. Also, our client expressly withdraws any Authorization for Release of Information or similar type of release. You do not have permission to contact our client’s employers or medical providers.

If you need anything further from us at this time, then please contact me at your earliest convenience.

With warmest wishes, I remain

Very truly yours,

Kevin Patrick

Enclosure: Affidavit

Also, there is usually an affidavit that accompanies the letter:

AFFIDAVIT REQUESTING POLICY LIMITS

STATE OF GEORGIA               )

COUNTY OF [Insert Name]   )

My name is [Insert Name]. I am over the age of eighteen (18) and do not have any legal disabilities.  I was involved in an [Insert Description of Accident] that occurred on [Insert Date] in [Insert Location]. This affidavit is given pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-3-28. I request all insurance policy information, including limits of coverage, for all policies of insurance, including primary, excess, umbrella, etc., that may cover the injuries I suffered in this incident. I have a right to this information, and I request that it be produced in a timely fashion in accordance with Georgia law.

                                                                                   

[Insert Name]

The foregoing affidavit was acknowledged before me on [DATE].

                                                                                                                                   

                                    Signature of Notary Public – State of Georgia

                                    Personally known to me            OR Produced Identification                        

                                                                                                                                   

                                    Type of Identification Produced

Obviously, this letter can be modified to the particular facts and circumstances of the case and can be updated to include a person’s own insurance company to find out about their own insurance coverage, such as un/under-insured motorist coverage, because sometimes the at-faut party does not have enough insurance to compensate injured people. Most importantly, feel free to contact our office if you have any questions about legal representation and this type of letter.