Car Accident Attorneys in Athens, Georgia
Lawyers for Auto Accident Injuries
Car accidents happen on Georgia roadways and roads across the United States every day.
Although drivers can take precautions to reduce their chances of causing and being involved in accidents, there is no way for a driver to completely eliminate the chance he or she will be involved in one.
Car accidents happen for a variety of reasons. When they happen, the individuals involved can suffer injuries and in some cases, death. In 2016, there were 1,554 recorded traffic fatalities in Georgia. Of these accidents, 368 involved an impaired driver.
When a victim is injured in a car accident, he or she can suffer steep financial damages. These include medical bills, emotional trauma, missed opportunities to advance in his or her career, an abrupt end to his or her career, and conditions like paralysis or a cognitive disability that require recurring medical treatments and management for the rest of the individual’s life.
These can all be expensive burdens for the victim. To lessen the financial stress of suffering from a car accident injury, a victim can file a personal injury claim to seek monetary compensation for these damages.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions motorists have about car accidents and their personal injury claim rights. These are general answers; for specific answers tailored to your unique situation, discuss your case with an experienced Athens car accident lawyer.
What Causes Car Accidents?
Car accidents, like any other type of accident, can have a variety of causes. One of the most common causes of car accidents is driver negligence.
Negligence is defined as a party’s failure to act within his or her duty to protect others from harm. This is the reasonable expectation that one would take certain actions to avoid injuring him- or herself and others. For drivers, it means following the posted traffic rules and avoiding distracted and intoxicated driving.
Examples of driver negligence include:
- Driving drunk;
- Driving while under the influence of prescription sleep medication;
- Text messaging while driving;
- Failing to follow right-of-way rules;
- Failing to stop, yield, and merge as instructed; and
- Driving while too exhausted to drive safely.
Driver negligence is not the only issue that causes car accidents. Sometimes, car accidents occur because one or more of the vehicles involved malfunction in some way. When this happens, the vehicle’s owner, the vehicle or faulty part’s manufacturer, or the vehicle’s seller can be deemed to be the negligent party, depending on the nature of the malfunction.
Car accidents can also occur because roadways are poorly designed or maintained. When this is the case, the party tasked with maintaining the area where the accident occurred, which could be the municipal, county, state, or federal government, or a private party, may be held liable for the victims’ damages.
How Can I Be Injured in a Car Accident?
How you are injured in a car accident depends on a variety of factors, such as the speed at which it happened, the angle at which it happened, your overall fitness level, and your car’s safety features.
Injuries you can sustain in a car accident include:
- Broken bones;
- Soft tissue injuries;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Cuts; and
- Spinal cord injuries.
What Should I Do if I am in a Car Accident?
Immediately check to see if anybody involved needs emergency medical care. If so, call 911 to have an ambulance dispatched to the scene.
Next, contact local law enforcement to have an officer sent to the scene. Fill out an official police report with him or her and do not leave the scene without a copy of this report. It contains important information about the accident, such as the date, time, and location of the collision and whether any of the parties involved violated the law.
Take as many photos of the scene as you can to fully illustrate what happened and how you were injured. Exchange insurance information with all other parties involved – do not leave the scene without this information, pictures, and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
After leaving the scene, seek medical attention for yourself as soon as you can.
How Do Negligence and Liability Work in Georgia Car Accident Claims?
As we mentioned above, negligence is the act of carelessly or recklessly endangering others. When an individual causes another party to suffer an injury through his or her negligence, he or she is liable for that party’s damages. This means the negligent party – or his or her insurance provider – must compensate the victim for his or her damages.
In Georgia, injured motorists must seek compensation from the negligent parties’ insurance providers. This is how it works in most, but not all, states. In a few states, drivers instead recover compensation from their own insurance providers through personal injury protection (PIP) claims.
More than one party can be deemed to be negligent in a car accident. As long as you do not hold more than 49 percent of the responsibility for the accident, you can recover compensation for your damages. This is known as Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law.
Keep in mind that if you are partially at fault for your accident, the total compensation amount you can recover is reduced according to the percentage of the fault you hold. For example, if you are seeking $100,000 in compensation and you are 20 percent at fault, you can only recover up to $80,000 in compensation.
How Can I Prove that I am a Victim of Negligence?
Your claim must sufficiently demonstrate the following:
- The insured party had a duty to act in a manner to avoid injury to others;
- He or she breached that duty somehow;
- Because of the breach, an accident occurred; and
- In the accident, you suffered a specific injury that caused you to suffer specific financial damages.
