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 driving 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 an injury 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, lost wages, pain and suffering costs, and more.
In addition, filing an injury claim sends a message that an 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. It’s important to know the type of auto accident and the details surrounding the crash for your car accident claim. 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 at intersections or when a driver loses control of their vehicle. Injuries sustained in head-on crashes tend to be severe unless the windshield or 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 at 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 the vehicle’s engine or trunk being impacted.
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.
Our auto accident attorneys in Atlanta have experience in investigating car accident scenes and examining reports of what happened. We’ll be able to determine the type of accident from the details of your car collision. Then, we can work on finding out why your auto accident occurred.
Examining the Causes of Atlanta Car Crashes
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 1,507 individuals died in car accidents in the state of Georgia in 2019. That comes out to about 4 deaths every single day. Approximately 76% of the fatal crashes were caused by unsafe driving behaviors. Seat belt use also played a role in whether or not the crash was fatal. 60% of victims either weren’t wearing a seat belt, or it was unknown if they wore their seat belt. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 16% of fatalities.
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. If you reside in Georgia, you can likely guess what interstate that is. It’s I-285 that circles right around Atlanta. In 2013, 26 fatal car accidents occurred on 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.
So, what causes these terrible car accidents? Here are some of the most common causes of car crashes in the state of Georgia:
- Driving Too Fast or Slow. Driving too quickly can make it difficult to stop in time or for other vehicles to stop in time should fast reaction times become necessary. Taking turns at high speeds also increase the chances of losing control of the vehicle. However, maintaining a speed well below the limit and the flow of traffic also poses a danger to others on the road. Both these instances are generally cases of negligence or recklessness.
- Driving Under the Influence. Drug 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.
- Fatigued Driving. When drivers are behind the wheel early in the morning, late at night, or have been driving for multiple hours, they may find themselves getting drowsy. Many people may think that drinking caffeine, rolling down the window, or turning up the radio can help them stay awake. These methods will not make a fatigued driver a safer driver. Fatigued drivers are less alert, have reduced judgment and reaction time, and are also at risk of veering out of their lane or falling asleep at the wheel.
- 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. It’s also important to adjust driving to the current road conditions. If it’s raining, snowing, or the road is covered in ice, drivers should slow down and remain alert. Going the posted speed limit may be reckless in these situations.
- 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. Rolling through a stop sign or trying to “beat” a yellow can result in terrible accidents. Other motorists or pedestrians following the traffic signs may proceed because they have the right-of-way, and the negligent driver collides with them. Driving on the wrong side of the road can also fit into this category.
- Aggressive Driving. While speeding is a sign of aggressive driving, so is following too closely and weaving through traffic. When a driver is right behind the car in front of them, they do not have time to maneuver or stop if they need to. This can easily result in a collision. Weaving through traffic is also dangerous because other drivers cannot predict movement. The aggressive driver may decide to use the right lane for passing as well. Aggressive drivers are also more prone to road rage.
- Road Rage. When a driver is angry or frustrated with another motorist, they may try to “get back” at the other driver by yelling, making a rude gesture, or cutting them off. However, the driver is now more focused on exhibiting road rage than driving safely. They could lose control of their vehicle, veer out of their lane, or hit another vehicle.
- Inexperience. New drivers may not be used to busy highways, having other people in the car, or driving at night or in other difficult conditions. Their lack of experience could cause them to not notice an issue ahead or to make a mistake that results in an accident.
- Distracted Driving. One other notable cause of car accidents is distracted driving. When a driver is distracted—whether they are texting someone, eating lunch behind the wheel, or checking their Facebook feed—they are liable to cause an accident in a fraction of a second and place everyone on the road at risk. Many drivers believe they can multitask—change the radio station, reach for something in the passenger seat, or change the music on their phone. However, this reduces the driver’s control of the vehicle and focus on the road.
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 car accident attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against that driver. Doing so can grant the victim and their family peace of mind as well as provide them with the financial assistance they need to pay for any medical bills, loss of wage costs, and more. If you lost a loved one in an auto accident that was caused by negligence, you may be able to similarly file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased individual.
After we look into the accident cause, we’ll examine how it directly affected you. Let’s take a look at common car accident injuries and how they can put your life on hold.
