Auto accidents are among the most traumatizing and potentially life-altering events. And unfortunately, they happen way too often. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), an auto accident happens somewhere in the U.S. every minute of the day. After years of driving without incident, many people tend to adopt the false belief that accidents only happen to other drivers. However, car accidents are highly unpredictable and, in most cases, it’s not a matter of if but when you will be affected. An Athens car accident lawyer may be exactly what you need for success.
Athens-Clarke County has a large college student population. This particular demographic is notorious for drunk driving and distracted driving – two of the leading causes of car accidents in the state and country. The city also attracts a high number of tourists and visitors who may be unfamiliar with the area. In general, a driver in Athens shares the road with all kinds of drivers. And regardless of how safe of a driver you are, you can’t control the actions of others.
In the event that you are harmed in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you can be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and losses under Georgia personal injury law. However, handling a Georgia car accident claim is not a mean task, especially when also dealing with your injuries. Our highly-skilled attorneys from H Groves Law can help ease the process and help you secure maximum compensation. Give us a call today at (770) 329-1868 to schedule a free consultation!
Car Accident Statistics
Georgia is ranked among the top 5 most deadly states for drivers. In 2020, the state reported more than 330,000 traffic accidents, which resulted in an estimated 120,000 injuries and 1,730 fatalities. In 2021, there was a slight increase in the number of traffic-related fatalities, standing at 1,776.
Close to home, Athens saw a total of 12 fatal accidents in 2019. Of these, 3 involved drunk drivers. A total of 20 vehicles were involved in these fatal accidents. According to reports, the months of March and September see the highest number of accidents.
How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
There is a common perception that lawyers are expensive which discourages many victims from seeking the expert legal assistance that they require and deserve. However, hiring a personal injury attorney for your car accident claim is the smartest decision you can make for your case and bank account. At H Groves Law, we handle car accident claims and other personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are only paid if and when we secure a favorable settlement or verdict – no win no fee. Also, you don’t pay anything out of pocket since we only deduct a small previously agreed-upon percentage from the compensation amount.
This ensures that you get the legal representation that you need regardless of your financial situation and it also keeps us on our toes as we are only paid if we win your case.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, you might be understandably scared and confused. However, knowing what steps to take is absolutely important. The last thing you want is to do something or fail to do something and put your case, health, and future in jeopardy.
The law requires that you report any accident involving injuries, death, drunk driving, or property damage worth $500 or more to law enforcement. Remember, a police report will most likely be required when filing a claim.
Check on Other Involved Parties (Do Not Leave!)
You should never leave the scene of the accident without the permission of the responding officer. If necessary, move your car to a safer spot, then check on others involved in the accident and render help where needed. If anyone is in need of immediate medical attention, call for the paramedics.
While at the scene, you should exchange your names, contact details, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
Record the Scene
Recording the evidence while it is still fresh is an important step after a car accident. Take pictures and videos of the scene of the accident and note down any important details that may help your case. Things to capture include the damage inflicted on both vehicles, any visible injuries, skid marks, road conditions, and so on.
Never Admit Fault
Regardless of how you feel about the accident, you should never admit any fault for the accident or make any statements that can be construed as an admission of fault. These include apologizing for the accident and making statements like ‘Sorry I didn’t see you there. In fact, you should limit your communication with the other driver to just exchanging information.
Seek Medical Attention
If anything, this is the most crucial step after a car accident. Besides it being important for your health, it will form a fundamental aspect of your case. You need to prove that you were indeed injured and also prove the extent of your injuries. And the best way to do this is to have your injuries documented by a licensed physician. Seeking medical attention will help to reveal any hidden injuries and also ensure that you get proper treatment early.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer!
To ensure the best chances of success in your case, it is highly advisable that you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. In addition to the legal complexities of personal injury cases, you should also expect a lot of resistance from the at-fault driver, their attorneys, and the insurance company. An attorney will ensure that you have a fair playing ground and that your rights are fully protected.
What is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average settlement for a car accident claim in the United States is $19,000. The Institute reports that in 2020, the average settlement was $20,235.
When Should I Get a Lawyer for my Auto Accident?
If you’ve suffered minor injuries and losses in a car accident, you may not need to hire an attorney. However, in the event of serious injuries and death, you need to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.
You will also need the assistance of an attorney in the following circumstances:
- When fault is disputed
- When the other driver is uninsured or underinsured
- When you believe that the police report is incorrect
- When the insurance company unfairly denies your claim
- If you were involved in an accident with a government personnel
Why do I Need a Lawyer?
There are a number of roles that a car accident lawyer plays that eventually help you win your case and secure maximum compensation. Here’s what an attorney will do for your case:
Case Preparation / Filing a Lawsuit
Before filing a car accident claim or any personal injury claim, you need to ensure that you have strong and sufficient evidence to successfully prove your case. As an average citizen, this can be difficult to achieve, especially given your current physical and emotional state. An attorney has access to a wide range of resources and professional connections that will come in handy when building a strong case. An attorney will also help to ensure that your claim is filed properly and within the stipulated deadlines.
Insurance companies employ a wide range of devious tactics to try and minimize the amount that they have to pay. If they can’t outright deny your claim, they will try to devalue it or pressure you to accept a settlement amount far below what you are owed. They rely on your nativity to protect their bottom line. An attorney is fully aware of these tactics and will take the insurance company head-on. They won’t settle for anything less than what you are duly owed.
