No matter how carefully you drive on Georgia roads, car accidents can still happen. You can’t control how other drivers operate their vehicles or make them drive carefully. If another driver is negligent in their duty to be safe on the road and you are injured, you likely have a car accident case on your hands. Many drivers worry they will have to deal with going to court after a car accident in Georgia, but that’s rarely the case.
Here’s what you need to know about the legal process after a car accident and your chances of going to court.
How Do Car Accident Cases Work in Georgia?
Car accident cases are based around fault and negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave in a way that any other reasonable person would have in the same situation. Everyone in Georgia, including drivers, has a duty of care to act in a way that doesn’t put others in harm’s way. If they fail in that duty, it’s negligence.
When a car accident happens, the driver whose negligence caused the crash is at fault. Since Georgia is a fault state, that driver is liable for damages from the accident. That means you, as the injured party, have the legal right to seek compensation for your damages (Georgia Code § 51-1-6).
What Happens Before a Georgia Car Accident Case Goes to Court?
After you are injured in a car accident in Georgia, you will need to take steps to seek compensation for your costs. The burden is on you as the victim to file a claim and continue through each step of the process.
Whether or not you go to court is also ultimately your decision, but it depends on how the insurance company responds. To fully understand, let’s look at a typical outline of how a car accident case progresses.
In many cases, it’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as you can. Many injury attorneys, like John Foy & Associates, offer a free consultation where you can discuss the details of your case. From there, you and your lawyer will investigate the accident, your damages, and evidence of the other driver’s fault.
The investigation includes reviewing and gathering police reports, pictures of the scene, witness testimonies, medical records, and more.
Filing Your Car Accident Claim
Once you’ve gathered details of your case, you can actually file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. This would actually go to the driver’s auto insurance company. This step also typically involves sending a demand letter, which outlines your case and your damages.
When the insurance company receives the demand letter, they will usually either accept the claim, offer a lower settlement, or reject it completely. If they do anything other than accept the claim, you and your lawyer will get ready to fight back.
It’s unfortunately very common for insurance companies to send a counteroffer that is much lower than the settlement you actually deserve. If this happens to you, it still doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go to court.
At this stage, your car accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Most car accident cases end at this point because an agreement is reached and the victim is paid their settlement. However, there are some cases where the insurer doesn’t budge.
What if the Insurance Company Won’t Settle?
If all attempts to settle the claim are unsuccessful, then your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit in small claims court. If you do this, you will now begin preparing for court. The stages of a car accident lawsuit are:
- Discovery: Both sides will gather more evidence from each other and call on witnesses for testimony about the accident
- Mediation: A mediator will oversee an informal meeting between both parties in an attempt to reach a resolution and avoid going all the way to trial
- Trial: If the case has still not been resolved or settled, trial is the final stage where a judge or jury will look at all the facts, determine fault, and award damages if they see fit
What Will Improve My Chances of Avoiding Court?
Having an experienced car accident lawyer helps improve your chances of receiving a fair settlement far before trial is discussed. A lawyer will know which evidence is most convincing for an insurance company and how to negotiate for your rights.
You can also help avoid going to court by:
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and your vehicle damage after the accident
- Seeing a doctor and getting treatment for your injuries as soon as possible
- Following all instructions from your doctor
- Talking to any witnesses who were at the car accident scene
- Keeping track of all medical bills, doctor notes, and other receipts showing your damages
- Making notes about how the accident has affected you physically and emotionally
An attorney can help ensure your claim fully proves that the car accident happened, the other driver was to blame, and your damages result directly from the accident. Of course, there are situations where a case still goes to court regardless, but it is very rare, especially if you are working with an attorney who understands Georgia car accident cases.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer in Georgia for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we believe no car accident victim should have to bear the burden of damages they didn’t cause. We also want to make the legal process following a car accident as smooth as possible for you. Our goal is to get you full compensation for your costs—without the need to step foot in a courtroom.
We have been helping car accident victims win the money they need for over 20 years. It’s also risk-free to work with us, as we don’t get paid unless we win your case. To get started today with a FREE consultation, call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.