Obtaining Compensation After a Car Crash

Oct 30, 2016

Obtaining Compensation After a Car Crash

Georgia adheres to a fault system in regards to issues of legal liability after a car crash, so although painful car accidents may leave many victims feeling powerless, Georgia law in fact offers relief in the form of monetary compensation. Essentially, this means that the parties responsible for causing an accident can be held legally accountable for the harm that the victims suffered as a result of their actions, so if you or a family member were injured in a car crash caused by another person’s negligence, it is critical to obtain the advice of a dedicated Atlanta car accident lawyer who can help explain your legal options.

Fault-Based Liability

Unlike no-fault states, which require injured car accident victims to first exhaust their own policy’s limits or reach a specific amount of damages before they are able to seek compensation from the other party, in Georgia, car accident victims seeking compensation can do so in one of three ways immediately after the crash, including by:

  • Filing a claim with their own insurer who will in turn seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance carrier;
  • Directly filing a claim with the third party insurer; or
  • Filing a lawsuit in civil court.

Filing a lawsuit can be time-consuming and stressful, so in many cases, the best option for accident victims is to engage in settlement proceedings with the at-fault party and both parties’ insurers. However, negotiation is not always possible and in some cases, filing a claim in court is the only method through which an injured party can obtain compensation for his or her various losses, which can include:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Property damage;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future income; and
  • Emotional distress.

In some tragic cases, a person may lose his or her life as a result of another driver’s negligence or recklessness. In these instances, a bereaved family may also be entitled to burial and funeral costs in addition to repayment for the medical expenses incurred as a result of the victim’s final injury or illness.

Even when two parties decide to resolve compensation issues through negotiation with their respective insurers, it is still critical to have the advice of an attorney who can ensure that the injured party’s interests are protected.

Establishing Fault

As part of the compensatory process, a person injured in a car crash must be able to establish that another driver, business, or other entity bears responsibility for causing the accident. This requires a thorough investigation into the accident, which includes obtaining copies of the police report made after the collision, taking photographs at the scene, preserving evidence of the car’s damage, obtaining medical charts, and speaking with experts and accident reconstructionists. This in turn requires an experienced investigative legal team with access to the necessary resources and knowledge.

Minimum Automobile Insurance

Georgia law requires all car owners to carry a liability insurance policy with at least:

  • $25,000 in coverage for the injury or death of one person;
  • $50,000 in coverage for the injury or death of more than a single person in one accident; and
  • $25,000 in coverage for property damage.

While these limits play an important role making sure that accident victims obtain at least some compensation, it is advisable to obtain additional coverage. This will ensure that in the event of a serious injury, the accident victim will be able to cover his or her various costs, which could include everything from the cost of emergency treatment and expenses associated with hiring a caregiver to repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

Although Georgia does not require every driver to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, these policies can act as an important supplement that protects drivers who are involved in accidents caused by uninsured individuals. There are two types of uninsured motorist coverage, reduction coverage and excess coverage. Under reduction policies, the funds available to an injured party under uninsured motorist coverage are decreased by whatever insurance the other party does have. Excess coverage, on the other hand, can be stacked on top of the other driver’s coverage.

Time Limits

In Georgia, car accident victims must file a claim against the at-fault party within two years of the date of the crash in order to recover compensation for injuries. However, if only property was damaged in an accident, the injured party has four years to bring the claim in court. It is important to seek the advice of an attorney before this time period elapses because a failure to do so will most likely result in the court refusing to hear the case.

Accidents with Non-Residents

Thousands of the accidents that occur on a daily basis are between drivers from different states. If a non-resident causes an accident in Georgia, injured parties can still obtain compensation through the state’s long-arm statute. This law allows a Georgia resident injured by a non-resident to sue the wrongful party in Georgia, although he or she must still serve the defendant with notice at the current residence.

Under the terms of the Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act, injured Georgia residents are also given the option of filing a claim in the county where the crash occurred or in the county where the injured party lives. This gives injured parties a certain amount of flexibility in where they can file their claim in the event that a settlement can’t be reached.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today

Car accidents can take a devastating physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families, so if you or a loved one live in Atlanta and were injured in a crash caused by another person’s negligence, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing and submitting one of our standard contact forms and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in Atlanta who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.