Frequently Asked Questions
We realize that the decision to hire a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer is not an easy one to make. Anyone with a potential case deserves to have all of their questions answered before choosing an attorney to represent them. Therefore, we have attempted to answer at least some of your questions. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to call and we will be glad to provide any additional information you may need.
Yes. We only practice civil litigation and we almost always represent the Plaintiff. We never represent or defend insurance companies. Ragland Law Firm, LLC specializes in handling cases involving serious personal injury or wrongful death. The firm does not handle criminal defense, will preparation, divorces, corporate transactions or estate planning. In Atlanta and throughout Georgia, we regularly represent injury and death victims arising from drunk driving, automobile or motorcycle accidents, collisions with tractor-trailers or other commercial vehicles, vicious dog attacks, inadequate security, dangerous drugs or medical devices, defective products, contaminated food outbreaks, and medical malpractice. We also handle various types of insurance company disputes, as well as cases where an individual or business has suffered financial loss or other damages due to fraud, breach of contract or unfair business practices.We have practiced in these areas for almost two decades and by being civil trial specialists, we can develop expertise which yields superior results for our clients.
Not all accidents will give rise to a legitimate civil case. Sometimes an accident is just that—an “accident” which happens without negligent or blameworthy conduct by another person or entity. Even where negligence contributes to the injury-causing event, the law does not always recognize a “cause of action” under the circumstances, or there is a legal defense available to the party alleged to be at fault. Thus, whether an injured party has a meritorious case is determined based upon the facts and evidence surrounding the injury-causing event and the statutes and other laws applicable to that potential case. Every case is different and every case presents unique questions about what type of civil claims exist, when and against whom these claims can be asserted, and what legal defenses would exist. Sometimes determining whether a case is meritorious is rather straightforward, and sometimes it can be quite complex.
Nothing. There are no fees for any initial consultations. Likewise, if we are interested in investigating or reviewing your case further, we will do that at no charge as well.
Our fees vary from case to case, and depend upon numerous factors such as what type of case is involved, the facts of that case, how costly or difficult that case will be to litigate, and whether the client will be able to pay some or all of the litigation expenses. We are willing to discuss legal fees with the prospective client so that we can arrive at a fee arrangement which all concerned consider to be fair and appropriate. After agreement is reached, the terms of our representation will be set forth in writing so that there will be clarity.
Yes. In fact, most of our clients choose to have us represent them on a contingency fee basis.
Under contingency fee arrangements, the client is not charged any fees for our legal services unless and until money damages are recovered as a result of a jury verdict, settlement, or some other means. In the event a recovery is made, we would then receive attorney fees out of the sum of money paid by the defendants or their insurance companies. A written contingent fee agreement will clearly state what part or percentage of the sum recovered by settlement or verdict is to be paid to the law firm. The percentage amount to be paid varies from case to case and can be discussed at the beginning of our representation. If the case is lost or no recovery of monetary damages is ever made, then the client would owe no attorney fees. All contingent fee agreements are put in writing and signed by the client and the attorney handling the case.
Yes. Every client does not have to utilize a contingent fee arrangement although that is what most clients desire. You can choose to pay us on a per diem basis and receive a billing invoice every month on which we will record all work we have performed on your case that month, how much time we devoted to those legal services, and a total charge based upon an hourly rate, plus any expenses paid to handle your case. We can also discuss other alternative arrangements such as a hybrid fee involving a set fixed fee plus a contingency fee percentage of any settlement or verdict obtained. We are amenable to discussing a variety of fee arrangements that might be fair to all concerned.
Yes. Every prospective client is certainly welcome to interview or consult with other attorneys before deciding which law firm you want to handle your case. It is not uncommon for us to be one of several law firms contacted by someone during their search for legal representation. We realize that hiring an attorney is an important and often difficult decision to make. You can contact us without obligation to see if we would be the right lawyers for you. If you want to also consult with another attorney before making your final decision about who to hire, then we would encourage you to do that.
We serve all parts of Georgia. We regularly handle lawsuits throughout Atlanta and Fulton County, DeKalb County, Douglas County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Clayton County, Cherokee County, Hall County, Henry County, and Rockdale County. And, we often handle cases in other areas of Georgia including Athens, Winder, Dalton, Rome, Cartersville, Dahlonega, Augusta, Newnan, LaGrange, Toccoa, Commerce, Griffin, Peachtree City, Macon, Covington, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, Columbus, Albany, Statesboro, Savannah, and Brunswick. We have a state-wide practice, and we accept cases from anywhere in Georgia.
