Legal News & Updates

Receiving Outstanding Service Award

Receiving the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award as a Georgia Personal Injury Trial Attorney

Kevin Patrick received the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award at the annual meeting of the State Bar of Georgia. Service to others is an integral part of the legal profession. As a personal injury trial lawyer in Georgia, I, likewise, firmly believe in the importance of service.  Kevin Patrick Law serves injured clients. The firm also serves to the State Bar of Georgia.

Engagement in the State Bar of Georgia as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

First of all, one of the hallmarks of my firm’s injury practice is cultivating meaningful professional relationships. These relationship are forged with other Georgia lawyers and members of the judiciary. We all serve the State Bar of Georgia. By engaging in the bar as a personal injury lawyer, I found that it not only helps my client’s injury cases, but also elevates my firm’s stature in the Georgia legal community. Fellow Georgia lawyers and judges know that my firm only takes legitimate personal injury cases in Georgia. Furthermore, my firm handles personal injury cases the “right way.” High ethical and professional standards are paramount to Kevin Patrick Law.  Simply put, you won’t see Kevin Patrick Law running adds on TV or using paid actors to tout personal injury settlements.

Reflections on the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award

When I received the Outstanding Service Award from the State Bar, the award reaffirmed my commitment to the Georgia legal profession. Next, I looked-up the definition of service. Service means actively helping or doing work for someone. Just as Kevin Patrick Law strives to actively help our personal injury clients, I strive to engage actively in the State Bar of Georgia. For example, Georgia Bar activities include teaching incoming law students about professional responsibility. There is also mentoring for younger Georgia lawyers. Most importantly, I am a resource for community service projects. I like volunteering at shelters and food banks. While the award is a culmination of over a decade in practice, I firmly believe as a Georgia trial lawyer that service never stops. I look forward to many more years of service to the legal profession in Georgia.

A Personal Injury Success Story for a Georgia Army Veteran after an Automobile Accident

Helping a Georgia Army Veteran in a Personal Injury Case after an Automobile Accident

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a personal injury trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia is the unique ability to help others that have been hurt in automobile accidents. We especially like to help veterans of the armed services because of their sacrifices to our country.  (Check out another one of our stories here.) As a Georgia lawyer, I truly recognize the difficulty that being in automobile accident places on a person’s life.  For example, there can be mounting medical bills. Injured people also may need future medical treatment. There additionally is just the interference with daily life after a car accident. Despite these challenges of being hurt in a car accident, I am sharing with you one of our success stories from an automobile accident trial we had back in March.

Background to the Automobile Collision

Our client is a former Army veteran.  He was born in New York , but grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Simply put, a great guy! One thing that is near and dear to him along with his family in Georgia are Atlanta sports teams. When our client was driving to the Atlanta Hawks’ first round playoff game back in 2015, a car pulled out in front of him on Northside Drive. It was a bad auto-accident. The Atlanta Police Department and the paramedics came to the scene after the accident. As you can see too, car wreck caused a lot of damage to our client’s vehicle because the airbags deployed right after the collision:

A picture showing the airbag after our client has an automobile accident in Georgia.

The airbag deployed after the automobile accident.

Medical Treatment after the Car Accident

Our client was taken to the hospital by ambulance given the seriousness of the automobile accident. He was triaged at the hospital after the wreck and then had some follow-up care with doctors.  Medical treatment after an automobile accident oftentimes includes physical therapy, electrical stimulation, hot/cold therapy, and sometimes other procedures and surgery.  In our personal injury case, the treatment lasted a few months. Our client fortunately had a pretty good recovery after the car crash. There, nevertheless, was some lingering pain in his neck and back from the accident.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Georgia

The insurance company, however, didn’t take responsibility on behalf of their driver for causing this car wreck. It was sure disappointing for our client. But fortunately though, we have a great system of justice for personal injury cases in Georgia. So next, we filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Georgia. Once again, the other driver didn’t take responsibility for the car accident, but rather, this time the driver blamed it on “John Doe.” During the civil process for a personal injury case in Georgia, we have discovery. The parties in the case exchange information about the car accident. We were able to establish that “John Doe” didn’t contribute whatsoever to the collision!

