It is a known fact that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you will get into a car accident. For every 100 million miles traveled, there is about one death. When traveling in Wyoming, the fatality rate is 25.4 people per 100,000, a sharp contrast to Georgia, which has, on average, about 14 deaths. For every 100 million miles, there are about 1.12 deaths for those traveling in Georgia, slightly less than Wyoming, which was 1.44 in 2019.
After a recent car accident in Georgia, you may be frightened and unsure what steps to take while out of state. When the car accident wasn’t your fault, you may decide you want some form of compensation. However, this requires evidence to show that the other party should be held liable. It can be difficult if you don’t know nearby mechanics and whether the traffic rules in Georgia are different. According to Atlanta car accident lawyers – Henningsen Injury Attorneys, you can follow these steps to help you overcome these obstacles and improve your chances of receiving a fair settlement:
Contact Local Authorities
As soon as you get into a car crash, call the local authorities and get the police on the scene. This is a requirement for any car wreck that results in costly damages. The police will review how the car accident happened, ask questions from all involved parties, then write citations for anyone that has broken a traffic law. If another party appeared to be intoxicated, the police might request that the other party take a breathalyzer or drug test. You can provide your side of the story and let the police incorporate your perspective. Your attorney can later retrieve the police report as an official form of evidence.
Get Contact Information From All Involved Parties
Getting the other party’s contact and insurance policy information is important. If they are withholding and don’t want to provide this knowledge, you can take a picture of their license plate or get the information from the police officer. When there are eyewitnesses on the scene, you should get their information as well because they can later support your claim for a fair settlement using their testimonials as additional proof.
Start Snapping Photos
If you aren’t too injured, your next step is to take pictures of your car accident and show all of the dents, scratches, broken glass, and any other problems caused by the accident. Take photographs of your gashes, bruises, and other wounds directly after the incident as well. You can also take pictures of the crash scene, such as the location, roads, the other involved cars, and debris on the road. Your attorney can later analyze the images to help them understand the car crash dynamics.
See A Doctor
Never delay seeing a doctor after being injured in a car accident. Even if you feel fine after your crash, you might have soft tissue injuries that show up days to weeks later. Additionally, if you wait too long to see a doctor, you can weaken your claim for compensation because the other party may argue that your wounds weren’t that serious. Your medical bills are also proof of your damages, and you can use your receipts as records that you were badly injured for a long period of time.
Call Your Insurance Company
No matter how small the accident, you should let your insurance company know what happened in your car accident. If you weren’t at fault, you should inform your insurance company about it and let them know you’ll be seeking a settlement from the other party. This is so that they don’t put the blame on you and require higher insurance premiums. Additionally, your insurer can help by sending you to a nearby mechanic and covering some of the damages to your car.
Contact A Local Lawyer
Instead of calling your typical lawyer, call a local lawyer in Georgia. A Georgia car accident attorney has years of experience in their state and works hard to help their clients obtain fair compensation for their damages. Because you got into a car accident within the state, you will need to depend on an attorney from the local jurisdiction.
Don’t Accept Offers Without Advice.
The other party may attempt to offer you a lump sum at the crash scene. Their insurer may also contact you later and provide a settlement. Don’t agree to either of these cash offers before you know how much your damages are worth. You should let your attorney speak on your behalf and contact them instead to initiate negotiation of a fair settlement.
Why Should I Work With A Local Lawyer?
Local lawyers are more dependable and have dealt with previous settlement cases in their state. They will also have greater resources locally and may already have relationships with professionals that they reach out to help them investigate your claim. It is also more difficult for an out-of-state lawyer to visit the scene and perform other tasks that may be necessary for uncovering additional evidence.
More Experience With Georgia Traffic Laws
An out-of-state lawyer won’t know Georgia traffic laws as well as a state local and will have less knowledge about how the other party can be at fault for your damages. Local attorneys will also know about traffic infractions that you may not know because you may have come from a different state with different laws.
For example, these are just some of the traffic laws unique to Georgia:
Cell Phone Laws
In Georgia, there is a hands-free no cellphone usage law while the driver is in the operation of the vehicle. This means that any kind of technology can’t be held while driving to prevent distractions. To make phone calls, texts, and any other activity, drivers must do this hands-free with the help of a headset or voice activation. If the other party was on the phone talking without a hands-free device or doing any other illegal activity, proof of this can be used to hold them responsible for the accident they caused.
Driving Speeds Are Strict
Driving too slow in Georgia can get drivers pulled over. Drivers have to stay within a certain speed limit, and if they are going so below the speed limit that they are obstructing traffic, they can receive a ticket. If you ended up in a crash because the other driver was preventing you from driving within the normal speed limit, this can make them at fault.
Whether day or night, when it is raining, drivers must turn their headlights on. This is so that other drivers can see them in inclement weather. Another driver may have caused a bad car accident because their headlights were off, and you could not see them. Police reviewing the crash may notice the other driver’s headlights were off during the rain.
Seatbelts Are Always Required
Georgia traffic laws always require seatbelts to be worn as soon as they are on the road for their safety. Even if seatbelts don’t impact a car crash, the police might give the other driver a citation. This can also show that they are a reckless driver and likely more neglectful in a car accident case.
Alcoholic Beverages Can’t Be Opened.
Another law requires that there are no open containers allowed in cars while it is on public roads. Even if the driver is not intoxicated and has a BAC of less than 0.08%, the police may smell or notice open containers in their vehicle. This can result in consequences for the other driver because of this illegal activity.
Will My Settlement Be Estimated Differently From My Own State?
The amount you receive in your settlement claim may be entirely different from a settlement in your state. You may receive more if the other party was found to be at fault or negligent in some way due to local traffic laws. However, it is possible you can receive less because of your contribution to your car accident.
Comparative Negligence May Be Different
The law of comparative negligence allows you to receive compensation even if you are partly at fault for your collision. In many states, even if you contributed to 99% of the car accident, you can still receive damages for the 1% you didn’t cause. However, in Georgia, if you contributed to more than 50% of your damages, you can’t receive a settlement for your injuries. The other party has to be mostly at fault before you receive compensation.
There Is A Settlement Cap In Georgia
In Georgia, there is a limit on the amount you can receive in compensation for your personal injury as a car accident victim. This isn’t the case if the other party intentionally tried to harm you or had malicious intentions.
Punitive Damages Are Rare
It is unlikely that you will receive punitive damages for any kind of car accident, even if the other driver was aggressive or in a fit of road rage. If you get into an accident with punitive damages, they will be capped at $275,000. Additionally, the state treasury receives 75% of these punitive damages.
There are some similarities between Georgia and other states concerning how car settlements are handled. For example, most of the compensation is based on the negotiation between the attorney and the other party’s insurance company. Also, your damages play a part in how much the settlement can be totaled. This will also depend on the provided evidence, which must be reliable. Car crash settlements are also calculated based upon the severity of the bodily injuries and similar to other states, include a multiplier for pain and suffering.
Out-of-state drivers may feel pressured to accept a quick lump sum settlement to make their trip easier when traveling back home. It is better to speak to Atlanta car accident lawyers before making that decision. You don’t want to be stuck with damages so high that you struggle with medical bills for months while recovering from a serious injury. The other party may also not take into account the lost wages you may be struggling with because of time off from work and any pain and suffering damages. Your attorney is very comprehensive when calculating your damages and will review your case in-depth. They can then get a settlement by negotiating with the other party on your behalf.