Car Accidents

Car Accidents are tragic and dealing with the insurance company can add stress when you’re supposed to be focusing on your health and recovery.

We see car accidents almost daily whether it is during our way to work, running errands, or on the news. When the accident involves you or a loved one, the magnitude and severity of it begins to sink in with you. Medical bills, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and lost wages take a toll on you and your family. Car accidents are difficult and dealing with the insurance company can add unnecessary stress when you are supposed to be focusing on your health and recovery. Insurance companies want to keep money in their pockets by settling as quickly as possible for small amounts. In fact, some insurance companies offer a nominal settlement very shortly after the accident to avoid being liable for the true magnitude of the injury. Insurance companies oftentimes put their needs first, not the needs of you and your family. To make sure you get the compensation you deserve, we will guide you through the process: 

STEPS TO TAKE RIGHT AFTER AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT 

Right after a car accident, you obviously will have a lot on your mind so we have developed four simple steps to help you:

  • Call 911: The health and safety of everyone involved in the accident is far and away the most important thing to think about immediately after an automobile accident. Please call to 911! By calling for help, you ensure emergency workers and paramedics arrive at the scene to provide the help needed to each and every person involved in the car accident.
  • Gather Information: Did you know that Georgia law requires all drivers carry accident liability insurance? The minimum limit is $25,000. So please make sure you look at each driver’s insurance card and write down the name of the insurance company and policy number. You should also take down the license plate number, phone number, and address for the at-fault driver and any witnesses.
  • Collect Evidence: Now days, a cell phone camera is a useful tool for taking photos of damage to all the vehicles and the car accident scene. Here’s an extra tip: Take pictures of any skid marks. Those pictures can be used to calculate the speed of the negligent party. Stories change, but the facts don’t.
  • Get Professional Assistance: See a doctor and call a lawyer. Insurance companies will try to steer you away from getting the professional help you need and deserve. Remember too, you don’t have to give the other party’s insurance company a recorded statement! They may try to pressure you, but politely tell them that Georgia law does not require for an automobile accident.

TYPES OF AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT CLAIMS

The most common type of automobile accident claim is based on the concept of negligence. Negligence basically means that the other person was not being careful or in legal terms was not “exercising ordinary, reasonable care.” All of us as drivers have a duty to drive in a cautious and safe manner. Examples of unsafe driving include following too closely (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49), failing to stop at a stop sign (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-72), and failing to maintain a lane (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48). There are also other more severe violations, which can lead to punitive damages, such as driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391), as well as hit-and-run (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270).  

Other types of claims for an automobile accident include manufacturer liability. A manufacturer of a vehicle may have designed or installed a defective part, like seatbelts, airbags, accelerators, brakes, tires, and engines. To prevail on these types of claims, you will need to prove that you were not at fault and the defect was the cause of the automobile accident. Expert witnesses are oftentimes used for these cases to show that the part was “unreasonably dangerous” and had not been modified or changed since the purchase
of the vehicle.

A few other types of automobile accident cases involve faulty construction, design, or maintenance of roads; such as too steep of embankments, improperly designed guardrails, poorly visible signage, and broken traffic signals. These cases are very fact sensitive so feel free to reach out to us for more details.

UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED “UM” CLAIMS

If the other at-fault driver does not have insurance or the amount of coverage is not enough to compensate you for your injuries in a car accident, then your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which is typically referred to as “UM,” may be able to compensate you. The difference between them is pretty basic. Uninsured motorist means that the other party did not have insurance. Underinsured motorist means that the other part didn’t have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. When you bring one of these claims after an automobile accident, you essentially will be suing your own insurance company in order to get compensation for your injuries.

Underinsured motorist claims are complex because there are other considerations, such as whether your UM policy was “Add-on or Excess” or whether it was “Reducing Coverage.” Add-on coverage is relatively new in Georgia. This type of coverage basically means that you “add” the amount of your UM coverage on top of the available liability coverage. Let’s say the person that hit you has a policy of $100,000, and you have $30,000 in Add-on coverage, then you can potentially recover $130,000. Reducing coverage means that the amount of UM is subtracted from the amount of liability insurance. For example, if the other driver has $25,000 in coverage, and you have $100,000 in UM with a reducing policy, then your UM coverage is only $75,000. A word to the wise: Always get Add-on coverage!!!

COMPENSATION FOR YOUR INJURIES

Each accident is different so the extent and nature of the injuries suffered will vary between automobile accident cases. The types of injuries range from paralysis, burns and scars, loss of limbs, and spinal cord injuries to joint, muscle, back, neck, and bone injuries from the whiplash from the car accident. Insurance companies tend to minimize the pain and suffering from accidents, but we recognize that each and every injury from an automobile accident is unwanted by you. It’s negatively affected your life. So we strive to get the very most in compensation for you. Here is a synopsis of the types of damages you may be able to recover in an automobile accident.

  • Medical Expenses: You are entitled to compensation for your expenses for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, as well as any assistive devices and future appointments with a doctor or other medical professional, like a physical therapist or chiropractor.
  • Future Medical Expenses: If you can prove that you will need continued medical care as a result of the automobile crash, then may also be able to recover the cost of future medical expenses, such as a future back surgery or joint replacement.
  • Lost Wages: If you had to take time off work for a car accident in order to get treatment or you were physically unable to work, then you are again entitled to compensation for your lost income. They key is making sure your supervisors are aware of the accident and documenting your time away from work for the car accident.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: If you sustained injuries that prevent you from working in the future, you may be able to receive compensation by proving that your earning capacity was negatively impacted by the incident. For example, a college student that sustains a brain injury in a car accident may not be able to pursue his or her desired career and, ultimately, lose a substantial earning potential.

There are also non-economic car accident damages. They are typically harder to quantify, but you still may get compensation for them:

  • Pain and Suffering: This type of damage for a car accident includes compensation for the pain and suffering you faced after the accident. The standard in Georgia is the “enlightened conscious of an impartial jury.”
  • Loss of Consortium: Following a car accident, your spouse may be able to receive compensation for the losses you faced as a couple, such companionship, sexual relations, and comfort. The law recognizes that you aren’t just the only one hurt in a car accident.
  • Punitive Damages: If the actions of the defendant were so malicious or egregious, such as DUI or other criminal acts, then the jury may decide to impose punitive damages. Punitive damages, which may be capped in some situations, are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.

If you have any questions about automobile accidents in Georgia, please don’t hesitate to call us today. We used to handle these cases for the insurance company so we know how to protect you and your family. Now, we are proud to help and serve individuals and their families after they have been hurt in a car accident. Simply put, we will fight for you every step of the way.

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