Being in a major car accident in Georgia can be devastating for both the victims and their loved ones. Aside from the pain and suffering caused by any injuries sustained, a family must pick up the financial pieces left behind by a serious wreck. Oftentimes, insurance companies will not offer a fair settlement that provides a family with the funds they need. Medical bills can begin to pile up– especially if you had to take time off work. If you’re in this situation, you deserve to know that you have legal options. Hiring an Atlanta car accident lawyer may let your family recover from a tragedy that shouldn’t have occurred to begin with.
It’s a simple truth that most car crashes happen due to human error. When a driver gets behind the wheel after they’ve had a few too many drinks or spends more time talking with a friend or browsing a music playlist than paying attention to the road, an accident can happen in the blink of an eye. We spend so much time in the driver’s seat in this country, it’s understandable that we often look at the task of driving as something simplistic, routine, and ideal for multitasking. Except for one fact– mistakes made when traveling at 60 MPH or more can result in dire consequences including serious injuries, trauma, and even death.
If we’re injured in a crash with a driver who may have been drunk, speeding, distracted, careless, or disobeying the rules of traffic, the U.S. civil court system lets victims of accidents file a civil claim against that guilty driver. These claims are referred to as personal injury lawsuits. Civil lawsuits can be filed in addition to any criminal charges which may already be in place and act as a way for victims to receive extra compensation that can go towards medical bills, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and more.
In addition, filing a civil claim sends a message that intoxicated or reckless driver can’t ignore. Negligent drivers who are sued for wrongful actions are likely to remember to drive responsibly in the future. All drivers have a legal duty to drive a vehicle responsibly. Lawsuits help ensure careless drivers never forget that.
Types of Car Accidents in Atlanta
There are a wide variety of auto collisions that occur in Georgia and around the metro Atlanta area. They involve vehicles of all types including passenger cars, commercial trucks, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Some types of accidents tend to result in more devastation than others, however. Here are some of the most common types of vehicle accidents we see in and around Atlanta:
- Multiple Vehicle Accident – When more than two cars are involved in a collision, we sometimes refer to the crash as a multi-vehicle accident or MVA. When one driver makes a mistake behind the wheel and crashes into another vehicle, this can cause a chain reaction where multiple cars collide into one another. MVAs can be extremely devastating due to the fact that drivers and passengers in multiple cars may be injured.
Single Vehicle Crash – When a car collides into an inanimate object such as a wall, tree, building, or pedestrian, we refer to accidents like this as single vehicle accidents. These types of crashes tend to be minor, but if a pedestrian is involved, it can potentially become series or even result in death.
Rear End Collision – This is the most common type of car accident and results when a driver is tailgating, distracted, driving too quickly, or cannot stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of them. The injuries sustained by both parties will vary depending on the force of the accident’s impact.
Head-On Crash – Head-on car accidents tend to be serious in nature and occur when two or more vehicles collide into one another while facing each other. These crashes can happen in intersections or when a driver loses control of their vehicle. Injuries sustained in head-on crashes tend to be severe unless the windshield/car engine absorbs most of the force of the initial impact.
Side Wreck – These types of accidents are also extremely common and tend to happen in intersections, during lane changes, or when a driver loses control of their vehicle and crashes into the side of another car. Side collisions often result in serious injuries due to the fact that the victims are hit with the full force of the impact instead of their vehicle’s engine or trunk.
Side Swipe – When one car misjudges a turn or tries to change lanes at the last second, they might avoid a major accident but allow their vehicle to scrape the side of another car. This is often referred to as a “side swipe”. Side swipes often result in minor injuries, but can cause significant body damage to a vehicle.
Parking Lot Accident – If a driver fails to look around them when backing out of a parking spot or accidentally crashes into a vehicle behind them when trying to parallel park, we refer to these accidents– typically minor– as parking lot accidents. Most injuries sustained will be minor, but the collisions themselves still need to be reported.
Examining the Causes of Atlanta Car Crashes
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,430 individuals died in car accidents in the state of Georgia in 2015. That comes out to almost 4 deaths every single day. This number went up from the previous year by 266 deaths. In an era where vehicle safety technology is the best it’s ever been, this statistic is nothing to be proud of.