Trial Preparation & Representation
While most car accident claims end in settlement, your lawyer may decide that the best option is to take your case to trial. This often happens when the insurance company fails to present a fair settlement offer, is uncooperative, or outrightly denies your claim. Our attorneys have extensive court experience and a proven track record of winning cases for our clients. Our team has what it takes to build and present a compelling case that secures a favorable verdict.
How Much Can I Expect to Receive for My Damages?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. Every car accident claim will be different from the next. As noted, the average settlement amount for a car accident claim is $19,000. However, the exact amount will vary depending on the specific details of your case. This includes the type and extent of your injuries, the amount of property loss or damage, the skill and experience level of your attorney, and so on.
What Type of Damages Can I Recover?
Georgia law allows you to recover various types of damages in a successful car accident claim. These damages are grouped into three categories:
These are damages that have a direct impact on your finances. In short, they are expenses that you incur as a result of the accident and your injuries. These include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, property damage, in-home care costs, travel expenses (to the doctor’s appointments), house and car remodeling costs, and more.
These are non-monetary and subjective losses suffered as a result of the accident and your injuries. These include damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and so on.
Punitive damages are only awarded under special circumstances. This is where the defendant has been found to have acted in a grossly negligent, reckless, and malicious manner. This is meant to punish the wrongdoer and discourage the public from repeating similar behavior. Punitive damages in the state of Georgia are capped at $250,000.
How is Fault Determined?
When investigating the accident, your attorney will seek to obtain all kinds of evidence to prove fault. These include:
- Police reports
- Dashcam footage
- Video surveillance
- Photos from the scene
- Witness statements
- Testimonies from expert witnesses
- And more
It is, however, important to note that for any party to be held liable for your injuries and losses, all elements of negligence must be present:
Duty of care: The defendant owed you a duty of care in that particular situation. All motorists are required by law to drive safely and follow all traffic laws.
Breach of duty of care: You have to show that the defendant violated their duty of care. For instance, by driving while drunk or distracted.
Causation: This one is very important. You have to demonstrate that the accident and your subsequent injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s actions.
Damages: Lastly, you need to prove that you suffered actual damages following the accident and subsequent injuries.
Georgia is a modified comparative state which means that you can recoup damages provided that your percentage of fault is less than 50%. Also, your amount of compensation will be reduced proportionately to your percentage of fault.
How Long do I Have to File a Claim?
If you’ve been the victim of a car accident in the state of Georgia and would wish to recover damages, you will need to file a claim within two years of the accident.
How Can a Lawyer Help me File My Insurance Claim?
There are multiple ways a lawyer could help you with your claims:
Filing a claim
To initiate the claims process, you will need to contact the insurance company and file a claim with them. An attorney will help ensure that your claim is filed properly and on time.
After filing the claim, you should expect a confirmation from the insurance company that they received the claim and are working on it.
Claim approval and denial
Once this is done, the insurance company will either send you a letter of approval or denial of your claim.
In case your claim is approved, they will give you an initial settlement offer. Keep in mind that the initial offer is usually much lower than what you deserve. An attorney will help ensure that you are not taken advantage of.
If negotiations fail, your attorney will take your case to court. They will help you file a lawsuit and fight your case before a judge/jury.
What Can I do if Insurance Denied My Claim?
Having your claim denied can be very stressful and devastating. However, it shouldn’t mean the end of the road for you. You are still entitled to full compensation. You can choose to raise an internal appeal with the insurance company or file a bad faith lawsuit with a court of law.
Do I Have a Case?
Our attorneys will be able to carefully evaluate the specific details of your case and help you determine whether you have a valid case and how much it is worth.
What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
In and of itself, getting involved in an accident is very unfortunate, but getting involved in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver is another level of misery. You do not know whether you’ll ever be compensated for your injuries and losses. Fortunately, in such a case you can pursue compensation through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. However, if you don’t have this type of insurance, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, this rarely bears any positive results since anyone who can’t afford to pay for insurance will most likely not have the resources to cover your damages.
How Can I Obtain an Accident Report?
To get a copy of your official accident report, you can either visit the local police station’s records unit or obtain it online through the Georgia Department of Transportation website (for a small fee).
Common Car Accident Injuries
Here are some of the common injuries we see after accidents:
- Brain Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Head Injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Facial Disfigurement
- Leg & Knee Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
Types of Car Accidents We Handle
Here are some of the types of car accidents our lawyers will handle for you:
- Driving Under the Influence Accidents (Drinking & Drugs)
- Distracted Driving
- Head-on Collisions
- Hit & Run Accidents
- Rear-End Accidents
- Reckless Driving
- Rideshare Accidents
- Rollover Accidents
- Speeding Accidents
- Uninsured Motorist
An Experienced Athens Car Accident Lawyer Can Help!
When you get behind the wheel of your car, the last thing on your mind is ending up in a serious accident fighting for your life and health. However, as things stand, car accidents are a grim reality that we have to grapple with on a daily basis. The fact that a car accident happens every minute in the United States is quite scary. Fortunately, Georgia law has put in place measures to ensure that your health and finances are protected in the event that you are harmed in an accident caused by a negligent driver.
However, fighting for these rights is a long and arduous process. An experienced attorney from H Groves Law can take this burden off your back, and help secure maximum compensation for you. Gives us a call today at (770) 329-1868 to get the best legal representation in Athens.