Most Atlanta car accident lawyers will attest to the fact that everyone will likely be involved in at least one car accident in their life. Therefore, it is important for every driver to know how insurance works in their state and what you need to do to file a claim with the right car accident lawyer after an accident. Taking the appropriate action following a car accident is vital to being able to file a successful claim. The attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates are here to help guide you through the process.
In Atlanta, if you have a car crash, an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can inform you as to what to expect during the claim process. For information about your specific case call our offices at (844)387-8677. You will receive a free consultation with one of our experts. This will give you the opportunity to get answers to any questions you may have and obtain insight into the best steps to take moving forward.
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Car Accident Lawyers Negotiate with Auto Insurance Companies for You
Most people will be involved in at least three or four automobile accidents in their lifetime, reports Fox Business. Some states are what the law refers to as no-fault states. This means that after a car wreck, each party turns to his own insurance company for reimbursement.
Each state has distinct laws pertaining to auto insurance and the manner in which insurance companies must handle claims. Atlanta is NOT a no-fault system. In other words, having a car wreck in Atlanta GA puts you in a fault-based system. This could mean more complications to prove who was to blame. An Atlanta car accident lawyer in a fault-based system can prove invaluable.
The “Peach State” is one of the states that adhere to a fault-based system where determining negligence is a fundamental part of the claims process. In fault states, the party who is most at fault in a car accident is the one that may be liable for the victim’s damages.
Three Basic Ways to Try to Obtain Compensation for Damages.
Georgia subscribes to a rule known as the Modified Comparative Fault Rule. This rule says that if you were partly at fault for an accident, you can still file a claim with the other party’s insurer and recover damages, so long as you are less than 50 percent at fault.
The catch is that the insurer or court will reduce your final settlement in the same proportion as your degree of fault. So, if the insurer or court finds you 40 percent liable for the accident, it would reduce your $100,000 settlement award to $60,000. There are three main ways in which to obtain compensation for the damages you incurred in a car accident.
- File a claim with your own insurance company (if you are at fault, or if the at-fault driver’s insurance does not cover all of your losses).
- File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you can prove that you are not at fault, the other party’s insurer will have to pay your damages, up to the insured’s policy limits.
- File a civil lawsuit against the other driver. It is usually easier to settle a claim before risking having to go to court; however, if the insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement, you have the right to get a car accident lawyer and sue.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Prove Who Is Liable in an Accident?
If you believe the other party (defendant) is at fault for the car accident, in order to prove your claim or lawsuit and get a settlement award, you will need to prove the four following elements:
Duty of Care
Duty of care refers to a person’s legal responsibility to refrain from doing anything that can cause others harm. This is almost a given in car accidents; all drivers have a duty of care to act responsibly on the road so as not to cause harm to befall other road users.
This is really the crux of auto accident cases. You have to be able to prove that the defendant acted (or failed to act) in such a way that breached his duty of care. In other words, his actions were negligent or careless. Examples of negligence include reckless driving, drinking and driving, distracted driving, speeding, and not looking before merging into traffic.
Next, you have to be able to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the car wreck and your harm. This is called “cause-in-fact.” Causation in car accidents can get a little muddy sometimes, though. For instance, what if a driver lost control while speeding and hit a telephone pole, which toppled over and landed on your car? In these types of circumstances where the driver indirectly caused the accident, you can still substantiate causation under what is called “proximate cause” or “but-for causation.”
In these cases, you have to prove to the insurer or court that you would not have sustained your injuries but for the defendant’s negligence.
Damages refer to the monetary awards you receive to compensate you for your losses. You need to prove that you suffered harm, sustained losses as a result of the accident, and are entitled to damages. Harm can include physical injuries, emotional injuries, and financial losses.
Establishing Fault in Personal Injury Claims
It is normal to feel responsible for an injury that occurred, perhaps in part due to your own clumsiness or inattentiveness. After an accident, you may think that you should have noticed a slippery walkway in the snow or that you should have been driving a bit slower for the weather conditions. It is unwise to make any statements to indicate a fault, and you should avoid making any assumptions at all before speaking with an attorney.
