Georgia Car Accident Law

What Is Georgia Car Accident Law?

Car accidents in Georgia are often complex matters that require legal support to get through even if the victim is only partially at fault for the collision. The two parties must understand comparative fault, how to process a settlement and what to do after the wreck occurs to ensure that all necessary procedure occurs within the confines of the law.

Car Accident Laws in Georgia

Car accident laws in the state of Georgia exist to provide an understanding of the various aspects of these incidents to include how to proceed through the collision, when and how to contact insurance companies and when and what to report about the accident. The person that suffers injury often has the ability to either acquire a settlement for compensation by damages that accrue from the collision or must go through litigation to force a person or company to pay for these damages. The laws in this state also explain who is at fault based on liability and comparative fault through a detailed number which the court can use to calculate compensation amounts within the range awarded.

Georgia Insurance Requirements

Per Georgia law, all drivers have standard minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage within the individual policy. To legally drive in the state, the adult driver must carry bodily injury liability of $25,000 per each person and $50,000 for each accident. Property damage liability of $25,000 is necessary for each collision. Uninsured motorist bodily injury of $25,000 for each person and $50,000 for each incident along with and property damage of this type of $25,000 as well as deductibles of $250, $500 or $1000 based on the coverage policy. This is necessary for all drivers, but teen drivers must also adhere to additional policies.

A fifteen-year-old teen can acquire an instructional permit after passing a written test. He or she must have a licensed driver of no younger than 21 in the car. After one year and one day, this teen can pass a driving test and receive an intermediate driver's license between ages sixteen and eighteen. Supervised driving is still necessary but it tapers off after increments of months and as the teen ages. At seventeen, this person is exempt from the driver educational requirement but must still drive with supervision. At eighteen, the teen can apply for a Class C driver's license but keeping a permit or license with unexcused absences in school of ten or more is not possible.

Requirement to Report Accidents in Georgia

In most situations, the person in a car accident will contact the police and also exchange information with the other driver at some point. Then, the individual will follow Georgia law and report the accident with certain information. This requires proof of insurance, following through with a police report and following all necessary steps. The steps usually start with police contact and remaining at the scene. Both drivers should stay but often must move the vehicles out of traffic if they are still there. If that is not possible, contacting a tow truck or emergency services is the next step.

The officer will immediately respond when communication comes through about an accident. This professional will complete a crash report, record property damage of $500 or more and detail injuries or deaths of any drivers or passengers. He or she may question both drivers and even passengers for additional information. Then, a copy of the report is available at the local police station. A personal report about the accident is not useable in the courts in the state. However, it can help understand what happened and to explain to an insurance adjuster the specific details.

What to Do after an Accident in Georgia

After suffering the collision in Georgia, the victim should follow certain steps to report the accident and ensure everyone is alright. When the car stops moving from the impact, the driver or anyone that is conscious should check for injuries and contact emergency medical help if there is any possibility of bodily harm. If there are no injuries, it is important to take pictures of everything at the scene to include the other vehicle in the collision. Staying at the scene and reporting the matter is essential and will lead to a police report in most circumstances.

If the police require additional information from witnesses, the officer will usually have them stay as well. The victim can collect their details and the contact information of the other driver when exchanging insurance data. Contacting the insurance company is often one of the last steps. This happens last because everything else is already taken care of, and the victim will have the contact information of the other driver to report. It is important to only give general details of the incident until a lawyer is available to explain anything else or to provide the client with what to say to the carrier.

How an Insurance Claim is Processed in Georgia

Georgia is a state that assigns fault in car accidents. This is counter to no-fault states because drivers must have insurance that will apply to the accidents and protect the victim with coverage from the at-fault driver. Filing a claim is the first step when contacting the insurance carrier. The adjuster will investigate the accident and determine how much each person should pay from each insurance policy. The adjuster usually collects enough information to apply the collision details to a settlement offer. Then, the victim can either accept the offer or reject it stating that it is not enough. The rejection usually occurs with the help of a lawyer so that the injured party understands how much the compensation should provide.

In many circumstances, the two drivers will contact and process the entire event through the insurance companies attached for coverage. However, some accidents require a third party claim against the carrier. These usually start because of negligence from the other driver. Using the personal injuries as the subject of the claim, the plaintiff will need the services of a lawyer to initiate the matter in the state. Even with a third party claim, the insurance company may still attempt a settlement offer. The individual can either take the claim or pursue the matter in the court based on the advice and help of the lawyer hired for the legal concern. The claim in the courtroom will rely on liability, comparative fault and evidence to build the case. The lawyer will present different aspects and arguments for each condition and how the plaintiff requires a certain range of compensation because of the damages incurred by the other driver.