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 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, and Abrasions. Broken glass, debris, and the force of the crash can cause severe cuts and bruises. If these wounds are deep enough, there could be a risk for infection.
- Amputations. A limb may become severed during the accident. In other cases, the nerve damage can be so severe that the area has to be surgically removed.
- Broken Bones or Bone Fractures. Depending on the type of accident, a collision could result in a broken bone. This may require a cast and will need to stay in place for weeks or months. A broken bone can inhibit mobility and your ability to work or perform daily tasks.
- Internal Organ Damage/Internal Bleeding. These can be life-threatening and aren’t always noticeable. If there is internal bleeding, immediate medical care is required.
- Serious Burn Injuries. In an accident, flammable liquids inside the vehicle can be disturbed and catch on fire. Anyone in the car or near the car could suffer from burn injuries.
- Neck and Back Injuries. A car collision may cause damage to the neck or even spinal cord injuries. A severe spinal cord injury could result in paralysis from below the injury site. Complete or partial loss of feeling and function could occur.
- Head and Brain Injuries. If the head is jolted or bumped, it may cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injuries often need immediate medical care and can have permanent consequences if the damage is severe.
- Emotional Trauma. Car accidents can also have significant psychological effects. Lasting emotional damage including anxiety, depression, and even PTSD is common. While it is normal to be shaken after an auto wreck, if you find that these feelings are persisting, the issue may not go away on its own. Often, additional professional care could be needed to treat the psychological damage of the accident.
The Dangers of Whiplash
One of the most common types of car crash injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is caused when a driver or passenger is jolted forward or backward suddenly in their seat, causing the head to be pushed forward then backward (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 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. Car accident 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 follow-up 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
You may be wondering about the steps you should take after being in a car accident. While you’ll likely be in shock, you can still provide a great deal of help. Your first priority should be to ensure everyone around you is safe. Take the following steps in as calm of a manner as possible:
- Call 911 Immediately. Having emergency services on the way will mean you and others involved in the accident will get the treatment they need. In serious cases, this could be life-saving. If you’re wondering what you should do if the injuries you sustained appear to be minor, you should still seek medical aid. You may have hidden injuries or not realize how serious your injuries are. You’ll also need to file a report with the police.
- Assist Others. While you wait for emergency services to arrive, you should assist others if you’re able. You can help someone get out of harm’s way or reassure them that help is on the way.
- Pull Over to a Safe Area. If your vehicle is in the road, it could be blocking traffic and create a bottleneck. Pull over to the side of the road if you’re able to safely move the vehicle. This way, traffic can continue. Before getting into your vehicle, look for any signs of leaking or smoke. If this is the case, do not move the vehicle and move yourself and others away from it. It could catch on fire or something could create an explosion.
- Allow Paramedics to Assess Your Injuries. 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 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. You should also exchange insurance policies. 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 and this could cause frustration with the other party involved. However, it’s also important to not apologize, as this could be seen as an admission of fault.
- Speak to Police. When you’re telling your side of the story to police, stick to the facts and don’t try to fill in information if you cannot remember something. It’s okay if there are gaps in the details as accidents happen suddenly and you may not be able to register everything that happened. If you try to assign blame or fault, you may be proven wrong after the report. This could call your credibility into question and affect your claim.
- Gather Evidence. In addition to any evidence the police gather, it’s a smart idea to capture pictures on your smartphone of the accident scene, your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and of any distinguishing features about the surrounding area. You can document the damages of the crash and possible evidence from the environment. 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. Photographs will also capture the weather and time of day—which could be crucial factors that played a part in the accident.
- 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.
- See Your Physician. After the car accident, it’s imperative to see your physician to get a full evaluation of your injuries. When the paramedics saw you, not all your injuries may have presented symptoms. At your appointment, tell your doctor everything. Don’t downplay or leave injuries out. You need to know the extent of your injuries so you can treat them. Ignoring certain symptoms could allow injuries to worsen and you may not be able to get compensation for them. Seeing your doctor will also show that your injuries warranted a doctor’s visit.
- 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. This may not be the best choice as you do not yet know the extent of your injuries, the total of damages, and what compensation you’re entitled to. Your insurance provider will likely offer you a settlement that’s less than what you deserve because they’re protecting their bottom line. Tell them that the car 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 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 an accident claim.