Breaking this down, you will see there are a few distinct points you have to prove in order to successfully recover compensation. Each of these points can be proven with one or more specific pieces of evidence.
Proving that an accident occurred is simple. You can demonstrate this by providing a copy of the official police report for your accident.
Demonstrating that the other party acted negligently can be a bit more complicated. The evidence you can use to prove this point includes:
- Photographs of the accident scene that show the point of impact and the damage to both vehicles;
- Testimonies from witnesses to the accident; and
- A digital reconstruction of the accident that shows how the collision occurred.
Next, you must prove that you suffered specific injuries because of the accident. The evidence you provide has to show, without a doubt, that your injuries exist only because of the accident and that they did not occur before the accident or independently of it. Evidence that can show this includes:
- Testimony from your doctor discussing the injury;
- Copies of your medical record showing when specific injuries were recorded; and
- Photographs of your injury at the time of the accident.
The final piece, demonstrating the specific financial damages you suffered because of your injury, often requires the most evidence. Some of this evidence overlaps with other categories’ evidence. It can include:
- Testimony from your doctor discussing the treatment you received and will continue to need to manage chronic conditions related to the injury;
- Copies of your medical bills;
- Documentation showing the time you spent out of work to recover and the monetary value of your lost days’ wages. You will need to provide pay stubs to prove this latter point
- Documentation that shows the long-term career damages you suffered due to the injury. This can include copies of your Social Security Disability Insurance claim, documentation showing your projected career path and testimony from your doctor discussing your long-term and permanent physical limitations because of the injury;
- Itemized receipts of all miscellaneous expenses you faced related to the injury, like the cost of bandages and over-the-counter medication;
- Testimony from a mental health care provider discussing your emotional and psychological trauma related to the accident and how it affects your quality of life; and
- Testimonies from loved ones, journal entries, and any other documentation that shows how you are suffering from a reduced ability to enjoy the activities you once enjoyed because of the injury.
Will I have to Go to Court?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit in an effort to recover compensation for your damages, you could have to go to court. Often, victims are advised to take this action when it becomes clear they will not be able to reach a settlement with the negligent parties’ insurance providers and the two-year statute of limitations on their claims are drawing near. Even if you do file a lawsuit, you might not have to go to court – many lawsuits are resolved outside of court through mediation or arbitration.
Your lawyer will advise you about the right actions to take to continue pursuing compensation for your damages. If he or she feels your original insurance claim was handled in bad faith, he or she may suggest that you file a bad faith claim to seek compensation for the damages you suffered due to the insurance company’s mishandling of your claim.
What Should I Avoid with my Personal Injury Claim?
There are a lot of ways a claimant can inadvertently invalidate his or her claim or significantly reduce the amount of compensation he or she is entitled to recover. As a general rule, there are two people whose advice you should always follow when you are recovering from an injury and pursuing a personal injury claim:
- Your lawyer; and
- Your doctor.
Failure to heed your doctor’s advice can prolong you physical recover and potentially make it more difficult for you to recover compensation because it can be construed as a failure to mitigate your damages. As the plaintiff, you have the duty to mitigate your damages – in other words, correct the problems you are facing – to the best of your ability. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that you seek appropriate medical attention for your injury as soon as possible after your accident.
You can also hurt your claim by saying the wrong thing or agreeing to a lowball settlement. After you file your claim, the other party’s insurance provider will contact you and offer you a settlement amount. Do not accept it without first discussing it with your lawyer, do not agree to make any statements about the case, and do not say anything about the accident that is not an objective, neutral fact.
For example, you can confirm that you were involved in a car accident at a specific intersection on a specific date. But if you are asked specific details about your own speed or what you remember seeing in the moments before the accident, decline to make a statement.
It is also important that you avoid exaggerating your injury in discussions with anybody, whether that is your lawyer, your doctor, the insurance provider, or the court. If you are caught lying, your claim could be dismissed. Lying about an injury in an effort to recover compensation is insurance fraud.
You should also avoid waiting to take action. As soon as you can after the accident, get a medical diagnosis and start treatment for your injury. Then, start working with a lawyer. Be proactive at every stage of your claim’s progress, because this will increase your chance of recovering a fair compensation package.
Work with an Experienced Athens Car Accident Lawyer
When you are suffering from an injury sustained in a car accident, you have the right to pursue monetary compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. The most effective way to pursue these damages is to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can be your advocate.
Contact our team at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. today to set up your initial legal consultation with us. We are here to answer all of your specific questions about your case and work with you to pursue the compensation you deserve.