If you get into a car accident in Georgia, you need to understand the laws around compensation. Since Georgia is an at-fault state, an injured driver who didn’t cause the accident is eligible for compensation for their costs. So, if you were hurt and the accident was not your fault, there are several things you may be entitled to make a claim for.
The law entitles you to the right to file a claim and win a settlement for all of your damages. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get compensation. You still need to fight for it. Our lawyers explain your options and how you can fight against the at-fault party and their insurance company.
Don’t Trust Insurance Companies
Insurance companies would like you to believe that the law doesn’t protect you after a car accident. So they may try to convince you that you should accept their initial settlement offer since it’s quick and easy. In reality, they are trying to get you to settle for way less than the compensation you’re entitled to under the law.
Remember, insurance companies are businesses, and they will always try to find a way to save on costs by paying you the bare minimum, sometimes even less than that. So before you accept any deal, know your worth and know that our lawyers are here to help guide you through the claims process and win a fair settlement.
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What Damages Am I Entitled to After a Georgia Car Accident?
Entitlement after a car accident comes down to a fault. If it’s determined the accident happened because of the other driver’s actions or inactions, they are considered to be “at fault.” And, under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-1-1, fault means the driver is liable for your damages.
So, if someone else caused the accident you got injured from, you are probably legally entitled to file an insurance claim against that driver for your damages. Damages are losses that can be compensated. Below, we’ll break down the most common damages you’re entitled to from an accident.
Any medical expenses you have that wouldn’t have happened without the accident are considered damages. It’s important to keep track of all medical bills and costs so you can know exactly what to include in your claim. Those expenses often include:
- Bills or payments from hospital stays and doctor visits
- Prescription medications
- Cost of travel to and from medical appointments
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation costs
- And any other current or future medical expenses from the accident
Although the other driver (and their insurance company) will be responsible for your medical costs, they won’t pay for them directly at each doctor’s visit. You’ll need to complete enough treatment (or reach “maximum medical improvement”) before knowing what the full extent of your medical costs will be.
Then, you will include those costs in your insurance claim for reimbursement. This can be complicated, so it’s best to work with an Atlanta car accident lawyer who can make sure you accurately calculate all bills.
Lost wages can include the following:
- Basic wages, which are the exact number of hourly wages you missed. This consists of any sick leave or paid vacation time you had to take
- Loss of future income if you are disabled because of the accident and miss out on work you would have otherwise been able to complete
- Missed opportunities, commission, or other special income conditions. For example, maybe you missed income opportunities because you couldn’t attend meetings or events. Your Atlanta car accident lawyer can help with particular calculations like this.
Chances are, you will need to miss some work because of the accident. And if you have an injury requiring serious treatment, you may be out of work for a long time. When this is the case, you can include lost wages in your Georgia car accident claim.
Rental Car Costs
You shouldn’t let a car accident prevent you from running errands, going to work, or doing essential travel. If you have to get a rental car while yours is in the shop, the other driver’s insurance company will also cover this expense.
Vehicle Repairs or Replacement
If your car is damaged or totaled in an accident, you can claim for property damage. There are two possibilities for settlement in a property damage claim:
- Repair of the vehicle
- Total loss of the vehicle
If your vehicle is fixable, you may be entitled to the cost of repairs as well as “diminution in value,” which is the value a car loses after a car crash causes significant damage. If your vehicle is considered a total loss, you should be entitled to the car’s fair market value. You might need gap insurance to pay off the debt for a financed vehicle, so check with your finance or leasing company about that coverage.
Either way, the insurance company will look for any way to pay less, so you’ll want to research the market value of your vehicle and make sure you aren’t getting lowballed. If you’re not sure how to approach this, contact a car accident lawyer.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to easily-calculated damages like those above, you may also be entitled to pain and suffering damages. These have no clear definition or money value for every case, depending on your specific situation.
Pain and suffering refer to the discomfort or pain you experience because of your car accident injuries. That includes suffering you are experiencing now or are likely to experience in the future. For example, maybe your injuries prevent you from doing things you used to enjoy, or you have scarring or disfigurement that causes you physical or emotional suffering.
Some examples of pain and suffering are:
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders
- Fear and anger
- Mood swings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You will want the help of an Atlanta car accident lawyer when calculating pain and suffering damages you are entitled to, as they vary so much from case to case.
If someone dies in a car accident in Georgia, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim for damages. A wrongful death claim can include the damages mentioned above and funeral costs, pain and suffering from the deceased’s last illness, and loss of companionship.
In some Georgia car accident cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages. According to OCGA §51-12-5.1, punitive damages have the sole purpose of punishing or penalizing the other driver for malice, wantonness, fraud, or willful misconduct. Drunk driving accidents can sometimes entitle the injury victim to damages, for example,
Are There Limits on the Amount of Compensation I’m Entitled to After a Car Accident?
There are currently no damage camps for personal injury cases in Georgia, which include car accident cases. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that a cap on damages violates a victim’s right to a jury trial. The only exception is punitive damages, which are limited to $250,000.
There is also a limit on the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
What If I Was Partially Responsible for the Car Accident in Georgia?
If you were partially negligent in a car accident, you may still be entitled to compensation if you are less than 50% at fault. This is known as comparative negligence. If you are assigned a percentage of fault, your compensation will be reduced based on that percentage. For example, if you have damages totaling $10,000 and are found to be 10% at fault, you would receive $9,000 and be responsible for the remaining $1,000
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Your Legal Rights Won’t Last Forever
The amount of compensation you’re entitled to has a time limit. The statute of limitations for car accident claims in Georgia is just two years. However, some cases may have unique circumstances attached to them that make this deadline even shorter.
Don’t find yourself scrambling to gather evidence and file a claim. Even if two years seems like a long amount of time, remember that time passes very quickly. If you sit on your claim for too long, you weaken its strength and thus undermine your chances of recovering financial compensation.
Need Help with Your Georgia Car Accident Claim?
On average, car accident victims have a much higher chance of full compensation when working with an experienced lawyer. At John Foy & Associates, we can help you account for and calculate everything you’re entitled to after a car accident. Contact us today for a FREE consultation to discuss your options. Call us or fill out the form on this page for your free consultation.