If you or a loved one has just been involved in a car accident, then there are many things racing through your mind, such as wondering whether you need a lawyer and how you will pay for the property damage and medical bills you incurred. You may even be wondering about Georgia’s personal injury laws and how they relate to your case.
The insurance company will have their own team of insurance adjusters who will review your case when you file your personal injury claim after the accident. They are skilled in assessing claims and finding ways to pay much less than they should. They may seem to have your best interest in mind, but they are always thinking about their bottom line.
The Pendergrass Law Firm is ready to help you with every step of the legal process after your car accident. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation where we review the evidence you bring in and answer questions you have about filing a personal injury claim. The following information will help you as you move forward with your case and with your life.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident?
You should always get a lawyer to represent you when you have been involved in a car accident. Many people who represent themselves start talking to the insurance company and are either emotionally charged or confused when the process isn’t as straightforward as they think it should be. If you don’t work in law or insurance, and you’re not engaged in the daily process of negotiating settlements, then you may be quite surprised to see how complex the process is.
A problem that can arise is a victim of a car accident is focused on their healing, and their emotions run high when talking about their car accident case. A lawyer is a third party who will be able to speak with the insurance company and not get caught up in feelings about the accident. Car insurance companies are used to getting angry phone calls from victims who do not feel that they have received enough compensation, and this does not help them get the settlement they think they deserve. But when an attorney calmly provides the facts of the case and demonstrates their knowledge of the law and their clients’ rights, the insurance company is far more willing to work with them. The victim can then focus on their healing because they have put their trust and an attorney working for them.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a car accident?
Working with a Lawrenceville car accident lawyer is essential because insurance companies are interested in saving themselves money on each car accident claim. If you need extensive medical treatment for your injuries, such as surgeries or tests or long-term physical therapy in Lawrenceville, then you will have very high medical bills that the insurance company will not want to pay. Insurance adjusters are not doctors, so they don’t understand why accident victims’ severe injuries cost so much. The insurance adjuster is not focused on a fair settlement, but your Lawrenceville personal injury attorney is. You can have peace of mind that your attorney will fight for you and your best interests.
What is the average settlement for a car accident with injury?
How much a victim receives in their personal injury settlement will depend on the facts of their case. The more severe the injuries, the more likely they will receive a higher amount. Typically the average settlement for car accident cases is between $10,000 and $60,000.
What is the average settlement for a car accident in Georgia?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average settlement in a private passenger auto accident was $18,417, and the average settlement for property damage was $4,525 in 2019. However, the amount of compensation that each victim receives depends on the facts of their case and the negotiations between your personal injury attorney and the insurance company, as well as any other liable parties in the victim’s claim. Your Lawrenceville car accident attorney will need to provide evidence to support your claim so that you get the maximum compensation possible.
Many states impose limits on how much compensation a car accident victim can receive in their personal injury settlement. For example, the state of Georgia caps punitive damages at $275,000, and 3/4 of it must be paid to the state treasury. However, there are some exceptions to this in Georgia, such as when the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
There is a myriad of reasons why car accidents occur. However, the following are some of the most common reasons why they happen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight people die every day in car crashes that involve a distracted driver. If a driver is traveling 55 miles per hour while reading a text or sending one, that is essentially the same as driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. But anything that can take your attention away from the road can be a distraction, not just cell phones. Even using a navigation system, eating, or talking on a cell phone using hands-free capabilities can increase the risk of an accident.
According to the Governor’s Office Of Highway Safety in Georgia, speeding is one of the top two causes of accidents in Gwinnett County. In 2015, five people died in the county in car accidents that were related to speeding. Across the United States, 9,378 people were killed in 2018 due to speeding and being involved in a car accident. When drivers are speeding, they have less time to react to road conditions, such as other cars turning or changing lanes. It takes a lot of force to stop a vehicle that is moving quickly, so when a driver is speeding and strikes another vehicle, all of that force gets thrown into that vehicle, which can lead to severe injuries.
Sometimes you can’t avoid driving in the rain or in snow. The inclement weather can reduce his ability and make roads much more slippery. When you do not need to go out, it’s best to stay put until a storm passes.
Driving while intoxicated is illegal in the state of Georgia. Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to react to changing road conditions, such as a driver slowing down to make a turn or a pedestrian crossing the street.
What should I do after I’ve been in an auto accident?
