Helpful Tips if You are Involved in a Car Accident

Thousands of car accidents occur each year in Georgia. If you are involved in a car accident there are certain things you can do to protect yourself. First, take a deep breath and calm down. You will understandably be shaken up. Your adrenaline is running at an all-time high and if you stop and take a deep breath you will be able to make better decisions and think more clearly. Ensure that you and your passengers are safe and check for injuries.

Second, when calling the police, speak clearly and concisely and give as much detail about your location and injuries as possible to the dispatcher.  Even if there are no serious injuries, it is always a good idea to call the police. You will most likely need a police report when reporting the accident to your insurance company. Try to keep the vehicles where they are unless they block traffic.  If you are not able to get out of the car for whatever reason, keep your seat belt on. Next turn off the car and put on your hazard lights.

When the police arrive be sure to tell them exactly what happened to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t know certain facts or do not remember, be sure to inform the officer. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, tell the officer that you are not sure rather than simply saying no. More often than not the pain from an auto accident occurs several hours after the actual wreck. You should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or make an appointment with your primary care physician.

If your cell phone has a camera, try to take pictures of the vehicles involved if there is visible damage. Be sure to take pictures of the scene of the accident including any skid marks and debris that may be on the roadway. If you have visible injuries, take pictures of them as well.

It is important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible when being involved in an accident regardless if you were at fault or not. Also, find out if you have medical payments coverage on your policy to assist with your medical bills.

Finally, one of the most important things you can do after being involved in a car accident is to consult an attorney. An attorney can protect your rights and advise you on issues relating to giving a statement to the insurance company and making sure you get fully compensated for your injuries. 

From our Case Files

From our Case Files

Jack Clay Elected Vice President of the Douglas County Bar Association

On Friday, May 13, 2014, Jack Clay was elected Vice President of the Douglas County Bar Association.  Jack came to Douglasville from California in 2001, and practices in the same building across the street from Douglas County Courthouse where he got his start.  Douglas County has seen significant growth over the years from a small town to a major suburb of Metro Atlanta with over 130,000 people.  Today, Douglas County sits on the western edge of Metro Atlanta that has grown to a population of over five million.   

Although Jack's practice has broadened to represent injured people and families throughout Metro Atlanta and across Georgia, he still centers his life in and around Douglas County.   Please join us in congratulating Jack on his election as Vice President of the Douglas County Bar Association. 

Photograph taken from Jack's office. 

Photograph taken from Jack's office. 

Attorney Corner: Georgia Lawyers Should Understand Federal Employees Health Benefit Act (FEHBA) Subrogation

In a trucking accident case we are currently handling, we recently received notice from subrogation contractor asserting their rights to reimbursement or subrogation.  At first glance, the notice reads much like an ERISA notice but lawyers handling serious injury cases need to be aware of the differences.  The letter we received cited the FEHBA 5 U.S.C. § 8901 et seq. and claimed that the contract language in their plan supersedes and preempts state law. 

Although it is not uncommon for Plaintiff’s lawyers to have to deal with ERISA subrogation claims we are now seeing FEHBA subrogation claims with more frequency.  The Federal Health Benefits Program provides health insurance benefits to Federal government employees and their eligible family members.  In Georgia, personal injury attorneys are noticing that FEHBA carriers are increasing their efforts to assert third-party subrogation claims on recoveries in accident and injury cases. 

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Understanding Light Duty Restrictions & The Dictionary of Occupational Titles

Today, I was meeting with an injured client in my office reviewing the results of his Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) following his recent back fusion surgery to see what the future holds.  Often, a treating doctor will send a patient to undergo an FCE exam to help figure-out any future limitations after an injury and prolonged absence from work. The FCE is a physical test that takes hours to complete and assesses a patient's ability to work by having them perform various tasks related to lifting, stooping, bending, and crawling in a controlled environment. 

Believe it or not, every conceivable job in the United States is classified in a book that used to be published by the U.S. Department of Labor called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles which is still published online here.  It classifies each job as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy duty.  The book has been replaced with an online database called the Occupational Information Network.

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Fellow Atlanta Car Accident Attorneys Take Note: 18 Month Study Reveals Insurance Company Settlement Strategy

We are a litigation firm that goes to court and tries cases.  Many attorneys want quick settlements, but this thinking may be flawed.  

Being an Atlanta personal injury law firm handling car and large truck accident cases, one of the most difficult obstacles we face is dealing with insurance companies who are offering little to nothing to injured people. CNN did an 18 month investigation into minor-impact, soft-tissue injury accidents. CNN looked close at the two largest insurance companies, Allstate and State Farm, and how they handle these soft-tissue injury cases. A soft-tissue injury is one that is real, however, might now show up on an x-ray or other diagnostic testing. These types of injuries can occur, quite often, with little damage to the vehicles involved in the collision.

