FAQs: Car Accidents
November 30, 2020
As of the end of March 2019, all school bus drivers in Georgia may need to be vetted twice per year by public safety officials. Georgia lawmakers recently passed a bus driver safety bill in the state Senate and House. The Georgia Senate passed the bill unanimously on March 26. The bill would... continue reading
At Mann Law Firm, we understand that the aftermath of a car accident can be a confusing and difficult time for victims and their families. We are here to provide professional and compassionate legal service to guide you through this trying time and to help you to return to as normal of a life as possible.
To help get you started, we have provided answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” that car accident victims have about their cases. While these FAQs may help you to understand your case better, it’s important to discuss the specific facts and issues in your case with a lawyer.The Mann Law Firm is available to discuss your case. We serve car accident victims throughout Macon and Georgia. Our initial consultations are always free and confidential. To schedule one today, simply call (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form.
SHOULD I STILL GO TO THE HOSPITAL TO GET CHECKED IF MY CAR ACCIDENT HAPPENED LAST WEEK?
Yes. It is crucial to get examined by a medical professional as soon as possible after a car accident. There are many reasons to do so. First, you want to make sure that any injuries you have suffered are diagnosed and treated. Even if you think that you only suffered minor cuts or bruises in the crash, you may have serious internal bleeding, organ damage or soft tissue injuries that could endanger your health. Because you may not realize that your body has suffered this damage, it’s important to get checked by a doctor – even if a week has passed since the accident. Second, you need to document your injuries and expenses. If you seek compensation for your losses later on, you will prove this through your medical records and receipts. It may even be advisable to take photos of your injuries.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I DON’T AGREE WITH THE POLICE REPORT DESCRIBING MY CAR ACCIDENT?
In general, police will respond to the scene of a car accident. They will examine the cars and scan the area for skid marks, debris and other signs of the wreck. They may also interview you, the other driver(s) or passenger(s) involved in the accident and any witnesses. They will obtain insurance and contact information from everyone involved. All of this information will go into a police report about the accident. If you disagree with any of the facts stated in this report, it can be sorted out by your attorney. For instance, at Mann Law Firm, we will conduct an independent investigation of your crash, which may include working with investigators, accident reconstruction specialists and other experts to determine how your crash occurred, who was responsible and what damages you suffered. In other words, the police report is an important piece of the puzzle, but it is only one piece.
IF I SUE THE DRIVER WHO CAUSED MY CAR WRECK, WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO RECOVER?
Each case is different. The amount of damages that can be recovered in a specific car accident case will depend on the unique facts, parties and legal issues involved. With that said, an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit after a car accident will generally seek compensation for medical expenses (past and future), lost wages (past and future), pain and suffering and emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages may be sought as well. These damages are aimed at punishing and deterring especially willful or malicious misconduct. For instance, punitive damages often are sought in cases involving a drunk driver. Georgia law caps punitive damages at $250,000. However, this cap does not apply to drunk driving cases.
CAN I SUE THE OTHER DRIVER IF MY SPOUSE WAS KILLED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
Yes. Under Georgia law, the spouse of one killed due to another’s negligence can bring what is called a “wrongful death” lawsuit on his or her own behalf and on behalf of the children of the deceased. If the person killed in the accident has no spouse or child, then the parents of the person may bring a wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death action, you are seeking damages that you have suffered, such as funeral expenses and the loss of financial support. In a different type of action that is often pursued at the same time, called a “survival” claim, you can seek compensation for medical expenses and the pain and suffering that the deceased endured as a result of the accident.
SHOULD I TALK TO THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURANCE COMPANY?