The moments after motor vehicle collisions are confusing and frightening. Most likely, you were wondering if you should move your vehicle out of the way of other traffic, are concerned about passengers in your car, or you may be concerned about the aggressiveness of the other driver and whether or not you will be facing conflict with them on the side of the road. In the face of a shocking motor vehicle collision, you’ll most likely be confused about the steps you should take next. Read on to learn some tips on what you should do after a traffic accident.
Your personal injury claim starts at the moment of your car wreck. The first thing you should do is check yourself, other passengers in your vehicle, and the other driver for car accident injuries. You must then call the police and inform the dispatcher of any serious injuries so that an ambulance can be sent to the accident scene.
If you are able to, then you should move your vehicle to the side of the road in order to keep yourself safe. If you are blocking traffic, then there is a risk of an additional car wreck, so you must move your vehicles out of the way.
There is important information that you should exchange with the other driver, including:
- Your names
- Your addresses
- Your phone numbers
- Your email addresses
- Your auto insurance policy information and phone number
If possible, you should take photos of the accident scene before you move your vehicles to document evidence. It is imperative that you try to take pictures from an angle where you will not get hit. Ideally, you are trying to tell the story with the pictures. To that end, here are some tips on how to get good photos that you can eventually provide to your Lawrenceville car accident lawyer:
- Take photos of the overall scene from a distance away. These photos should include the intersection, or the parking lot, or the other location where the accident occurred, as well as any traffic signs and signals.
- Move closer to the accident scene and take close-up photos. There will be more details in these photos that will be helpful.
- Take pictures of the road conditions, such as any obstructions, construction, or debris. You should also capture images of any skid marks, shattered glass, or debris that has gone into the road from the accident.
- Capture images of the damage to your vehicle
- Capture images of any visible bodily injuries
- You can also take videos
Any camera will do. If you have a cell phone, that will be just fine to capture the evidence you will need.
Go To The Emergency Room
Even if you initially don’t feel injured after your car accident, it is still a good idea to accept medical assistance at the accident scene or to visit an emergency room immediately. The moments after a car accident can be stressful and overwhelming, but the body responds by releasing adrenaline and endorphins to help your body react to the crisis. These biochemical reactions reduce pain, increase your awareness and state of readiness. Your digestion also slows down to preserve energy, your heart rate increases, and more oxygen is delivered to your muscles in a process often referred to as a “fight or flight” response. You should never say that you feel fine. Instead, go to the nearest emergency room to be checked by a physician so they can ensure that you did not suffer any serious injuries. Then call The Pendergrass Law Firm for legal advice on what to do about your anticipated medical bills.
What You Should Not Do
According to Georgia law, any driver of a vehicle involved in a car accident involving injury or death to anyone involved, or property damage, must stop at the scene of the accident, or as close as possible, and follow the laws regarding exchanging information. Hit and runs are charged as misdemeanors in the state of Georgia and can lead to fines starting at $300, imprisonment for up to 12 months, suspension of your driver’s license, and probation.
Do not speculate on who you think the at-fault driver is at the scene of the accident. Our personal injury law firm will launch a thorough investigation into your personal injury claim, collect evidence and then determine who is liable. It is best to remain calm at the accident scene. The road is not a courtroom, so you should not treat it like one. If the other driver becomes belligerent, you have the right to remain in your car until the authorities show up. When the police arrive, they will ask you to give a statement. It is important not to speculate on who caused the accident or to apologize since the insurance company will use what you say against you later on when you file your Lawrenceville personal injury claim. Offer accurate information, but do not volunteer anything that will jeopardize the investigation.
The other driver’s insurance company is likely to call you and ask you questions about your car accident injuries, but it is not a good idea to speak to them without legal representation. An accident lawyer knows the insurance companies’ tricks to get victims of car accidents to say the wrong thing, which reduces how much victims receive in personal injury claims. Don’t talk to the insurance company without your car accident attorney present. In fact, the Lawrenceville personal injury attorneys at The Pendergrass Law Firm can speak to them for you.
What types of compensation am I eligible for?
You can recover economic and non-economic damages from a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic damages are tangible losses that a defendant pays to a plaintiff in a personal injury case. These are much more easily documented and easily calculated. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses: if you received any medical bills for the cost of your initial hospital stay and follow-up treatments related to your injuries, then you should submit those to your Lawrenceville personal injury attorney.
- Loss of past and future earnings: if you are unable to work after your accident, then a car accident attorney can help you get the settlement you deserve to continue paying your mortgage and other necessities.
