Car Accidents in Atlanta, GA
Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia, has a network of highways, including three major interstate highways (I-20, I-75, and I-85). With automobiles being used as the dominant method of transportation, you can expect that this large city has experienced its fair share of auto collisions. In fact, Atlanta has seen fatal 2-car crashes as a result of hazardous weather. Atlanta has also experienced fatal hit-and-run crashes. Regardless of the type of car accident, Atlanta residents can further protect themselves and their loved-ones by searching for credible Atlanta, GA lawyers on the State Bar of Georgia website. However, Atlanta residents can also be connected to a professional Atlanta, GA personal injury lawyer through the Eichholz Law Firm.
What To Do After a Car Accident
What a victim does in the immediate aftermath of the accident will help preserve a viable case for a car accident lawyer. Many things are happening at the scene of an accident, and an accident victim will need to keep their wits about them to give themselves the best possible chance in a car accident lawsuit. Here are some things that should and should not be done at an accident scene.
- Do NOT argue with the other driver – This can only make things worse by setting a victim up to say something against their interests. It is better to remain in control of the situation because the other driver will not be persuaded.
- Do NOT admit liability – This will reduce the chances of a successful lawsuit. What is said and done at the accident scene could be considered contemporaneous evidence of what happened
- DO take as many pictures as possible – The accident scene will be the only time the evidence is still there to be memorialized. If the victim is uninjured, the first focus should be on taking pictures and recording recollections.
- DO speak to and line up witnesses – Again, this is the only time that victims can figure out who saw the accident and get witnesses’ contact information in case it is later necessary in a trial or for insurance.
- DO get a police report – While the police may not determine liability, the police report is one way to lock down key facts about the incident in case they are necessary in later proceedings.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
After the accident, it is best to retain a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, GA as soon as possible. That is because dealing with insurance companies is difficult under the best circumstances. Especially when the other driver’s insurance company is involved, there is the possibility of pressure tactics to undermine the victim’s legal rights. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help deal with the insurance company. Victims who deal with the insurance company on their own should remember the following:
- Remain on the record – Even an offhand statement can be enough to compromise legal rights. Insurance companies may try to trick victims or entice them to say something that compromises their car accident lawsuit, and one needs to always remain vigilant.
- Do not fully trust them – Even one’s own insurance company is not necessarily a friend. These companies have their own financial interests to look into and they may place those interests above those of the insured. This is another reason why one should fully know their rights.
- What they say is not final – Insurance companies will probably lowball their settlement offers. Do not accept their first offer because they will likely have some more room to pay additional monies. Make sure to negotiate with them. If all else fails, victims can file a car accident lawsuit.
- The insurance company cannot punish – While insurance companies may cancel insurance, they cannot take away anyone’s license and they cannot retaliate if a victim forcefully argues for their own legal rights. Therefore, do not be afraid of the insurance company and do not hesitate to hire a car accident lawyer to stand up to them.
Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement
As mentioned above, shy away from accepting the first offer made by the insurance company. Go into any negotiation with a number in mind for what is a fair settlement. A car accident lawyer in Atlanta, GA can help advise on the amount of a fair settlement. Here are some damages that can be compensated in a settlement or car accident lawsuit if one is filed.
- Lost Wages – Any time missed from work either in the present or the future is compensable. The settlement is intended to make an accident victim “whole” as if the accident never happened.
- Medical Bills – Any medical charges that have been incurred or will be incurred in the future are paid in a settlement. This includes costs for both treatment and therapy.
- Pain and Suffering – This is only usually awarded if one party to the accident is at fault. If liability cannot be established, victims cannot be compensated for pain and suffering.
Georgia Car Accident Laws
In some states, victims cannot recover from a car accident if they were negligent in any way. In other states, liability will be apportioned based on the percentage of negligence that each party has been assigned.
Georgia’s minimum liability insurance coverage amounts that a driver is required to have include:
- $25,000 for the death or injury of one individual, which can be another driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, yourself, etc.
