The average driver is involved in three to four car accidents over the course of their life (Fox Business). This is why it is so important for you and all drivers to understand the nuances of how car insurance claims work in their state. When it comes to filing an auto insurance claim in Augusta, GA, contacting an attorney is the best way to determine exactly how you should proceed in your case. Contact a car accident lawyer in Augusta for a FREE consultation today.
What are the state laws in Georgia for car accident claims?
All states are different when it comes to auto insurance claims. While some are no-fault states, so that each person in an auto accident must turn to their own auto insurance for compensation, other states (including Georgia) have fault-based systems. Georgia’s fault-based system determines each party’s percentage of fault or negligence in the accident, then allows the injured party with the least negligence to recover his or her damages, up to the amount of the primarily at-fault party’s percentage of negligence.
This means that you may have $10,000 in damages, but if you were 20% at fault, you will only receive $8,000 in compensation. If you were 51% or more at fault for your injuries, then you are barred from seeking any recovery.
How to seek compensation for your damages after sustaining injuries in an Augusta, Georgia car accident:
- You can file a claim with your own insurance if you are at fault for the accident or if the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver is insufficient.
- You could file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance if you can demonstrate that you do not hold the majority of liability in the accident.
- Finally, you can file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver if you are unable to reach a fair settlement.
** In Georgia, the Modified Comparative Fault Rule applies, stating that you can still seek damages from the at-fault driver if you are partially at fault, as long as you are less than 50% at fault for the accident. Your settlement will simply be reduced by your percentage of fault. **
What must be proven to recover my damages?
To receive compensation for your injuries from the at-fault driver, you must prove that the defendant is truly at fault for the accident and injuries. To do this, four key elements must be proven.
- Duty Of Care: The first thing that you have to prove is that the at-fault driver owed a duty of care to you and others on the road. The duty of care in an auto accident claim is the legal responsibility to drive safely and to use caution to prevent injuries to others. All drivers have this responsibility, so it is not difficult to prove a duty of care.
- Breach Of Duty (Negligence): The next thing that you have to prove, which is the most important point in an auto accident, is that the at-fault driver was negligent because he or she breached the established duty of care through reckless actions. This includes distracted driving, intoxicated driving, speeding, and not following the rules of the road.
- Cause-In-Fact: The third thing that you need to prove is causation, or cause-in-fact, which refers to the fact that the at-fault driver’s negligence directly caused the accident and injuries. Even if the driver indirectly caused the accident, you may still be able to prove ‘proximate cause,’ also known as ‘but-for causation.’ This means that you can demonstrate that ‘but for’ the actions of the at-fault driver (like speeding), the accident and injuries would not have occurred.
- Damages: The last thing that you will need to prove is the existence of your damages. This means that you’ve got to demonstrate that you did suffer harm and have losses that should be compensated. Harm includes all physical injuries, emotional suffering, and financial losses.
How can I prove liability in a car accident?
If you cannot adequately demonstrate that the at-fault driver is liable for the accident and injuries, then you cannot hold him or her legally responsible for your damages. This is why it’s so important to produce evidence to show that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused the accident.
To do this, you’ll need to know what forms of evidence will be most helpful in proving fault in your accident. If you have never filed a claim before and don’t know the nuances of Georgia’s personal injury and car accident laws, then this can be particularly challenging.
An example of how things can go wrong when you don’t have experience in the law or a qualified attorney to represent you can be seen in a case where serious injuries were caused by a commercial vehicle accident. You may not realize that it’s important to request the log book and black box of the commercial driver. You may not know that you should submit a spoliation letter to prevent the company of the commercial driver from destroying evidence.
An Auto Accident Attorney Can Make All The Difference
If your accident is particularly severe, complicated, or confusing, then hiring an auto accident attorney can make all the difference. Your attorney can help with collecting evidence, filling out forms, filing a claim, and negotiating with the insurance company for a fair settlement.
Although every case is different, there are some basic forms of evidence that you should always try to collect. Working with an experienced attorney will help with the gathering of evidence and which forms of evidence you should focus on.
