Car accident victims in Brookhaven should be entitled to compensation for their injuries. If you were injured in a crash through no fault of your own, then you should not have to be the one paying your medical bills, fixing your car, and dealing with the effects of time off work during your recovery. Instead, the driver who caused the accident should be the one to pay.
Working with our lawyers, you can take your case to court if their insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement for your damages. There, you can get compensation for any and all financial and mental/emotional damages you faced because of your accident. Our lawyers can help you understand what your case should be worth and fight to get you compensation at that level, rather than accepting whatever the insurance company says is right.
For a free case evaluation, contact Howe Law’s car accident attorneys at (844) 876-4357.
How to Handle a Car Accident Case in Brookhaven, GA
After a serious accident, you should get medical attention and collect as much evidence as you can. Then you should consider filing an insurance claim – but be prepared for a lot of scrutiny, hard questions, and stonewalling from the insurance company. In many cases, our car accident lawyers can help you fight insurance companies for the damages you need, even taking your case to court if you do not get the compensation you deserve.
Georgia uses a fault-based insurance system, where the driver who caused the accident is the one whose insurance company covers the damages. This means that if you were injured through no fault of your own, the other driver’s insurance should cover your auto damage, your physical injuries, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and any other damages you face.
However, getting them to pay what they owe you is a different story. This system often works best when damages are low and insurance companies do not have to pay out very much money. In those cases, they generally pay full damages for medical bills, lost wages, and auto repairs, and then end the case quickly. But if your damages are high, it is likely that the insurance company’s settlement offer will short you significantly.
Do not accept the first offer, and never accept a settlement from the insurance company without first checking with an attorney as to whether the damages are appropriate. If they have shorted you, we can negotiate with them to potentially raise the settlement or take your case to court where a jury can set the damages instead.
Damages in a Car Accident in Brookhaven, GA
As mentioned, damages should consist of payments for auto repairs, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Breaking down each of these and understanding how to calculate damages are important if you are trying to get your case paid in full.
The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle should be an important part of your case, but focusing on your physical injuries is more important. Nonetheless, you should know a bit about how repair damages are calculated.
First, a mechanic or body shop approved by the insurance company will estimate your repairs. If the cost of repairing the vehicle is more than the total value of the car, it will be considered “totaled,” and the insurance company will simply write you a check for the remaining value of the vehicle rather than repairing it. If the repair costs are less, they will pay the shop to carry out the repairs or potentially write you a check for that value to take the car somewhere else for repairs.
Second, a repaired vehicle will inevitably lose some value by the nature of being in an accident. This is calculated as the “diminished value” and has a special formula used to calculate these damages.
The full cost of all medical care, physiotherapy, mental health counseling, pain medication, crutches, and all other care related to the crash should be covered. This should include any reasonably foreseeable care you will need going forward as well as all care you already received.
Calculating these values is often simple because the medical bills themselves have their value listed on them. Nonetheless, you might need a financial expert to help project future medical bills to provide enough evidence of those costs to allow you to claim them as well.
From the time of injury to your full recovery, you might be unable to work at all. If that is the case, then lost wages are calculated by taking your average wage during that period and multiplying it by the hours missed at work.
For many, this will be a more complex calculation. Many workers are part-time or work multiple jobs, many are “gig workers” or independent contractors whose business depends solely on them, and many workers are going to be out of work much longer. If your injury allows you to work a job with reduced physical demands or allows you to go down to part-time, this could also affect your wages.
Ultimately, the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages can be used to calculate car accident damages, but it is not perfect. Moreover, a financial expert might be necessary to help project future lost wages if you now have a disability that keeps you from getting back to work at your full capacity or forced you into an early retirement.
Pain and Suffering
While the other damages discussed so far are all “economic damages” based on some receipt or bill with a monetary value attached, pain and suffering damages are “non-economic damages.” Georgia law also calls these “general damages” in that they generally apply in all injury cases. However, determining the exact value to claim is always a bit challenging.
