When they contact a Atlanta car accident attorney for the first time, many clients believe that their case is hopeless. They were somehow partly at fault for it, so they probably cannot file a car accident claim. Yet, they are facing financial difficulties resulting from medical bills, lost wages and the cost to fix or replace their damaged car.
The golden rule in any car accident claim is this: never admit any kind of fault when talking to an insurance adjuster. However, be 100% honest and truthful when you describe the accident to a personal injury attorney in Atlanta. While you can always file a claim, the ultimate amount you collect depends heavily on how much you were at fault.
How Does Fault Impact a Car Accident Claim Settlement in Georgia?
Georgia is an at-fault state from the point of view of tort law – which covers personal injury cases, including car accidents. Any Atlanta car accident attorney at our law firm will explain that you have to prove that someone’s negligence (fault) is the cause of your crash, resulting in injuries and economic damages.
Since some cases are complex, and never the 100% fault of one driver, Georgia statutes dictate that the percentage of fault of all parties involved must be determined in a court of law during a personal injury lawsuit. However, this aspect will also influence negotiations during a car accident claim.
The Modified Comparative Negligence and How It Influences Your Case
A personal injury attorney in Atlanta will explain to you that our state has one of the most permissive doctrines in the US when it comes to recovering damages. A handful of states do not allow a personal injury victim any recovery even if they were just 1% at fault. Most states use the comparative negligence principle, stating that the victim must be less than 51% or 50% at fault in order to be eligible for recovery.
In Georgia it does not matter how much you are at fault. You are entitled to file a car insurance claim. However, the amount of money you will collect will be reduced from your total damages by the percentage of fault (Georgia Code 51-12-33). Here’s an instance. You were found 10% at fault and your damages total $50,000. You are entitled to collect $45,000. Had you been 90% at fault, you would have been entitled to collect just $5,000.
What Are the Options for Recovering Damages after a Car Accident?
In the state of Georgia, personal injury victims have three options for recovering their economic and non-economic damages. Your Atlanta car accident attorney will recommend the best choice after analyzing your case:
1. File a Car Accident Claim with Your Insurance Company
While other states do not give you this option, you can put your insurance company in charge of pursuing your settlement amount with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Of course, your proportion of fault will be calculated in this instance.
You must not make the mistake of believing that you will get a friendlier and more helpful treatment just because you are their client. You should still have a personal injury attorney in Atlanta by your side during the negotiation process. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to protect their profits. And they will try to stiff you at any step in the claims process.
2. File a Claim against the At-Fault Driver’s Insurer
Your Atlanta car accident attorney will negotiate the highest settlement amount with the other driver’s insurance company. This is not easy at all, given the fact that just one percentage of fault in your charge means thousands of dollars retained from your payout.
Thus, you must never try to negotiate on your own. Even if you believe you were just slightly at fault, the insurance adjuster will try to make it look as if you were the driver mostly responsible for the crash.
3. File a Personal Injury Lawsuit against the Other Driver
In some instances, you have to pursue the driver directly in order to recover damages. These instances are:
- The driver was uninsured
- The driver was underinsured.
In the first situation, it is obvious that no insurance coverage is available from the other driver. Thus, your own insurer has little interest in giving you a fair settlement. In the second instance, the driver may carry only the minimum amount of coverage. Yet, you sustained extensive and severe injuries, resulting in very high hospital bills. The insurance policy will cover only a part of these expenses.
There is always a caveat in such cases. The other driver may not own assets which can be seized to pay your settlement amount awarded in court. You may have to rely on monthly garnishments on their wages – and this can take years until the full amount is paid.
How Can a Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Establish Fault?
When it comes to determining fault in a car crash, it comes down to which party has the most solid evidence to support their claim.
An experienced personal injury attorney in Atlanta will rely on the most reliable types of evidence in making the evaluation of fault:
- Accident report prepared by the police
- Photos and videos you took at the crash scene
- Eyewitness testimony
- CCTV camera footage.
Your lawyer is authorized to obtain further evidence if the other driver is suspected of:
- Driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substances
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving.
Together, these pieces of evidence present a coherent and compelling story, indicating your true proportion of fault – not the one the insurance adjuster would like to assign to you.
Bring Your Case to a Top Car Accident Law Firm!
At Diaz & Gaeta, you will meet a fully bilingual English and Spanish team of dedicated personal injury attorneys. We believe that anyone deserves professional legal assistance, so we offer a free consultation directly with an Atlanta car accident attorney, not a paralegal.
We know that establishing fault is difficult when negotiating a car accident claim, but we can get the best results for each of our clients. Don’t hesitate, reach out to us and let us examine your car crash case: 678-329-9084!