Getting Your Car Repaired After a Georgia Car Accident — How to Speak Intelligently to Your Mechanic
If you recently were involved in a car accident, but your vehicle was not totaled, you’ll want to visit a mechanic as soon as possible to assess the damage and get your car fixed. Keep the following considerations in mind as you interact with your mechanic:
Who Covers the Cost of the Repair?
Georgia is a fault state, so if you are deemed responsible for 49 percent of the accident or less, you can obtain damages, including the cost of your vehicle’s repair. If courts deem that you played a small role in the accident (perhaps by speeding or following another vehicle too closely), your total compensation may be reduced.
When to Take Your Car to the Mechanic
Timing is everything in car accident cases. Prior to visiting the mechanic, you’ll need to file a police report, seek legal counsel, contact your insurance company, and speak with a claims representative. Some insurers send reps to inspect the damage; others prefer to have you work with a mechanic on your own time. Wait for instruction before moving forward, and be sure to visit a certified mechanic.
Working With Your Mechanic
It’s best to obtain multiple estimates, but you should first determine whether the shops you intend to visit charge diagnostic fees. Because you will (hopefully) be compensated, you want the best possible repair; the mechanic suggested by your insurer may offer an overpriced quick fix. Don’t downplay the status of your vehicle; let your mechanic know all the symptoms and the full scope of your accident. If you struggle to explain these symptoms, allow your mechanic to take the vehicle on a brief test drive.
Once you receive your estimate, discuss the types of repairs needed, and why. Later, compare estimates from mechanics to determine who will provide the most extensive service for the best price.
Look to Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP to learn more about the essential steps you should take after suffering a car accident in Georgia.
Amazing Resources For Workers’ Compensation: Part 2
Knowledge is power in the aftermath of a workplace injury. These resources will provide valuable insight and inspiration as you recover from your injury and prepare for your return to the workforce:
- The Puzzling Geography of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation varies significantly from one state to the next. Learn more about regional disparities in this report from NPR and ProPublica, which shines a much-needed light on disturbing issues with workers’ comp and treatment of injured employees.
- Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job
Over time, the failure to provide proper coverage for injured employees leads to great financial hardship. This Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) report highlights the clear role workers’ compensation (or lack thereof) plays in income inequality. It also offers suggestions for better protecting workers in the future.
- How to Avoid the Most Common Workplace Injuries
As an employee, you may have little control over your employers’ safety standards and adherence to OSHA regulations. However, you can avoid a variety of common issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain. This Howcast video is most applicable to office workers, but it also offers advice for those who regularly move heavy loads.
You’ll instantly relate to this story of woe from injured worker Bill Bowman. In this free podcast, Bowman details how he and his family were impacted by workplace injury. Although he hails from Canada, his story offers valuable insight for anybody who has been injured on the job.
The more you know about workers’ compensation and its role in your recovery, the better. Get educated; contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP for more information on workers’ comp in the state of Georgia.
Amazing Resources For Workers’ Compensation: Part 1
As you recover from your workplace injury, you may have lingering questions about workers’ compensation, or a simple desire to connect with others who have been through similar ordeals. These resources will help you make the most of your situation and get back on your feet:
A monthly podcast from the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards (IAIABC), Accidentally offers compelling insights into workers’ compensation: its history, how it stands today, and anticipated innovations.
- Workers’ Compensation Research Institute Benchmarks
WCRI is committed to providing the public with accurate, up-to-date information on workers’ compensation and the role it plays in the United States economy. The organization offers extensive benchmark information.
- These Are Our Stories
Although created in Australia, this YouTube video is applicable to injured workers in the United States, who struggle to overcome unfortunate stereotypes of laziness and lethargy. In These Are Our Stories, Australians recovering from illnesses and conditions incurred on the job speak of their suffering, their recovery, and their hopes for lives free of pain and negative judgment.
