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William James Atkins

William Atkins’s Answers

59 total


  • I was robbed at gunpoint at my waffle house job, could I sue?

    Two guys came in with guns pointed to my head and threatened to kill me threw me to the ground. They are in jail awaiting trail, I am scared to leave my home and I now work from home.

    William’s Answer

    Georgia law includes what is known as a the "workers compensation exclusion." In essence, it means that you can only "sue" your employer for injuries arising out of the scope of your employment under the workers compensation system. In order to seek workers' compensation benefits, you have to show that you were physically injured on the job; you cannot sue solely for "emotional" injuries.

    If you suffered some physical injury during the robbery - it does not have to be a severe injury - you may be able to access the workers compensation system. You should contact a Georgia attorney who practices in that area of the law.

    Good luck.

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  • How can we as citizens protect ourselves from police brutality?

    I am growing more concerned for my safety and my son's safety as the news of more people being beaten or killed by police officers. What can we do to protect ourselves from more tragedies especially when we not armed and obeying an officer's comma...

    William’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I am a civil rights and serious personal injury attorney. My law partner practices primarily in the criminal arena. We are asked to evaluate alleged and actual police misconduct on a regular basis.

    My first recommendation would be not to accept everything you hear on television or read in the newspaper as the Gospel truth. The St. Louis situation, for example, has been painted as a shooting with a racial component. If you take a step back from all the rhetoric, you will find that there is no evidence (yet) other than the fact that Michael Brown was black and the officer was white, supporting the theory that race was a factor in this tragedy.

    As to your question, you should begin with the understanding that the overwhelming majority of officers are not racist or inclined to use force against a subject without necessity. But for a variety of reasons, those same officers tend to be hyper-vigilant and may over react to a perceived threat. With that in mind, here are some basic rules to follow:

    1. If you are stopped in your car by the police, keep your hands on the steering wheel. When you are asked to give your DL and Insurance, move slowly and, if you need to go into a closed compartment - glove box, etc. Tell the officer you need to do that before you do. When you do, open the compartment slowly, do not quickly snatch your card or license. If you carry your DL in a wallet, have the wallet on your lap before the officer comes to the window. You may think this is all ridiculous, but 41 police officers have been shot to death in 2014 so far (over 300 killed last year), many of those shootings occur at traffic stops. Thus, officers are vigilant about drivers reaching into places that the officer can't see. That's where guns tend to be hidden.
    2. Know what you have to answer and what you don't. If an officer asks for consent to search your vehicle, you do not and should not grant consent. That is true even if you have nothing to hide. If an officer asks if you have a weapon(s) in the vehicle, you should tell him (if you are legally in possession of it) and tell him where it is located.
    3. You do not have to answer incriminating questions - i.e. how much have you had to drink tonight? You do not have to perform field sobriety tests.
    4. If an officer stops you on the street - you are walking, etc. - you are not required to speak with the officer or answer questions. If the officer has reasonable articulable suspicion to believe you have committed or are about to commit a crime, he can briefly detain you and do a pat down search.
    5. You should not consent to let the police in your home unless they have a search warrant.

    Bottom line: 99% of police officers are good, hard working people who do a very dangerous job. If you are courteous and respectful - but firm on your rights - you will not have any trouble.

    Finally, if you believe you've been mistreated by an officer, you should report him to his agency right away. Fill out an internal affairs complaint. If you do not do so, the agency does not have a way of identifying officers who may have a problem. Many agencies now have a "early warning" program where officers who receive a certain number of complaints in a given period of time are subject to greater scrutiny.

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  • Do I have a civil suit against police for illegal entry, detainment, incarceration, illegal search and seizure?

    Cops came in our house without permission or warrant and conducted an illegal search after being told we were not authorizing them to search. There was no evidence against me, all I was guilty of was being in the house. Evidence was planted by c...

    William’s Answer

    Your fact pattern raises several interesting issues. First, if a CI conducted a drug transaction at your residence (even if it was with your boyfriend) and the police entered the house shortly thereafter, exigent circumstances (destruction of evidence, i.e. drugs) will generally justify entry into the home without a warrant. Second, if you were present in the house bc you owned it, permitted a drug transaction to take place, and the police found drugs and paraphernalia supporting a reasonable belief that drugs were being used and sold in your home, probable cause existed to arrest you based, among other things, in the equal access rule.

    As to the nature of your confinement, it is unclear to me how you ended up in what you describe as solitary confinement. If you mean that you were in a cell by yourself, that is not "solitary confinement," i.e. isolation from all other inmates, etc. typically for disciplinary reasons. It may be that the Jones County Jail did not have other female inmates or a female wing (it is a smaller county, right?) so you were housed in your own cell because the alternative would have been to put you on a cell block with male inmates.

    If your criminal case is now closed, you can file an ORA request for your criminal file and your jail records. Or ask your attorney for your file. Any lawyer will want to see those documents as part of their evaluation of your claims.

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  • Do I have a case

    Hello my name is Emma. I have CHF (heart problem) when I found put I stared going to a Cardiologist. I was seeing this doctor for 3 years not once did he do any test or blood work. I would go to my appointment and tell him I was having pain and j...

    William’s Answer

    Emma,

    It is very difficult to offer a meaningful response to your question because medical malpractice matters are very complex, expensive and difficult. Without knowing a great deal more about your underlying condition, the nature of the deterioration and the likelihood that you would have eventually required surgery anyway, I can't really tell you much.