- $25,000 for any property damage caused by the accident
- $50,000 for the death or injury of more than one individual in a single accident
Georgia state law requires accidents to be reported immediately to local police if there is property damage of over $500, an injury, or death. It is also required that parties exchange information such as license, insurance, and contact information. Parties involved in a car crash must assist any injured persons and remain at the scene of the accident until all obligations are completed.
Georgia Statute of Limitations
The state of Georgia is similar to most states in regards to the statute of limitations, which is a state law that sets a time limit on a plaintiff’s right to file a lawsuit, and the deadline will vary depending on the level of injuries that the plaintiff has suffered or the type of case that needs to be filed. The statute of limitations does not apply to car insurance claims. Georgia Code Section 9-3-33 states that “Actions for injuries to a person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues.” This means that whoever was injured in a car accident must file a claim within two years.
If a person is killed in a car accident in Atlanta, GA, the family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who was negligent and caused the crash. The deadline for filing a wrongful death car accident lawsuit is also two years.
The deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit in Atlanta, GA over vehicle damage caused by the car crash is four years, according to Georgia Code section 9-3-31.
It is important for victims to contact a car accident lawyer to help guide them through the complex legal steps of a car accident lawsuit in Atlanta, GA.
Why Hire an Atlanta, GA Car Accident Lawyer?
There are many reasons to hire a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, GA. The attorney is a counselor who will help in many ways beyond simply getting car accident victims fair compensation. Here are some ways that a car accident lawyer will help their clients:
- Deal with the insurance company – the insurance company has the expertise and a full staff of lawyers. Their information superiority will give them an advantage unless the accident victim hires their own attorney
- Prepare for litigation – witnesses must be interviewed and evidence must be prepared in case there is a court trial in the case. If there is no settlement, then there will likely be a car accident lawsuit.
- Litigate the case – Car accident victims will find it tough to present their own case. The attorney will go to court to attempt to prove that the other party was at fault and should pay.
- Act as a counselor – There are many things to keep track of, and an accident victim is likely to be preoccupied, especially if they are dealing with an injury.
What Happens at a Trial?
When a car accident lawsuit goes to court, the car accident lawyer will be attempting to prove that the other party was negligent in order to make their client eligible to receive compensation. Negligence is a fact-intensive inquiry that looks at the particulars of each situation to see who is at fault. It requires calling witnesses and presenting evidence to convince the judge and the jury of what happened and why the events were due to the actions of one party.
Negligence does not come from any law that is on the books. Instead, it derives from many years of cases in state courts. Usually, there are four elements of negligence that will need to be proven in a successful car accident lawsuit. They are as follows:
- Duty – In order to be found negligent, one party must owe a duty of care to another. This is usually fulfilled in car accident lawsuits because a driver owes a duty of care to other drivers on the road.
- Breach of duty – This is where much of the contention lies in a car accident lawsuit. Each driver must take care to act as a reasonable driver under the circumstances. This would mean that they operate their vehicle safely and do not speed or break other traffic laws. If the driver has failed to act as a reasonable driver would, then they have breached the duty
- Injury – If a driver suffered some form of harm or damage, then there is an injury
- Causation – This is another contested area in a car accident lawsuit. If the victim’s injuries would not have occurred but for the actions of the other driver, then the other driver is the proximate cause of the injury. A third party whose act has caused the action can also be considered the proximate cause of an accident, even if they were not in the accident.
If negligence is proven, it is not necessarily the end of the story. The court and jury will then look at the victim’s own actions to see if they were also at fault too. This is called contributory negligence. A car accident lawyer will also be trying to show that their client was blameless for causing the accident. For example, if the victim was hit by a speeding car when the victim was making an illegal turn, then there may be some contributory negligence. Alternatively, if the victim’s injury occurred when they were not wearing a seatbelt, there could also be some contributory negligence.
