A Georgia car accident can be a traumatic event. Every experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer has seen it over and over – The weeks and months after a crash can be equally as disturbing and unnerving. Although, the accident is over in a matter of seconds, the injuries can take a very long time to heal. Furthermore, it can take equally as long to receive adequate compensation for the personal injuries you sustained, mostly contingent on whether the other driver’s insurance agency has decided to argue against your claim and the facts surrounding your case. Having an Atlanta car accident lawyer that has the knowledge of what to expect and what you should do in the time directly after and the days following an auto accident can assist you greatly in making decisive action and calming your thoughts in such a stressful time.
Atlanta Georgia Car Accident Statistics
According to the records of The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, the following numbers have been chronicled as to how many and what type of traffic collisions occur in the state of Georgia every year. The most recent year for available records is 2013, in which the following numbers were recorded:
- Fatal traffic collisions were the result of 1,179 deaths.
- Of these deaths, intoxicated at-fault drivers caused 297 deaths and another 197 deaths were caused by either one or both drivers speeding;
- Of the 1,179 deaths, 156 of these deaths were individuals under the age of 21 years old; in addition
- Fulton County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, and Richmond County were the top five counties, in order, with the highest number of traffic-related fatalities.
These records were only reflecting of deaths, not that of injuries which is a far staggering number. These numbers together reflect that a drivers in the state of Georgia are in jeopardy of sustaining serious, possibly deadly, harm when on the roadway of the state.
How An Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuit Works
The plaintiff, or victim of injury, files a vehicular collision lawsuit against the party, or parties, the victim feels are at fault for the injuries sustained. When a preponderance of evidence is delivered and proves true the necessary legal propositions the plaintiff succeeds in winning his or her case. When the four basic facets of a negligence case are proven to be more true than not, the plaintiff will only then be entitled to fair compensation. The four basic elements of negligence are the following:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a “duty of care”. This means there was a certain legally-recognized obligation by which the defendant was bound to observe concern the plaintiff. This is a situation that is generally accepted and known that each motor vehicle operator is obligated to behave in a certain manner which is careful and within reason toward other drivers so it is not often litigated.
- The defendant breached the duty of care. This element is the opposite of the previous mention proposition, as it is often argued in automobile accidents. When the defendant behaves in manner considered reckless, the duty of care has been breached. Unreasonable or irresponsible driving is defined by way of comparison to what would be rational, responsible, and objective to any other driver: if another vehicle operator would not engage in the behavior for fear of irrationality or irresponsibility, the defendant is decided to have been reckless by way of juxtaposing behaviors. Texting while driving or operating a vehicle above the posted speed limit is most certain to be always thought unreasonable. Although, if a faulty or otherwise defective part malfunctioned on that of the defendant’s car causing a car accident, it is harder to determine reckless driving.
- The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Often this is called the “causation” facet. The injuries the plaintiff has suffered must be shown to have a direct correlation to the negligence the defendant demonstrated. Had the defendant not engaged in the behavior deemed reckless, the injuries suffered by the plaintiff would not have occurred, therefore establishing the causal relationship. Should there be a chain of events made up a several factors led to the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, it can be ardently argued with thorough details before the plaintiff prevails.
- The plaintiff suffered compensable injuries. The lawsuit is unnecessary should the injuries that the plaintiff suffered not actual be the result of the defendant’s behavior. It is a requirement that the extent and nature of the plaintiff’s injuries are provided to the court in addition to possibly also provide a testimony. Typically, the plaintiff can show loss by way of a bill or invoice received for medical services. Testimony from the plaintiff and/or witnesses can be a way to show loss when there is no tangible evidence otherwise showing the plaintiff’s loss.
Through the combination of testimony and evidence each of the above propositions would be shown to the court by your car accident lawyer. Evidence corroborating the testimony of witnesses is one of the ways your car accident lawyer will strengthen the case on your behalf. The sooner you make contact with and retain a car accident lawyer, the better they will be able to stockpile evidence that is important to your case.