Yes. We have handled numerous cases in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina. We have also handled a few cases in other states and we are always ready to consider taking a case in any state especially those in the Southeastern part of the United States.
Yes. We have many clients who live in other states who contacted and hired us because of a case involving an accident or some event which happened in Georgia, or because they needed to try a lawsuit against an individual or company in Georgia. For example, we currently now have or have had cases in Georgia which we filed on behalf of persons who lived in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and California. We can represent out of state clients on any case which involves death or injuries which took place in Georgia, or because the lawsuit needs to be filed in this state because this is where the negligent party resides. In some circumstances, we are willing to consider traveling to your location in another state to consult with you about your case.
Yes. We prefer to have an opportunity to meet with new clients face to face in our offices in Atlanta. However, we realize that sometimes that is just not possible because your injuries may, at least temporarily, prevent you from traveling, because you have lost your means of transportation, or because of other circumstances. When this occurs, we often travel to meet with the prospective client at the hospital, their home or some other convenient place. We will do what is necessary to meet with you and obtain more information about what has happened so that we can investigate and begin working on your case as soon as possible. It is always beneficial to begin the investigation and work on a case as soon as possible so we will travel to meet with you to avoid any delays.
No. We are never on the side of the insurance company. We would never agree to defend or represent an insurance company because of our constant representation of plaintiffs who have claims or lawsuits against defendants who usually have liability policies with insurance companies. Thus, these insurance companies have interests which are adverse to our clients and so it is our policy to never defend or represent any insurance company.
No, we are civil trial attorneys, so we never get involved in criminal cases or the defense of someone charged with a criminal offense.
No. We are not a general or full service law firm. We are civil trial attorneys. We limit our practice to certain specialty areas which we have described in our website. We do this so that we will develop considerable experience and expertise in certain areas so that we can deliver high quality legal services and superior results for the clients we agree to represent. If you have legal matters which we do not handle, we know competent lawyers in other fields to whom we would be happy to refer you.
Your case will be handled by attorney Daniel A. Ragland. Your case will be handled by attorney Daniel A. Ragland. Also, assistance will be provided by highly trained paralegals, but primary responsibility for a case at Ragland Law Firm, LLC is never delegated to an associate attorney or paralegal. Each case is directly handled by Mr. Ragland who has a combined 30 plus years of experience in complex civil litigation.
Yes. Persons or businesses must file lawsuits within certain periods of time, and the applicable deadline period depends upon the type of case involved and the law of the state where the accident or event took place. There are statutes in every state which specify how much time a person or business has to file a lawsuit in every type of civil case. These are called “statutes of limitation.” Each state usually has a separate statute of limitation which controls different types of cases such as general personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, products liability, defamation, etc. So, the maximum amount of time allowed for the filing of a civil lawsuit may differ from state to state, and from one type of case to another. The statute of limitations for any given type of civil case in any given state usually ranges between one and four years. Civil lawsuits cannot be filed after the maximum period proscribed by the applicable state statute of limitation. Therefore, it is critical that an attorney be consulted as soon as possible so that the aggrieved party can get legal advice about the nature of their case and what statute of limitation will be applicable. Failure to file a lawsuit before the end of the period allowed by a statute of limitation will result in the case being barred forever. Thus, the importance of learning about and complying with a statute of limitation cannot be overstated. Every person with a potential injury or wrongful death case should not delay and should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to preserve their legal rights before expiration of the statute of limitations.
A lawsuit is not always required because sometimes the case can be settled prior to the formal filing of a lawsuit in a state or federal court. Assuming there is enough time prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitation, an attorney can notify the or culpable or at-fault party about the client’s injuries and the nature of his/her claims, and then attempt to negotiate a pre-suit settlement with the potential defendant(s) or the defendant’s insurance companies. However, a pre-suit settlement may not be achieved for any number of reasons including the potential defendant’s refusal to concede that he/she was negligent or to accept any liability for the claimant’s injuries, or the opposing parties’ inability to reach agreement upon a settlement amount or other important settlement terms. Also, the attorney may not even be able to attempt to obtain a pre-suit settlement because there is little time left before the expiration of the statute of limitation. If the statute of limitation will run in the near future, the attorney may have no choice but to file a lawsuit almost immediately and not delay with attempts to achieve a pre-suit settlement. Thus, sometimes a pre-suit settlement makes the filing of a lawsuit unnecessary, but it is not uncommon for lawsuits to be required because the parties will not or cannot agree upon settlement terms, there is not enough time to pursue pre-suit settlement, or there is some other legal reason the attorney believes the undelayed filing of a lawsuit is necessary.