In an article published in late 2015 by Vox (using data from the National Highway Traffic Association), it was reported that Georgia has the deadliest interstate highway in all of the United States. Georgia residents, you can likely guess what interstate that is. It’s the I-285 that circles right around Atlanta. In 2013, 26 fatal car accidents occurred on the I-285 compared to the 1,085 total accidents that happened throughout the state. This amounts to approximately 3.5 accidents per 10 miles of interstate.
It may seem incredulous to believe, but the numbers don’t lie. Georgia had more interstate deaths than states like California and Texas even.
So, what causes these terrible car accidents? Here are some of the most common causes for car crashes in the state of Georgia:
- Driving too fast or slow – Driving too quickly or slowly can make it difficult to stop in time or for other vehicles to stop in time should fast reaction times become necessary. This is generally a case of negligence or recklessness.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – Drugs and alcohol impairment continue to be a major cause of car accidents despite laws that give impaired drivers harsher penalties. In 2013, for example, 297 of Georgia’s accident fatalities were caused by drunk drivers. This is just over 25% of all accident fatalities.
- Failing to signal when making turns – When other vehicles aren’t aware of your intentions, it can make it difficult for drivers to know what to expect. This is also a case of negligent driving.
- Disregarding traffic conditions or weather – Similar to failing to properly signal, disregarding traffic conditions or poor weather can quickly lead to an accident. A driver who fails to notice a potentially hazardous situation may be charged with negligence in court.
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals – All drivers have a duty to obey posted signs and signals from other drivers. A failure to do so is defined as negligence. Driving on the wrong side of the road can also fit in this category.
One other notable cause of car accidents is distracted driving. When a driver is distracted—whether they are texting someone, eating lunch while behind the wheel, or checking their Facebook feed—they are liable to cause an accident in the fraction of a second and place everyone on the road at risk.
In Georgia courtrooms, when a driver fails to pay attention to the road, follow traffic and safety laws, or follow the flow of traffic, a judge or jury can state that they are negligent. As you can tell from the bullet points above, most serious car accidents in our state are caused by negligence or reckless actions.
Under these conditions, a victim of a car accident which was caused by a negligent or reckless driver may be able to file a lawsuit against that driver. Doing so may grant the victim and their family peace of mind as well as provide the financial assistance they need to pay for any medical bills, loss of wage costs, and more. If you lost a loved one in a auto accident that was caused by negligence, you may be able to similarly file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased individual.
Common Car Accident Injuries
A serious car wreck can cause almost an unlimited number of injuries and resulting conditions that can affect a victim’s future. It’s a simple fact that auto accidents are painful, traumatic events. The most serious of injuries may require extensive therapy or surgeries, but even what may seem like a minor injury may turn out to be something more severe days or even weeks after the incident.
Some of the most common injuries sustained after an accident include the following:
- Lacerations, bruises, abrasions, and amputations
- Broken bones or bone fractures
- Internal injuries which may cause internal bleeding
- Serious burn injuries
- Neck and back injuries which may cause whiplash or even spinal cord injuries
- Head and brain injuries which may cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms
- Lasting emotional trauma including anxiety, depression, and even PTSD
One of the most common types of car crash injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is caused when a driver or passenger is jolted forward or backwards suddenly in their seat, causing the head to be pushed forward then backwards (or vice versa) in a forceful manner. These forceful actions may cause damage to the fragile muscles, tendons, and vertebrae inside the neck and shoulders.
Whiplash, unfortunately, is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Since it often involves multiple tendons, muscles, and bones, it presents differently in every single victim. Whiplash may also appear in a “stealthed” manner. Collision victims may not feel any head, neck, or back pain within the first hours, days, or even weeks after the crash. As the muscles and tendons in the neck begin to settle after the event, this is when the injury may finally become apparent.
Any type of car accident injury can become dangerous because when we’re involved in a traumatic event like a car wreck, our body goes into “crisis mode” in order to ensure we’re able to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Our brains begin emitting endorphins which may give us a feeling of adrenaline. The resulting adrenaline rush can mask pain or exhaustion completely, making us feel as though we’re physically and emotionally fine. In reality, however, we may not be.