- Loss of use of property or cost of repair or replacement for property: let your car accident attorney know if you had any expensive items in your car that need to be repaired or replaced, such as a laptop, GPS, or even a cell phone.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation for non-monetary losses related to the emotional distress caused by the accident. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
What are punitive damages?
In the state of Georgia, punitive damages may be awarded if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were malicious, fraudulent or if there is clear evidence of willful misconduct. Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to punish, penalize or deter a defendant. In order to find out which punitive damages you may be eligible for, contact a car accident lawyer who will be able to give you a free assessment on your case.
Sadly, car accidents can lead to wrongful death. In a wrongful death, damages must be paid for the total value of the person’s life. A wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of death by a representative of the state. Under Georgia law, the person who is able to file a wrongful death claim includes:
- The decedent’s husband or wife
- The decedent’s parents
- The decedent’s children
How are damages calculated?
The insurance adjusters will never tell you exactly how they came to the settlement amount, but there is a generic formula that most of them use. After calculating all of your economic damages, they are then calculated again against a multiplier between 1.5 and five. The more egregious the recklessness or serious the injuries, the higher the multiplier. For example, a fender-bender that caused damage to the property owner (the car) and also caused minor injuries for a sum total of $4,000 may be multiplied by two because the accident was minor. Thus, the victim would receive an $8,000 settlement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents
Accident victims and their families often have questions about personal injury law and its relation to their case. Although the following information does not create a client-personal injury attorney relationship, these are some of the most common questions that people ask our Lawrenceville personal injury firm about.
I was hit by a truck. What should I do?
Because of the size difference, being hit by a commercial truck is different from being struck by another passenger vehicle. The steps to take after truck accidents are the same as when you have been involved in a car accident; you should exchange information and seek medical attention.
But you will also need to speak with a personal injury attorney from The Pendergrass Law Firm because the question of liability is different in truck accidents than in accidents involving passenger vehicles. Large companies tend to take out larger insurance policies to cover truck accidents since they tend to cause more damage and injuries. This means that instead of dealing with another individual auto insurer, you may face a larger company trying to protect its reputation and save itself money. If the truck accident led to wrongful death, they will bring their best lawyers to the case to limit their liability. Our personal injury law firm has years of experience advocating on behalf of injured victims and their families and going up against large corporations.
What are some reasons why the car insurance company can deny a claim?
There are a couple of reasons why the insurance company would deny a claim and why you will need the assistance of a car accident lawyer to get the compensation that you deserve.
- Arguing that you are seeking excessive damages: If the auto insurer believes that your injury pre-dated the accident, or if the medical bills are too high due to unnecessary or excessive medical treatment, then they will not give you a fair settlement.
- If you did not notify the company immediately: Your policy has stated procedures for reporting claims. Some insurers will require you to file a claim within 24 hours, and some give up to 72 hours to file a claim. If you did not promptly file your claim, then they can try to deny it.
- You inadvertently made a false statement: Another reason why they may deny your claim is if you accidentally made a misleading statement regarding the accident. This is why you will need the help of a Lawrenceville car accident attorney to file your injury claim. The insurance adjuster may word a question in a certain way that an accident victim doesn’t understand and may inadvertently give a false statement.
- The at-fault party does not have adequate coverage to pay for the damages: If the insurance policy does not cover enough for your claim, call The Pendergrass Law Firm now to talk about your car accident and other ways you can get the compensation you deserve.
What happens if there is property damage?
Whether they are private residents or public entities, property owners may seek compensation if the accident caused damage to their property. Speak to an attorney at Pendergrass Law Firm if you are concerned about property damage.
Can I afford a personal injury attorney?
Don’t wait to find a reliable personal injury attorney. Many people worry that they cannot afford a reputable, experienced and successful personal injury and wrongful death attorney, so they delay seeking legal advice. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not get paid unless we win for you.
The Pendergrass Law Firm covers all of your upfront fees, such as court fees and expenses related to the investigation. We fight hard to get you the settlement you deserve and then pay ourselves about a third of the award we win for you. Additionally, we offer a risk-free case evaluation at your initial visit so we can hear more about what happened, review evidence that you bring in (photos, medical bills, etc.), and then advise you on what you should do next. So don’t delay in reaching out to one of the Lawrenceville personal injury attorneys at The Pendergrass Law Firm. Call now.