If you read our Georgia Car Accident Guide book, you know that it does not make much sense to hire a Georgia injury lawyer for a case with $3,000.00 or less in medical bills. So lets assume that you followed the do it yourself guide in our book and now the insurance company is being ridiculous and is offering less than the medical bills. The only remaining option is to file suit.
Do understand that the other driver is going to get a free lawyer to defend them if they have insurance and that puts you at a serious disadvantage. Sometimes however, filing suit on your own will get you an increase on the offer. With small cases, you should file in the Georgia Magistrate Court for the County where the defendant lives. The Magistrate Court is small claims court and only handles cases seeking under $15,000.00.
Key Points to remember:
1) Sue the other driver, not the insurance company.
2) Sue in their home county or review our article on Georgia venue and personal jurisdiction requirements.
3) Make sure you keep an eye on the Georgia statute of limitations on injury claims.
4) Make sure the sheriff actually serves the defendant. Failure to serve kills the case.
5) Keep the complaint (document that starts the lawsuit) simple. What did the other driver do wrong. What did it do to you and how much were the bills. (submit the gross amount of the medical bills)
If it proceeds all the way to trial, keep in mind you may get overwhelmed on a technical defense.
Things to know at trial.
1) The accident report is not admissible.
2) The defendant is not automatically responsible unless they admit it on the stand. You need to be prepared to ask them questions that bring out proof that they violated a rule of the road.
3) Present photos of the damage. Show the opposition the photo first and then tell the judge that the picture fairly and accurately represents the thing you took the picture of.
4) Identify your medical bills (not the records, those are hearsay) and tender them into evidence for the judge to consider.
5) Before your rest your case, make sure:
a) you proved it was the other sides fault. If not the judge cannot find for you.
b) you provided testimony about the injury
c) you tendered the medical bill you received.
d) if seeking property damage you cannot tender an estimate to repair (hearsay). It must be a paid bill or bring the estimator live to trial.
6) Keep your cool.