Car accident injuries can range from minor to deadly. If the at-fault driver was breaking the law and caused serious injuries during the accident, they can severe penalties. What’s considered a serious injury in a car accident is defined under Georgia law, as we’ll cover below.
What is Serious Injury By Vehicle in Georgia?
Under Georgia Code § 40-6-394, someone will be guilty of “serious injury by vehicle” if they were driving under the influence or engaging in reckless driving and caused injuries that:
- Deprived the victim of a member of his body
- Rendered a member of the victim’s body useless
- Seriously disfigured the victim’s body or a member of their body
- Caused organic brain damage that renders the victim’s body or a member of their body useless
When a person is convicted of serious injury by vehicle, it’s a felony punishable by between one and 15 years in prison. The amount of prison time will depend on the specific circumstances of the car accident. For example, a driver is likely to get more prison time if they had prior (driving under the influence) DUI convictions or higher blood alcohol levels.
The serious injury by vehicle charge does also not need to happen by malice. That means, even if the at-fault party says they were not intending to drive recklessly or cause an accident, they can still be charged. In fact, a driver might even be charged with serious injury by vehicle if a passenger in their vehicle is seriously injured in a crash the driver caused.
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What Are Types of Serious Injuries from Car Accidents in Georgia?
The Georgia Code that covers serious injury by vehicle does not mention specific types of serious injuries. In other Georgia statutes, serious injuries have been defined as:
- Severe burns
- Bone fractures
- Loss of consciousness
- And the partial or total loss of hearing or sight
The serious injury by vehicle charge can result from serious or catastrophic injuries, and the injuries do not necessarily need to be permanent. Even if an injury is temporary, it can still count if it is serious.
After a DUI car accident or reckless driving accident, a judge or jury will typically determine what is considered a serious injury from the accident.
DUI or Reckless Driving Must Be Proved
In order for a driver to be convicted of serious injury by vehicle, it was be proved that the driver was guilty of either reckless driving or DUI. A person also cannot be convicted of both reckless driving and serious injury by vehicle or DUI and serious injury by vehicle. That’s because DUI and reckless driving charges are considered to be included as a lesser part of the serious injury by vehicle offense.
If more than one person suffered a serious injury in the DUI or reckless driving car accident, the driver can be charged with multiple counts of “serious injury by vehicle.”
Diagnosis of a serious injury may require a doctor’s medical opinion after tests and documentation. This will be necessary to show what a victim has suffered as a result of the car accident and the driver’s negligence.
What if Someone Dies from Their Serious Injury?
If someone dies in a car accident where the at-fault driver is engaging in criminal behavior, such as drunk driving, they can be charged with vehicular homicide. If one victim is seriously injured in the accident and another dies, the at-fault driver may face charges for both vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle.
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How a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a car accident in Georgia, you’ll want to speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. This type of accident is serious, and you deserve compensation for what was lost. Your lawyer can help by:
- Investigating the accident, including the driver’s level of impairment of the amount of reckless driving in the crash
- Gathering evidence of your damages
- Building a strong claim or lawsuit for full financial recovery
- Communicating and negotiating with the insurance company
Cases involving serious damages may be grounds for suing the other driver. An experienced car accident lawyer will prepare you for trial and fight for your rights every step of the way. Most car accident lawyers also work on contingency, which means they only charge a fee if they win you money.
At John Foy & Associates, we have been helping car accident victims, including those who were victims of drunk driving, win the money they need for over 20 years, and we know what it takes to win cases where serious injuries are involved. Call us today for a FREE consultation at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started today.