Calculating pain and suffering damages often means using either a per-day value assigned to how much your pain and suffering are worth or applying a multiplier to the rest of your damages to double or perhaps even quadruple them to account for pain and suffering. Ultimately, our car accident lawyers can help you calculate these damages so you know whether the insurance company is providing enough compensation or not.
Proving Your Car Accident Case in Brookhaven, GA
Whether you are presenting your claim to the insurance company or taking the case before a judge and jury, you need evidence to prove what happened. You also need a strong argument as to why the other driver is at fault, pointing to what they did wrong to cause the crash.
Elements of a Car Accident Case
Under the law in Georgia, car accident cases are blamed on the driver who was “negligent.” To find negligence, a court must see evidence that the driver violated a duty or legal requirement – which might be a traffic violation or a breach of the duty to drive reasonably. That breach of law or duty must also have been what actually caused the crash, and must have resulted in damages. Proving causation is often situation-specific, and damages are discussed above – so the only remaining elements are that we need evidence of the duty and breach.
Defining Breach of Duty
Many traffic laws are intended to keep people safe, such as speed limits, rules about following too closely, and drunk driving laws. If a violation of one of these laws is what caused the crash, then the driver who broke the law should be held responsible. In other cases, no specific law is broken, but the driver’s actions are objectively unreasonable, given the facts at hand. That also qualifies as fault.
To prove this breach or violation, you often need evidence. That can come in the form of something as simple as your testimony about the accident and the facts leading up to it. It can also come in the form of pictures of the vehicle damage so the court can see your paint on their car and their position in the intersection, among other things. Often, a police report will not be admissible, but a police officer who responded to the accident can come to testify, and the police report can help us build the case even if it cannot be used directly as evidence. If you have witnesses who saw the accident, security cameras that caught the crash on video, or other evidence, we can also use much of that.
Burden of Proof
Many are familiar with the term “burden of proof” and know that the party who has the burden of proof is the one who needs to prove the case. In a car accident claim, the plaintiff is the one with the burden of proof and must produce evidence and meet their burden in order to win their case.
The burden in a civil injury case like a car accident case is known as a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means you must convince a jury it is more likely that your claim is true than the alternative. This is a much “lower” burden than the one used in criminal cases, which is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard you might be familiar with from news or shows/movies.
When proving that the other driver was at fault, you need only prove that they were a major contributor to the cause of the accident. Many victims are not perfect drivers, and the court might take your own speeding or distractions into account. However, you can still recover compensation in a car accident injury case even if you were partly at fault. This should not eliminate the defendant’s negligence unless you were more than 50% at fault, per O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33(g).
Common Violations that Cause Car Crashes in Brookhaven, GA
Car accidents are typically based on traffic violations that lead to the crash and ultimately put the other driver’s safety at risk. These crashes can happen in many different ways, but the following are some of the most common violations that cause car crashes.
Even if it is not the core cause of the accident, speeding is often a contributing factor and can make otherwise minor crashes much worse. At higher speeds, vehicles take more damage, especially if they were driving toward each other and hit head-on. When drivers are unable to slow down or do not attempt to hit the brakes, this makes the crash happen at higher speeds even if everyone was technically under the speed limit.
DUI accidents are incredibly dangerous and are often deadly. Victims of drunk driving crashes often take more damage because the other driver was not able to react to hit the brakes in time. Police at the scene of the crash can gather evidence of intoxication and use it in a criminal case against the defendant, but you might also be able to access that evidence, and you are certainly able to file a separate civil injury case against the driver.
Simply not paying attention or texting while driving are some of the most frequent violations that lead to crashes. Again, drivers might not be able to stop, causing more damage. As with other crashes, this might just be one contributing factor as well.
Even if the driver’s eyes are on the road, failing to check blind spots or look before moving might not be a distracted driving offense but also counts as driver inattention. This is one of the most common contributing causes of accidents.
Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
Though it might seem like something you obviously should not do, many crashes occur in intersections where one driver had a clear red light or stop sign that they should have stopped at. In these accidents, it does not matter which order the drivers entered the intersection, but rather whether they had a duty to stop or yield to the other driver and violated that duty.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyers in Brookhaven, GA Today
For a free review of your car accident case, contact the car accident lawyers at Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357.