- OSHA’s Most Cited Violations For 2016
Thousands of workers are killed on the job every year, and many more are injured due to safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has yet to release violation information for 2017, but the 2016 list is in keeping with long-term trends. Ongoing issues include a complete lack of protection against falls, poor hazard communication, and minimal respiratory protection. A thorough understanding of these issues and the role they played in your injury (or could play in future injuries) could impact the capacity in which you eventually choose to return to work.
Once you’ve finished looking through the resources outlined above, contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP to learn more about workers’ compensation.
Uncommon Knowledge About the Georgia Workers’ Compensation System
Most Georgia employees know little about the state’s workers’ compensation program and what happens if they’re injured at work. This lack of understanding can make the compensation process extremely confusing and stressful. Keep reading to learn more about workers’ compensation in the state of Georgia:
Total Indemnity Claims
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation reports that 39,899 indemnity claims occurred in Georgia in the calendar year 2014. Indemnity benefits in 2014 totaled $1,056,193,486. Additionally, 830 WC-26 forms indemnity forms were filed that year.
Lifetime Medical Care is Typically No Longer Available
In 2013, Georgia made a significant change to its workers’ compensation model: many workers were suddenly ineligible for benefits after eight years. As a story from NPR and ProPublica points out, this means that those with knee or hip replacements no longer qualify for coverage if, after a decade, their mobility devices wear out. In the most severe cases, however, injured workers may still qualify for long-term compensation.
Georgia Residents Fare Better Than Those Across the Border
Workers’ compensation in Georgia is far from perfect, but as another ProPublica story points out, employees there enjoy far greater compensation than those residing in Alabama. In a report comparing similar injuries across state lines, ProPublica revealed a maximum payment of $118,125 for Georgia workers who lose their arm, compared to just $48,840 for the same injury in Alabama.
Workers’ compensation varies significantly from one state to the next. As a Georgia resident, you could obtain significant compensation for your workplace injury, but your chances of claim acceptance are far greater if you work with a trusted workers’ compensation attorney.
The more you know about workers’ compensation in Georgia, the better. Contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today for more information.
Amazing Resources For People on Social Security Disability and Their Caretakers: Part 2
There is no such thing as too much support for Social Security Disability Insurance recipients and their valued caregivers. From FAQs and blogs to YouTube videos, everything helps. Take some time to browse the useful resources highlighted below—you’ll be glad you did!
- Social Security Disability: Frequently Asked Questions
The official FAQ page of the Social Security Administration answers common questions about retirement benefits, returning to work, Compassionate Allowances, and more.
- The Faces and Facts of Social Security
The SSA maintains a blog, which provides a wealth of information on the everyday applications of the disability system. The articles contained therein cover everything from the pioneers of Social Security to the role of mental health in disability claims.
- A Day in the Life of a Caregiver
Do you feel as if your efforts as a caregiver are rarely recognized? Watch this YouTube video from AARP, and share it via social media to let your loved ones in on your caregiving struggles and triumphs. The video truly captures what it’s like to take care of a disabled individual.
- Kalispell’s SSDI YouTube Videos
YouTube user Kalispell has ample experience with the SSDI program. Her channel details not only the complications of applying for SSDI, but also life after approval, including why she continues to work, and how she coordinates her schedule to make the most of her benefits.
- How to Live on Disability Even If You Are Broke
SSDI benefits are typically quite modest; many claimants receive less than $1,000 per month. This detailed article from Confined to Success offers excellent insight into budgeting for SSDI recipients. You’ll learn how to stretch each dollar further and pursue greater financial security.
Get the inside scoop on SSDI — reach out to Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today.
Amazing Resources For People on Social Security Disability and Their Caretakers: Part 1
Since its founding during the Great Depression, the Social Security Disability Insurance program has made life more bearable for millions of Americans, who would otherwise face crippling poverty or a complete lack of independence.
