Atlanta Car Accident Attorney - Overview of Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuits
Even the most experienced and careful drivers may be involved in a car accident. According to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (GDMVS), between 1996 and 2003 there were almost 2.5 million crashes in the state of Georgia. GDMVS also estimates that nearly 9% of Georgia’s population is involved in a motor vehicle accident every year.
Several factors contribute to car accidents, from poor road conditions to driver error. Many accidents are a result of distracted drivers or failure to obey traffic laws. Other accidents may be caused by a malfunction of the automobile’s steering, brakes or other equipment.Legal issues, proving fault and negligence
A car accident is an event involving a passenger vehicle that causes property damage, personal injury, and/ or death. A large majority of car accidents are caused by some form of negligence. Proving negligence may be difficult, and the aid of an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney may be advisable.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to use reasonable care. Common forms of negligence in the context of car accidents include drivers not obeying traffic laws, driving while distracted, or driving while intoxicated. In other accidents, it is the government who is negligent by failing to maintain roads or properly mark hazards or intersections. In still other cases, neither driver may be negligent, but the automobile manufacturer has put out a dangerous or defective product.
To prove negligence in court, a victim must show that:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty to use reasonable care
- The defendant acted negligently, i.e. failed to use reasonable care
- The defendant’s negligence caused the accident
- The plaintiff was harmed by the accident
In Georgia, a car accident victim may recover several types of damages including all medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses, actual and prospective lost wages, and pain and suffering. A victim may even be able to recover punitive damages if the defendant was intoxicated or acted in a manner that exhibited reckless disregard for the safety of others. An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer will help an individual identify and pursue all damages and compensation available.Insurance and car accidents
Most car accidents that occur in Georgia will be handled by insurance claims. This does not mean, however, that a car accident victim will be able to obtain full recovery for their damages or that every driver on the road has insurance. Georgia law requires that drivers have liability insurance on every vehicle that they own. However, Georgia law only requires that a driver be covered up to $25,000 for bodily injury per person and property damage, and $50,000 per accident for injury to two or more people. Considering the cost of medical treatment and auto repair, the minimum required by law is seldom enough to cover anything more severe than a minor accident.
Additionally, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation, one in every ten drivers (higher in fatal car crashes) involved in a car accident in Georgia had a driver’s license from another country or state. Many out-of-state drivers do not have insurance and the victim must try to obtain recovery for their damages through a suit against the at-fault driver.
In terms of car accident insurance, Georgia is a fault state, meaning that insurance companies pay according to the degree of fault of each party. While fault may be easy to determine in some cases, in other more complicated accidents involving multiple drivers and crashes, fault may be more difficult to determine. An experienced Atlanta car accident attorney is especially helpful in ensuring that fault is allocated correctly.Settlements and car accidents
Many car accident claims are handled through insurance settlements. However, more complicated accidents involving serious injury, death or costly damage usually lead to a lawsuit to determine fault and compensation. A personal lawsuit may also be necessary if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured for the victim to obtain full recovery for damages.Statute Of Limitations
Georgia has a general two-year statute of limitations for personal injuries and property damage stemming from a car accident. However, the statute of limitations for personal injury does not begin to run until after the at-fault driver’s case for the ticket received for the accident is settled in court. This means that if the ticket is not settled until 6 months after the accident, the victim has 2 years and six months from the day of the accident to file suit for personal injuries.
However, it is never advisable to wait until the last minute to file suit. As many experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys explain, the more a suit is delayed, the more likely it is that witnesses may forget important evidence or evidence gets damaged or destroyed.