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Jack Clay discusses types of car insurance that can help you after an accident

If you are reading this today, I certainly hope that you are a loved one has not been involved in a serious automobile accident. But if you have, I am here to help you by explaining to you the various types of automobile insurance that are available to you, a loved one, or a family member after an automobile collision and things you can do to better your chances of maximizing all of the available insurance. Automobile insurance can be a very confusing subject for a lot of people. We use terms such as uninsured motorist coverage, reservation of rights, and declaratory actions to describe terms that people just do not understand outside of the legal world. Well, I am going to explain a couple different types of automobile insurance so you can get a better understanding of what is available to you. Of course I will tell you as I tell everybody else, if you or a loved one needs the advice of an attorney the best thing to do is call an attorney for help in these situations.

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Jack Clay discusses how our office handles on the job injury cases

Our experience in workers' compensation cases is second to none. We handle cases from the beginning with an eye toward achieving a positive result for our clients and also lifting the stress from their shoulders. I take great pride in that at my office. The most common type of injury we see in a workers' compensation case involves the back. I would say secondarily we see injuries vary frequently to shoulders, knees, feet, and arms. Typically workers' compensation cases involve injuries that are orthopedic in nature. Although we do handle a lot of cases where clients suffer brain injuries and spinal cord injuries and things like amputations which can be life changing. Very rarely do we get calls from clients where everything is going great. So we want to step in from the beginning and take an active approach and tackle these two issues: getting them to a good doctor and making sure that their weekly benefits are paid and that they're getting what they are entitled to get under the law.

FAQ: What should you do if you have medical bills from a personal injury case?

One of the most common questions we receive in my office goes something like this: "I was injured in a car accident and I have medical bills, but I don't know what to do. I have health insurance, but should I submit them to my health insurance company?" Well, the answer to that is yes, you absolutely should. In this article I am going to talk to you about what we do at our office and what you should do when you have medical bills from a personal injury case.

There are several types of medical insurance, or other forms of insurance that cover your medical bills when you are hurt in an automobile accident or another type of personal injury. First, we always try to use what we call medical payments coverage if it exists under your insurance or the insurance on the vehicle in which you were riding or another policy if you were named as an insured. What this means is that auto insurance sometimes has a provision, an extra amount of coverage, for your medical bills and we like to go there first. Then, we need to submit these medical bills to health insurance.  Health insurance has a duty and obligation to pay your medical bills, however they can be reimbursed through a process known as subrogation on the back end when your case either settles or we go to court and get a judgment for you. Now how much to pay back and what to pay back to whom is the topic of an upcoming article. It is fair to say that you usually have to pay some or all of the money back to your health insurance company. 

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Jack Clay quoted in Douglas County Sentinel about new dangerous dog law

According to the Douglas County Sentinel, a Georgia law was recently passed holding owners accountable if their viscous dogs were to injure someone. House Bill 685 states that the owner must do multiple things if the dog has already attacked. Owners must have the dog micro chipped, muzzle and securely enclose the animal, and carry a $50,000 insurance policy. If owners do not do what is required, they could be charged with felony and face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $5000 fine.

We have a lot of experience in this department considering we handled the 2010 Frankie Forsh case. Mrs. Forsh was a client of ours that was a victim of a brutal pit bull attack. She suffered very serious injuries that required multiple surgeries, which resulted in high medical bills.

Mr. Clay gave his opinion on the new law to the newspaper last week. "The law is a step in the right direction. But in some ways it is weak. A dog cannot be deemed viscous for a nip or a scratch; it must be a substantial puncture. There is no breed of dog outlined."

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From our case files: Second Douglas County Georgia man sentenced in alcohol related car accident death

Dustin Willis plead guilty last Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse regarding a fatal crash that happened back in February of 2010. He was charged with vehicular homicide and two counts of causing serious injury by vehicle for supplying alcohol to minors. Willis was sentenced by Judge James to fifteen years with nine years to serve in prison.

Willis, the oldest out of the group, provided alcohol that was consumed by the driver of the vehicle. The 19-year-old driver was intoxicated driving the group of people from one party to the next when he lost control and flipped his Chevrolet Blazer. Our client, Jamie McManus, was one of the teens who were involved in the accident. She was ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries. Cheyenne Sauls, was also ejected from the vehicle. Unfortunately, Sauls, a 16 year old Villa Rica High School student suffered fatal injuries.

We are actively handling the civil case stemming from this horrible car wreck. Our clients mother, Maria McManus, was one of many who attended the trial last week. She spoke with the media after the court hearing about the accident and the anguish it has caused her family.

