A car accident can happen at any time on any type of road or highway. A car wreck can leave you with expensive medical bills, costly vehicle repairs, emotional trauma, lost time at work, and thus lost wages, and more losses. If you were the victim of another driver’s negligence, you should not have to foot the bill for the costs generated by another driver’s mistakes. Chanel Payne, an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer, can help.
One of the most important parts of a car accident case is determining who is at fault. This can be accomplished through a police report and/or an insurance investigation. In addition, a thorough investigation should include statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses, a survey of the scene of the accident, a review of the weather conditions at the time of the crash, and the physical condition of all vehicles involved. Your lawyer may also use an accident reconstructionist expert to help prove liability if needed.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Serious injuries can require extensive and/or lifelong medical care with costs in the tens of thousands or more. Even though future medical costs might sound tricky to predict, attorneys that focus on Georgia car accidents know how to use expert testimony to help maximize your financial recovery. If you suffered from an injury or injuries listed below in a car accident, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights:
- Whiplash and Neck Injuries
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Head Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Facial Injuries
- Broken Bones or Fractures
- Arm Injury
- Leg Injury
- Knee Injury
- Shoulder Injury
- Foot and Ankle Injury
- Wrist and Hand Injury
- Scrapes, Cuts, and Bruises
- Chest Injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Herniated Discs
- Back Injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Causes of Car Wrecks
While most car accidents are caused by negligence, some of the most common causes include:
- Distracted driving: When a driver takes their attention off of the road, they increase the risk of roadway accidents for themselves, their passengers, and everyone else they are sharing the road with. Common forms of distracted driving include using a mobile device, eating, putting on makeup, turning around to talk to or check on a child in the backseat,
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, illegal drugs, and alcohol can all impair a driver’s ability to function. These substances can dull your senses and thus slow your reaction time and decision-making abilities.
- Road conditions: Road conditions can make an otherwise easy drive perilous. From road construction to lack of lighting, the state of the pavement you are on can make a big difference in your safety. Driving over a pothole, for example, can cause a car tire to blow out and instigate an accident.
- Weather conditions: Rain, ice, snow, fog, and other severe weather conditions can be dangerous for drivers. Weather can decrease visibility and create a slicker road that makes it easier for a car to skid on.
- Mechanical failure or automotive defect: Many auto manufacturers have produced defective vehicles, tires, and automotive component parts, which makes drivers more vulnerable to getting into an accident.
- Driver fatigue: If a driver is having trouble staying awake, they are likely not able to drive well while drowsy.
- Speeding: While tempting, speeding makes for slower reaction times. The faster you go, the harder it is to stop and the longer it takes to stop.
- Breaking traffic laws such as running a red light or a stop sign
- Teenage or elderly drivers: Teenage drivers are inexperienced and do not know how to react to situations that come up on them quickly, thus making them more likely to get into a car wreck.
- Nighttime driving: Driving at night nearly doubles the risk of a car accident occurring. This is because it is hard to see in front of you or even to the side of you while driving at night. Nighttime also is a time when drivers get tired, which can lead to drowsy driving or even falling asleep at the wheel.
- Tailgating: When a motorist follows too closely behind another vehicle, the risk of not being able to stop in time increases exponentially.
What Happens During a Car Accident Lawsuit?
An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney looks into many factors when filing a car accident lawsuit, including proving the negligence of other drivers, the extent of your injuries, and the severity of the property damage to all of the vehicles involved in the car wreck. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed within a certain amount of time from the date of the accident. Georgia’s personal injury statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of the accident.
The first thing a lawyer will do is look at your insurance coverage. Then, your lawyer will investigate the collision and figure out who was at fault. Once fault is determined, your car accident attorney will negotiate with one or more insurance companies on your behalf and if negotiations prove unsuccessful, they will file a lawsuit in civil court if necessary to get you the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. Once your lawsuit is filed, the defendant or defendants will have a set amount of time to respond. During this time – if it has not happened already – the insurance companies involved will investigate your claims.
To have the best evidence to prove your case, we will analyze and examine your medical records, the police report, witness statements, the related insurance coverage of all drivers involved, and more. Discovery is the next step of the litigation process in which the parties exchange documents, evidence, and information. This process almost always includes a deposition or a formal, sworn presentation of testimony that is transcribed by a court reporter and can be presented at trial if needed.
After the pre-litigation, the filing of a lawsuit, discovery, and depositions, most courts will require the parties to engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution called mediation. A neutral third-party mediator will help the parties try to find a path toward resolution without a trial. The majority of car wreck cases settle in mediation. If your case does not, it will proceed to trial. While only a small number of injury cases go to trial, your lawyer may find it is the only way to get you the compensation you need and deserve. The case can be tried by either a judge or jury, which will then render a verdict or decision once both sides have had a chance to present their evidence.
Available Car Accident Damages
Georgia is an at-fault state, which means that whoever causes a car accident is responsible for paying all of the resulting costs – also known as damages. The most common types of damages you can recover in the form of car accident compensation include:
- Medical costs
- Vehicle repairs or replacement costs
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Rental car costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment
Punitive damages are also available under Georgia law, but these damages – unlike the damages mentioned in the list above – are limited to $250,000.
Frequently Asked Questions: Car Accidents
When should I hire a car accident lawyer?
If you suffered a significant injury in a car accident, are dealing with massive medical bills, and are unable to work, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. As soon as you have received medical care and are stable after your accident, you should consult with a car crash lawyer. It is important to act timely because evidence can be destroyed or disappear, witnesses’ memories will become less accurate, the statute of limitations within which you must file your lawsuit begins to run on the date of the crash, and more.
Why should I hire a car accident lawyer?
Hiring a car accident attorney to help with your personal injury claim comes with many benefits. On average, car accident victims are more likely to obtain full compensation when working with an experienced injury lawyer. Most importantly, having a lawyer on your side to help with talking and/or negotiating with an insurance adjuster will save you from making extremely costly mistakes. You’re dealing with a claims professional for an insurance company that wants you to either settle for a low amount or walk away from your claim altogether. Many insurance adjusters act like they are playing nice and many even pretend to care and want to pay you, but insurance companies are for-profit businesses looking out for their own interests. They don’t make money if and when they pay out claims money to injury victims.
How long do car accident cases last?
The duration of each car accident case will be unique. Some matters can be resolved without even filing a lawsuit and some will require extensive litigation up to and including a trial. When you meet with a lawyer and relay the facts of your unique situation, they will be better able to tell you how long you can expect your car accident case to last.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, there are three separate statutes of limitation (SOL) that can apply to a car accident lawsuit. Your case can be subject to a one-year SOL if you are bringing a case that involves a state-owned vehicle. If you are a claim for financial compensation after a car crash, you generally have two years from the date of the collision to file your lawsuit. The SOL extends to four years if you’re only seeking compensation for property damage and have no medical expenses or other such losses to recoup.
Free Consultation with A Car Accident Lawyer
Given the complexities of a car accident claim and the civil litigation process, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as you can. Our legal team offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. A consultation like this allows our lawyer to review your situation and give you advice about your legal options, all for free. If you’ve been injured in a car crash that wasn’t your fault and are wondering how to recover, contact Chanel Payne today.