Cohen & Sinowski
Cohen & Sinowski

A Legal Odyssey: Business Structures and their Role in Georgia’s Personal Injury Scene

  • Published: October 10, 2023


Running a successful business does not merely hinge on having a unique business idea or exceptional service offerings; it also rests largely on a fundamental decision which every entrepreneur must consider: the choice of business structure. This decision is not as simple as it might initially appear. Primarily, the chosen structure impacts the day-to-day operations of the business, shaping everything from liability and taxes to the control and management style of the company.

The choice between operating as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company may seem like a minor detail in the larger scope of business operations. Still, it can dictate the business’s automony, the owner’s exposure to personal risk, and the business’s overall fiscal health.

To complicate matters further, the liability of a business typically extends beyond the superficial realm of company debts. The structure of a business plays an integral role in situations involving personal injury cases, often delineating the company’s sphere of responsibility, as well as shaping the trajectory and outcome of the lawsuit.

In this blog post, we will delve into the intricate world of business structures — unweaving the threads that join the formation of sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. We will enthusiastically explore their legal implications, their influence on owner liability, and specifically, their role within the context of personal injury cases in Georgia. Embark on this journey with us as we illuminate these complexities and shed light on the profound importance of selecting the right business structure.

Different Types of Business Structures

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A Limited Liability Company, commonly referred to as an LLC, is a specific form of a private limited company prevalent in the United States. It has gained momentum as an increasingly popular business structure thanks to the personal liability protection it offers to its members.

An LLC is a unique amalgamation of characteristics derived from both a corporation and a partnership. It combines the flexibility and tax efficiencies of a partnership with the protective shield of limited liability, akin to a corporation. A striking aspect of this business structure is that it walks a middle path; an LLC avoids double taxation levied on corporations and offers a safeguard to an individual member’s assets (including properties like a house, personal vehicles, or financial holdings like bank accounts), which are typically off-limits in the event the company is sued.

Should an LLC face a lawsuit, the litigant typically cannot pursue the personal assets of the LLC members to fulfill the company’s obligations or liabilities. The company’s assets, including its operating capital, properties, and investment holdings, are predominantly at risk in such a scenario. This distinct protection separates the members’ personal assets from the business assets, ensuring that the members are held liable only up to their invested capital in the company, and not beyond.

However, specific exceptions to this norm do exist. For instance, a court might ‘pierce the corporate veil’ if it appears that the company was a mere façade for fraudulent activity or if the company did not adhere to proper corporate formalities. These exceptions demand that the company observe due diligence and maintains a clear distinction between personal and business activities.

Navigating the nuances of structuring an LLC requires thorough consideration and sound legal knowledge. Understanding how liability applies to this structure is also pivotal, particularly when considering possible litigation, such as personal injury lawsuits. So, an LLC provides a desirable blend of benefits and protection, but it is crucial to carefully assess the implications of forming an LLC before choosing this route.

Corporation (Inc)

A corporation, often denoted as Inc., is a robust type of business structure featuring distinct legal personhood. This implies that, from a legal standpoint, the corporation itself is an independent entity, separate from the individuals who own, manage, and operate it. It exists independent of its shareholders, enjoys its unique rights, responsibilities, and legal framework.

The legal separation interjected between a corporation and its owners or shareholders provides profound protection that is hard to rival. In a corporation, the shareholders’ liability is typically limited to the amount they have invested in the company. In essence, this implies that even if a corporation is sued or incurs significant debts, the shareholders’ personal assets, such as their homes, cars, or personal savings, generally remain safe and beyond the reach of creditors or litigants.

Structuring a business as a corporation sends a strong signal about its robustness and longevity, making it particularly attractive to investors. However, such advantages do not come without their costs. Establishing a corporation involves more time-consuming, complex, and costly procedures compared to other business structures. Corporations require a formal process of incorporation, need to comply with strict regulations, file annual reports, and maintain clear and extensive records, among other requirements.