Client awarded $750,000 in damages for brutal pit bull attack

Our client, Mrs. Frankie Forsh, was the subject of significant news coverage last week. Mrs. Forsh and Mr. Clay were in court last tuesday at the Douglas County Courthouse for the final hearing regarding a brutal pit bull attack that took place in June of 2010.

For those of you who don't know any information on this case, here is a quick synopsis. Mrs. Forsh, wife of Douglas County High School athletic coach Chet Forsh, was attacked by three aggressive pit bulldogs while taking her morning walk in her Douglas County neighborhood. She was rescued by several neighbors who forced the dogs off of her. She was bitten on the face, arms, and legs and suffered serious injuries. The injuries required several surgeries and a long recovery.

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West Metro TLA & Chairman Jack Clay host luncheon featuring Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle addressed the members of The West Metro Trial Lawyers association in Douglasville at the end of last month. Approximately 35 lawyers and judges from Paulding and Douglas Counties gathered at Sam and Roscoe's Restaurant for a luncheon that was hosted by our office. Judge Doyle spoke about her career as an attorney and about her experience on the Georgia Court of Appeals bench.

Judge Doyle thanked Mr. Clay for the opportunity to come and speak to the organization. "It was a great opportunity to meet people," she said to Mr. Clay.

Mr. Clay believes the event was a huge success and thanks Judge Doyle for taking time out her busy day to speak to the group.

Our Office of Animal Lovers Support the Douglas County Animal Shelter

Our office is full of animal lovers, and we are excited about the new improvements to the Douglas County Animal Shelter. The Douglas County Animal Shelter has been in need of some improvements for quite some time now. Mr. Clay will be attending the State of the County Address on March 14, 2012, where the proceeds from this event are going to benefit the new Douglas County Animal Shelter, which is in the early planning stages.

In the meantime, the Douglasville Home Depot has recently donated $1,000 worth of supplies for the construction of a new puppy room at the current animal shelter. The new puppy room will be able to hold 40 additional puppies. It is expected to be completed by spring of this year. This is near-and-dear to our hearts as all members of the office are avid animal lovers' and owners.

Metro Atlanta Ranks Alongside Major Cities in Crashes Resulting in Injury

Metro Atlanta Ranks Alongside Major Cities in Crashes Resulting in Injury

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta ranks fourth among all cities in crashes resulting in injury in the United States according to a 2009 study. Atlanta also ranked sixth in the United States for traffic related accidents. This is particularly important to remember as the holiday season is quickly approaching, and more people are on the road. Atlanta is ranked among the large metropolitan cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami. The cost of congestion related problems as well as traffic crashed has nearly doubled since 2005, so it seems it is going to be an ongoing problem for the metro-Atlanta area. Click here to see the report. Please remember to be careful this holiday season. 

The Danger of Settling Too Early

One of the problems of the legal system is that it can take a long time for a personal injury case to get to court. Many clients have no idea of the time and effort involved when they first come to our office. However, there is a dangerous flipside to moving too quickly in a case.

Settling a case to early happens not to frequently but when it does, an injured client is stuck with future medical bills, medical problems, and procedures. A potential client called our office in the past few weeks who had entered into a quick settlement with the insurance company and signed a release of all claims. After this was done, this person had additional medical problems. Unfortunately, this is a tough lesson to learn as it is very difficult or impossible to unwind a settlement if it was made knowingly and voluntarily. In this case, an insurance adjuster actually came to see this person and presented them with a check for a few thousand dollars acumen to simply sign on the dotted line.

The timing of settlement negotiations and going to court is a decision that should be made carefully. If you have questions or concerns about whether or not you should settle your case, especially if you do not believe the time is right, feel free to contact us for a free, no obligation legal consultation about your rights. The Law Office of Jack Clay specializes in representing injury and accident victims across the state of Georgia in serious and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

Client Review: "My attorney-client relationship with Jack Clay has truly been a blessing in my life...It is now time for me to speak out for Jack Clay."

My attorney-client relationship with Jack Clay has been truly a blessing in my life. His concern and willingness to take my case, follow through, ensuring fairness in the final judgment is a blessing in itself. It is now time for me to speak out for Jack. In Jack Clay, I have truly found a friend. His concerns after the fact indicate to me that he is a man of integrity. His deep beliefs and convictions speak volumes with regard to Jack's character.

- William R.

For Attorneys: Winning Your Case Through Depositions

Over the past few weeks, I have taken about ten depositions in various cases in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Of course, you can take a Texas-style deposition like in the following video, but I would recommend a different approach.

Getting back to reality, many cases are won or lost in depositions. Thus, I started thinking about the big themes - the things that really matter if you are an attorney looking wanting to be effective at taking depositions. Here are some things that, in my opinion, you must keep in mind when taking depsitions.

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