- Hiring an attorney who knows the relevant Georgia laws and can apply those laws to the facts of your case are essential to recovering damages for a car accident.
- Even if you have a “simple” case, the insurance company has its own team of lawyers looking to raise defenses against you, which can be used to deny or pay less compensation for your claim whether you settle or go to trial.
- To get compensation for a car accident, you must have strong evidence proving that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident and that you were not at fault as well as documentation proving the full cost of your injuries.
- To successfully negotiate a high-compensation settlement, you’ll need a good attorney to fight against common insurance company tactics and resolve factual disputes about the accident.
Sometimes it’s obvious who is responsible for a car accident. If you know the other driver was at fault, you might think you have an “easy” claim and don’t need an attorney.
However, there’s more to a car accident case than proving fault. In fact, proving fault is just the first step on a long road to getting full compensation.
Insurance companies often try to convince people that they don’t have to hire an attorney to represent them because their case is simple. If that were true, carriers would get a lot richer while car accident victims end up paying costs out of their own pocket.
Knowing Georgia’s Laws and Applying Them to the Accident
Knowing the relevant Georgia laws and being able to apply those laws to the facts of your case are essential to recovering damages for a car accident. When you hire an experienced car accident attorney, you have a professional with expert knowledge of these laws working on your side.
Even if you think you have a straightforward case, the insurance company has its own team of lawyers looking to raise defenses against you. These defenses don’t just come into play if your case goes to trial; carriers also use them to justify denying claims or paying less compensation when negotiating a settlement.
Insurance lawyers know how to use any mistake or small detail to their advantage and are experts at finding ways to reduce payouts. The most common type of defense is to argue that the victim did something wrong that contributed to the accident, such as driving too fast or not paying attention. In other words, they will say you could have avoided the crash or lessened the impact but didn’t. Because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, any percentage of fault on your part can reduce your compensation, and you may be barred from recovery altogether if you were at least 50 percent negligent.
Carriers might also argue that the victim failed to mitigate their damages, which means that they did something to make their injuries worse, such as not seeking timely medical treatment, not following doctor’s orders, or engaging in physical activity before they had healed. If the carrier can find one small mistake (e.g., missing a follow-up appointment) or a basis to argue against some part of your claim (e.g., comparative negligence), it can lower your compensation settlement.
Collecting Evidence and Documentation to Prove a Legal Claim
To get compensation for any kind of car accident case, you must have strong evidence to support your claim. Specifically, you need credible information proving that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident and that you were not at fault.
Most people don’t have the experience necessary to understand what kind of evidence is effective and what may hurt their claim. Gathering documentation to prove fault, which is often more complicated than it appears, is only one part of the process. You will need to obtain the police report, photographs of the accident scene and vehicles involved, driver information, eyewitness statements, videos from nearby cameras, and any accident reports filed by the other driver.
You must also collect evidence detailing your injuries and costs associated with the accident. This information may include bills for your ER visit, ambulance, doctors’ visits, surgery, and physical therapy as well as expert opinions regarding your long-term prognosis, treatment, ability to work, and changes to your lifestyle. Documentation of current and future lost wages or reduced income should also be obtained.
Proving Whether an Insurance Company is Acting in Bad Faith
The at-fault driver’s insurance company is obligated to make a good faith effort to compensate car accident victims, but carriers try to pay as little as possible on claims to protect their profit margin. Without an experienced attorney to represent their interests, many victims end up paying money for an accident that wasn’t their fault.
Sometimes a victim doesn’t provide enough evidence to give the carrier an accurate measure of their losses. Often, however, insurance companies will deny or underpay a proper claim using a variety of unfair and dishonest tactics, or they will drag out the process for an unreasonable length of time to avoid payment.
In these situations, a car accident lawyer will have to prove how and why the carrier acted in bad faith. Being able to show that the insurance company acted in bad faith when handling a claim can result in a much higher compensation payout for the victim.
Proving Injuries Are Related to the Accident
Many accident victims may suffer from injuries or health conditions that were not caused by the collision. Once you have proven that you were not at fault for the crash, you will next have to prove that your symptoms were caused by the accident. Insurance companies usually work hard to show that your injuries were a pre-existing condition, or not related to the at-fault driver’s actions.
With injuries that require an immediate trip to the ER, such as a concussion or broken bones, it may be easy to prove causation. Other symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, or chronic back pain, can be harder to prove because they may only show up days or weeks afterward. A car accident can also exacerbate a pre-existing condition (e.g., joint or bone degeneration), which can be especially tricky to prove.
Regardless of your symptoms, a good car accident attorney knows how to collect and present evidence demonstrating that your injuries resulted from the accident rather than something else.
Proving the Cost of the Injuries
After you have proven your injuries were caused by the accident, you must also show the current and future costs to heal those injuries.
Proving injury costs can be complicated for several reasons. First, bills for an ambulance ride, an ER visit, and follow-up appointments with doctors may take months to arrive. Second, certain symptoms may not show up until later, making it hard to estimate the full extent of your problems. Finally, you may not know right away whether your injuries will require long-term treatment.
Insurance companies will come to their own conclusions about how much your injuries cost and may offer a quick payout before you know the full measure of your loss. You’ll need an experienced lawyer to break down the total cost of your current and future medical treatment and prove this cost to the insurance carrier.
Proving the Life-Changing Effects of the Accident
Some victims may heal quickly from their injuries; others may take years to recover; and still others may never be whole again. If injuries from a car accident have a negative effect on your life, either temporarily or permanently, you can recover the value of these damages as part of your compensation package.
There’s a wide range of lifetime challenges that can result from an accident, including chronic pain, limited activities, loss of consortium, and being unable to care for yourself. A car accident attorney can prove and assign a monetary value to these changes by consulting with experts so that you get all the compensation you deserve.
Proving the Total Value of the Car Accident
Even if the at-fault driver was intoxicated or committed a reckless act, many people believe they are only entitled to recover the economic cost of the accident. In reality, they may be owed much more, including nonfinancial losses and punitive damages that are meant to punish people for harmful behavior.
If you have a car accident lawyer fighting for you, they can gather evidence and prove the total cost of the collision, such as lost income, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more, so you receive a much higher payout than you would be able to get on your own.
Negotiating for a High-Compensation Settlement
Once your lawyer determines the total value of the accident, they must negotiate with the insurance company to get a settlement offer for that amount. Negotiations are part of a process that involves the attorney presenting evidence proving negligence and damages.
Typically, the carrier will try to counter this evidence with information from its own investigation, and the attorney must effectively communicate with insurance representatives until both sides reach an agreement. Knowing how to handle common insurance company tactics and being able to resolve factual disputes are invaluable skills when negotiating a high-compensation settlement.
With over 25 years of experience, The Millar Law Firm will keep fighting until you get full compensation for your car accident. Even if you are unsure whether you need to hire an attorney, you can get your questions answered via email or by calling The Millar Law Firm at (770) 400-0000.