In addition, corporations are subject to double taxation – first, the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and then shareholders are taxed again on the dividends they receive. It’s these intricacies and tax implications that often lead smaller businesses or individual entrepreneurs to consider other structures such as LLCs or sole proprietorships.

However, despite the heightened administrative intricacies and potential tax burdens, corporations often remain the preferred choice for larger businesses due to the strong layer of personal liability protection they offer to shareholders, and the ease of raising capital through the sale of stock. They present an insightful choice for businesses aiming for longevity, expansion, and a strong shield against liability.

Professional Corporation (PC)

A Professional Corporation (PC) is a distinctive business structure designed specifically for licensed professionals engaged in offering services in their area of expertise. Typical members of a professional corporation include doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and other professions that require specific licensing and degrees.

Key to understanding a PC is that it functions similarly to other corporations; it is a separate legal entity, providing a layer of liability protection to its owners. Shareholders in a PC enjoy the protection of limited liability, which means their personal assets are typically shielded from the corporation’s debts and lawsuits.

However, a unique feature of a PC is that while it does protect the individual professionals within the corporation from personal liability for the misdeeds, debts, or malpractices of others in the corporation, it does not offer the same protection for the professional’s malpractice. In other words, a professional within such a corporation can be held personally liable in cases of personal negligence or malpractice directly related to their area of expertise.

For example, if a patient sues a medical professional corporation for medical malpractice, the doctor concerned with the malpractices can be held personally liable for the damages. Conversely, other members of the professional corporation, such as other doctors, are sheltered from liability, unless their personal involvement or negligence in the claim is proven.

Therefore, while a PC offers similar protections to a general corporation, it still warrants the professionals to carry the relevant individual or group malpractice insurance. In essence, professionals must understand that while the PC structure offers liability protection, primarily from business debts or lawsuits against the corporation, their responsibility for their professional actions stands intact.

Given these nuanced obligations, professionals considering a PC should seek individual legal and financial advice to fully understand their potential liabilities and the protections afforded by the PC structure. Consideration should be given to potential tax implications, governance requirements, and the need for other professional liability insurances. This nuanced understanding aids in making an informed decision about structuring a practice or business.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most straightforward of all business structures. In this type of business organization, there is no legal distinction between the business and its owner. Essentially, the owner is the business, which implies that they receive all profits and assume complete personal responsibility for any liabilities, debts, or legal actions against the business.

While a sole proprietorship is the easiest and least expensive business structure to establish, it offers no personal liability protection for the owner. This means that if someone sues the business, the owner’s personal assets—including their house, car, and personal savings—are at risk to settle any debts or legal claims. The absence of liability protection is a significant downside of this business structure, and owners must be fully aware of the potential consequences.

Moreover, as a sole proprietor, an individual is also responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which can result in a higher tax burden compared to other business structures. On the flip side, the simplicity of maintaining a sole proprietorship can be advantageous for small businesses, as it requires minimal regulatory paperwork and does not entail the formalities that come with corporations or LLCs.

Despite the apparent drawbacks in terms of personal liability, a sole proprietorship can be an appropriate option for individuals who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey or for those operating small businesses with low risk. It can also be a viable choice for businesses that intend to test the market viability of their products or services prior to scaling up and transitioning to another business structure offering more protection and benefits.

In summary, a sole proprietorship is the most basic business structure and is suitable for those seeking simplicity and low start-up costs. However, the owner must consider the risk factors involved, especially the lack of protection for personal assets in case of legal issues or incurred debts. A thorough assessment of the business’s potential risks, profitability, and long-term goals is advised before opting for this type of structure.


A partnership is a business co-owned by two or more individuals who share its obligations and debts. Unlike corporations, partnerships are less formal and have shared ownership, profits, and control detailed in a partnership agreement.