Personal Injury Jury Trial & Automobile Accident Verdict

The insurance company eventually made it very low settlement offer to resolve our client’s personal injury case. Fortunately though, our client had the courage reject this settlement offer for his auto-accident. We decided to take his Georgia injury case all the way to trial before a jury. I told our client that he served our country. There’s no way we would ever sell him short for his bodily injury settlement. This accident case ultimately went to a civil jury trial in Fulton County. The Georgia jury listened attentively to our client’s story. And then, the jury came back with the verdict in our client’s favor!

Interestingly, Georgia personal injury law allows us  to move for a second trial right after the first to see whether or not the insurance company’s position were indeed frivolous. The judge rightly allowed us to present evidence of all their denials, defenses, and delays. The jury didn’t deliberate long about attorney’s fees under Georgia law. The jury’s verdict form said, “Give him everything that he asked for.”  They too were frustrated by the failure by the defense to take responsibility for the automobile accident. The jury, nevertheless, was instructed to put in the exact number amount on the verdict form, but had a hard time remembering the amount of attorney’s fees so we eventually settled for a confidential amount with the insurance company. All is well that ends well…

Donating Our Attorney’s Fees to Recognize Georgia Veterans

Instead of keeping the Georgia attorney’s fees from the automobile accident case, we thought the right thing to do would be to donate these fees on behalf of our client. He is reenlisting in the service. There is a Veteran’s Cemetery in Canton, Georgia. They are building a Veterans Memorial Bell too. We thought — What better way we thought to recognize our client than to donate the attorney’s fees for this bell honoring his and other’s military service?  So on Memorial Day, we officially donated our attorney’s fees from this personal injury case to the this organization.

We’re so proud to represent a member of the armed services in his personal injury case. Our client can now reenlist knowing that his country and our judicial system remains strong and values his sacrifice and commitment our country. To all members of the armed services, all of us at Kevin Patrick Law are grateful for your service and sacrifice to our country. Be safe and know that you always have a friend and resource in me as a Georgia trial lawyer.

We’re featured in the Wall Street Journal!

We were featured in the Wall Street Journal about the balancing compassion and professionalism with our clients, especially since we meet people under difficult circumstances.

Here’s our quote:

Attorney Kevin Patrick say that his specialty in personal injury cases warrants the more-than-occasional hug. “We’ll often encounter clients that are facing very tough and painful circumstances,” he says.  “I used to take the position that hugging was inappropriate at work, but now our firm gives a fair amount of discretion. We want to be seen as compassionate and sympathetic because we are. A hug is a sign that we care about our  clients.”  That said, Mr. Patrick and his colleagues adhere to a rule: Don’t initiate. “If a client hugs us,” he says, “then we will embrace them back.”

We hope you enjoyed the article! As always, we’re here to help and don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an e-mail.

Where can I bring a lawsuit if there is a Georgia resident and non-resident involved in the car accident?

People come to visit Georgia from all parts of the county, especially the south-east, so there are many non-residents traveling on Georgia roads. Car accidents inevitably occur between Georgia residents and people visiting out of town. So the question arises: “Where can I bring a lawsuit if I am involved in a car accident with both a Georgia resident and an out-of-state driver?”

It’s a great question, and there’s a relatively simple answer…., but first things first, we need to explain the concept of venue. Venue basically means the specific circuit, i.e. county or counties,  or if we are talking about federal court the judicial district, where a person can file a lawsuit. From a practical perspective, venue is one of the most important considerations in a case. Some places in Georgia are very conservative, which is good if you are a defendant, and other parts are much more liberal and tend to award larger amounts in personal injury cases.

For people that have been involved in a car accident with a driver from Georgia and a driver from another state, Georgia law has a specific statute on the books to deal with this situation. It’s O.C.G.A. 9-10-93 — PERSONAL JURISDICTION OVER NON-RESIDENTS (Venue). The statute itself is rather long and a bit wordy, but we should be able to boil it down to its component parts. Let’s give it a try:

Venue […] shall lie in any county wherein […]  the tortious act, omission, or injury occurred […]. Where an action is brought against a resident of this state, any nonresident of this state who is involved in the same […] occurrence […] may be joined as a defendant in the county where a resident defendant is suable.

