No one plans on being involved in an accident, but it’s something that has happened to millions of people. If you haven’t been involved in a car accident, a friend or family member has been.
It may only take one mistake, one misjudgment and in a split second, an accident could cause serious injuries or even death to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
There are many contributing factors to car accidents:
- Inattentive or distracted drivers.
- Driver fatigue.
- Failure to obey traffic rules and laws.
- Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Weather and driving conditions.
- Defective or poorly maintained vehicles and roadways.
Legal Issues and Available Damages in Negligence Cases
A car accident normally is the result of negligence by one party or another. Depending on the circumstances, proving fault may be fairly simple or very complex. Negligence happens when a person fails to use reasonable care under the circumstances.
Common forms of negligence can include:
- Drivers failing to obey traffic laws, driving while distracted, or driving while intoxicated.
- Local or state governments failing to maintain roads or properly mark hazards or intersections.
- The vehicle manufacturer may have contributed to the accident by selling a vehicle that is dangerous because one or more parts are defective.
To prove negligence in a court of law, the person filing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) must prove:
- The defendant (the party being sued, who is almost always defended by an insurance company) owed the victim a duty to use reasonable care.
- The defendant acted negligently and he or she failed to use reasonable care.
- The defendant’s negligent acts caused the accident.
- The accident caused harm to the plaintiff and those damages can be documented and proven.
Car accident victims can recover several types of damages, depending on the facts of the situation and the applicable law.
Things that can sometimes be recovered include:
- Payment for all accident related medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses
- Past, present, and future lost wages
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and physical or mental disabilities caused by the accident
- Punitive damages (meant to punish the defendant) if the defendant was intoxicated or drove in a way that showed reckless disregard for the safety of others
The attorneys at Van Sant Law can help you pursue all damages and compensation available in your case.
The Role of Insurance in Car Accident Injury Claims
Most car accidents that occur in Georgia will be handled by insurance companies, their adjusters, and attorneys. Drivers are required under state law to carry liability insurance on every vehicle that they own, but Georgia law only requires coverage up to $25,000 for bodily injury per person and property damage, and $50,000 per accident for injury to two or more people. Given those limitations, this minimum coverage is rarely enough to cover an accident that does more than cause minor injuries and property damage.
Consider the following:
- Not all Georgia drivers comply with the law
- Many drivers are from states where insurance may not be required
- The high cost of medical treatment and auto repairs
As far as insurance coverage of a Georgia vehicle accident, the state is a “fault state” so an insurance company should pay based on the degree of fault of its insured. Depending on the circumstances, this may be difficult to prove and require the testimony of expert witnesses and an accident reconstruction. We have handled many car accident cases in the past and know what it takes to put on a successful case.
At some point, almost all car accident cases are settled by insurance companies during the legal process. The more serious the injury, the greater the damages in a case, and thus, the more difficult the case may be to settle because the insurance company has more at stake. However, Van Sant Law has been able to reach agreements with insurance companies in a wide range of accidents, some of which settled for substantial amounts of money.
Statute of Limitations
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have a limited time to file a legal claim against those who could be responsible. Georgia has a general two-year statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage claims resulting from a car accident. If legal action hasn’t been taken within those two years, unless there are very compelling reasons for the delay, a lawsuit will be dismissed.
Contact Van Sant Law if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident. You need to file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out and there are practical reasons for acting sooner than later. Waiting and wasting time may prevent you from exercising your legal rights and witnesses may forget details and physical evidence may be lost as time passes.
Contact Van Sant Law for a free consultation so we can discuss your situation, your legal rights and how you may be able to move forward with a claim for compensation.