What to Do After An Atlanta Car Accident
In the immediacy after a collision the building of a solid car accident lawsuit begins. If you are injured or believe that you might be, the first priority needs to be getting medical assistance. If you believe you have suffered an injury to the head, neck, or back, remain still unless it is immediately necessary to keep from getting more injuries, such as a fire close to you. Any driver may have an obligation to help any other driver believed to have sustained injuries. After alerting the police and medical services that there has been a car accident, you will need to communicate with the drivers involved so as to exchange names, phone numbers, the names of insurance companies, and policy numbers. To be sure of your rights and increase your odds in court proceed with the following:
- Never assume responsibility for the accident, even if you think you might be in the wrong. Saying things like, “I wasn’t paying attention” or “I didn’t see you” can be used later by the other driver who is actually at fault to incriminate you for the entirety of the incident. You will not be able to recover compensation if found at fault.
- Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the collision. This includes taking pictures of injuries you have received, obstructions in the roadway, street signs, and every car involved in the incident. Do this as immediately as possible so as not to lose the opportunity due to clean-up or injuries healing. Make the photographs in duplicate or triplicate so as to have extras when your time in court comes.
- Talk to all eyewitnesses. Obtain contact information so that should it be necessary in your case to have witnesses provide testimony, your car accident lawyer will have them available. Do not concern yourself with whether what they have to say will be in your behalf or against you. Your lawyer will be able to more closely examine what they have to say and whether or not it can help.
- Record your recollection of the events that happened. It is important to write down the things that you remember from the collision for your lawyer to ruminate over before arguing your case. As traumatic as an accident can be, things slip from the memory during the days, weeks, or even months before you testify in court. You will want to make several copies of your notes as well for insurance adjusters and your car accident lawyer.
How to Prove Injuries After A Car Accident
Whether your injuries are non-economic or economic will be the depending factor for which way your lawyer decides to prove your case. It must be proven in every case that the injuries sustained were indeed economic and/or economic and that the automobile accident was the direct or ultimate cause of your injuries. A damage that has an objective documentation to show loss is considered “economic.” Any sort of medical treatment costs, prescription costs, or lost future and past wages are the most simple forms of economic damages.
Medical bills or invoice and/or a letter from an employer attached to a paystub will suffice as proof of the losses you have suffered. Expenses that pertain more to the loss of enjoyment of life or mental anguish are considered to be non-economic damages. Non-economic damages can be hard to show, in that, they are experienced, not recorded by way of a bill or statement. In most cases, testimony provided by friends and family will be used in conjunction with your testimony to show the court the nature of your damages.
How to Deal With Atlanta Auto Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters will begin contacting you almost immediately after an accident. The job of the adjuster is quite simply to settle your claim as fast as can be done after your case has been evaluated and decided that compensation is owed. As one can imagine, the insurance company values that adjuster that saves them the most when seeing that claims are settled with those that have been injured. Everything you say to the adjuster from the insurance company, despite which one, can be used against you, in that, they will use whatever statements you provide to deny or reduce the amount of your compensation.
Be sure to stick to your original statement and do not speculate or provide anything to them that you are not absolutely certain is fact. Avoid entirely any admission of guilt, particularly if law enforcement has done no investigation or has not finished the investigation of the collision. Multiple individuals have found it helpful to obtain knowledgeable auto accident lawyers in the state of Georgia before ever talking to an insurance adjuster.
Do I Need to Hire An Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
No law in the state of Georgia requires a plaintiff in a car accident to retain an car accident lawyer to recover compensation from the court; however, before determining your need from a lawyer, it would be helpful to examine the positives of retain counsel, like the following:
- Your car accident lawyer will be comfortably familiar with proceedings, requirements, and the laws surrounding your case;
- Having a car accident lawyer means that preparing for your pleadings initially and making a response to what motions will be made by the defendant will be within your lawyer’s skill set;
- Having an Atlanta car accident lawyer means that you will be able to fully investigate all of the potential sources and causes for your crash because your car accident lawyer is very like to have the resources to do so;
- Your car accident lawyer will know not only how information should be preserved, but also the best ways to demonstrate your injuries to the court by way of testimony and/or evidence;
- A lawyer has likely presented multiple cases very similar to yours to courts and juries before and will have the experience to utilize the right series of questions from both expert witnesses and lay person.
Should you decide to proceed “pro se”, which means to represent yourself, you will be required to meet the same standards and be knowledgeable in the proceedings as an car accident lawyer concerning the laws and requirements of your case. No one will be able to give you any assistance in preparing and litigating your case to the court.
