Metro-Atlanta is home to some of the country’s busiest highways. Auto accidents are a serious problem all around the United States. Recklessness of drivers on I-285, I-85, I-75, I-20 and GA 400 can cause catastrophic injuries.
A car accident claim may seem straightforward at first, but there are countless possible complicating factors that may arise in any given case. An attorney can help navigate these obstacles and address them to the benefit of the plaintiff. For example, the defendant in a car accident lawsuit may counterclaim that the plaintiff is responsible for the accident after receiving the plaintiff’s initial complaint. The plaintiff’s attorney can then work toward countering this claim by gathering additional evidence, reviewing witness statements, and consulting expert witnesses who can help deduce the truth of the matter.
A good personal injury attorney can also handle insurance-related issues for a plaintiff. Most car accident claims will involve insurance in some capacity. For example, in a fault-based state like Georgia, a driver who suffers damages and/or injuries from a negligent driver would file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Generally, insurance carriers will offer lower settlements or may even deny a claim, or an adjuster may attempt to pick apart an auto accident claim to look for any fault on part of the claimant.
When an auto insurance claimant has legal representation, a claims adjuster will be far less likely to push back against a legitimate claim. Most insurers simply hope that a claimant will take whatever the insurer offers at first to simply move past the issue, even if it is a lowball offer, but adjusters will rarely try this with a claimant who has legal representation.
When another driver causes an accident with your vehicle due to negligence, that driver is liable for all of the resulting damages to you and your property. First, the plaintiff in a car accident case can claim property damage in the lawsuit. This can include vehicle repair or replacement costs or the costs of replacing any other personal property destroyed or damaged in the accident in question.
The plaintiff can also claim compensation for any and all medical expenses incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. These damages can include hospital bills, fees for specific necessary treatments, prescription costs, medical devices, and all expenses related to necessary ongoing medical treatment like physical therapy or follow-up visits with a doctor.
A plaintiff can also claim lost income if an accident and the related injuries force him or her to miss work for an extended time. Additionally, it can also be possible for a plaintiff to secure compensation for lost future earnings if his or her injuries prevent returning to the same job or working at all in the future.
Plaintiffs may also receive damages for their pain and suffering. The jury will listen to testimony from expert witnesses and determine an appropriate figure to compensate the plaintiff’s physical pain and emotional suffering resulting from the incident in question. Finally, there is also potential for a plaintiff to receive punitive damages if the defendant in the case was grossly negligent or acted intentionally to cause harm to others.
A car accident can cause many different types of severe injuries:
There are several advantages to hiring an Atlanta car accident attorney to handle your car accident case. Some people mistakenly believe that they can successfully navigate their personal injury claims without legal representation. While some people may have the time to complete extensive legal research to compile strong cases, it is highly unlikely that a plaintiff representing his or her own interests in court will be as successful as a trained attorney.
Your Atlanta accident attorney will not only help you navigate the court’s filing requirements and various deadlines, but also help uncover valuable avenues of compensation you may have overlooked otherwise.
The expense is one of the main causes for hesitancy in hiring an attorney for personal injury claims. While attorneys’ fees can indeed be expensive, the alternative would be failing in your lawsuit, or never getting a lawsuit off the ground at all. Besides, personal injury attorneys offer contingency fee billing, which means they do not accept attorneys’ fees unless they win their cases. Additionally, some plaintiffs will be able to claim their attorneys’ fees as damages in their cases, so hiring an accident lawyer can actually increase a plaintiff’s net award in such a case.
Your attorney will also contact expert witnesses who can further strengthen your case by testifying to the extent and effects of your injuries, the pain and suffering you likely experienced as a result, and the potential for long-term or permanent disability resulting from your accident. Other experts may be able to testify to the extent of your financial losses following an accident or other aspects of your case.
Getting involved in an accident can be a very frightening and chaotic experience. In the midst of everything going on, it’s easy to forget to gather some information that will be helpful to you later down the road if you wish to pursue an injury claim. Below are three things you should remember to do if ever injured in an Atlanta Car Accident:
Your first priority after a car accident should be your personal well-being. Check yourself for injuries and do not move if it is painful to do so. Call the police to report the accident if no one else has done so and wait for an ambulance to arrive. If you are able to get up and move around, do so cautiously and check on the other people involved in the accident. Even if you feel you may not need to, it’s important to ensure you didn’t sustain any injuries that may not be so easily visible, i.e. concussions, internal bleeding, etc.
If you can safely do so, try to take photos of the accident scene before the police clean it. You should take photos of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, any debris in the road, as well as the damage to the other vehicles involved. These photos will be tremendously helpful later when you start building a personal injury case. You should also record the contact information of the other driver or drivers, as well as any witnesses who saw the accident occur.
When you speak with the police, be very careful of your word choice. While the adrenaline in your system after a car accident may make it difficult to focus, refrain from saying anything the police may misconstrue as an admission of fault. Saying things like “I didn’t see him,” “I’m sorry,” or “I couldn’t stop in time” could all come back to haunt you later, so answer the police’s questions concisely and honestly, but do not admit any fault even if you think you are partially responsible for the accident.