Now that you know what to do after an accident, you may be wondering how much your compensation can help you. Our experienced Atlanta auto accident lawyer will go over the various aspects of your compensation and fight for you to receive full and fair benefits. Seek your options and what compensation you may be eligible for today.
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 accident 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. You may find that your recovery will require medical care for a period of time. You’ll need the help of a skilled car accident lawyer to prove that you’ll need this ongoing care. We’ll gather evidence to show that you’ll need compensation to recover the cost of future medical expenses.
- Lost Wages/Earning Potential. Your accident and resulting injuries may be preventing you from returning to work for a while. This can be extremely stressful, especially when you cannot depend on that regular paycheck. 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.
- Property Damage. While you’re focused on your injuries and the time you’ll miss from work, you may also be thinking about the state of your car. There could be merely cosmetic damage, severe damage, or it could have been totaled. Our lawyers will fight for your compensation to include the costs of the damage your vehicle sustained.
- 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.
While the above list goes over the financial damages of the accident, there are other significant effects of the crash and your injuries that don’t necessarily have a dollar amount assigned to it. Let’s go over what these damages could be.
- Pain and Suffering. The trauma of the accident and the resulting injuries have affected your life significantly. You could receive compensation for 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 car accident. Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief, and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident. Mental anguish could also result from permanent injuries such as disfigurement.
- 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.
Keeping all of these components of your compensation in mind can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s imperative to have a skilled Atlanta car accident attorney as your representation. Bey & Associates, LLC fiercely advocate for clients and we’ll do the same for you. We’re aware of the various ways a car accident can affect you and we’ll assess the full damages you’ve suffered.
As we compile evidence for your case, it may be helpful for you to know about auto insurance law in Georgia. Our lawyers are well-versed in our state’s insurance law and will know what applies to your case. Let’s go over how insurance law works in Georgia.
Georgia Auto Insurance Laws
In the state of Georgia, drivers must have insurance to cover them in case of an accident that results in injuries and other financial losses. It’s the law to have insurance to drive on public roads and highways in the state. While insurance policies may vary, there are minimum requirements a driver must have. They are as follows:
- Bodily Injury Liability. For bodily injury, the minimum is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence.
- Property Damage Liability. The minimum for property damage is $25,000 per occurrence.
You also need to include uninsured motorist insurance on your policy. This is in case you’re in an accident and the other driver doesn’t have insurance to cover the costs of the accident. This insurance will protect you for those injuries and losses.
Liability insurance will pay damages to others on the insured’s behalf, so it’s crucial to show that you were not at fault for your accident. This is why it’s important to not apologize or assign blame while at the scene.
Georgia has a comparative negligence law, which can mean both parties may be found partially at fault. If a person is no more than 49% at fault for the accident, they can seek compensation. However, this also means the other side may not be as cooperative during this process. They may try to show that you had partial fault for the accident. This can reduce the amount of compensation you can recover.
Let’s say in an accident, the other driver was speeding and hit you. However, you were texting and driving at the time. It may be that the other driver was found to be 80% at fault for the accident, but you were assigned 20% of the fault. This means that your final compensation amount could be reduced by 20%. If your compensation was $100,000, you could only recover 80% of it and would have $80,000 instead.
Car accident claims are complex and difficult to navigate on your own. Bey & Associates, LLC understands this and will help you with your claim. You shouldn’t have to worry about putting your claim in jeopardy. We’ll make sure everything is done correctly and will give you the best chance of receiving full compensation.
Recover with the Help of an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
At Bey & Associates, LLC, we can provide you with a 100% free case consultation where an expert car accident lawyer in Atlanta will be able to tell you the merits of your case. If filing an injury case is in the best interest of your family, we can help you during every step of the filing process and ensure you and your family can recover. You’ll be able to move through the process with confidence that we’re doing everything possible to fight for you.
When you have experienced representation at your side, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected. Your lawyer will build you a strong case that could help you secure your financial future. With this peace of mind, you can move forward with your recovery knowing you have the means to get the care you need and keep up with your other financial responsibilities.
You must file a car accident lawsuit 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. This means the costs of the accident could fall on your shoulders. Timing is often imperative when filing a claim.
To learn more or speak to one of our representatives, contact our law office today. We’re here for you today and every day.