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Personal Injury

Driving is an integral part of life for most residents of the Atlanta metro area. Each day millions of people use our roads and highways, and with so much congestion and traffic, crashes will happen. Motor vehicle crashes, however, are not accidents. They are the predictable results of specific actions like speeding, texting, tailgating, failing to yield, failing to maintain lane, disregarding traffic signals, and drinking alcohol. When drivers make bad decisions and engage in dangerous conduct, crashes will happen. Every day people are involved in crashes caused by negligent drivers, often resulting in serious and sometimes fatal injuries to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. The Law Office of Paul Shimek represents injured victims in the following types of personal injury cases:

 

  • Automobile Crashes
  • Truck Crashes
  • Motorcycle Crashes
  • Pedestrian Collisions
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists (UM) Claims
  • Punitive Damage Claims Against Drunk Drivers

Automobile Crashes

Automobile crashes are the most common causes of personal injuries in Georgia. They can range from small fender-benders to devastating head-on collisions with serious injuries or fatalities. Injuries that victims commonly suffer include neck and back sprains, spinal injuries, concussions, rotator cuff tears, abrasions, contusions, fractured ribs, broken or shattered bones, and internal organ damage. These injuries can have a significant impact on a victim’s life and require substantial medical treatment and recovery time. If you have been injured in a car wreck, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:

  • Medical Expenses: costs for immediate and future medical care
  • Lost Earnings: lost income both now and in the future due to your injuries
  • Pain and Suffering: for physical and mental pain and the disruption to your daily life

If you were injured in a car wreck that was not your fault, there are certain things you should do and things that you should avoid doing. If you have questions about your personal injury claim, please contact the Law Office of Paul Shimek for a free consultation.

Truck Crashes

Georgia serves as a gateway of interstate commerce for the Southeastern region, and Atlanta is a major hub for movement and distribution of freight. Commercial freight trucks can weigh over 80,000 pounds and average 70 feet in length. When a truck that size crashes into an average car, it creates an enormous impact, even at low speeds. The collision can be devastating, with serious injuries or even death to the occupants of the car. The most common causes of truck collisions in Georgia are:

  • Driver Fatigue (caused by trucking companies setting unrealistic deadlines)
  • Driver Negligence (distracted driving, aggressive driving, speeding, etc.)
  • Improper Maintenance (of braking system, engine, lights, tires, hitch assemblies and straps)
  • Improper Loading (overloading, poorly secured load, unbalanced cargo)
  • Inadequate Driver Training / Inexperienced Driver
  • Drug or Alcohol Use, including stimulants such as methamphetamines

There are numerous state laws and federal safety regulations designed to protect the public and prevent truck collisions. Trucking companies and drivers who fail to abide by these legal requirements must be held accountable. Trucking cases can be highly complex, and you should never try to negotiate or settle a truck crash injury claim on your own. If you or a family member has suffered injuries from a collision involving a truck, please contact the Law Office of Paul Shimek.

Motorcycle Crashes

With more bikers on the road today, motorcycle crashes are becoming increasingly more common. These collisions are frequently caused by reckless or negligent motor vehicle drivers who fail to see motorcyclists or who engage in distracted driving, improper lane changes, driving under the influence, or other dangerous conduct. No matter what the reason, a motorcyclist with years of experience, who obeys the traffic laws, drives defensively and stays alert, can still be involved in a collision. Unlike drivers of cars and trucks, motorcyclists don’t have the benefit of being surrounded by a steel frame, airbags, or other automotive safety features. Because they lack these protections, motorcyclists are vulnerable to being seriously injured in a collision. Wearing protective gear in the form of pads and a helmet do not prevent a motorcyclist from being crushed or flung off the bike. Common injuries include road rash, broken bones, spinal cord damage, head and brain trauma, crushed limbs, and facial disfigurement. If you were injured in a motorcycle collision, please contact the Law Office of Paul Shimek.

Pedestrian Collisions

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable to injury in a vehicle collision. A person on foot is no match against a 4,000 pound car. Even slow-moving vehicles can severely injure a pedestrian. Collisions with pedestrians commonly occur at intersection crosswalks, parking lots, and residential streets. Most pedestrian-vehicle collisions are due to distracted driving, and liability hinges on who had the right-of-way. Evidence of driver negligence may come from eyewitnesses, police reports, and security cameras. A driver who hits a pedestrian and flees the scene may be liable for punitive damages. If you have been injured in a pedestrian collision, please contact the Law Office of Paul Shimek.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance coverage, he is violating the law. All Georgia drivers are required to have this coverage for bodily injury in the minimum amount of $25,000 per person, capped at $50,000 per incident. This insurance covers negligent drivers for the injuries they cause others. Despite this requirement, nearly one out of every eight Georgia drivers fails to have this coverage. These drivers are Uninsured Motorists. Hit and run drivers whose identities are unknown are also Uninsured Motorists. If the at-fault driver has the required liability coverage but the insurance company denies coverage or goes bankrupt, then the driver becomes an Uninsured Motorist. Even if the at-fault driver has the required minimum liability coverage, it may not be enough to cover your injuries. The driver is then an Underinsured Motorist.

In these situations you would have a UM claim against your own company if your policy had this coverage. UM coverage is not required in Georgia, and it can be rejected in writing. UM insurance covers your medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffer just like liability coverage. However, punitive damages are not recoverable in a UM claim. According to Georgia law, your insurance company cannot raise your premiums for filing a UM claim if the collision was not your fault. 
O.C.G.A. §33-9-40.

When a UM claim is made, your insurance company becomes your adversary. They will defend the at-fault driver and attempt to avoid paying you adequately for your injuries. If an Uninsured Motorist caused your personal injuries, please contact Paul Shimek for a free case evaluation.

Punitive Damages Against Drunk Drivers

 

Punitive damages are similar to large criminal fines. They are designed to punish and penalize the at-fault driver for dangerous conduct in causing the collision. Unlike medical expenses and pain and suffering, punitive damages are not for the purpose of compensating you for your losses. They are additional money that can be claimed in certain situations. Examples of dangerous conduct which may warrant the recovery of punitive damages include the following serious traffic offenses:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
  • Fleeing the scene (hit & run)
  • Fleeing from police officers at a high rate of speed
  • Drag racing
  • Reckless driving
  • Aggressive driving (road rage)

In Georgia there is no cap on the dollar amount that may be recovered for punitive damages where DUI is involved. For the other serious offenses the cap is $250,000. Punitive damages are not recoverable if the at-fault driver committed only minor traffic offenses.

Punitive damages are payable under the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage unless they are excluded. There must be an open claim for medical expenses in order to assert a claim for punitive damages. Settling a personal injury claim without including payment for punitive damages could result in a waiver of a potentially large punitive damage claim, which is why it is important to have an attorney involved early on. If a drunk driver caused your injuries, please contact the Law Office of Paul Shimek for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.

“Paul has been in personal injury law specializing in motor vehicle collisions for over 30 years. Paul is a great advocate for those injured by drunk and distracted drivers…” — Jack T.