Whether you have driven the same road every day for years or you are new to Atlanta, an unexpected pothole or a fallen tree limb in a dangerous place could end with your car in a ditch. Even if your Atlanta car accident did not involve any other vehicles or drivers, you could receive compensation for your vehicle repairs and medical expenses from another party – the City of Atlanta.
Call the Police
An investigation by Channel 2 Newsin Atlanta found the city paid less than 25% of pothole-related damage claims over a year. Although this statistic is discouraging, it does not mean you are out of luck. Improve your odds of a successful claim by calling the police to report your accident. The police can help you document the collision, including taking official photographs of the roadway defect. It is especially important to contact the police if your accident resulted in injuries or expensive property damage. Stop somewhere safe, out of the way of traffic, and call 911.
Document Your Auto Accident
Roadway defect accidents sometimes do not have witnesses. It may be up to you, therefore, to document your accident in detail. The more information you record about the wreck, the better your odds will be of proving that the accident occurred because of the city’s negligence. Document information such as the crash time and location, what you believe caused it, and a description of your injuries or property damages.
Take photographs of the accident and the dangerous road. Photograph the pothole, debris, loose gravel, grass clippings, broken traffic light, obstructed street sign, missing reflectors, crumpled guardrail or any other roadway defect that may have contributed to your crash. Photographs can serve as excellent evidence of the roadway defect. Use the date feature on your phone or camera.
Learn Your Rights
If the city’s roads caused your car accident and property damages, you have the right to file a claim against the government. The city is legally responsible for the safety, quality and maintenance of its roads. Breaching this responsibility with negligence such as ignoring citizen complaints, leaving a pothole unrepaired for an unreasonable amount of time or failing to regularly inspect roads for hazards could mean city liability for related car accidents.
Obey the Tort Claims Act
The right to pursue a claim against the government in Georgia stems from the state’s Tort Claims Act. This law waives the state’s sovereign immunity, or its protection against liability, for accidents connected to the government’s negligence. If the government or one of its employees caused your car accident in Georgia, you have the right to file a claim. Government tort claims come with special requirements in Georgia.
- Provide written notice to the government entity before filing a claim
- Include a description of the car accident, the road defect and the nature of your losses
- Submit support documentation
- File within six months of the date of your car accident if you are filing against the city
- File within 12 months if you are filing against the state
The government will review your claim and must accept it before you see any money for your damages. In general, the city may accept your claim if the pothole or roadway defect had been present for a long time. If the defect was new, however, the city might argue it did not have a reasonable amount of time to make repairs.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
If the city denies your claim, hire a lawyer to assist you. A car accident attorney in Atlanta will have experience going up against the city. Instead of handling your claim alone and risking a low settlement (or no settlement at all), trust an attorney to take over claim negotiations on your behalf. A lawyer will not allow the city to take advantage of you or offer less than your damages are worth. Hiring an attorney can improve your chances of the city taking your case seriously, responding promptly and offering fair compensation.
If you’re in need of an experienced attorney in the Atlanta metro or surrounding areas, contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with ChancoSchiffer Law, LLClaw firm. We have helped thousands of victims get compensation for their damages. We can help you, too. Call (404) 471-3999 today.