Unfortunately, if you’re injured or disabled, the difficulties don’t stop upon approval of your SSDI claim. Whether you receive benefits or care for a loved one on SSDI, you can use continual help and support, which you’ll find with these valuable resources:
- Ticket to Work Program
Interested in returning to work, but worried about losing your benefits? Join the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program, a free and voluntary opportunity for SSDI and SSI beneficiaries. You can safely explore a variety of work options while enjoying protection from medical continuing disability reviews. Visit the program overview at the SSA’s website to learn more.
- NAIDW’s Social Security Disability Support
Sometimes, when your disability gets you down, all you need is a little encouragement from somebody who has been in your position. That’s exactly what you’ll find at the Social Security Disability Support forum maintained by the National Association of Injured and Disabled Workers (NAIDW). Stop by the chat room or check out the numerous links posted by the site’s administrator.
- Telling Our Disability Stories: The ATC Podcast
If you ever feel alone due to your disability, listen to the ATC Podcast for an instant sense of belonging. The program features heartening stories from individuals with disabilities.
- Can I Get Paid…As a Caregiver?
This AARP guide provides extensive insight into the role of caregivers and the potential for receiving compensation. It offers a valuable reminder of the importance of taking care of your own financial and emotional health as you also care for loved ones with disabilities.
Ready to expand your understanding of Social Security disability even further? Contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP at your earliest convenience for more information.
Fascinating, Unusual Facts About the Social Security Disability System
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) helps millions of Americans with disabilities get by, but the system remains largely misunderstood. Common misconceptions indicate that it’s easy to be approved for SSDI benefits and that most applicants are simply too lazy to work. This could not be further from the truth. The following are a few interesting things you may not know about SSDI and its beneficiaries:
Disability and Age
The public largely perceives disability as an age-based problem. However, while certain illnesses and conditions become more likely with age, problems often strike younger individuals as well. The SSA reports that one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled prior to reaching retirement age.
High Rejection Rates
Applicants need to jump through numerous hoops to be approved for disability, and many are ultimately denied. In fiscal year 2013, the allowance rate for Social Security disability was just 33 percent.
Low Benefit Payouts
The United States ranks 30th among the 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for disabled worker replacement benefit payouts. Many claimants receive less than $1,000 each month; the average monthly payment in 2016 was $1,166.
The Necessity of Disability Benefits
Most people who receive SSDI benefits are eager to continue to work, if possible. Unfortunately, severe impairments prevent the vast majority from earning more than a few thousand per year, which is clearly not enough to live on.
Types of Disabilities
Although physical disabilities are responsible for the majority of SSDI payouts, mental impairments play a greater role than most people realize. Mental health problems strike 31.8 percent of disability beneficiaries, with 4.2 percent suffering intellectual disabilities and the other 27.6 percent dealing with other issues (such as schizophrenia, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder).
The facts outlined above simply scratch the surface when it comes to the complex and often confusing SSDI landscape. To learn more, contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP.
Did the Other Driver’s Text Messaging (Or Distracting Activity) Cause Your Georgia Auto Accident? If So, How Can You Prove It?
Georgia law prohibits drivers from engaging in any activities — including text messaging — that might impede them from safely operating motorized vehicles. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore this ban. Their unsafe behavior leads to far too many accidents.
Do you suspect that a behind-the-wheel texter caused your car crash? The right evidence can help you hold negligent drivers accountable.
Signs of Texting Behind the Wheel
It’s easy to spot drivers who text behind the wheel. They lower their heads, weave, and drive at a snail’s pace. At night, their phones emit a distinctive glow. Drivers distracted by other objects or activities may veer over lane lines or fail to stop at signs or lights.
Proving the Role of Texting or Other Distractions
Texters beware: in the event of an accident, it can be surprisingly easy (at least in certain cases) for law enforcement and skilled legal representatives to prove that cell phone activity played a role in your collision. The following sources of evidence are particularly common:
Pedestrians, bikers, or other drivers often witness problematic behaviors immediately preceding a crash. These individuals can be called upon to provide detailed feedback regarding the collision’s circumstances. Passengers who accompanied the distracted driver at the time of the wreck serve as even better sources of information, although their testimony can sometimes be unreliable.
