A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Georgia

Car accident claims are often fraught with legal complexities, and plaintiffs may struggle to cope as they may still be recovering from their injuries.

Car accidents are not only incredibly dangerous, but they often lead to complicated legal actions. Although an insurance claim is often an injured driver’s first action, many car accident victims file personal injury lawsuits to claim additional damages when there is insufficient insurance.

You must file your claims within the time limit imposed by the statute of limitations. If the deadline is fast approaching or has already passed, you should speak to an auto accident attorney to see if you can afford the status and save more time. Although insurance is usually the first step in the legal process, it is often not the last. If the other driver’s insurance denies your claims or offers insufficient settlement, you can sue the driver for the full value of your damages. While your case is pending, you should focus on gathering as much evidence as possible to prove that the defendant acted negligently and should be held responsible for the accident.

When to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Georgia

Filing a car accident claim is an important step, and many injured victims are reluctant to begin what could be a lengthy legal dispute. While you should take your time making such an important decision, it’s also important to know that it’s best to start your business as soon as possible. It should also be noted that all lawsuits must be filed before the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations.

In Georgia, the statute of limitations in personal injury cases, including auto accident claims, is 2 years. All bodily injury claims must be submitted no later than 2 years from the date of the accident. If the 2 year time limit is exceeded, the plaintiff could lose their right to bring an action unless they can state a reason why they should have more time.

The toll of the law grants claimants additional time to file their claims under specific conditions. For example, the statute of limitations may be “toll” if you were under a disability that prevented you from filing your claims. A disability can include an intellectual disability or mental illness. The limitation period is also imposed on minors until they have reached the age of 18. The toll is even available if the defendant has left the state, for example to avoid legal action being taken against them.

How does insurance affect my personal injury claim from an auto accident in Georgia?

Georgia follows a fault-based insurance system where injured drivers can file third-party claims with the other driver’s insurance company. To obtain compensation from the insurance company, the injured driver must prove that the other driver is responsible for the accident. If the insurance company does not believe there is enough evidence to prove fault, they may deny the claim. Even if they are convinced of fault, they might not be convinced of all your damages and offer an inadequate settlement.

The insurance generally covers economic damage, such as medical expenses and property damage. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering are generally not included in insurance claims. In addition, your damages are generally only covered within the limits of the insurance policy. Economic damages can exceed policy limits in serious cases with serious injuries and high medical bills. In this case, you can sue the other driver for the full value of your damages.

Some states have a “no pay, no play” rule that prevents people from suing if they don’t carry insurance. Georgia has no such law, and uninsured drivers who are not at-fault in an accident can still file insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault driver.

Gathering Evidence for a Car Accident Claim in Georgia

When you file a personal injury claim, you must have sufficient evidence to prove your claims. In civil actions, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the proof, which means you have to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable.

The collection of evidence should begin at the scene of the accident. For example, many drivers take photos immediately after an accident and record videos of the scene. Because law enforcement cleans up accident scenes very quickly, photos and video are needed to preserve scene footage for court.

Nearby security cameras may have captured the accident on video. Video footage of the accident as it happened is often some of the strongest evidence a plaintiff can muster. You should also consider asking witnesses in other vehicles if they had dash cams or dash cams recording the crash.

Speaking of witnesses, the more evidence you have to support your claims, the better for your case. Although physical evidence and video footage can be very compelling, the power of testimonials should not be underestimated. You need witnesses who had a clear view of the accident or who have other first-hand knowledge that can shed light on the case.

Proving Fault in a Georgia Car Accident Claim

In many auto accident claims, liability is based on negligence. Negligence has four legal elements, each of which must be established in order for the plaintiff to meet its burden of proof. These elements are obligation, breach, causation and damages.

Man texting and driving; image by Alexandre Boucher, via Unsplash.com.

The duty element is the defendant’s legal duty of care to the plaintiff. In car accidents, duty is often the defendant’s legal obligation to drive with reasonable safety while obeying traffic laws. This obligation applies to all drivers on the road at all times.

Breach refers to actions or omissions of the defendant that violated its duty of care. What this looks like will vary from case to case. For example, failing to stop at a stop sign or driving while texting would be considered an offence.

The element of causation is what connects the violation to the accident. In short, the defendant’s breach of duty must be the direct and immediate cause of the accident. Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that his damages are real. Hypothetical injuries or “what if” scenarios are not enough.

Final Thoughts on Car Accident Claims in Georgia

Car accident claims are often fraught with legal complexities, and plaintiffs may struggle to cope as they may still be recovering from their injuries. Before you start an auto accident claim, you should talk to a qualified attorney about your case.

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