In the majority of cases, you will want to get the police report, photos and video, eyewitness statements, surveillance video, information of other drivers and witnesses, and other records that are specific to your case. If you didn’t get the police report at the scene, contact the Augusta Police Department’s Central Records Unit to request a copy or pay a small fee to get a copy from BuyCrash.com. If you were able to take photos and video of the scene of the accident and vehicle damage, then these will come in handy, too.
Any eyewitnesses will be valuable, so it helps to obtain the contact information of those witnesses and keep the information handy. Your attorney will know how to work with these witnesses. If you did not collect any photos or videos of the accident, then turning to surveillance video in the area can help. You may find these videos from traffic cams or business security cams.
Finally, there are other case-specific records that may apply to your claim, such as cell-phone records to prove distracted driving, breathalyzer results, and maintenance records and time logs of the commercial driver.
What types of damages can I recover in an auto accident?
If you win your case or reach a settlement agreement, you can recover two different types of damages, which encompass the more specific damages.
- Economic Damages for actual expenses, like medical debt, property damage, and lost wages. These can be proven through bills, receipts, estimates, medical records, reported former wages, etc.
- Noneconomic Damages for intangible losses, like emotional harm, mental harm, psychological harm, and loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium, depending on the nature of your injuries and losses. These damages are harder to calculate, and require the evidence of expert testimonies, mental health records, and the convincing argument of your attorney.
** The more significant your physical injuries and economic damages, the more you are likely to recover in noneconomic damages. **
Examples of recoverable damages include current and future medical expenses (ER visits, doctor’s appointments, hospital bills, surgery expenses, prescription costs, etc.), rehabilitation/occupational therapy expenses, pain/suffering, emotional distress/mental disorders (including PTSD), current/future lost wages /benefits/work opportunities, disfigurement/disability, property damage, and relationship damages (loss of consortium and emotional support).
What can I expect from the process of filing an accident claim?
The first thing you’ll typically do after an auto accident is to seek treatment for your injuries and alert law enforcement. As soon as you can, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurance company and the insurance company of the at-fault driver. You should not provide anything more than the most basic information about the accident until you’ve had a chance to speak with an attorney. Never make any statements about fault, including admissions and accusations. Rather, you should politely decline to speak further until you speak to your attorney. Remember that the insurance adjuster will look for things to use against you when you talk too openly about the accident.
Once you’ve initiated a car insurance claim, the insurance adjuster will consider the given facts to establish liability. In situations where it is not easy to determine fault, you may need to provide more evidence to support your claim. It is important to have your damages organized with records to support them. Your attorney can help by ensuring that you don’t miss anything.
The insurance adjuster will then accept or deny your claim. If your claim is accepted, then a settlement offer may be made. If it is not fair (the first offer usually isn’t), then you should work with an attorney to negotiate and/or take the case to Augusta Municipal Court to be reviewed by a judge and/or jury.
Where do I get help with an Augusta car accident claim?
Anytime you or a loved one suffers serious or even fatal injuries in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another, contacting an Augusta personal injury attorney is the best way to get the help that you need.
Your personal injury attorney should be well versed in auto accidents, commercial vehicle accidents, work-related auto accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc. You need to work with a qualified lawyer who knows how to protect your rights, deal with adjusters, prove your case, and seek fair compensation for your losses.
Hospitals and Medical Centers in Augusta, Georgia
If you sustain serious injuries in Augusta, it is best to consult with a doctor or medical professional right away. Among the major medical centers and hospitals in the Augusta area are:
- Children’s Medical Center – 1446 Harper Street, Augusta, GA 30912 / (706) 721-4262
- East Central Regional Hospital – 3405 Mike Padgett Hwy, Augusta GA 30906 / (706) 790-2011
- Medical Center – 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912-5536 / (706) 721-2273
- Select Specialty Hospital – The Partridge Inn, 2110 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904 / (706) 737-8888
- Trinity Hospital of Augusta – 2260 Wrightsboro Road, Augusta GA 30904 / (706) 481-7000
- University Hospital – 1350 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30901 / (706) 722-9011
Call Dr. Ted Greve today with your questions and get a FREE consultation with an experience car accident lawyer in Augusta, GA. Toll-free, (706) 222-1677.