So at the very core, this statute means that a non-resident can be sued in the same county as the Georgia resident. Take this example:

Driver 1 is from Georgia and lives in Fulton County. Driver 2 is from Minnesota. Driver 1 and Driver 2 are both careless and run into Driver 3 in Gwinnett County. Driver 3 can sue Driver 2 in Fulton County.

Keep in mind too, a Georgia resident can be sued in the county where the car accident took place, but that person has a right to transfer it to the county of their residence within 45 days of service. That’s a topic for another day though!

One other quick thing to point out about this statute. If the case against the Georgia defendant resolves, and the out-of-state driver’s case is still pending then the venue can change. Let’s look back at our example:

Driver 3 settles with Driver 1. The case can then be transferred from Fulton to Gwinnett County.

While this change may not seem all that important from a technical perspective, it has a very real impact on cases and should always be considered if the other venue is more favorable to your client.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read our blog, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about automobile accidents in Georgia. My direct number is (404) 566-8964 or you can always send an e-mail to me at kevin@patricktriallaw.com.

Did you know: Georgia law allows for a lawsuit directly against an insurance company after a trucking accident?

Georgia law generally bars a jury hearing about the presence of, or lack of insurance in automobile accidents cases. It’s grounds for a mistrial, which means that the parties have to start the trial all over again with a new jury. The reason: An automobile accident (or just about any other case) should be tried on the merits as opposed insurance coverage, etc. As a practical matter, we all realize that insurance does play a role in cases, but still be very careful about mentioning it…EXCEPT in truck wreck cases:

The statute is O.C.G.A. § 40-1-112, and it’s referred to as “The Direct Action Statute.” We’ll save you from having to parse though all of it because it’s very long, but here is the basic parts:

(c)  It shall be permissible under this part for any person having a cause of action arising under this part to join in the same action the motor carrier and the insurance carrier, whether arising in tort or contract.

FYI — We’ve put it in bold to make it a bit easier to read and, hopefully, understand for everyone.

Remember though, there are some exceptions for accidents in Georgia so let’s briefly touch on a few of them (and they may seem pretty obvious too):

  • School busses; Taxi cabs; Hotel shuttles; Non-Profit vans with a capacity of 15 or less; and, Government vans/trucks.

“So what does this mean from a practical perspective if you’ve been injured in a trucking accident here in Georgia?” That’s a common question we get — This answer could go on for ever, but let’s consider one really important point: A jury hearing about an insurance company along with the trucking company and probably the driver too helps them to understand truly the seriousness of the accident and the heightened duties for commercial carriers. It’s a lot different than a typical automobile accident case that just involves another individual. As a practical perspective, again, the insurance company and the commercial truck company is less sympathetic of a defendant(s), especially when juxtaposed to a real person that has been hurt because of their collective negligence.

A quick little legal pointer too: A jury will not get to hear about the excess carriers, i.e. if there are several levels of insurance. This situation is pretty common in truck accidents because the trucking companies will have several lawyers of insurance coverage. For example, the mandatory minimum insurance a commercial truck must carry is $750,000 (everyday drivers just have keep $25,000 in at-fault insurance). Oftentimes, we will see one or even two umbrella insurance policies with a range of several million dollars. If you want to read the actual case, it’s Werner Enterprises, Inc. v. Stanton, et al. 302 Ga. App. 25 (2010).

We hope you found this blog post useful, and as always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about truck accidents in Georgia, but we sure hope you don’t need to because that means you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck. Tucking accidents are complicated cases so make sure you are not alone. We’ve handled numerous truck wreck cases throughout Georgia and can be reached at kevin@patricktriallaw.com or directly at (404) 566-8964.

 

Are personal injury settlements taxable?

People often wonder whether or not their personal injury settlement is considered taxable income. It’s a great question and a very real consideration for any case. Fortunately, the IRS has given us a fair amount of guidance on this topic. The most important aspect is that the IRS typically will not disturb a settlement that is “consistent with the substance of the settled claims.” This terminology basically means that the government will not alter a settlement so long as the parties are being truthful about the nature of it.