What to Do If I Was Hit By An Uninsured Driver?
Experiencing injuries at the hands of driver that is uninsured often means that you will be responsible, at least to being with, for paying the costs of medical bills. You will need to expect that you will have to cover that cost of your initial medical treatment. However, there are a few medical service providers that will try to work with you until you have receive compensation for your injuries. It is possible for these obligations to be handled in the following ways:
- Having an Underinsured/Uninsured Driver Coverage will benefit you by giving you added coverage to your existing policy with additional securities. At a nominal cost, this particular policy rider will provide compensation for your damages should you be involved in an accident with a driver that is uninsured or a driver that fled the scene.
- A Personal Health Insurance Policy is something that many Americans now have as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act. It is possible that there will be a high deductible, but most policy will provide coverage for injuries you have sustained in an auto accident.
- If the driver can be found, you can file a lawsuit. It may be determined that the driver was, in fact, responsible for your injuries and therefore responsible for payment. However, if the driver has little or no assets, obtaining compensation can be an arduous endeavor.
Contacting an Atlanta car accident lawyer that is skilled in automobile accidents in Georgia immediately after being involved in a crash with an uninsured motorist will help you take the necessary measures you need to complete to get compensation quickly and fully comprehend your rights.
Statute of Limitations
There is a limit to the amount of time one has after a collision to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, two calendar years from the date of your accident is all the time within which you are able to file a lawsuit. The “clock” is officially ticking from the date of the collision until either the time expires or an adequate lawsuit has been filed. Should you opt not to file within the two years, you will normally not be allowed to seek compensation in the future for your injuries. It is best to file your lawsuit as quickly as is possible so that you do not run out of time. There are situations that can pause the clock on the time period. The most likely is that you pursued some reasonable measures but were unaware of your injuries until a later date after the accident happened, which in this case the time period would not begin until the date of discover of injury. This situation is one that can provide you additional time within which to file a lawsuit. Talk to an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer if you feel your case presents some of these elements.
Damages Available to Injured Car Accident Victims
Anyone injured at as a result of a driver at fault for injuries can attempt to recover losses by way of compensation they sustained in an accident when they are able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Damages that occurred are divided into two parts called “economic” damages and “non-economic” damages. Losses that are involving of money or assets also include the following:
- The costs and losses of medical treatments and prescriptions;
- Any wages lost from time off work;
- Wages lost from future payment for work;
- Damage to personal property; and
- Physical therapy costs.
Damages that are considered non-economic can be harder to demonstrate to the court. They are associated with non-monetary losses, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Mental anguish and/or pain and suffering; and
- Damages associated with the loss of services of household.
Your losses and injuries must be casually connected to the actions of defendant regardless of severity for you to be able to receive compensation.
What If I’m A Passenger In A Car Wreck?
A passenger in the state of Georgia has the same rights to seek compensation for losses as does an injured driver. A negligent party can be held responsible for any injuries caused to a passenger, even if it is the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was in when they were hurt. If multiple people are at fault, the passenger can pursue multiple claims. There will be an assignment of responsibility depending on the extent of the injuries that person caused. The passenger’s own negligence also plays a part in what they will recover in compensation. You may still be eligible for compensation if you were not primarily responsible. The amount will likely be reduced according to your level of negligence. Naturally, if you have disrupted the driving of the motorist by grabbing the steering or creating a distraction, this can be considered negligence on the part of the passenger.
Who Is At Fault In A Rear End Accident?
Car accidents where one party was rear-ended by another party are dealt with just the same as any other car accident. There are no laws in Georgia that only apply to car accidents involving rear-end drivers. It is not always the easiest job to determine who is at fault in a rear-ended accident. It is nothing more than a rumor to hear that someone that rear-ended you will always be the driver responsible for the wreck. There are a number a factors contributing when considering a rear-end collision despite any ideas otherwise:
- If the vehicle in front stopped rapidly or signaled that they were turning;
- The front driver may have had faulty equipment (like a brake light out);
- The collision might have involved more than two vehicles, meaning one stuck the car in front of them causing that car to strike the car in front of them.
An officer of the law could write the rear driver a ticket, yet it would still require an extensive examination to decide fault.
