After a car accident, the safety and financial stability of you and your loved ones takes center stage. Car accidents are an epicenter for confusion, raising questions about medical expenses, lost wages, and rightful compensation for the anguish you’ve endured. This is where our award-winning legal team steps in, with over fifty years of personal injury experience, and a commitment to helping victims in their time of need.
What To Do After a Car Accident in Georgia
Car accidents are never easy and, unfortunately, can be devastating. Follow these 10 steps after a car accident to help you recover from the devastation more quickly.
Building a Strong Case: Our Comprehensive Approach
In the case of some car accidents, the vehicles can be moved, (and for safety’s sake, they should be moved), out of traffic, but as close to the crash scene as possible.
Georgia law requires that all car accidents be reported immediately. Make sure to notify law enforcement about any injuries or deaths as soon as possible.
Safety is the priority, and drivers should aid anyone who is injured, including calling for any immediate medical help if necessary.
All drivers must exchange their contact and insurance information with each other, including their driver’s licenses. Try to take pictures of as much of the other drivers information as possible.
Pictures and/or video of the crash can be hugely helpful down the road. Getting detailed photos/videos in the aftermath of the crash will prove hugely beneficial in the aftermath of the crash.
If witnesses are available, try to get their names and contact information. A busy police officer may not speak to every witness, and if you don’t have their information, their account could be lost forever.
If your car has sustained enough damage that towing is expected, grab your personal belongings before the tow truck arrives.
Posting about your car accident on social media might seem harmless, but it could end up hurting your case.
Each driver should file a report with the DMV or follow up with the police to ensure they submitted the report. You could be held liable if the report does not go on record.
Whether or not you decide to engage an attorney, the swiftness of your actions, including prompt investigation, immediate claim notification, and timely medical attention, plays a pivotal role in maximizing your compensation. Insurance adjusters will wield delays against you. Even a minor delay of a week or two in seeking post-accident medical treatment might provide adjusters with grounds to argue that you weren’t genuinely injured, despite visible injuries. To optimize your vehicle accident claim, it’s imperative to seek prompt treatment and meticulously document your injuries.
In the case of some car accidents, the vehicles can be moved, (and for safety’s sake, they should be moved), out of traffic, but as close to the crash scene as possible.
With this comprehensive strategy, we leave no room for doubt, meticulously constructing a case that stands strong and speaks for your rights.
What to Know About Car Accidents in Georgia
Is Georgia a no-fault state for car accidents?
No. Georgia is not considered a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. Georgia is an “at-fault” state, which means that a driver who causes a collision can be held liable for losses and made to compensate victims. Following an accident, the responding officer is nearly always going to assign fault to one or both parties involved with a citation. This will result in the insurance company of the at-fault driver bearing the primary responsibility for paying for your medical costs, lost wages, and other damages.
Does Georgia law require insurance companies to make you whole again after an accident?
Yes. The Georgia Made Whole doctrine is a legal rule that states an injured plaintiff must receive compensation for all losses before an insurer can recover compensation. For example, if you were injured in a car accident which was not your fault and your injuries required medical attention, your insurance company cannot seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company until you have been “made whole.” Georgia’s Made Whole doctrine prevents third parties like insurance companies from prioritizing their reimbursement over the victims right to be fully made whole first.
How long do you have to report a car accident in Georgia?
Georgia law requires that all car accidents be immediately reported to law enforcement by dialing 911 after the crash.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for car accident claims
For most car accident injury claims, Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations, meaning that if your case is not settled within two years, you must file a lawsuit before the two-year anniversary of your injury to preserve your right to recover money. There are some exceptions to this rule, so be sure to do some additional research or call a personal injury lawyer if you are near or beyond the two-year limitation period and no lawsuit has been filed.
Punitive Damages Caps in Georgia:
Georgia imposes a damages cap of $250,000.00 for punitive damages in personal injury cases. It’s important to note that this cap does not apply to cases involving drunk driving. There are no caps in place for general and special damages, which include compensation for your pain and suffering as well as proven economic losses.
What happens when an out-of-state driver causes a car accident in Georgia?
Georgia extends a unique provision that permits you to initiate a claim against an at-fault driver hailing from another state. In many instances, these cases find resolution through settlements.