Let’s consider six different types of settlements:

Personal Physical Injuries or Sickness: If a person receives a settlement for a personal injury case, such as an automobile accident, and the settlement is a lump sum payment i.e. there is not a specific breakdown of the settlement distribution, then the full amount is not taxable. A person does not need to include the settlement proceeds in his or her income. As a practical matter, a personal injury attorney will typically request that the settlement in this form. Interestingly though, if a settlement is broken down, i.e. “X” for medical bills, “Y” for pain and suffering, and “Z” for lost income, then the IRS may tax the settlement. A person will be required to report it on Line 21 of Form 1040 as “Other Income.”

Building on this topic, settlements oftentimes contemplate Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish. This type of settlement typically is not taxable, but again, the IRS has a few exceptions. The main exception is non-physical injury or physical sickness, i.e. a person was not physically harmed in the case. Those amounts are included as taxable income. A person can, however, reduce this amount by any payments made for medical expenses attributable to emotional distress and previous deductions for medical expenses that did not give a tax benefit. Again, those portions would be reported as “Other Income.”

Lost Wages or Lost Profits: A person may miss time from work. This situation usually arises in the context of an employment related case, such as discrimination based race, religion, or national origin. Those proceeds are taxable. Additionally, that part of the settlement is subject to employment tax withholding by the employer. The employee needs to report those proceeds as “Wages, Salaries, Tips etc.” on Line 7 of Form 1040. Another situation is lost profits from a person’s business. That portion of the settlement is again subject to self-employment taxes.  The IRS has offered guidance on it in Publication 334.

Loss-in-Value of Property: Quite simply, if a settlement is less than the value of the property, then it generally does not need to be reported on a person’s tax return. In rare circumstances, a property settlement is more than the value of the property. If it’s the case, then a person is required reported as a capital gain under Schedule D of Form 1040.

There are a few other areas that will occasionally come into play: Interest and Punitive Damages. Interest on a settlement is generally taxable obviously as “Interest Income.” It’s reported on Line 8 of Form 1080. Punitive damages, which are generally designed to punish or deter conduct, are also taxable income even if the punitive damages arose from a personal injury case. Much like the other areas, punitive damages are reported as “Other Income” on Line 21 of Form 1040

We hope this synopsis of settlements and taxability is helpful to you. If you would like more information on this topic or have any additional questions, then please feel free to contact me at kevin@patricktriallaw or 404-566-8964.

Interrogatories in Automobile Accident Cases

Our first blog post in this series focused on Requests for Admission in automobile accident cases. You’ll remember that Requests for Admission ask the other party to admit or deny certain parts of the case. Interrogatories are a useful discovery tool. They are different though because they are asking the other party basically to provide a written response to questions, such as describing in their own words how he or she caused a car accident. Georgia law again can appear rather technical, as you can see from O.C.G.A. 9-11-33, but we are going to show you some general templates to help streamline this process for automobile accident cases.

O.C.G.A. 9-11-33: Interrogatories to Parties

(a) Availability; procedures for use.

(1) Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or a governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party; provided, however, that no party may serve interrogatories containing more than 50 interrogatories, including subparts, upon any other party without leave of court upon a showing of complex litigation or undue hardship incurred if such additional interrogatories are not permitted.

(2) Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

(b) Scope; use at trial.

(1) Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-26, and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence.

(2) An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or to the application of law to fact; but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pretrial conference or other later time.

(c) Option to produce business records. Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit, or inspection of such business records, or from a compilation, abstract, or summary based thereon, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to the interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit, or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts, or summaries.

Just like Requests for Admission in car accidents cases, a general template for Interrogatories is a good starting point, and then you can modify them for your specific case. Each case is unique so remember that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach so it’s important to contact a car accident attorney right away to help guide you through your case.

Here you go:

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.

PLAINTIFF’S FIRST CONTINUING INTERROGATORIES TO DEFENDANT

1.

State your full name, current address, current employer, date of birth, last four number of your social security number, and driver’s license number.

2.

State the name and address of any person, including any party, who to your knowledge information or belief:

(a)        Was an eyewitness to the incident underlying this litigation;

(b)     Has some knowledge of any fact or circumstance upon which your defense is                                     based; or,

(c)       Has conducted any investigation relating to the incident underlying this litigation or the background, employment, medical history or activities of the Plaintiff.

 3.

Identify any and all statements or reports given by any person identified in your response to Interrogatory No. 2.

 4.