It may have been the homeowner’s responsibility to remove ice in your slip and fall case, and the homeowner’s insurance may be liable for your damages. If another driver’s negligence caused an auto accident, then his or her insurance is in place to compensate for your losses. You should resist the temptation to revisit the various things you might have done differently to prevent the accident. However you’re feeling after a personal injury occurs, speak to a Georgia personal injury attorney to explore the facts of your case and the options in front of you.
To determine the legal fault or liability in any accident case, you must consider the definition of negligence, which includes failing to exhibit due care (Georgia Code of Laws Title 51). If a store does not warn of unsafe conditions, and a customer is injured, then the store is liable for the accident. If someone causes an accident through illegal activities or failing to uphold regulations, then this is the at-fault party. There are many different unique circumstances in personal injury cases.
In many cases, there will be multiple parties who share some portion of the blame for the accident and injuries. When this happens, they will share a portion of the legal and financial liability.
How Do I Prove Fault/Liability?
To win an auto accident claim, you essentially have to be able to produce adequate evidence that shows the other driver was at fault for the crash. If you can do that, you can hold the other driver (technically his insurance company) liable for your damages.
Knowing what types of evidence might be most helpful to prove a case and how to go about collecting it is difficult. Particularly if you have never filed a claim before or do not work in insurance or injury law.
For instance, if your loved one sustained injuries in a truck accident and you are filing a claim, you might not know that you should request the truck driver’s logbook and black box. An order also must be submitted (spoliation letter) that requires the trucking company to preserve any evidence.
What Kind of Evidence Do I Need?
In serious or complicated cases, many car accident victims opt to enlist the help of an Atlanta car accident lawyer. They prefer the help with evidence, forms, the filing process, and negotiating with the insurance company.
Below are some of the basic types of evidence you may want to collect. Again, each case is different, so do your homework and make sure you gather what is pertinent for your claim.
- The police report for the accident (If you did not get a copy of the report at the scene contact the Atlanta Police Department’s Central Records Unit at 404-546-7461 to request a copy. Alternatively, you can request one on BuyCrash.com, a site that the APD has partnered with. Note: there is a fee for the latter option.)
- Photos and video of the scene and the damage to the vehicles
- The other driver’s information (name, contact information, license number, tag number, and insurance provider/policy number/phone number)
- Eyewitness statements, names, and contact information (it may be best to just forward this information to your attorney as he will be better equipped to ask the right types of questions and it will allow you to focus on healing)
- Surveillance video from traffic cams or nearby businesses
- Other case-specific records such as cell phone records (to prove the other party was distracted while driving), commercial truck maintenance records, breathalyzer results, etc.
Rear-End Accident Laws
When a rear-end auto accident occurs, it is no different from any other accident, in terms of laws and regulations. Whoever caused the accident will be held legally liable. Most people believe that the rear driver is always at fault, but this is not true. In some cases, the lead vehicle may have braked abruptly or failed to signal, for example. Even if the rear driver is ticketed for following too closely, further investigation could reveal that the lead driver was more at fault.
Accidents Involving Ridesharing Groups and Taxis
Whenever an auto accident involves a ridesharing group, like Uber, or a taxi company, the driver is responsible for any negligence on their part. Usually, these companies and groups will have a certain amount of insurance to address any injuries that may occur in an accident.
If you’ve been in one of these kinds of accidents, you should contact an Atlanta Uber accident attorney. They will review the facts and let you know what your rights are and how to exercise those rights. If there are other avenues of compensation, then your attorney can help you explore them.
Uninsured Driver Claims
If you are in an auto accident with an uninsured driver in Georgia, then you will be responsible for addressing your own medical expenses. Some alternatives to these situations include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), personal health insurance, and filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver.
If you have UIM insurance coverage, then this should compensate you up to the amount of your policy coverage. Using your personal health insurance may cause you to have a higher deductible. If you file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver, then you may receive a judgment, but you may never actually see the reward because the defendant may be unable to pay it.
The best thing that you can do is to contact a Georgia auto accident attorney when you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver. Your lawyer can help you sort through the options, understand your rights and take whatever steps are most appropriate for your case.
