Personal Injury Attorneys Answer Your FAQs About Car Accidents
I had a car accident. Do I need to hire an attorney?
After a car accident, you will be juggling a lot of important things at once. First and foremost, you need to be examined by a doctor to evaluate the extent of your injuries. Next you will likely be dealing with insurance companies, whose job is to resolve your claim for as little as possible.
Consulting with a lawyer like the ones at the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates can help make sure that insurance companies don’t lowball you. Lawyers know how to gather all of the resources and evidence necessary to make a strong case on your behalf.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim?
Georgia has a two-year deadline, called a statute of limitations, in which you must file most personal injury and wrongful death claims. For car accidents, that statute of limitations begins on the date of the crash. However, there are some exceptions. If the person injured in the crash is a minor, then the statute of limitations is extended (or “tolled”) until two years after the minor turns 18 or is married. The personal injury statute of limitations can also be tolled in other specific circumstances, so it is best to speak with a vehicle accident attorney who knows Georgia’s personal injury laws well.
What happens if I am partially to blame for the car crash?
Accidents often happen where more than one party is at fault. Georgia operates under what is called a modified comparative fault system. If you are found to be less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you may be able to recover a portion of the damages. If you are deemed 50 percent or more liable, no recovery is possible.
I was hit by a driver who didn’t stop while he was turning left. Am I responsible for the accident?
That will depend on your own driving behavior and other circumstances that may have contributed to the accident. Generally speaking, left-turning drivers are considered responsible for collisions that result from a left-hand turn. That’s because the left-turning driver is legally required to yield to oncoming traffic until it is considered safe and reasonable to turn. These types of accidents typically happen when left-turning drivers fail to yield or misjudge the speed of an oncoming car, particularly in intersections.
If a failure-to-yield for a left turn is disputed by the driver, there are many strategies that your lawyer can employ to support your claim. One of the best resources is the hiring of an accident reconstructionist who will examine the vehicles, visit the accident scene, evaluate the police report and compile other relevant information to provide an assessment of how the accident really happened.
What are other examples of failure-to-yield cases?
The classic example is running a red light or stop sign. Running red lights have been a leading cause of car accidents for years. They have become increasingly common as roads have become more congested and drivers have become distracted by the allure of text messaging, e-mailing, and talking on their cell phones while driving.
Unfortunately, coasting through red lights and stop signs can be the cause of some of the most deadly wrecks that occur. Drivers who fail to yield at major intersections commonly “T-bone” (or hit from the side) vehicles that have the right of way to move through the intersection, which can result in catastrophic injuries for victims. The advent of red-light cameras has been shown to reduce fatalities nationwide. However, they have been widely criticized in many states (including Georgia), and there have been calls to ban them.
I was injured in a rear-end crash. Now the insurance company is saying my injuries can’t be that bad based on the appearance of the car. Help!
That is a common tactic on the part of insurance companies. Rear-end collisions are the most common types of car accidents, resulting in innumerable insurance claims every year. It’s easy to see why insurance companies try to dispute these claims. Rear-end collisions typically occur when a vehicle is stopped or is moving at a slow speed, which can mean that property damage can appear as nothing more than a fender bender.
That said, injuries – even catastrophic ones – can result from a rear-end collision. A common soft-tissue injury in the neck, called whiplash, is caused when the momentum of the rear-hitting car causes the heads of the occupants of the other vehicle to snap forward and back suddenly. Although it was once believed that low-speed collisions could not result in an injury like whiplash, the scientific community has increasingly reported research that collisions as low as 5 miles per hour can still cause damage. Other spinal cord injuries, including herniated discs, can also result from a rear-end collision.
Am I responsible for preserving evidence?
In any lawsuit, evidence is important. But it especially important in car accidents because sometimes another driver is not the only party to blame. Defective car parts, like brakes, may have made it impossible for another driver to avoid rear-ending you. A seat belt may have malfunctioned, causing your passenger to be ejected from the car. In those cases, auto manufacturers may be held responsible for the accident. It is important for that type of evidence to be examined closely by experts to determine potential sources of liability. If your car was towed to a wrecking yard or police impound, it is crucial to notify them (in writing) that every precaution should be made to preserve physical evidence.
Should I take photos of my car accident?
It is a good idea to take photographs of the scene, and not only of the crashed vehicles. Take shots of any skid marks or other contributing factors as soon as possible. Some of it may fade or be washed away during the cleanup of the accident. Also make sure to photograph your injuries in detail right from the start.
What happens if I realize that I accidentally said something inaccurate to the police officer at the scene?
Car crashes are scary, and the shock can rattle your memory. Your case is not ruined if you later realize you misstated a fact about your wreck. But it is important to speak with the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates to learn about how that inaccuracy could impact your claim and what strategies might work to bolster your case.
What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance?
A recent study from the Insurance Research Council found that around 1 in 7 motorists have no car insurance. Georgia law requires everyone to have auto insurance, but inevitably some people don’t comply. That’s why it is worthwhile to pay for uninsured (UM)/underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage under your own insurance policy. Having UM/UIM coverage will pay for your injuries, your passengers’ injuries and any property damage that occurs as a result of your car accident.
What can I expect to recover from my car accident case?
The amount of money you can obtain from a personal injury case will depend on a variety of factors such as the severity of your injuries and what the long-term prognosis will be. However, you may be entitled to a various forms of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses (past, current and future);
- Permanent disability benefits;
- Lost wages;
- Future lost income;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering.
In wrongful death actions, your family may be entitled to receive similar compensation for their losses.
More Questions? Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
The Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates have the type of experience it takes to WIN your case. Call us or use our online contact form. There is no fee for your first consultation.
The Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates serves clients in Atlanta, Decatur, Lithonia, College Park, East Point, Stone Mountain, Norcross, Conyers, Riverdale, Duluth, Fayetteville, Loganville and across Georgia and the Southeast.