Should the need arise to file a lawsuit against a non-resident, specifically targeting an out-of-state driver, you typically have two options. You can file the lawsuit either in the county where the car accident occurred or in the county where you reside, giving you the freedom to choose your preferred jurisdiction (as per O.C.G.A. 40-12-3). Additionally, under the Georgia long-arm statute, it’s possible to directly serve the out-of-state driver, and subsequently, you may file the lawsuit in the county where the accident took place (as per O.C.G.A. 9-10-93).
Car Accident Injuries: Get a Fair Settlement to Take Care of Your Health
Some people experience immediate pain at the scene of an accident and seek treatment right away; especially in severe car accidents. However, others may feel “fine” for a few hours or delay in seeking medical care because of a fear of doctors and/or hospitals; an inability to pay for medical care; or no health insurance.
Unfortunately, some at-fault driver’s insurance companies and their lawyers may try to argue that you were not badly hurt if you did not go to the emergency room or immediately seek medical care. This is a common defense strategy.
We believe that unless you delay for a very long time (more than a few days), a short delay in seeking medical care can be overcome. We believe that most Jurors understand that it is not uncommon for accident victims to say they are “fine” at the scene of the accident (no one likes a complainer), only to feel much worse hours or days later.
Additionally, keeping off social media or being careful about what you post immediately after a car accident can be a good idea. You must resist the urge to tell your mother you are “fine” on Facebook. Your reassurance to mother when you are really and truly in pain could be used against you later in your injury case.
Georgia’s statute of limitations allows a liability claim, (which is a claim on an injury), up to 2 years from the date of the accident. This can differ, however, if the person making the liability claim is a minor.
Proving Your Injuries with Medical Evidence
In any case, involving negligent or reckless driving, it is essential to establish fault and paint a comprehensive picture of your injuries. This entails substantiating various aspects of your medical expenses, including ambulance bills, hospital and emergency room charges, costs associated with intensive care or surgical procedures, and diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CAT scans. Equally important is demonstrating that each medical intervention and test was not only necessary but directly linked to the accident.
To present compelling courtroom evidence of medical care, reliance on the testimonies of healthcare professionals becomes paramount. These professionals can range from doctors and nurses to EMTs, paramedics, physical therapists, and chiropractors. Relying solely on the victim’s account of the nature and extent of medical procedures often falls short. Judges typically limit victims to providing only brief explanations of why specific treatments were essential and directly tied to the collision. Additionally, it may be necessary to prove that any pre-existing medical conditions were not exacerbated by the accident. Defense teams and insurance companies frequently contend that individuals with prior minor ailments, such as osteoarthritis, tendinitis, or other pain syndromes, are exaggerating their injuries post-accident.
However, with meticulous preparation and the presentation of compelling evidence, these defenses can be effectively countered. Expert testimonies from specialists like orthopedists, primary care physicians, or surgeons can reinforce the fact that your injuries were acute and directly attributable to the traumatic event, rather than stemming from any pre-existing conditions.
How do I settle a car accident personal injury claim?
Settling a car accident case involves two things: First, the insurance company will agree to pay you a specified amount of money and second, you will sign a release and give up your right to make any further claim against the defendant. Once both parties sign the settlement agreement, it is final. In the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to renegotiate the settlement.
As a car accident injury victim, you want to be sure that any injury settlement by the at-fault driver’s insurance company fully covers your losses, which is why it is essential to have experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel throughout the settlement process
How much should I expect from a Georgia car accident settlement?
There is no single answer to how much a person can expect from a car accident settlement in Georgia, but the most important factor in a car accident case is the severity of your injury. The amount of your compensation may also be affected by the amount of insurance available and the amount of your medical bills. Insurance Companies may inappropriately try to assign a settlement formula to your case, but your case may be worth more. We break down the 9 factors that help determine the value of your settlement here.
When Doctors refuse care after a car accident
It can be startling to discover that in Georgia, certain primary care physicians and medical clinics opt not to treat injuries resulting from car accidents. This situation is a common occurrence, particularly in the Atlanta area. Furthermore, specific medical providers may decline to accept your insurance coverage based on the nature of the injury. If you ever find yourself in this challenging predicament, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ve developed effective strategies to address and overcome this issue.
Exercise Caution Before Signing a Release or Settlement Agreement
Car accidents in Atlanta rarely choose convenient times to occur, and grappling with insurance adjusters can be a formidable task. While these adjusters may initially appear friendly, they often exert pressure for a swift, lower settlement before the full extent of your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and damages becomes clear.