Cell Phone Records
Cell phones provide irrefutable proof of the other driver’s distraction just prior to the accident. Car crash victims should note the exact time of the event; this can later be used to prove that the responsible party sent or received texts shortly before the collision occurred.
Photos of the Vehicle
The position of the mobile device within the vehicle could indicate its placement at the time of the accident. Certain locations are notoriously amenable to texting.
Do you believe texting played a role in your car crash? Don’t let the other driver get away with negligence — contact Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today to seek justice.
Common Defenses Insurance Companies Use to Deny Georgia Car Accident Claims
Claim denials are undeniably frustrating, particularly when ample evidence indicates that the policyholder qualifies for compensation. Insurance adjusters use every trick in the book to put a stop to deserved claims — a few of their more disturbing ploys are highlighted below:
Act of God
Adjusters who rely on the “Act of God” defense may claim that a given accident only occurred due to unexpected weather conditions or other uncontrollable circumstances — driver negligence supposedly played no role. In certain cases, this defense may be valid, but often, drivers and their insurers use this excuse to cover for irresponsible behavior behind the wheel.
Playing the Good Guy
Be cautious of overly sympathetic insurance adjusters — they’re rarely on your side! Rather, they demonstrate false compassion in hopes of convincing you to downplay your symptoms or even admit fault. Problematic adjusters may also claim that they’re making every effort to close the case as soon as possible. In reality, they stall in hopes of missing the statute of limitations.
Social Media Stalking
Don’t mention your accident on Twitter or Facebook; you could compromise your case. Increasingly, companies follow accident victims online, as foolish individuals often incriminate themselves while discussing their vehicular mishaps. Insurers are also eager to determine whether your injuries are as severe as you claim. Consider waiting until your case is closed before posting those surfing or acroyoga pictures.
Incentives For Claim Representatives
Insurance companies incentivize employees to deny as many car accident claims as possible. For example, the American Association for Justice highlights a Farmers Insurance executive, who quipped that representatives should wear a fake tooth grin while responding “Sorry, no more” to policy holders in desperate need of compensation.
Mistreated by an insurance company in Georgia? Call Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP today. You’ll enjoy in-depth counsel and assertive representation from a highly respected team of attorneys.
Why Isn’t There a Simple Formula to Determine How You Should Be Compensated For Georgia Car Accidents?
Statistics rule the insurance industry, and yet, there is no clear formula indicating the claim value for injuries incurred in car accidents. Insurers use carefully calculated averages to determine what a typical driver may receive, but in reality, nobody exactly fits the profile of the “average” person. A vast array of factors play into compensation values, as highlighted below:
Georgia’s Fault-Based System
As in many states, Georgia follows a fault-based system, in which the at-fault individual is responsible for both property damage and personal injury. This approach offers the potential for several resolutions:
- The injured person can file a claim with his or her insurance company, which then obtains remuneration from the other driver’s insurer.
- The victim can go directly to the other party’s insurer for compensation.
- The issue can be settled via a personal injury lawsuit.
Insurance adjusters seek to determine what the injured party would receive in a juried trial. Companies put a lot of effort into compiling personal injury statistics, along with negotiated settlements. Through examining this data, adjusters have developed multipliers, which may be combined with special damage awards to determine the full extent of deserved compensation.
The Role of Comparative Fault
Comparative fault makes an already confusing system that much more complicated. In Georgia, the primary victim of an accident may be found partially at fault for the incident, and therefore not entitled to complete damages. For example, if evidence indicates that one driver was impaired but the other also demonstrated reckless behavior behind the wheel, fault may lie with both parties. The upside? You can still secure remuneration if you somehow contributed to the accident — it’s just tricky to predict how much you’ll receive.
Confused about car accident compensation in Georgia? Look to Smith, Wallis and Scott, LLP for assistance.