No. You do not have to talk to the other driver’s insurance company and, in fact, Mann Law Firm suggests that you do not speak to a claims adjuster or other representative from that insurance company until you have first spoken with an attorney. Based on his years of experience as an attorney working with an insurance company, David Mann knows that insurers will be out to protect their profits by paying as little on a claim as possible. By calling shortly after an accident, the insurance company may try to get you to settle your claim for a low amount – before you have a full understanding of the damage you have suffered. At the Mann Law Firm, on the other hand, our goal will be to protect your rights and interests and to seek the maximum amount of compensation for you. Ultimately, we may reach a settlement with the insurance company. However, we want to do everything possible to seek a full and fair amount in that settlement. If such a settlement can’t be obtained, we will be willing to go to trial on your behalf.
WHAT DO I DO IF THE DRIVER WHO CAUSED MY CRASH DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH INSURANCE TO PAY FOR MY LOSSES?
Under Georgia law, all drivers must carry minimum liability insurance coverage, or insurance that will pay for the damages suffered by others in an accident that the driver causes. Currently, the law requires drivers to have 25/50/25 minimum auto insurance coverage. This means a minimum of $25,000 to pay for bodily injuries suffered by one victim, a total of $50,000 to pay for the bodily injuries of two more or more victims and $25,000 to pay for any property (vehicle damage). In some cases, a driver may purchase coverage above those limits. Georgia law also requires insurance companies to offer what is called UM/UIM coverage, or uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist coverage, in the same minimum amounts. If you have not “waived” this coverage, then you can seek compensation from your insurance company through your UM/UIM policy if the other driver’s insurance doesn’t pay for all of your losses. Even though you are seeking payment from your own insurer, your UM/UIM claim could be contested. Just as the at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to pay nothing or as little as possible, your own insurance company may try to do the same. This is why it is crucial to have an attorney by your side protecting your rights.
IF THE DRIVER WHO HIT ME WAS WORKING AT THE TIME, CAN I SUE HIS EMPLOYER?
Yes, you can sue the driver’s employer. Under Georgia law, an employer can be held legally responsible for any negligent acts committed by an employee that are committed while the employee is acting within the “scope and course” of his or her employment. Keep in mind: An employer may try to evade liability by arguing that the person was not an employee but an independent contractor or that the employee was “off the clock” when the accident occurred. A lawyer with experience in holding companies accountable for the negligence of their employees will know how to counter these arguments.
HOW LONG CAN I WAIT BEFORE I FILE A CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT IN GEORGIA?
Generally speaking, a person will have two years from the date of an injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. In other words, two years from the date of your accident or from the date you discovered the injuries that you suffered in the accident. This is called the “statute of limitations.” If you wait more than two years to file a legal action, then your claim may be time-barred. There are only a few exceptions that apply to this rule. Additionally, if you sue a government entity in Georgia – for instance, a government worker hit your car, or a defective road caused your accident – then you may also have to meet certain notice requirements that require action even sooner than within two years. Time limits and deadlines must be met in car accident cases. A lawyer will help you to meet all of these deadlines and make sure that your case progresses as smoothly as possible.
IF I’M PARTIALLY TO BLAME FOR CAUSING MY CAR CRASH, CAN I STILL RECOVER COMPENSATION?
Under Georgia law, if you are 50 percent or more at fault for causing your traffic accident, then you could be barred from recovering anything in a personal injury lawsuit. However, if you are less than 50 percent at fault, you can recover compensation, but your recovery will be reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to you. This is called “comparative negligence.” Here’s an example of how it could work: If you were in a car accident, you may have suffered $100,000 in financial, physical and emotional harm. If you are found to be 49 percent at fault, you can recover $49,000. Insurance companies often will try to shift the blame from the driver they have insured to you. An attorney will stand up against these tactics and fight for your right to a full recovery.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME TO HIRE A LAWYER FOR MY CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
When the Mann Law Firm takes on your case, our representation of you won’t cost anything unless and until we secure a financial recovery for you in a settlement or verdict. This is called a contingency fee agreement. Our payment is contingent upon your success. After a settlement or verdict is reached in your case, we would then allot a portion of that settlement to pay for itemized costs and our attorney fees.