In the aftermath of an Atlanta car accident, a knowledgeable attorney becomes an invaluable ally. They advise against hastily signing any settlement release until you possess a comprehensive understanding of the breadth of your current and future damages. This signed agreement holds binding implications, potentially limiting your ability to pursue further compensation down the road.
Should you rush into signing and subsequently realize that your injuries or losses surpass initial assessments, obtaining additional compensation becomes significantly more challenging. An adept Atlanta car accident attorney ensures you grasp the lasting ramifications of your settlement, advocating for compensation that genuinely reflects the magnitude of your damages.
Maximizing your car accident injury settlement
Once you’ve reached a point of significant recovery from your injuries, the next phase invariably involves engaging in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. It’s important to be aware that these companies often seek to minimize payouts, employing tactics such as downplaying the severity of your injuries or implying they were pre-existing.
In Georgia, the key to securing a fair settlement lies in crafting a comprehensive demand package. This entails not only meticulous documentation but also sends a resolute message to the insurance company: you’re fully prepared to prevail in court if necessary.
Should I get a personal injury lawyer after a car accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident and you believe others are at fault for your injury, you should talk to an attorney. Having an attorney is not required but without one, most insurance companies are likely to give victims a smaller settlement that may not cover the victims needs. An experienced car accident, personal injury lawyer, like those at Millar Law Firm, will negotiate a much higher settlement on your behalf.
In the aftermath of a car accident in Atlanta, it’s imperative to understand that insurance companies often aim for swift, cost-effective resolutions. When an adjuster presents you with an early settlement offer while you’re still undergoing medical treatment, it’s crucial to exercise caution. Accepting these initial offers hastily or settling without a full grasp of the extent of your injuries can result in you receiving less than you rightfully deserve.
The value of your case is influenced by various factors, including the severity and duration of your injuries, the extent of available insurance coverage, and the experience of your attorney. During this critical phase, a seasoned Atlanta car accident lawyer plays a pivotal role. They advocate tirelessly on your behalf, ensuring that the compensation you ultimately receive aligns with the true extent of your damages, safeguarding you from accepting an inadequate settlement.
Yes. Your health insurance company will most likely pay your medical bills according to the terms of your insurance policy. In Georgia, your medical insurance pays first and may be reimbursed later from your settlement or verdict. Learn more about who covers your medical bills after a car accident in Georgia.
The legal term “liability” essentially refers to fault, specifically determining who bears responsibility for causing a car accident. When it comes to vehicles, liability insurance serves as the coverage that protects the driver or owner of the vehicle when a claim is filed. This type of insurance is responsible for both defending against and providing compensation for auto accident claims.
Every modern automotive liability insurance policy has a “duty to cooperate” clause that requires the insured driver to contact their insurance company after a car accident and to fully cooperate with their insurance company’s investigation of the accident. If a driver refuses to contact their insurance company following an accident, their insurance company may deny them coverage, which would convert your insurance claim into an Uninsured Motorist Claim.
A number of insurance policies include Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage that you can utilize in the event that the other driver is without insurance. Claims agents often hope that you remain unaware of the existence of UIM. However, in every case we handle, we diligently investigate the possibility of UIM. You might just discover that you have more coverage than you initially thought.
This is unfortunately common in Georgia. By law you have the right to pursue compensation directly from that at-fault driver. This means demanding payment or filing suit against the owner and/or driver of the uninsured car or truck for your medical bills, lost pay (past and future), mental and physical pain, and possibly for exemplary damages.
However, if the at-fault driver had no insurance, the chance of collecting your damages may be small. Therefore, if you have purchased UIM coverage, you may also make a claim with your own automobile insurance policy for your UIM or uninsured motorist benefits.
A UIM (uninsured or underinsured motorist) policy allows you to recover your damages when the at-fault driver has no liability insurance or has insurance limits that are not large enough to cover your losses. It is advisable to have your car insurance policy reviewed by a Georgia car accident attorney to determine if you have UIM coverage and in what amount.
Georgia requires every driver to have insurance coverage of at least $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident to cover ‘at-fault’ bodily injury and property damage. Georgia law requires an insurance company to have an insured person sign a waiver declining uninsured or underinsured (UIM) coverage or when purchasing lower UIM than bodily injury limits, or you are automatically covered to at least the liability insurance limit.
