Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
In Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the country, motor vehicle accidents are unfortunately common, and the injuries suffered as a result of such an accident can be severe. The statistics tend to align with this perception of danger and injury severity. According to a recent report completed by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in 2015 alone, there were 1,430 traffic fatalities, 385,221 crashes, and 19,405 serious injuries suffered across the state of Georgia. It seems undeniable: car accidents are a serious public health issue and contribute to many avoidable injuries every year in the state of Georgia and elsewhere.
If you have been injured in an auto accident due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another, you may be entitled to recover damages as compensation for your injuries under Georgia law. Personal injury lawsuits — particularly car accident lawsuits — are often deceivingly straightforward at first glance. What may initially appear to be a basic injury lawsuit against a negligent driver defendant can suddenly evolve into complicated litigation against multiple defendants, including corporate defendants, once additional facts are gleaned from an investigation of the accident.
Car Accident Cases We Handle
Drivers and pedestrians in Atlanta are exposed to different dangers every day. At Ponton Law, our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers have experience with different types of car accident cases. We help our clients handle anything from fender benders to rear-end collisions.
Contact our office if you or someone close to you was involved in any of the following:
- Hit-and-run accident
- Single car accident
- Multi-car accident
- Rear-end collision
- Head-on collision
- Pedestrian accident
- Bicycle accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Truck accident
- Drunk driving accident
Regardless of the type of car accident you have been involved in, always call a car accident attorney. Along with protecting your rights, we will also ensure you get the compensation owed to you for your misery.
Acts of Negligence Leading to Car Accidents
Car accidents are diverse, and the negligence leading to a car accident can differ quite substantially from case to case. For example, you may be involved in an auto accident lawsuit where the roadway was poorly lit and therefore exposed drivers and passengers to unreasonable injury risk. Alternatively, you may be involved in a car accident lawsuit where the roadway was well-designed, but the defendant-driver was intoxicated and rear-ended you at a red light. The circumstances can vary substantially.
Negligence is best understood categorically. In the context of car accidents, some common defendant “categories” include other drivers, employers, and property owners. Drivers may be found liable for negligence that includes, but is not limited, to:
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe driving tactics
- Aggressive driving
- Driving under the influence
- Exhaustion and general fatigue
- Unlicensed driving
- Driving without necessary medication (or corrective lenses)
Atlanta-area employers may also be held liable — in certain circumstances — for the negligence of their driver employees and can be held additionally liable for negligent acts that contribute to a car accident, such as:
- Negligent hiring of a driver
- Negligent supervision of a driver
- Scheduling drivers to a degree where they are fatigued and dangerous
- Improper cargo loading
- Inadequate inspection of vehicles
- Failure to maintain company vehicles
Property owners — often public property owners, such as the City or State government — have a responsibility to maintain roadways in a reasonably safe condition for drivers (and pedestrians) who access such roadways. Property owners in Atlanta may be held liable for negligence that includes, but is not limited, to:
What to do Following a Car Accident in Atlanta
What you do during the hours, days and weeks following your car accident can have a significant impact on your claim case. It is wise to call an Atlanta car accident lawyer immediately for professional advice. Remember that your health is of utmost importance and should be your primary concern.
When you are involved in a car accident:
- Assess your injuries and call for medical assistance – Note that you may not experience any pain or symptoms right away. This can be attributed to shock and adrenaline. Nonetheless, see a doctor as any delay could make your injuries worse.
- Call the police and acquire a copy of the police report. If you are too hurt, you can call our office and let our lawyers handle this on your behalf.
- Take pictures – Document your injuries and damages to your car or surrounding property. You can also photograph the scene of the accident, traffic lights, and road signs.
- Collect the other party’s contact information, insurer details, and vehicle registration information. You should also collect witnesses’ contact information.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions – This involves:
- Filling out any prescriptions,
- Getting prescribed tests,
- Taking your medication,
- Seeing recommended specialists,
- Completing treatment,
- Resting, and
- Attending rehabilitation sessions.
- Keep all your medical records – These will be used to build your claim case.
- Contact your insurer – Report the incident without being too detailed. Don’t make any statements without first consulting your attorney.
- Avoid posting details about your accident on social media.
- Let your lawyer handle all other negotiations, witness statement gathering, and evidence collection.
Damages Available for Car Accident Cases in Georgia
Victims of car accidents in Georgia are eligible for compensation. Although no settlement can fully erase your misery, it can go a long way in protecting your financial future. In Georgia, the civil law system allows for two categories of damages. These are special damages (which are economical) and general damages.
Special damages in Atlanta include:
- Lost wages or time at work– you may need to remain at home during your recovery. Consequently, you could lose your job or miss some salaries. Your compensation claim should be set to cover these situations.