In a partnership, each partner faces unlimited personal liability for company debts. This implies that personal assets might be seized to cover business debts. For instance, if a customer gets injured in a store owned by a partnership and wins a lawsuit against the partnership, the partners’ personal assets may be seized if the business assets are insufficient to cover damages.

Partners can also be liable for each others’ actions in the business. In a scenario where a partner’s action causes injury leading to a personal injury suit, all partners could be held liable, depending on their partnership agreement.

This accountability structure shares costs and responsibilities but also amplifies the risk for each partner. In Georgia’s personal injury scene, it’s essential for partnerships to consider potential liabilities and have broad insurance coverage.

Partnerships are advised to consult legal and financial professionals to comprehend their potential risks fully and explore mitigation strategies. Different partnership types can shield partners from personal liabilities, offering options for businesses in high-risk environments.

Personal Injury Cases: Delving into Business Structures and Liability in Georgia

Understanding how different business structures shape the progression and resolution of personal injury cases in Georgia is indispensable for both business owners and potential plaintiffs.

LLC and Corporations

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation (Inc) is a business structure designed to insulate personal assets from business liabilities, including lawsuits. If a person suffers an injury at an LLC or Corporation, the lawsuit is primarily against the business entity itself rather than the individual owners. The crucial factor here is the principle of limited liability that distinguishes these types of business structures.

For instance, in the case of a customer who slips and falls at a corporation-owned shopping center, the corporation is usually the entity held legally responsible. Notably, the personal assets of the individual owners or shareholders are typically shielded from any lawsuits against the business entity, unless there are instances of egregious negligence or illegal actions linked directly to them.

Professional Corporations (PC)

Professional Corporations (PC) typically comprise groups of professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, architects, or accountants who engage in a common business. In cases involving professional corporations, if the injury was a consequence of professional malpractice, the harmed party could sue the business. In addition, the professional who provided the substandard care can also be held individually responsible.

For instance, if a patient suffers injury due to a doctor’s negligent actions within a medical PC, both the doctor and the PC could face legal repercussions. This manipulates the concept of limited liability, given that professionals in a PC can directly bear responsibility.

Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships

In contrast, businesses organized as sole proprietorships or partnerships offer less protection for owners’ personal assets in personal injury cases. Sole proprietors and partners have unlimited personal liability for business-related debts and obligations. Meaning, if an injury occurs within their business context, a successful lawsuit could claim the owner’s or partners’ personal assets.

For example, a customer injured in a boutique owned by a sole proprietor could potentially sue the owner directly, putting the owner’s personal assets at risk.

Finally, it’s crucial to bear in mind that Georgia, like many other states, restricts the time window in which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Known as the statute of limitations, this legal provision underscores the need for timely action when pursuing a personal injury case.

Empowered with an understanding of business structures and their implications on liability, individuals can make informed decisions in Georgia’s personal injury legal landscape.



Grasping the distinctions between various business structures is crucial, as these differences can substantially impact liability for company debts and lawsuits, including personal injury cases. When setting up a business, it’s vital to consult a reputable attorney to ensure that you select the most appropriate structure aligned with your business objectives. In the same vein, if you’ve suffered an injury due to a business’s negligence, it’s essential to collaborate with an experienced attorney who comprehends these intricacies.

At Cohen & Sinowski, P.C., we pride ourselves on being professional, empathetic, trustworthy, and informative. Our team of dedicated attorneys has the experience and knowledge necessary to assist you in both business formation and navigating personal injury cases that arise from business negligence. We understand the complexities involved and are committed to guiding you through every step with care, compassion, and expertise.

Remember that this blog serves as a general overview and should not replace legitimate legal advice, as laws can vary by state and are continually evolving. If you require legal guidance in establishing your business or pursuing a personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to contact Cohen & Sinowski, P.C. today. We are here to support you during this challenging time and help you make informed decisions for your business and personal well-being.

Cohen & Sinowski

The personal injury attorneys of Cohen & Sinowski are
dedicated to helping clients in the Metro Atlanta area.
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