In Georgia, insurance companies are not legally allowed to increase your insurance premium or rate if the accident was not your fault. This holds true even if you used your underinsured or uninsured motorist benefits.
Challenging ‘canceled’ policies or excluded drivers
In Atlanta, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claim payments by asserting that the at-fault driver’s policy was conveniently “canceled” just before the accident or that the driver was excluded from the policy. Some of these denials can be misleading. For instance, a policy may not have genuinely been canceled, or the vehicle might have been loaned to a “permissive driver” who is, in fact, covered by the policy. We are well-equipped to challenge such assertions and ensure that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.
How do I repair or replace my car after an accident in Atlanta?
If you reside in the Atlanta area and find yourself in the unfortunate situation of your car being totaled in an accident, you have the right to seek compensation equal to the fair market value of your vehicle in the local geographic region. This is commonly referred to as the replacement cost in its current condition. However, it’s important to note that this value is not necessarily what you originally paid for the vehicle or what you owe on it.
Additionally, it’s essential to consider the specific market conditions in or around Atlanta when determining the value, especially when compared to regions where car prices may generally be higher. The final valuation of your car will also take into account factors such as mileage, overall condition, and the available options
on the vehicle. You may have the option to have the at-fault driver’s insurance company cover the costs of repairs or a total loss, or you can choose to go through your own insurance provider, which may require you to pay a deductible. If you were not responsible for the accident, your insurance company will typically make efforts to recover your deductible from the at-fault insurance carrier and reimburse you. It’s worth noting that in Georgia, this process can vary in duration, taking anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to reach resolution.
Building A Strong Case
Building a strong case for your settlement is crucial, and by following our 10 steps for what to do after a car accident, you can provide Millar Law Firm with the foundation for your case. Our comprehensive approach involves:
- Photographic Evidence: We begin by capturing precise and clear photographs of the crash scene and all vehicles involved.
- Eyewitness Accounts: We actively engage with other drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses to gather firsthand accounts of the incident.
- Video Footage: Our efforts extend to securing footage from traffic cameras, nearby businesses, and police vehicles to corroborate the sequence of events.
- Expert Analysis: We collaborate with top-tier accident reconstruction specialists, bolstering the foundation of your case with their expertise.
- Medical Documentation: Our approach involves close consultation with your medical practitioners to meticulously document every injury, leaving no detail unrecorded.
- Financial Clarity: To ensure that you receive fair compensation, we work diligently to identify and substantiate all related medical expenses and wage losses, both historical and anticipated.
Our strategy leaves no room for doubt, meticulously constructing a case that stands strong and speaks for your rights.
Who has the burden of proof in a Georgia car accident injury case?
Even though the facts may seem obvious, the injured victim or Plaintiff has the burden of proving everything in his or her case. This means that when you have been hurt and are bringing a claim against an at-fault driver you must prove every part of your case, including who negligently caused the accident and that your medical care and all of your bills and expenses were made necessary by, meaning approximately caused by, the crash.
What evidence can be used to prove a Georgia accident claim?
Physical evidence that can be used to prove a car accident case can include photographs, drone recordings, witness testimony and interviews, the police report, video recordings from the vehicles or surrounding businesses, measurements of the scene and skid marks, cell phone recordings and photos, vehicle inspection records, electronic data downloads from the ECM, manufacturers data, 911 operator recordings, EMS and first responder statements and records, police camera recordings from the body camera and patrol car, and cell phone records.
Can I request or subpoena another driver’s cell phone or phone records?
Usually the power to require another driver to produce their cell phone records only exists after a lawsuit or legal proceeding has been filed in court. If you absolutely need the other driver’s cell phone records or electronic data right away, filing suit immediately after the wreck may be your best option. Another “best practice,” is to send a request to the at-fault driver or their representative or insurance company demanding that the phone and records be preserved in the event of future litigation. A party’s failure to preserve evidence when a claim or possible lawsuit is known about can, in some cases, result in civil penalties.
How can evidence be preserved after a car accident?
