Articles Tagged with Marietta Injury Lawyer Blog

It is common for victims in automobile accidents to reach out-of-court settlements with negligent drivers or their insurance carriers. But victims should always be mindful of Georgia law governing such settlements. If you make a “final” demand to an insurer for money, and the insurer accepts and agrees to pay the specified amount, that is enough to create an enforceable legal contract even if the insurer subsequently seeks to negotiate additional terms. That is to say, even if you believe no “final” settlement agreement exists between you and an insurer, the courts may see it differently, as a recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision illustrates.

Tillman v. Mejabi

The victim in this case suffered serious injuries in a 2011 automobile accident. There was no disputing the other driver was at fault. The victim’s attorney therefore sent a demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company, seeking to recover the maximum benefit available under the driver’s policy, which was $25,000. (The plaintiff’s actual damages were significantly higher, about $70,000.) The attorney’s letter said payment of the $25,000 would constitute “full and final settlement of this matter.”

Most personal injury cases are filed in state court. That is because most torts, including personal injury, are governed by state law. There are, however, times when a personal injury case is filed in state and then removed (transferred) to a federal court. This is typically done by out-of-state defendants, usually corporations, who believe the federal court gives them an advantage.

Federal courts are generally thought to be friendlier towards defendants than state courts. One reason for this is that, although state law still governs the underlying personal injury lawsuit, federal courts follow different rules regarding the admission of evidence than state courts. The federal rules are uniform throughout the country, while the rules in a Georgia state court are specific to the state.

That said, a defendant cannot remove a case from state to federal court unless certain legal requirements are met. First and foremost, there must be complete “diversity” among the parties. This just means the plaintiff and defendant must be residents of different states. For example, if a Georgia plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit against a business incorporated in Florida, there is complete diversity.