Has any entity issued a policy of liability insurance to you or which is or arguably should be extending insurance coverage to you? If so, please state for each policy:

            (a)        The name of the insurer providing liability insurance;

            (b)       The limits of coverage;

            (c)        The name of the insured on the policy; and,

            (d)       The policy number.

 5.

Has any insurer referred to in your answer to Interrogatory No. 4 denied coverage or reserved its rights to later deny coverage under any such policy of liability insurance? If so, please explain.

 6.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs’ actions contributed to the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)      Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

             7.

If you intend to call any expert or technician as a witness at the trial of this action, for each expert or technician please:

            (a)        State the subject matter on which s/he is expected to testify;

            (b)       State in detail the opinions held by each such expert or technician; and,

            (c)        Give a complete summary of the grounds for each opinion held.

8.

Were you on the business of any individual or entity at the time of the subject incident? If so, please identify any such individual or entity, including name, address and telephone number.

9.

If you have ever been arrested or convicted of any crime (other than minor traffic offenses), even if that arrest or conviction has been removed from your record, please identify each crime or alleged violation, date of arrest, the arresting authority, the court in which any criminal proceeding against you was held, and the disposition of each charge.

10.

State each and every prior collision or prior insurance claim which you are aware of that the Plaintiffs have been involved in, or the Plaintiff has made, and state whether your agents have procured an ISO claims index report.

10.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries pre-existed the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)       Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)       Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

11.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that the Plaintiffs have uttered inconsistent statements with regard to material facts at issue in this litigation and identify:

(a)      Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)     Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those                             facts.

12.

If you contend that the Plaintiffs has been convicted of pled guilty to a crime of moral turpitude and/or felony, please identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and,

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those facts.

13.

What do you contend caused the incident underlying this litigation?

14.

State each and every fact supporting your contention, if made in answering the Complaint for Damages, that you are not the sole proximate cause of the incident underlying this litigation and identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts; and

(b)      Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence those  facts.

15.

Do you contend that you have been improperly named as a party to this action and/or that improper or incorrect agents for service were utilized to effectuate service upon you? If you answer to either of these inquiries is “yes,” please provide a detailed explanation as to why you contend that you have been improperly named or the agents used for service were improper and provide the complete and correct name of the entities or individuals you contend should have been named and/or served.

16.

Do you contend that venue is improper in this court, that jurisdiction is lacking over you in this Court, or that service of process has been deficient in this matter? If so, please describe and state with specificity all factual and legal basis supporting any such contention(s).

17.

With regard to the vehicle being operated by you at the time of the subject incident, please identify:

(a)        The owner of the vehicle;

(b)       The frequency with which you drove the vehicle;

(c)        Who paid for the gas and maintenance on the vehicle; and

(d)      If you did not own the vehicle, state whether or not you had the permission of the owner to be driving the vehicle at the time of the subject incident.

18.

Do you have a driver’s license? If so, please state when you first acquired any driver’s license, what type it is, and what are/were the restrictions on it.

19.

At any other time, either before or after the subject incident, have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence or for any other drug or alcohol related charge?

20.

Do you have a cell phone? If so, please state your cell phone number and the name of your cell phone provider.

21.

Please produce a privilege log identifying each and every document you contend is privileged and stating the particular privilege for each.

22.

For each request to admit that you denied, please identify:

(a)        Each eyewitness that will testify to those facts supporting your denial;

(b)       Each and every document or tangible piece of evidence that will evidence facts supporting your denial; and,

(c)        Each fact upon which your denial is based.

24.

Describe in detail how the collision on [INSERT DATE] happened, stating in your answer all events relating thereto in their sequential order, including all actions taken by you to prevent the collision.

25.

State the name, web address, and user name for all blogs, online forums, and social networking websites that you have belonged to or had a membership in the prior twelve (12) months.

This _____ day of _________, ________.

Respectfully submitted,

____________________________________

[INSERT NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION]

We recognize that the key to a successful recovery in an automobile case is a clear discovery path and a willingness to bring your case to court. In fact, we used to represent insurance companies. Strong  discovery makes sure that those companies understand you are serious about getting the best result for your car accident. As always, feel free to contact us at (404) 566-5880 or information@patricktriallaw.com if you have any questions about your car accident and need legal assistance.