When it comes to vacations, many Atlantans enjoy taking a road trip. Drivers are paying the lowest prices for gasoline in a number of years and low prices are likely to remain for much of 2018, according to AAA.
While road trips are a wonderful way to spend a family vacation and see new places, they do pose a risk of Georgia car accidents. Further, a car accident in Georgia that occurs with a driver from another state—or that occurs when you are traveling through another state—raises legal question of how a claim is filed, and how a lawsuit would work. Here is a look into what you need to know about being in car accident in Georgia with an out-of-state traveler:
As a general rule, a person injured in a car accident caused by an out-of-state driver would seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. You can report the accident to your own insurance company and they can negotiate with the at-fault out-of-state driver’s insurance company. If you cannot reach a satisfactory settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then you may need to consider filing a lawsuit against the driver and their insurance company.
Regardless of where you live in Georgia or where the other driver lives, you can typically file a claim with his or her insurance to pay for your injuries. Many insurance companies, especially the larger ones, operate in multiple states and are accustomed to handling claims involving out-of-state drivers.
Filing a car accident claim with an out-of-state driver is more complicated. The key thing to consider is which state has jurisdiction. Generally speaking, you should be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, if the traffic accident occurred in Georgia.
In a lawsuit, there are two parties: the plaintiff (you, the person who is filing the lawsuit) and the defendant (the other driver, the party against whom suit is being filed). If your accident occurred in Georgia and both drivers were from Georgia (although different parts of the state), you must file your car accident lawsuit in Georgia. Further, under the Constitution of Georgia Article VI, Section II, Paragraph VI, Georgia drivers have the right to only be sued in their home county. As such, you would need to file your lawsuit with the court in the defendant’s home county.
When the driver lives in a different state, there are two laws in Georgia that govern where a lawsuit should be filed: the Georgia Long-Arm Statute and the Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act.
The first law, the Georgia Long-Arm Statute, is found in Georgia Code section 9-10-91. This law reads that a court of the state of Georgia “may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident…” in the event that the nonresident “commits a tortious injury…” In other words, you have the right to sue the defendant in Georgia, even if he or she is from out of state based on the fact that the defendant is the person who has committed a wrongful act. Keep in mind that even if you sue a person under this statute, you must still serve them at their current place of residence.
The Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act provides more options for plaintiffs who are injured in a car accident in the state of Georgia in terms of the court that has jurisdiction over the case. The act states that the plaintiff may file his or her civil action with the court in the county in which the crash occurred, or the county in which the injured motorist who is seeking compensation resides. A knowledgeable Atlanta car accident attorney can review the specifics of your accident, where it occurred, and advise you about the proper location to file a claim or lawsuit.
When you are in a car accident with a motorist who resides in another state, or if you are involved in an accident as an out-of-state motorist, it is important that you take action immediately to hire an experienced car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer who is seasoned in the law will be able to provide you with more information regarding how to serve an out-of-state driver in a civil action, and where your case may be held.
In addition to providing you with advice regarding your legal options for recovering compensation, an Atlanta car accident attorney can gather evidence to support your claim, show the extent of your injuries, and negotiate a fair settlement agreement. If a settlement cannot be reached, an attorney can litigate on your behalf.
Throughout the entire process, your attorney will also serve as a resource for all of your legal questions. It is important to consult a Georgia car accident lawyer if you have been involved in an accident caused by an out-of-state driver.