It’s crucial for anyone who is involved in a car crash to get checked out by medical professionals as quickly as possible. It’s also advisable to follow through with any followup appointments that are provided. This ensures no new injuries make an appearance after the adrenaline wears off.
What to Do After a Georgia Car Wreck
After being involved in a serious car accident, your first priority should be to ensure everyone around you is safe. Take the following steps in as calm of a manner as possible:
- Pull over to a safe area if you’re able to move the vehicle and call 911 immediately. Even if the injuries you sustained appear to be minor, you still need to contact the police and file a report.
- Get medical care. As mentioned above, it’s important to get checked out by emergency personnel due to the fact that adrenaline may be masking any pain and/or potential injury symptoms. If you do end up discovering an injury later, delaying treatment may cause potential issues.
- Obtain contact information. Don’t let the other driver leave the scene of the accident without giving you their contact information or issuing a report to the police. It’s crucial at this point, however, to not mention blame at all to the other driver or talk about fault whatsoever. Anything you say now could be used against you later.
- Gather evidence. In addition to any evidence the police gathers, it’s a smart idea to capture a few pictures on your smartphone of the accident scene, your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and of any distinguishing features about the surrounding area. Was there a tree that possibly obscured your view of a sign? Take a picture. Are there skid marks? Take a picture– skid marks may erase completely after an evening rain.
- Speak to witnesses. If any witnesses are on the scene, it’s a good idea to speak to them if you’re able to do so. Ask them what they saw and if they’d be willing to give their account of what happened later if needed. If they’re willing, ask them for their contact information. Having as many witnesses as possible can be favorable.
- Call your insurance provider. You’ll want to let your insurance provider know that the accident occurred at this point. They may try and pressure you into a settlement at this time. If you’re not ready to settle, don’t. Tell them that the accident is still under investigation and plan your next move carefully.
- Speak to an Atlanta car accident attorney. This is the ideal time to speak to a personal injury lawyer regarding your legal options if you feel that the car accident was caused by the other driver or that your settlement offer may be unfair to you and your family. Even if the accident was partially your fault, you may still be able to file a claim.
Financial Damages You May Be Entitled To
If you’re eligible to file a lawsuit against a negligent or reckless driver, you may be able to receive the following financial compensation (often referred to as “damages”) that can be used to help you and your loved ones recover. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of car wreck injury damages many accidents victims receive:
- Medical expenses: This can include fees for emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, assistive devices, and appointments with approved medical professionals.
- Ongoing medical expenses: If the car accident victim can prove that they will need continued medical care because of the crash, they may be able to recover the cost of future medical expenses.
- Punitive damages: If the actions of the defendant were malicious or egregious, the jury might impose punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
- Pain and suffering: This includes compensation for the physical pain suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. In awarding damages for pain and suffering, the jury will examine the nature of the injury, the extent of the pain, and the length of time the victim was left to suffer.
- Mental anguish: Victims can also be awarded for the emotional pain suffered as a result of their auto accident. Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief, and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident.
- Loss of consortium: If a car accident lawsuit is successful, the uninjured spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of marital benefits including companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort.
- Lost wages/earning potential: Victims injured in car accidents may be able to recover compensation for wages lost between the time of the injury and the conclusion of the lawsuit. If the wounded victim was unemployed at the time of the accident, they might be awarded lost wages if they can demonstrate earning potential during this period.
Recover with the Help of a Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
At Bey & Associates, we can provide you with a 100% free case consultation where an expert Atlanta car accident attorney will be able to tell you the merits of your case. If filing a case is in the best interest of your family, we can help you during every step of the claim-filing process and ensure you and your family can recover.
You must file a car accident claim before the statute of limitations expires. This period is generally two years after the accident occurs in the state of Georgia. If you wait longer than two years to file a lawsuit, you will be unable to do so. Timing is often imperative when filing a claim.
To learn more or speak to one of our representatives, contact our Atlanta law office today. We’re here for you today and every day.