Drunk Driving Accidents
If a driver is intoxicated, it will greatly increase the probability of that driver being in a collision. An intoxicated driver can be held responsible for your injuries even if the intoxicated driver has a blood alcohol level below that of the legal limit of .08. Should you have reason to suspect that the driver that hit you was inebriated or otherwise impaired, be sure to record what lead you to this deduction: Slurring of speech? Aroma of alcohol? Unable to walk without stumbling? Any mention of being “trashed?” There is a likelihood that your Atlanta car accident lawyer will be able to help establish your compensation claim by gaining access to blood or breathalyzer tests of the driver in the other car.
In the state of Georgia, if you are hit by a car, you also have the rights to compensation of their losses. The serious nature of a pedestrian accident can be more complicated than that of a vehicular accident. The driver can try placing blame on the pedestrian by saying the pedestrian was not paying attention where they were walking. If you were injured in a pedestrian crash, experienced legal counsel is key to ensuring your pedestrian crash lawsuit has the greatest chance for success. To establish the nature and extent of your injuries, your Atlanta car accident lawyer may call multiple witnesses to the stand.
In the past few years, Uber and Lyft have become increasingly popular as means of transportation in addition to the taxis for people that cannot drive themselves or do not own vehicles. There is no insulation that protects Uber, Lyft, or taxi drivers from negligence, however. A ridesharing driver can have a lapse in judgment or behave recklessly that cause an accident harming not only them but their passengers. A taxi company is required to have a specific amount of insurance to give coverage to anyone riding with them that were to be injured should they crash.
Likewise, Uber drivers must meet these requirements for coverage. If a driver or company does not meet these minimum requirements for coverage, they can be held personally liable for the damages of their injured riders, as well as criminal, civil, and/or administrative sanctions that could possibly be levied. If you have been in a taxi or Uber car accident, the wisest thing to do is to consult an Atlanta car accident lawyer that can look over your case. A car accident lawyer will know what rights you have and how to protect them. If the Uber or taxi driver did not have the correct coverage, your car accident lawyer can help you decide what other facets you need to examine to receive compensation for your losses.
Car Accident FAQs
You are likely to have questions similar to what you should do next and what are your rights if you have been injured. These are several common questions for those injured are answered here:
Shouldn’t I Just Settle My Case?
To avoid taking your case to trial the other driver’s insurance company may often offer a settlement. When accepting a settlement, only you can decide whether or not it is acceptable. Once it is entered, a settlement agreement is binding. You will not be allowed to re-file should you later find out that your injuries are worse than you initially thought.
The adjuster from the insurance company wants me to give them a recorded statement. Is this something I should do?
Do not give a recorded statement of any kind to the adjusters until after you have consulted with a car accident lawyer on the facts of your case. If you say something wrong, even as a mistake, it can be held against you and used to deny payment or reduce the payment amount.
I don’t feel injured. Should I take a ride to the hospital in an ambulance after a car accident?
You will definitely need to go to the hospital for an immediate examination if you are unsure of the injuries you have suffered or have suffered serious bodily harm. Even if you think nothing is wrong, you should schedule a visit with our regular doctor as quickly as possible. This is a big part of seeing that your rights are protected should injuries began to show in the time after your car wreck and you need to seek compensation.
How Much Does an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
A few of the car accident lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia are now billing on a contingency fee basis. However, there are mostly those that demand a large retainer to be working on your case. People that have been injured in auto accidents and require legal counsel but cannot afford a high retainer or costly hourly fees have been recognized by these attorneys. A contingency-fee basis means that the fee the Atlanta car accident lawyer is charging is contingent on his or her ability to recover your compensation. If your lawyer cannot get compensation for you, you will owe that car accident lawyer nothing. However, if the accident attorney does get your compensation, the fees for legal services will be subtracted from the amount you receive. This amount usually consists of a percentage of the compensation obtained.
This has made retaining professional and experienced legal counsel simpler than ever, but be aware that there are only a handful of attorneys that are operating on contingency basis for their clients. The majority of car accident lawyers will be holding you fully responsible for the costs associated with your case. Be aware that you need to consult with any lawyer you intend on using as to which methods of payment they incorporate and the items for which you will be held responsible financially. Our car accident lawyer at 260 Peachtree St NE Suite 2200, Atlanta, GA 30303 can help you with your case.