In some states, if the victim was negligent in any way, they cannot recover anything in compensation. However, only a handful of states are contributory negligence states. Most states are comparative negligence states, including Georgia. This means that a judge or jury will try to find the percentage of negligence by the victim and adjust the compensation accordingly. For example, if the victim was traveling ten miles per hour over the speed limit, they may be 25 percent at fault, and their compensation may be reduced accordingly.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Unfortunately, car accidents happen on quite a regular basis. Accidents can occur due to a variety of circumstances, such as from the negligent actions of another motorist. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are several common factors that occur in many of these accidents including (but not limited to):
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk Driving
- Reckless Driving
- Texting & Driving
More often than not, a serious injury can occur due to a driver being irresponsible and not paying attention to the road. Being distracted while driving poses a number of risks while on the road, including potential car accidents. When such accidents occur, you’ll want to ensure you are protected by your insurance company and the help of an attorney.
United States Car Accident Statistics
- Speed-related car accidents cost Americans about $40.4 billion each year.
- Over half of the 5 million yearly car crashes in the U.S. are caused by aggressive drivers who are speeding.
- Speeding is the number one cause of fatal highway accidents.
Car Accident Fatalities
- In 2016, half of car accident deaths occurred in rural areas.
- Pedestrian deaths make up 16% of traffic deaths in 2016.
- Male drivers were involved in 34% of fatal car accidents while female drivers were involved in 12%.
- Fatal car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.
- More than 9 people were killed each day due to distracted drivers.
- Drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving.
- Every 1 out of 3 people text and drive.
- Every 3 out of 5 people are likely to be involved in a car crash due to impaired driving in their lifetime.
- After alcohol, marijuana is the second most often linked reason for impaired driving.
- The rate of fatal car accidents in which at least one driver tested positive for drugs has almost doubled in over a decade.
- Drunk driving car accidents cost the U.S. about $199 billion every year.
General Car Accident Statistics
- Over 37,000 people die in car accidents each year.
- There is an average number of 6 million car accidents every year.
- Over 90 people die in car crashes every day.
- Around 3 million U.S. citizens are injured in car accidents each year and 2 million of these people suffer permanent injuries.
- The risk of car crashes is higher during the first year drivers have a license.
- There are about 10 million car crash incidents that go unreported every year.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm to File an Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuit
An experienced attorney can help guide an accident victim through the aftermath of a car accident. The Eichholz Law Firm has experienced personal injury attorneys who have helped victims recover hundreds of millions of dollars in legal action.
Given the number of things that happen immediately in the wake of a car accident, it is important to hire counsel as soon as possible, even if the victim is preoccupied or does not want to deal with the aftermath of the accident. The quicker an attorney becomes involved in the case, the faster an accident victim can begin to preserve and vindicate their legal rights.
The Eichholz Law Firm prides itself on providing individuals with an attorney to serve their specific needs. Georgia residents who need an Atlanta, GA car accident lawyer can contact our law firm and receive reliable legal counsel. Our lawyers are dedicated to serving victims and fighting for justice. You won’t have to pay our lawyers a cent until you win your case.
- Driving-Tests.org. “The Ultimate List of Driving Statistics for 2019”, Driving-Tests.org, https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/. Accessed May 9, 2019.
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. “Cost of Auto Crashes & Statistics”, Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, http://www.rmiia.org/auto/traffic_safety/Cost_of_crashes.asp. Accessed May 9, 2019.
- DMV. “Accident Guide”, Department of Motor Vehicles, https://www.dmv.org/accident-guide/. Accessed May 9, 2019.
- ASIRT. “ROAD SAFETY FACTS”, Association for Safe International Travel, https://www.asirt.org/safe-travel/road-safety-facts/. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- NHTSA. “Teen Driving”, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- NHTSA. “Speeding”, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- NHTSA. “Driver Safety”, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://one.nhtsa.gov/Driving-Safety. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “New data from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute provides insight into cell phone use and driving distraction”, Virginia Tech, https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2009/07/2009-571.html. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- Nathan Bomey. “Spate of drugged driving deaths alarms U.S. regulators”, USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/10/27/drugged-driving-dui-nhtsa-auto-safety/92678186/. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- David Goguen, J.D. “Georgia Car Accident Laws”, NOLO, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/georgia-car-accident-laws.html. Accessed May 15, 2019.
- FindLaw. “Georgia Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline”, Thomson Reuters, https://statelaws.findlaw.com/georgia-law/georgia-car-accident-settlement-process-and-timeline.html. Accessed May 15, 2019.