What Happens After a Car Accident That is Not Your Fault in Georgia?
August 4, 2021
No matter how safe we try to drive, car accidents still occur every day. However, when it happens to you, it can be overwhelming and scary.
Suppose you have been in a collision in Georgia and were injured or have significant property damage. In that case, you may need to explore your options to hold the other drive financially responsible for your losses.
After any motor vehicle accident, there are a few steps you should always follow to ensure that everything is recorded correctly and that you have been examined by a medical professional—even if you feel perfectly fine.
What to Do After Any Car Accident
Contact the Police
The police should always be called after any collision in Georgia.
Even if you are not at fault, you want to ensure that a crash report is filed. This can become a significant portion of credible evidence that the car accident was not your fault, and it can be used for insurance claims.
Gather As Much Evidence as You Can at the Scene
Georgia law stipulates that the at-fault driver should report the accident to their insurance company. Still, not everyone does what they should, and some people may be reluctant to report their accident.
To protect your interests, collect the following information from the other driver in case you need to report the accident:
- Full name
- Phone number
- License plate number
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle make and model
- Insurance information and policy number
Also, make sure you gather the following as well:
- Witness statements and contact information
- Pictures of the accident and damage to both cars
- Pictures of your injuries
- Pictures of weather and road conditions and traffic signals
Contact the Insurance Company
Insurance companies should always be notified of any accidents so they can start collecting evidence. You should get a claim number for your case and let them know what happened.
You should consult with your personal injury lawyer in Georgia before mentioning compensation or settlements. Insurance claims adjusters will always try to get you to admit fault or settle for much less than you deserve.
See a Medical Professional
You might feel perfectly fine, but injuries like whiplash can take hours or even days to manifest.
This also provides a medical record that can help build your case with the insurance company. Waiting too long before seeking medical treatment might default your claim that injuries resulted from the accident, and the insurance company may not accept responsibility for them.
If this happens, you will be forced to pay any medical bills out of your own pocket.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawer
You may not think you need an attorney after a car accident, but if you have been hurt, have damage to your car, or a combination of these, you should call a lawyer to help build your case.
Seeking compensation can be lengthier than you would imagine, and insurance providers are notoriously challenging to work around. A skilled car accident attorney will deal with these legal matters so you can focus on your recovery.
Just because you are not at fault, it can still be up to you to prove that the other driver was responsible.
Remember, Georgia’s statute of limitations means that you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
Get an Estimate for Your Damaged Car
If your car has been mangled because of the accident, the at-fault driver is entitled to pay for the repairs.
If you can still drive your car, bring it to a collision shop for a repair estimate. Not all problems are visible, so we recommend that you have a mechanic inspect the damages.
If the car is not drivable, have it towed to a body shop or a mechanic. The towing fee should be covered by your insurance policy, along with a rental car. If you have to pay upfront, we will work with you to get the costs reimbursed.
If the car is repairable, your personal injury lawyer can help recover the repair costs from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If your vehicle has been damaged to the point that it needs to be replaced, we will help you file a claim based on your car’s condition after the collision and the amount of damage it sustained to recover the vehicle’s market value.
It’s essential to document a proper estimate of your damages so your accident lawyer can make sure you are fully compensated.
Who’s at Fault in a Car Accident in Georgia?
One of the most important questions after a collision involves liability. Who is considered at fault for the crash?
Georgia is an at-fault state, which means that responsible drivers will have to pay for accidents that they have caused. That is why it’s crucial to establish who caused the accident.
In most instances, only one driver is at fault. Their insurance company will try to place the blame on you to reduce the claim they have to pay, even if you bear no responsibility for the crash.
Some things to consider in Georgia law include:
- If the other driver broke a traffic law, then they are at fault
- If the other is negligent—as in texting while driving or talking on the phone—then that person is likely at fault
- If one car was poorly maintained and this resulted in the car accident—as in faulty brake lights—then that driver is likely at fault
- The driver behind in a rear-end accident is considered to be likely at fault if they were following too closely
How Is Fault Determined in Georgia?
Every car accident should have a police report so that an investigation can be started to determine fault. The claims adjuster for the insurance company will investigate the case and any police report in order to make an opinion.
The following evidence helps determine liability after a motor vehicle accident:
- Crash report
- Witness statements
- Drivers statements
- Accident scene investigation
- Weather conditions at the time
- Vehicle maintenance at the time
Using this information, the claims adjuster will try to determine who was at fault for the accident. They will be looking for any opportunity to cast as much blame on you as possible.
Can Both Drivers Be Found at Fault in Georgia?
Yes, both drivers can be held liable in Georgia. The Peach State has driving laws that go over comparative fault, which means both drivers share responsibility in the accident.
If you have been driving recklessly or if your car was not adequately maintained, you may share the blame.
If this happens to be the case, it may not be possible to collect compensation from a claim. However, according to the law, as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault for the crash, you may still recover some of the total damages.
Comparative fault means you can seek damages in relation to how much the other driver is determined to be at fault. If, for example, the other driver is found to be 70 percent at fault, then you can recover 70 percent of all damages and costs.
If you are 50 percent or more responsible, then you can not seek compensation whatsoever.
The insurance companies will consider the percentage of fault when calculating the total compensation.
Georgia is a Third-Party Liability State
Georgia is not a no-fault insurance state. It is a third-party liability state. Under this type of liability, victims of motor vehicle crashes have the right to receive compensation from the at-fault driver.
You have the right to file a personal injury claim with your insurance company and the responsible driver’s insurance company (third-party claim). You can also file a lawsuit against the other driver.
Seeking Compensation from Insurance Providers
Once the question of who is at fault has been determined, the next step is finding out how much you should be compensated.
While it can be easy to calculate vehicle damage and repair, personal injury damages and disruption to your life can be more challenging. If you have been severely injured, you might expect medical expenses for years or even for life. You may have to miss work or use sick days to help you recover.
In addition, you should be compensated for your pain and suffering. It’s essential to protect your future and well-being by negotiating with insurance companies. Never accept their first offer. You may have future medical bills or lost wages that need to be considered.
An excellent personal injury lawyer can guide you through this process and provide expert advice.
Contact the Pendergrass Law Firm if You Have Been in a Car Crash
Car accidents can be very unsettling—everything seems to happen all at once. Knowing the steps you should take and seeking the legal counsel of a law firm you can trust can go a long way to keeping you financially solvent.
As we have said, always contact the police right away and take photos of everything. When speaking with police, answer directly and honestly, but avoid admitting fault. It can be easy to feel bad about the crash or wonder out loud if you could have reacted differently. Just know that anything you say can be used against you later when you are seeking financial compensation.
Once you’ve received medical attention, contact your Gwinnett County car accident law firm so we can investigate the collision and establish liability.
By following the steps we laid out, you allow yourself the best possible chance at reaching a fair settlement.
Let your personal injury attorney go to bat for your right to recover financial compensation so that you can rest and heal.
At the Pendergrass Law Firm, we work hard to get you the settlement you deserve.