Vehicle Accident FAQs
According to Georgia police, there were 6,296,000 crashes reported in Georgia in 2015 (the most recent year such figures are available). Of this total, 4,548,000 were property-only collisions, 1,715,000 of them involved injuries, and 32,166 of the wrecks were fatal.
Of all the fatalalities that year, 36 percent were passenger car occupants, 28 percent were light-truck occupants, and 4 percent were large-truck/bus occupants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crashes in 2015 were the leading cause of death for children under the age of 10 and young people aged 16 to 23 years. The Macon, GA personal injury lawyers of the Mann Law Firm have been helping vehicle accident victims for more than 50 years. We offer these answers to frequently asked questions for the benefit of potential clients and invite you to contact us at 478-742-3381 if you have any other questions.
Why do vehicle accidents happen?
A few common reasons for vehicle wrecks in Georgia are: failure to yield, distracted driving, drowsy driving, driving while intoxicated, following too closely, speeding, and not having the vehicle under proper control. Also, defective tires, faulty brakes, improper maintenance, poor driver training, and improper loading (which causes cargo to fall or shift) often result in commercial vehicle accidents. If negligence is a possibility, which it often is in commercial wrecks, you may be entitled to significant compensation.
Should I call the police if I’ve been involved in a car accident?
Yes. You never know the extent of your injuries, or the injuries of anyone in the other vehicle(s). In addition, property damage is almost impossible to assess with an untrained eye, so even if the accident is minor, calling law enforcement is the best way to protect yourself. An official police report with detailed information will make your claim stronger. Without one, there is very little evidence about the wreck at all.
What if the vehicles involved collide in the middle of a multi-lane highway?
Moving the vehicles does not affect your ability to file a police report, nor will you automatically face accusations of fault or failing to stop. If the vehicles are able to be driven after a wreck and the injuries are not prohibitive, drivers should move their vehicles to a safe location along the shoulder, median, emergency lane or other safe spot. Hazard lights and reflective triangles should be used to make the vehicles more visible to other motorists.
What if there are injuries? Can I help, or must I wait for emergency personnel?
While you should send for professional medical help as soon as possible, you can provide reasonable assistance to any injured person. Georgia has a Good Samaritan Law, which holds any person harmless for civil damages arising as a result of any act or omission in rendering emergency care. Keep in mind, however, that it’s possible to cause further damage if you try to help. Do not move or lift the victim unless it’s absolutely necessary and if you do, try to keep their body in the same position in which they were found. It’s also important to keep the victim warm while you wait for help to arrive.
Should I go to the doctor?
Yes, and you may be entitled to reimbursement of those costs if you later file a legal claim. Many injuries don’t make themselves known immediately, thanks to the body’s own defense mechanisms, so even if you feel okay or don’t have any obvious physical injuries, the best course of action is to seek medical attention. You may have internal injuries and pain that you won’t feel until the shock wears off. It’s very common for victims to dismiss pain and wait a week or more to see a doctor. Delaying medical attention is not only bad for your own health, but the lack of an immediate medical record will undoubtedly hurt your chances of successful legal action.
What types of damages can I be awarded?
If you have been injured, and the other party is deemed at fault, you can receive significant compensation for costs associated with the wreck. Each case is different, but the types of damages often awarded are:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Various out-of-pocket expenses (keep good records of everything you pay for).
What about the insurance companies? Do I have to contact them?
You are obligated to cooperate with your own insurance company, whether you’re driving your own vehicle or the company vehicle. Most insurance policies require prompt notice to the insurance company, and failure to do so gives the insurance company a reason to deny requested medical coverage. However, if an insurance adjuster for the other party reaches out to you, do not talk with them. They’re just trying to save money and get you to say something that will help their claim and hurt yours. Consult an experienced attorney to talk for you.
How soon should I contact my employer if the company vehicle is involved in a collision?
Immediately. Report the accident right away, and give detailed information, including whether you think you’ve been hurt. This information and how promptly you provide it will likely affect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
How does the trucking company fit into all of this?
Oftentimes, the first person on the scene of an accident involving a commercial vehicle is the trucking company representative. This person will be very reluctant to allow the company or driver to be blamed. They may even have a defense all lined up just in case, which is why it’s important to consult an experienced attorney to help you. If the representative decides they can’t dodge responsibility, they’ll still probably try to avoid a lawsuit. Whatever token amount they offer will likely not be nearly enough to cover the actual medical costs and lost earnings associated with the victim’s recovery.
The accident was partly my fault. Does that make a difference?
Even if you think you are partly to blame for the accident, you should not express that information. There are a lot of unknowns, and there may be crucial circumstances involved. You don’t want to accidentally say something that can be used against you later on.