What Damages Can a Car Wreck Lawyer Recover?
If you win your case, you will be entitled to recover damages for many of the losses you have sustained that are related to the accident. This includes both economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages compensate you for your actual expenses. These are the easy-to-quantify losses such as medical bills, property damages, and lost wages. You can justify your economic damages using evidence such as bills, receipts, medical records, and estimates.
Noneconomic damages refer to the intangible losses you suffered as a result of the car crash. This includes emotional, mental, and psychological harm. While harder to calculate than economic damages, you can prove noneconomic damages using evidence such as field expert testimonies, mental health records and diagnoses, and convincing input from the car accident lawyer handling your auto accident case.
Note: Generally, the more severe your physical injuries and the more substantial your economic damages, the more noneconomic damages you will receive.
Some of the Damages That Are Recoverable Include the Following:
- Current and future medical bills, including emergency room care, hospital bills, surgeries, prescriptions, follow-up visits
- Rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental disorders caused by the accident, e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder
- Current and future lost wages, lost benefits, lost job opportunities, etc.
- Disability and disfigurement
- Property damage, the cost of a rental vehicle, and the cost of transportation to your medical appointments
- Damage to your relationships resulting from your injuries, such as loss of consortium with your spouse and loss of emotional support for your children
What to Expect in Car Accident Lawyer Claims Process
As soon as practicable after the accident, you will need to call your insurance company to report the accident. If the other driver was at fault, you also can call his insurance company to report the accident and begin the claims process. When you speak to the insurance representative (called a claims adjuster), she will ask you a series of questions about the car wreck. If you sense any resistance contact one of our Atlanta car accident lawyers for a FREE consultation.
After you have initiated the claim, the adjuster will consider all the facts of the case and determine liability. If there are issues with determining fault, you will need to supply the adjuster with pertinent evidence to support your case.
Once the adjuster has determined who is at fault and reviewed your damages, she will accept or deny your claim and offer you a settlement. If the settlement is not fair or the adjuster apportions more fault to you than you think you deserve, you can hire a car accident lawyer, or take the case to the Atlanta Municipal Court for a judge to review.
Information You Need to Give the Claims Adjuster
You should only provide basic information about the accident to the adjuster – the when, where, and who. Do not provide any input about fault or make any unnecessary statements or accusations. Adjusters may use things you say during the conversation against you. If the adjuster tries to press for additional information from you, tell her that you need to speak with your car wreck accident attorney first.
You will need to have a list of damages you are entitled to and records to back up your claim. The more comprehensive you can be the better. Again, because there are likely numerous available compensable damages that you are not aware of, you should consider having our Atlanta car accident lawyers help you so you do not miss out on money that you are entitled to.
Working With Or Without An Attorney
You do not have to hire an attorney to handle your personal injury claim in Georgia. However, in most cases, it will be in your best interests to consider it. If nothing else, you can get a free consultation. This can give you an idea of what your claim will look like and if an attorney can help you get where you want to be.
Choosing to work with a lawyer is beneficial for many reasons. Attorneys are familiar with laws, court decisions, and regulations that are relevant to your case. They know how to prepare initial pleadings and how to respond to motions. They have the resources to investigate your case ad injuries, and they know how to obtain and present information. An attorney also knows how to present the evidence and testimony that will prove your case and injuries. Attorneys are skilled in the courtroom, and they know when and how to act in your best interests.
If you represent yourself you adhere to the same standards as an attorney when it comes to procedures and laws. Nobody will be able to help with the preparation or presentation of your case.
Contact the Attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates Today for a Free Consultation!
If you or your loved one sustained injuries in an accident call our experienced car accident lawyers in Atlanta GA. Contact Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. for assistance.
We accept all types of auto accident cases including:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Public transit accidents
- Work-related auto accidents
- Pedestrian accidents and
- Bicycle accidents
Our caring, qualified team of Atlanta car accident lawyers can help you with any aspect of your case. From handling adjusters to fighting for your rights to compensation in litigation. Contact us today and request a FREE case evaluation. Get started now, call (844)387-8677.