It is very difficult to predict how long it will take to get a result in any given case. Some cases can be settled before a lawsuit is even filed in a matter of a few months, and other cases in which a lawsuit is required can continue for several years. Numerous factors influence the length of time which is required. Some of these factors include how vigorously the case is defended, the type and complexity of the case involved, the number of continuances requested by the other side and allowed by the judge, the caseload of the court and how quickly or slowly it is able to schedule a civil trial, and whether there are any appeals to a higher court. Most of the factors which control how long it will take are largely out of the control of the plaintiff or attorneys representing the plaintiff.
The defendants in civil cases are often large corporations or individuals who have insurance policies which require that their insurance company provide and pay for their legal defense. Thus, the defendants can afford to hire and pay very good attorneys to vigorously defend and make the lawsuit lengthy and difficult for the plaintiff. Because of their injuries and financial losses, most victims of negligence cannot afford to pay an attorney tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue costly lawsuits, especially those which will require expensive experts or require years of contentious litigation. Contingent fee arrangements level the playing field by allowing injured persons and families of those killed by negligence to hire the same high quality lawyers that will be defending the culpable defendants. With a contingent fee arrangement, the injured victims are relieved of the burden and worry of paying for the legal services of their attorney. They can rest assured that they will owe nothing if they collect nothing, and that any attorney fees will be paid only at the end of the case and as a percentage of the sum(s) collected from the defendant(s). Without a contingent fee arrangement, accident victims would be unable to get the high quality legal representation necessary to battle against large corporations or powerful insurance companies.
There are two categories of compensatory damages which can be sought in a personal injury case. First, the plaintiff can recover what are called “special” damages. These include anything where there is an actual, quantifiable, monetary loss such as a loss of earnings or income, expenses associated with medical care (ie. EMT transport invoice, hospital/doctor bills, costs of physical therapy, home nursing care or rehab services, etc.), charges for the purchase of wheelchairs, prosthetic devices or other medical products, charges for psychological therapy or mental counseling, and/or the costs to hire someone to perform housekeeping, cooking, childcare or yard work which the injured party cannot perform. The plaintiff can seek to recover these “special damages” which he has already incurred, as well as estimates of the amounts of these special damages which he reasonably believes will be incurred in the future. “Special” damages are also sometimes referred to as “economic” damages.
Second, an injury victim can seek to recover what are known as “general” damages. These damages are for items which cannot be quantified in monetary terms, but they are considered to be a significant part of the detrimental consequences of any bodily injury. “General” damages would include things such as:
- physical pain and suffering
- fear, fright, shock, anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience and mental suffering
- physical disability
- scarring, disfigurement or physical deformity
- loss of earnings capacity
- loss of consortium
For “general” damages suffered, the amount of compensation which can or should be received is a subjective assessment to be made on a case by case basis. There is no set or pre-determined amount of money which every plaintiff in every case can expect to receive. Instead, determining the amount of money a plaintiff should receive as compensation for his “general” damages is said to be left to the “conscience of impartial jurors.” Often times, you will hear “general” damages referred to as “non-economic” damages. As with “special” damages, a jury is entitled to include a monetary award for both the past “general” damages already suffered, as well as additional compensation for “general” damages which it believes the injury victim will continue to suffer in the future. The ability to recover compensation for pain and suffering and other “general” damages anticipated in the future is especially important in cases of serious or permanent bodily injuries.
The person or person(s) entitled to pursue civil claims for the wrongful death of another person in Georgia is statutorily governed by the Georgia Wrongful Death Act at O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2. According to that statute, the spouse of the decedent controls the wrongful death claim. If the decedent was never married or was divorced at the time of his or her death, then any of the decedent’s biological or adopted children may pursue the wrongful death claim. If, at the time of death, the decedent had no spouse or living children, then one or both parents would then control the wrongful death claim. If there is no spouse, children or parents, then the wrongful death claim can be pursued by the Executor/Executrix or Administrator/Administratrix of the decedent’s estate. The issue of who controls or is authorized to pursue the wrongful death claim is not necessarily the same as who is entitled to receive or collect a portion of the monetary sums recovered as a result of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. For example, if the decedent has a spouse and two children, then the spouse can pursue the wrongful death case, but must share any proceeds recovered equally with the two children. Determining who is entitled to receive a portion of any wrongful death settlement or verdict, and what size portion any family member is entitled to receive, can be a complex question. Therefore, a Georgia attorney who has expertise in wrongful death litigation should be consulted.
Contact us if you have other questions about our law firm or our expertise in handling various types of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. There is no fee and no obligation when you call to discuss your potential case.