First, physical evidence, damage to the vehicles, and the scene should be photographed as soon as possible. Injures are also “evidence,” and you should take many pictures of your injury when it is fresh and as you heal and recover. For evidence that is not in your control, such as surveillance video, auto maintenance records and electronic data, etc. a preservation of evidence letter can, in many instances, be sent. If a defendant receives a request to preserve evidence and later destroys it, knowing that you may be making a claim, the person or company could be sanctioned or punished for “spoliation of evidence.”
If you are worried about preservation or spoliation of evidence by the at-fault driver or company, or by anyone else, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is usually a great idea.
Will a lawsuit be necessary to settle my car accident?
Most cases that are well-prepared and well-documented, and where prompt and necessary medical care was received, can be settled without a lawsuit or civil action or other legal proceedings. Cases involving complicated medical conditions or disputed facts may have to be filed in court. This is true also when the insurance adjuster is being especially stubborn and makes a low-ball settlement offer.
In these cases, our attorneys will discuss your legal options with you and prepare you for what’s next. Even after a suit is filed, very few “court cases” actually make it to trial. With the right preparation and aggressive litigation, it is very possible your suit will settle after the insurance company reconsiders and makes a larger offer.
Should your case be called for trial, you can rest assured The Millar Law Firm will be ready. We have tried over 100 cases to verdict, and you are invited to review our case results here. Some of our best cases have been referred to us by judges who have seen our work in their courtrooms.
What happens when a case goes to trial?
In a nutshell, before going to trial, the attorneys will meet with the Judge and have hearings to decide what issues will be tried and what evidence will be admissible or allowed. A Jury is usually selected through the process known as Voir Dire. Then the car accident trial itself takes place, with the Jury making an award of damages following closing arguments. The typical car wreck trial can be as short as one-day, or can last from several days to more than one week.
Jurors often wonder or worry about who will pay their Verdict. Car crash trials are almost always defended by insurance defense lawyers and the judgments and verdicts paid by insurance. This is true even if you do not hear the word “insurance” spoken at trial. Georgia’s Rules of Evidence do not usually allow the parties to talk about insurance, even though insurance is paying the judgment in the vast majority of cases.
Our office never accepts or takes frivolous automobile injury claims to trial. This would be an insult to the intelligence of most Jurors and a waste of everyone’s time. We strongly believe that there are already too many lawsuits, and that only the best and most-worthy cases should be pursued.
How long does a typical car accident in Atlanta take to settle?
We recommend that you do not settle your car accident injury claim until you are done with your medical care, or until your future medical condition and needs are known. Thus, many car accident cases will settle two or three months after your medical care ends. If a lawsuit is necessary-either because the facts of your case are in dispute or the insurance company is refusing to make a fair settlement offer-civil suits in the Atlanta area usually take between one and two years after filing before they are called for trial. Settlements reached in a car accident injury case are normally paid within weeks or months after a release is signed, but can also be paid over time in a settlement structure.
What is mediation, and how does it work in Atlanta?
In Georgia, mediation or ADR — Alternative Dispute Resolution — is a settlement conference in which both sides get together and attempt to negotiate a settlement of a legal case. In an injury case, this means the injury victim or Plaintiff and your attorney on one side, and the defense lawyer and representatives of the insurance company on the other. A neutral party, or mediator listens to the positions of both sides and helps them negotiate, usually by shuttling back and forth to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case and to negotiate by exchanging settlement offers and counter-offers. Mediation can be voluntary by agreement of the parties, or court ordered.
Unlocking Fair Settlements in Atlanta
In the Atlanta area, insurance companies generally extend truly equitable settlement offers when they perceive that the evidence at hand paints a compelling case, one that stands a solid chance of prevailing in court.
The encouraging aspect of this is that skillfully presenting this caliber of evidence, meticulously documented in a comprehensive demand package, often paves the way for successful settlements. However, should negotiations hit an impasse, possessing the robust evidence necessary to mount a compelling court challenge becomes paramount.
Dedication and Experience: Other Auto Injury Cases Managed by Our Atlanta Legal Team
Our Comprehensive Demand Packages Include:
With these meticulously prepared demand packages, we leave no room for doubt, ensuring your case is presented with utmost clarity and strength.
At The Millar Law Firm, our unwavering commitment to meticulous preparation and persuasive presentation underpins our consistent track record of remarkable outcomes. Whether in the courtroom trenches or at the negotiation table, we stand ready to champion your cause with precision and determination.