If you’re injured in traffic because another driver was negligent, the law in Georgia entitles you to reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and any other related damages, but obtaining that compensation may not be easy. You’ll need the help of an Atlanta personal injury attorney.
Whenever someone is accidentally injured – in a traffic collision or in any other accident scenario – because someone else was negligent, the key legal issues are fault and liability. The law generally requires the at-fault party to compensate the injury victim for damages.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE WHO’S AT FAULT FOR AN ACCIDENT?
How can someone prove that the other driver was at fault for an accident? The written police report is always important evidence, and if the case goes to trial, one of the responding officers might even testify about the investigation.
Video, eyewitnesses, and physical evidence from the accident scene may also indicate which driver was at fault.
But what if the fault for an accident is shared by both drivers? In the state of Georgia, if both motorists were partly responsible for a traffic collision, a legal doctrine known as “modified comparative negligence” comes into play.
WHAT AUTO INSURANCE IS REQUIRED IN GEORGIA?
In no-fault auto insurance states, if you’re injured in a collision, your own automobile insurance covers your medical costs, lost wages, property damages, and your pain and suffering. It doesn’t matter which motorist was responsible for an accident.
However, Georgia is a fault state, which means the at-fault party’s insurance policy must cover the damages. What liability insurance is required for drivers in Georgia? Drivers in this state must carry at least:
1. $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
2. $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
3. $25,000 of coverage for property damage
HOW DOES MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE WORK?
If you’re injured by a negligent motorist in Georgia and you need to be compensated, you and your attorney must prove than the other motorist was more than fifty percent at fault and that you were less than fifty percent at fault for the collision.
Under the modified comparative fault rule, a driver is liable only in proportion to that driver’s percentage of fault, unless the injured person’s negligence rises to fifty percent. When an injury victim has half or more of the responsibility for an accident, he or she cannot recover damages.
Let’s say you’re speeding – but only five or seven miles per hour above the limit – and you’re moving through a green light when you are struck by an impaired motorist driving thirty miles per hour above the limit. Then – to make it easy – let’s say that your damages total $100,000.
Most personal injury cases are resolved in out-of-court negotiations, as attorneys for both parties hammer out an arrangement that satisfies everyone involved. But if there’s no settlement, and if the case goes to court, a jury may decide that:
1. The impaired driver was 100 percent liable and must pay you the $100,000 amount.
2. Or, jurors may decide that you were partly to blame for the accident. For example, the jury may decide that you were 15% at fault and the other driver was 85% at fault. In this case, your compensation would be reduced by 15%, so you would only be awarded $85,000.
3. The jury may decide that you were more than 50% at fault for the accident. In this case, you would not be awarded any compensation for your injuries.
You’ll be required to notify your automobile insurance provider promptly about the accident, but – and this is important – you must not make a formal statement, agree to a quick settlement, or sign any insurance document before you’ve met with your injury attorney.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS?
No attorney will be at a crash site to give you advice, so you must remember to take these steps to protect yourself:
1. Seek medical attention immediately.
2. Summon the police. Be sure to find out how you can obtain a copy of their written accident report and when it will be available.
3. Exchange auto insurance and personal contact details with the other motorist (or motorists).
4. Take photos of your injuries, the damage to the vehicles, and the overall crash site.
5. If any eyewitnesses saw the collision, try to obtain their names and contact information. Your attorney may want their testimony or statements.
HOW WILL A GEORGIA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?
After you’ve been examined by a medical professional, arrange to consult an injury lawyer. There is no cost for a first consultation with an Atlanta personal injury attorney. Your attorney will give you sound, honest legal advice.
If your attorney recommends moving forward with a lawsuit, the attorney will investigate the accident, compile and review the evidence, question any witnesses, and negotiate for an acceptable settlement. If no settlement is possible, your attorney can take the case to court.
As mentioned previously, the first consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Georgia is free, and there’s no obligation. Georgia injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, so if you proceed with a lawsuit, you will pay no attorney’s fee until – and unless – you are compensated.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ACT SWIFTLY?
The statute of limitations in Georgia gives you two years from the date you were injured to file a personal injury lawsuit, but you must not wait for two years and then scramble to file a lawsuit at the last minute. The sooner you act, the more likely it is that your lawsuit will prevail.
How long does the legal process take? Every personal injury claim is different, but many claims can be resolved in only a few weeks, and most claims are settled without any necessity for a trial.
However, when there’s a dispute regarding which driver was at fault, or if an auto insurance company is operating in bad faith – and these cases are rare – a conclusion to your case might take several years and require a trial.
Proving fault in court may not be easy in some traffic accident cases. However, if you seek prompt medical attention, take photographs, and retain the right attorney, proving fault will be easier, and you’ll be in the best legal position to be awarded compensation.