- Lost earning ability – your injuries may prevent you from performing the tasks of your old job. If they are severe or permanent, they may leave you unable to work altogether. In such an event, Atlanta laws provide that you get a settlement to cover basic living for the rest of your life.
- Current and future medical expenses – This involves ambulance costs, diagnosis, treatment, hospital stays, and rehabilitation. For permanent injuries, this compensation extends to live-in aides and other life-long medical care costs.
- Property damage – property repairs or replacements
General damages, which are losses with no monetary measure, include:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological conditions like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Diminished quality of life
- Missed opportunities in the workplace
General damages can be hard to quantify and will depend almost entirely on expert witnesses, family statements, and the judge. For the best legal representation of your compensation case, call our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers.
Georgia Implements the Modified Comparative Fault Doctrine
Georgia implements the doctrine of modified comparative fault, as opposed to the pure comparative fault doctrine or contributory negligence doctrine implemented by other jurisdictions.
So, what is the modified comparative fault?
Concerning personal injury, a modified comparative fault is a doctrine whereby each party’s contribution of negligence is identified, assessed, and assigned. Once each involved party has been assigned a percentage of the total fault, they are liable to the plaintiff for the corresponding portion of the damages. Under the comparative fault doctrine, even the plaintiff may be assigned a percentage of total fault (for example, if a plaintiff-driver was speeding at the time of the accident, they may have contributed to the accident, to a degree).
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What “modified” comparative fault does, uniquely, is put a cap on the amount of fault that a plaintiff may be responsible for and still recover. Specifically, Georgia bars plaintiffs from recovering compensation in personal injury lawsuits where the plaintiff is 50% or more at-fault.
This can all be a bit confusing to understand without context, so let’s run through a brief example for clarity.
Example of Modified Comparative Fault Doctrine
Suppose that you are involved in a car accident on an Atlanta highway, with one other driver — the defendant-driver — and your total damages are about $100,000. Though the defendant-driver was mostly at-fault for the accident (and your subsequent injuries), you were also somewhat negligent in that you were speeding, which contributed to the accident and seriousness of your injuries. Under the doctrine of modified comparative fault, the court must allocate fault to each involved party.
Now, suppose that the court finds that the defendant-driver is 80% at fault and that you — the plaintiff-driver — are 20% at fault. As the plaintiff, you would, therefore, be entitled to recover $80,000. The fact that you are somewhat at-fault is not an absolute bar to recovery but merely reduces your potential damage recovery.
If the court finds that the defendant-driver is 49% at-fault, on the other hand, and that you are 51% at-fault, then the modified comparative fault rule kicks in and will act as an absolute bar to recovery. As a Georgia plaintiff, if you are equally or more at-fault for your injuries, you cannot recover any compensation whatsoever. This is just one reason why having an experienced car accident attorney on your side is so important.
Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists in Atlanta
In many cases, the defendant-driver may lack car insurance altogether or they may be an “underinsured” motorist (i.e., they do not have adequate insurance coverage to pay out your damages). Motorists are increasingly “underinsured” as people drop their policy limits to lessen their monthly premiums. Unfortunately, it is injured plaintiffs who are hurt by the underinsured or uninsured status of defendant-drivers.
If you’ve been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you’ll have to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) claim against your insurer. If you intend to make a UM claim, be sure to notify your insurer about the accident as soon as possible to avoid running afoul of the notice deadline for the accident. As a general rule, however, you mustn’t discuss your claims or settle with the insurer before speaking with a qualified Atlanta car accident lawyer. As the plaintiff, the insurer’s interests are not aligned with your interest.
What happens if you do not have UM coverage, or if your UM coverage is inadequate to account for your damages? For example, if you have suffered $250,000 in total damages, but the defendant-driver has just $50,000 in insurance coverage, and you have just $50,000 in UM coverage, then you are essentially leaving $150,000 in potential compensation uncollected.
You have a few strategic options.
- You could — potentially — attack the personal assets of the defendant-driver. Though it is a general truism that defendants who are uninsured or underinsured tend to also lack personal assets, it may be the case that the defendant does have significant personal assets. If so (for example, if the defendant-driver has $100,000 in various accounts), you may be able to recover by attacking these assets.
- Your case may not be cut-and-dry and could involve multiple defendants, some of whom are more financially solvent or have more adequate insurance coverage. If you can bring in other legitimate defendants, you can — at the very least — secure compensation from additional parties (who have the means to pay such damages).
To ensure that your case is litigated intelligently and to the extent necessary to secure a favorable result, call (404) 860-2454 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Atlanta, GA car accident lawyer here at Ponton Law.