    In general terms, cases arising from a failure to treat or diagnose a condition are very tough to win. In most instances, an expert doctor will be willing to testify that the failure to diagnose or treat wasn't malpractice because the symptoms were consistent with other things the doctor did treat or were common enough in a patient with your underlying condition that they wouldn't be a red flag.

    Finally, in cases where you have an underlying condition that would eventually require open heart surgery anyway, it is hard to justify the expense of a lawsuit if the "malpractice" caused you to have the surgery a little sooner than you would have had it anyway.

    Again, really hard to give you a definitive answer in this setting. I wish you all the best.

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  • If a persons bodily injury coverage is 100k.

    If a person has 100k bodily injury coverage. Can your attorney sue for more than that because hospital bills almost total 70k.

    William’s Answer

    The first issue is whether you have underinsured motorist coverage and, if so, how much coverage do you have? Your coverage may be more than the amount listed on the policy if you insure more than one vehicle on the same policy and you have not opted out of "stacking" your coverage.

    If you don't have UM coverage or the coverage amount is less than $100k, then your only other source of recovery would be the defendant driver's assets. As other lawyers have said, that can be a challenge.

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  • Civil rights violated?

    Stopped while walking down the road with a lady friend @ 3 AM. No sidewalk, walking on shoulder. Police demanded to know where we were going. I respond that I do not answer questions, and that I'd like to be free to go. Police demand to see ID, a...

    William’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    What you describe sounds like a Tier 1 Terry stop. The PO will argue that it was a Tier 2 stop, i.e. your presence on the side of the road late at night in dark clothing (is it a high crime neighborhood? is it known to be a place where drug transactions routinely occur; have their been a lot of property crimes in that area, car break ins, burglaries, etc? You can walk away from a Tier 1; can't generally just walk away from a Tier 2.

    In any event, you should first hire a criminal lawyer (if yo haven't already) and your lawyer should move to suppress the "evidence" that you were under the influence. It is certainly worth also discussing the case with an experienced civil rights attorney.

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  • Police search allowed?

    If I call the police because of an argument me and my live in boyfriend had and when they arrive my boyfriend is in our driveway, are they allowed to search him?

    William’s Answer

    If you called the police and advised them that you were having an altercation with your boyfriend and wanted them to come, they have the right to do a pat down search of your boyfriend when they encountered him outside your residence. Your call requesting police assistance certainly gave the officers reasonable suspicion that your boyfriend had committed or was about to commit a criminal offense. Under those circumstances, they can do a pat down search for weapons for officer safety. It gets a little tricky if they start reaching into his pockets.

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  • Who is liable when an employee invades the privacy of a customer using the stores printing services and computer?

    I went into a popular office store to print out emails that contained pictures for an upcoming custody hearing..unknowingly when she printed off my emails she appeared to close down my email yet really kept me logged on..I had no idea she knew my ...

    William’s Answer

    Are you represented by an attorney in your divorce proceeding? I would start there. As far as the invasion of privacy claim is concerned, the employee would have been acting outside the scope of her employment when she accessed your email account without your permission. If you contacted the store and informed them of what she did, I'm quite sure they would fire her on the spot. If I'm right that she would be deemed to have acted outside the scope of her employment (she certainly didn't have her employer's permission to "hack" your email), then you would not have a claim against the store.

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  • Exchange Student - 18yr old - auto liability - policy limits

    We have an exchange student living with us and enrolled at a local college. He is now 18 years old and will continue to live with us for the forseable future. He is currently on our insurance policy which is expensive due to the high liability lim...

    William’s Answer

    If he is driving one of your cars with your permission, it is conceivable that you could be sued.

    If he is driving his own car with his own insurance, you could not be sued. If your kids are traveling with him in the car, he gets in an accident, your kids are injured, you could actually bring a claim against him and, if the value of the claim exceeded his policy limits, potentially bring a claim against your own insurance for UM coverage.

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  • Breach of contract or Bad Faith?

    I was in a car accident Sept. 2013, I was hit by an uninsured motorist. I have bills, loss wages, child care, etc. totaling up to 12,000.In my demand I asked for 25, 000. they offered 7000. 2nd offer they offered 8700. My last 7 conversations with...

    William’s Answer

    You should hire a lawyer who routinely handles personal injury matters. It sounds like you suffered a significant injury. Allstate is your insurer. You've been paying premiums to them for underinsured motorist coverage. Nonetheless, they are notorious for refusing to pay full value of a claim.

    You may have more than $25k in UM coverage. If you own more than one vehicle and insure them on separate policies, those policies may "stack" to offer you more coverage. It is not true that "the law" only requires them to pay 80% of lost wages.

    As to your "bad faith" question, you would have to make a demand for policy limits. If they reject that demand, you file suit and a jury returns a verdict in excess of policy limits, you would then be able to bring a bad faith claim. I can absolutely guarantee you that the only way you will get Allstate to pay you what your claim may be worth is to sue them.

    We had a case a few years ago with a client who was very seriously injured in a car accident. The other driver's insurance paid policy limits of $100k. Our client had a $1M umbrella policy with Allstate. They refused to discuss settlement. We went to court and a jury returned a verdict of $954,000.00.

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