Lastly, call your Georgia accident lawyer BEFORE speaking to the opposing party’s insurance company. Anything you say or do, even well intentioned or accidental, will be used by the Insurance Adjuster to decrease their potential liability. This includes any mention or indication of an apology, even if the accident was clearly not your fault. Please understand that Insurance Adjusters are highly trained professionals and they are graded on how well they limit recoveries for injured parties. You would not attempt surgery on yourself, or build your car by yourself, or program your computer by yourself. You need an expert. If you’re currently in need of legal information regarding your recent car accident, call (404) 842-0909 today to speak with a car accident attorney.
According to the NHSTA, 66% of the nation’s traffic fatalities are caused by a form of aggressive driving. Road rage is defined by the NHSTA as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Georgia law classifies road rage as unlawful and a misdemeanor offense.
Auto wrecks can occur for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is speeding. Between the years of 2006 and 2015, speeding led to nearly 30% of the nation’s car accidents. Almost half of the speeding accidents happened on highways with speed limits above 55 miles per hour.
Drunk driving is another leading cause of auto wrecks. It lowers peoples’ inhibitions, making them more likely to make reckless decisions. Impaired drivers also have far slower reaction times, which decreases his or her ability to quickly adjust in dangerous situations. Every day in the United States, 28 people die in drunk driving accidents.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not the only type of impaired driving. Many people do not realize how dangerous drowsy driving is. Tired drivers also have slow reflexes and run a higher risk of making reckless decisions. Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of auto wrecks.
As technology becomes more prevalent in society, distracted driving increases in frequency. Whether it is texting, doing makeup, changing the music, or programming the GPS, any type of distraction behind the wheel could be deadly. Between the years of 2010 and 2014, the number of auto wrecks caused by cell phone use increased by almost 38%, and the number is still high today. Even just glancing down at your phone can take your eyes off the wheel for long enough to cause a serious accident.
Hazardous weather also leads to auto wrecks. Rain, snow, ice, fog, and many other conditions can seriously debilitate driving abilities.
If the court determines the other driver was responsible for your accident, it can award you damages. The first thing you can receive compensation for in Georgia are any past and future medical expenses. The defendant may have to cover hospital bills, cost for any doctor visits, physical therapy, or any other medical fees you have because of the wreck.
The court can also order the defendant to compensate you for lost wages, which includes any money you lost from days off work that you needed to recover, and a difference in earning potential before and after the injury.
Pain and suffering damages cover the difference in overall quality of life. A car accident attorney will often prove pain and suffering by getting a statement from someone who can testify about your life before and after the accident.
Most auto wrecks lead to vehicle damage. If you win your auto wreck claim, the defendant may need to compensate you for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
Georgia follows the modified comparative fault rule. The courts have the right to adjust your compensation if it determines you are partially responsible. For example, if the court determines you are 15% at fault for the wreck, it will reduce your compensation by 15%.
Hit-and-run accidents, though not as common as other types of car accidents, are a serious problem, and victims believe they have no recourse after suffering an injury in a hit and run. However, if you suffered an injury in a car accident and the at-fault driver fled the scene, you may be able to file a claim against his or her insurance company.
In Georgia, the laws about hit & run accidents are clear. If you caused or are involved in a collision, you must stop and remain at the scene of the accident. The circumstances that would warrant you to stop include:
Once you stop at the scene, you must exchange information with the other people involved. You must provide your name, address, and vehicle registration information. You must also, if possible, get your vehicle off the road to avoid obstructing traffic and assist any injured people as much as you can.
Georgia courts consider causing injury or damage and fleeing the scene a much more serious offense than a regular car accident. Even though the basic penalties are the same, the court will most likely increase the compensation significantly. The court may automatically triple the amount in damages, to further punish the defendant.
Hit-and-run accidents are more difficult because the responsible party is not on the scene to give you the necessary information and identify him or herself. To receive full compensation from the responsible party, you need to be able to find the at-fault driver. If you can, take down some information as he or she is driving away. The more information you can provide the police, the more likely it is that they will find the driver. Some of the information could include:
You should also record the time and location of the accident and get the contact information of any witnesses. Take pictures of the scene, damage to your car, and anything else that could be relevant when you are filing a claim.
After the accident, contact your insurance company. Even if you have not identified the at-fault driver, your insurer can begin the claims process. Depending on your company and policy, your insurer may help with towing your car and finding a rental car. If you have the necessary insurance, you may be able to receive a certain amount of compensation even if you do not find the at-fault driver.
If a negligent driver injured you in an auto wreck in Atlanta, ChancoSchiffer P.C. can help. We have experienced attorneys who cover all our cases. Our extensive knowledge of Georgia’s auto wreck laws gives us the ability to inform and guide you through the entire process. Contact ChancoSchiffer P.C. for personal representation in your Atlanta auto wreck claim.