Types of Car Accident Compensation Claims in Georgia
When a person is hurt in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, the victim may be able to make several claims for damages. In most cases, victims with successful claims are awarded compensatory damages, which are usually a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are tangible costs that can be easily calculated and proven. Common kinds of economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Medical expenses are typically one of the most common kinds of damages awarded in most personal injury actions, but many initial settlement offers only account for existing medical bills even when victims are expected to incur additional medical costs moving forward. Effects on income can also be somewhat difficult to calculate when car accident injuries ultimately limit the type of work that a victim can perform and will likely impact that person’s possible lifetime earnings.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are much more subjective and harder to specifically measure in dollars. Some of the most frequent noneconomic damages include awards for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress.
In certain claims involving particularly egregious conduct (such as drunk driving accidents), a jury may also award punitive damages. Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(b) provides that punitive damages can be awarded only in tort actions in which “it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
How Georgia Car Accident Settlements Are Calculated
When a person is injured in a car crash in Georgia, they usually have to file an injury claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. In most cases, a victim’s claim is based on the economic and noneconomic damages they have suffered.
The insurer for the negligent motorist will usually start its own investigation to determine liability. When it comes to negligence, Georgia is considered a modified comparative fault state, which means an insurance company often has an incentive to find reasons why a victim could be to blame for a motor vehicle accident.
The respective degrees of fault for each motorist involved in a car accident become important because they will ultimately determine how much compensation a victim receives. If a victim’s negligence is equal to or more than a defendant’s negligence (50 percent or more), then recovery will be barred.
For this reason, the insurance company for a negligent driver is very likely to argue that a victim was primarily at fault for causing a motor vehicle crash. In some cases, an insurer may also take issue with an injury claim by arguing that a victim took too long to receive medical attention or the insurance company may simply dispute the validity of some injury claims.
When a victim is less than 50 percent at fault for their injuries, then their share of negligence – if any – proportionately reduces their final award. In other words, a person who is awarded $100,000 for a car accident in which they were 10 percent at fault will have their award reduced by $10,000 and ultimately receive $90,000.
Insurance companies often prefer to settle cases rather than take them to trial simply to reduce the possible costs for the insurer. A car accident case is usually taken to court when an insurer fails to make an acceptable settlement offer.
Tips for Maximizing Your Settlement Amount for a Georgia Car Crash
To make sure that your legal team can build the strongest claim on your behalf and maximize the settlement amount that you’ll eventually receive, you should follow these tips:
- Stay organized and keep up-to-date records – Obtain the official police report, gather eyewitness statements, and save all of your medical bills and receipts for expenses associated with the crash. The more documentation your legal team has, the stronger your claim can be.
- Make sure to take photos of the scene – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Taking pictures of the vehicles (positioning, damage, etc.) and your injuries could be very persuasive when your attorney negotiates with the insurance companies or if your case has to go to court.
- Don’t give statements to insurance adjusters and don’t accept the first settlement offer – The insurance company’s representatives may ask you to provide a recorded statement about the accident, but these statements are often used to diminish or deny your claim. Also, don’t accept their first offer. It is likely much lower than what your case is actually worth.
- Get medical attention right away and follow the doctor’s orders – Visiting a doctor immediately after an accident can ensure that you get treatment and your injuries are officially documented. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions.
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Contact Spiva Law Group for Help After a Georgia Car Crash
If you sustained severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a car accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you seek the justice and fair compensation that you deserve.
The Georgia car accident lawyers of Spiva Law Group are committed to seeing that our clients get every dollar that they deserve for their claims. We are here to fight for you, and we want to make sure that you and your family don’t suffer any longer.
Our consultations are free, and we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless you do. Call us, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form to get started today.