Proving Georgia Liability

To prove that the other party is liable for damages and at fault in the accident, it requires at least one of four issues within the incident. The person needs to prove negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct or strict liability. If the other party does not appear at fault, using one of these four concepts, the plaintiff can raise the level of fault in the claim to the point that he or she can sue the other party. Unless the other driver intentionally caused the collision, he or she is usually negligent in some manner. The person failed to do something such as pay attention to signs or was irresponsible when on the road. Proving negligence can involve a breach of duty that caused unsafe driving, a lack of avoiding dangerous situations or direct violations of road rules and laws that places others in jeopardy.

Proving recklessness is either difficult or easy depending on the situation. If the other driver is under the influence of alcohol, is engaging in drag racing or is over fifteen miles above the speed limit, this is usually obvious. Disobeying rules such as running stop signs or lights or cutting into and out of traffic can also demonstrate reckless behavior. Intentional misconduct is when the other driver is purposefully malicious or has every intention of causing harm. This is similar to recklessness and can have the same actions but with a different intent. These drivers are almost always responsible and held liable. Strict liability is different because it happens through defective products and a company rather than the other driver. The manufacturer of the item on the car is the reason for the wreck and can provide the plaintiff with a valid lawsuit against the entity.

Comparative Fault and How it Works in Georgia

The aspect of comparative fault connects both parties in the accident as partially at fault for the damage. In Georgia, the victim can recover compensation when the other party is more at fault in the collision then he or she is. Damages are less than the maximum awarded if held partially responsible because both parties are held liable. Both litigation and insurance settlements use this concept to apply modified awards after the damages run through calculations for the range of possible compensation. It is up to the victim to convince a judge, jury or insurance adjustor who holds what percentage of fault in the accident.

The adjuster or court will look at the evidence available. For someone speeding and not able to stop in time, he or she could retain 80 percent fault. With the other twenty held to the plaintiff, he or she will acquire less compensation. Running through this calculation, a $50,000 award reduces by the twenty percent and the court or adjustor will take off $10,000. The plaintiff will receive $40,000 total of this award when the claim is successful. However, if the victim shares more than 50 percent fault with the other party, he or she will receive nothing in this state.

Georgia Damages

A decision by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010 removed the limits on the car accident damages for a plaintiff. Because of this, there are near limitless compensation awards possible when recovering damages through a personal injury or property damage claim in a collision in this state. The different damages include medical bills, repair or replacement of the car, rental car costs, lost income from a job, loss of affection or companionship given by a loved one, pain and suffering and wrongful death. The one type of damage that does have a maximum cap is punitive damages awarded by a judge. This is to punish the other party for egregious behavior or conduct and is set at a limit of $250,000. These are usually possible for severe injury, permanent disability and sometimes the death of the driver or passenger.

Medical bills can cover many different items the person needs. These can include therapy, ambulance costs, consultations with a medical professional, accessory purchases such as a heating blanket crutches, recover for disfigurement, and in-home expenses. Lost income damages involve the loss of wages through a lack of work when the victim is still in the recovery process or receiving treatment. Injuries can affect a spouse or romantic partner because of a lack of affection during recovery of because of what the injuries do to the person. This can include sexual activity, visible affection and companionship given to the partner. These are damages for the uninjured spouse.

Pain and suffering cover the injury, the severity of bodily harm and the recovery process. Treatment given can also inflict pain. This damage covers the time of injury, the period of and in recovery and the future pain and suffering injuries can cause. Different aspects of harm can also require compensation for trauma, distress, emotional and psychological damage and therapy to recover. These issues are often long-term with a modifier to help acquire the full scope of damages through compensation awards with a successful claim.

Georgia Car Accident Statute of Limitations

The set time limit for the victim to start a lawsuit for personal injury claims in the state of Georgia is within two years. The deadline available depends on the type of case and the diagnosis of the damage. For a person that suffers an injury that is known and recognizable to a doctor, he or she will have up to the two years from the point of injury to file a claim in this state after a car accident. While a claim is not necessarily the path this person will take, he or she could contact and notify the insurance company of the harm that requires settlement. Generally, this is far less and should occur within a matter of only a few days or weeks at the most if recovery time takes longer.

This statute of limitations of two years does not apply to insurance claims with the carrier. It is to file a lawsuit against the other driver that caused the property damage and physical injury. The date starts at the point of the accident. There are certain special conditions that may change this date, but they are all subject to the overseeing judge of the case. The same timeframe holds for wrongful death suits that the person needs to file for someone that died in the crash unless he or she dies later. Property damage may extend the time to up to four years to start the case.

Contact a Georgia Lawyer

When a driver or passenger suffers injury cause of the other driver or special circumstances, it is vital to contact a Georgia lawyer to initiate the lawsuit in a timely manner. A legal professional can help prove liability, explain and use comparative fault and assist with the investigation. He or she can also communicate with the insurance company and the settlement offer.

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