We have seen it time and time again. A relatively minor rear-end collision results in a struggle with pain and dysfunction for you, our client. We are aware of how important your health is to you and your family. Here is how to guide your claim through this difficult process.
Rear-End Crashes Can Be More Harmful Than Expected
Rear-end collisions are statistically the most common motor vehicle accidents in this country. Getting hit from behind by another car or truck can be among the most physically harmful type of crash for one simple reason. You usually don’t see it coming. There is often no chance to take any evasive action, and the forces of acceleration if you are at a complete stop when hit can be very large.
Managing You Injury Claim
Hopefully, you went straight to the emergency room, or you went shortly thereafter to have your injuries assessed and attended to. But either way, you (and perhaps others in your family) are in pain and you have concerns. There are some critical components of an auto insurance claim that you should be aware of.
The goal, of course, is to get better, back to the condition you were in before this happened. To do that, you may need care from a doctor, physical therapy, chiropractic care or even surgery. This can get expensive, especially in today’s health care environment. However, do not allow that to deter you from getting treatment. Hospital emergency rooms will see you even if you do not have insurance, and many medical doctors, therapists and chiropractors can provide medical care on a lien — which means that they will agree to accept payment after your case is over, whether by settlement or after a trial.
Who is responsible to pay for my injuries?
In Georgia all drivers are expected to have automobile insurance under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-10 . If the driver who rear-ended you does not have insurance, there may still be coverage available. For instance, if the vehicle they were driving is owned by someone else, and the at-fault driver had permission to operate the vehicle, the coverage may extend to you.
Alternatively, if you have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage (this is known in Georgia as UM or UIM coverage), you may be entitled to recover money for your injuries, medical bills and lost pay from your own insurance company. Under O.C.G.A. 33-9-40, just because you file a claim under your own uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, if the accident was not your fault, the insurer cannot raise your insurance premium.
How do I get my car fixed?
If you have collision coverage, one option you have is to allow your own insurance company to handle the repairs to your vehicle. Under your collision coverage, your damage will be repaired immediately, but will be subject to your deductible. That deductible will be recovered from the at-fault party’s insurance and returned to you once the claim is settled.
If you are without collision coverage on your vehicle, you will need to coordinate with the other party’s insurance to get your vehicle assessed and repaired. If the liability of the at-fault party is at least fairly clear, they will usually work with you in a timely manner to take care of your vehicle repair, towing costs and any necessary rental car expenses you incur.
What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Georgia allows an optional coverage on your auto insurance called Medical Payments Coverage (commonly referred to as “Med Pay”). If you have purchased Med Pay, this can cover medical expenses up to the limit of coverage you have purchased.
If you do not, it is a good idea to add this coverage to your policy for future claims. It costs very little in terms of your premium.
What if I Cannot Afford Medical Care or the Doctor Will Not Treat Me?
The at-fault driver and their insurance company are ultimately responsible for the cost of your medical care. If you are having difficulty getting medical care for your injuries, call us. In the vast majority of cases it is possible to receive all the medical care you deserve, even if you lack the ability to pay for it up-front. And, in some cases, we have seen doctor’s offices refuse to treat a person because it is a “car accident.” If you have had this happen, contact is to learn your options to receive the medical treatment you need.
How are Rear-End Accidents Different?
(Neck, Back, Arm and Leg Injuries)
Rear-end collisions can cause severe injuries to the neck, back, arms and legs. These injuries occur due to the violent forces that throw your car forward and back, resulting in injuries that include:
Injury of the cervical spine, also known as whiplash
Injury of the lumbar spine (low back)
Spinal cord injury
Ankle and knee injuries
Face and head injury caused by airbag deployment
Legal Information for Georgia Rear-End Accident Cases
Distracted driving is a common reason for rear-end accidents. The most prevalent distractions behind the wheel were addressed by the Georgia Legislature in 2018 and were codified under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.
Text messaging of every kind is now specifically prohibited under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2 and includes instant messaging and emailing.
Talking on a cell phone in Georgia now requires a “hands free” device if you wish to talk on the phone while driving. Any phone held up to the ear is reason to be pulled over, and unless you were doing something like calling for emergency services, you will be ticketed.
Things like eating or drinking, adjusting the radio or GPS, and putting on makeup are also against the law, though not explicitly named in the code. They would fall under the catch-all category of unreasonable “distractions” while driving.
Besides distracted driving habits, there are other factors that can contribute to a rear-end crash. Some of these could even be considered “aggravating” factors, meaning your claim could be worth even more money. These include:
Driving too fast for conditions causes many rear-end collisions. It is a violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180. If the at-fault driver’s rate of speed was beyond reason, they may be cited for Reckless Driving, a “serious traffic offence” under Georgia law and usually considered to be an aggravating factor under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390.
Driving Under the Influence
Impaired drivers obviously have reduced perception and reaction time. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391, it is considered a “serious traffic offense”. If you are struck by an impaired driver, it could add significant value to your claim.
Swerving or Cutting Off Other Drivers
Fast lane changes or cutting off other vehicles, ie., aggressive driving causes many wrecks. At best it is in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48. At worst, it could be considered Reckless Driving under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390.
Bad weather may limit visibility and make the road slippery, requiring greater following distances. Driving too fast for these conditions is a violation under O.C.G.A. 40-6-180. Perhaps their tires had insufficient tread in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-8-74 (e). That could establish liability under Georgia law.
Following Too Closely
In the State of Georgia, a driver violates the law when he or she follows another motor vehicle at a distance that is closer than reasonable and prudent under the conditions, which include the speed of the vehicles and surrounding traffic and the condition of the road according to O.C.G.A. 40-6-49(a).
Overtaking, Passing and Leaving Space
It is the law in Georgia under O.C.G.A. 40-6-49(b) that you must leave enough space so that an overtaking (passing) vehicle can enter your lane without danger.
Legal Definition: “Following” Includes “Approaching”
A vehicle approaching another vehicle from the rear, when that motorist has slowed or is stopped is considered “following” under Georgia law. This means that a driver who runs into the rear-end of a motor vehicle that is slowing down or is stopped may be cited for following too closely under O.C.G.A. 40-6-49(a) and (c).
Georgia law defines “roadway” as the part of a highway used for travel, excluding the shoulder under O.C.G.A. 40-1-1(53). A driver who follows at an unsafe distance on any roadway may be guilty of following too closely.