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Car Accidents

Atlanta Car Accident Attorney

Each year, many lives are either lost or permanently changed due to disabling injuries caused by car accidents. It is estimated that in 2019, 38,800 people lost their lives to car accidents. Even if life is not lost, severe and lasting impact can result from an accident, even if the impact is minor or if pain is not felt until days, or even weeks after the wreck. Examples of such common injuries that people involved in car accidents sustain include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Neck pain and back pain
  • Strain of muscle
  • General back pain
  • Numbness and tingling in upper and lower extremity
  • Cervicalgia
  • Paresthesia
  • Headache
  • Neck pain and neck stiffness
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Shooting pain in legs
  • Disc bulging
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Radiculopathy
  • Acromioclavicular joint separation
  • Lumbar contusion
  • Dysfunction of cervical region

Car accidents are often perceived as “straightforward” by those who are unfamiliar with the litigation process. This is not necessarily true, however. Even if your case appears to be quite simple at the outset, litigation may become quite a bit more complicated as the dispute develops.

For example, let’s consider a basic distracted driving accident. Suppose that the defendant was texting on their cell phone and driving when they collided with your vehicle, causing you to suffer injuries.  This case might seem simple upon first impression, but effective legal advocacy in the personal injury context is not merely about “winning” a case by proving that the defendant is liable for your injuries. True success is measured in damages.  There is a substantial difference between “winning” a case with an award of $100,000 in damages, versus obtaining a win with only $250 awarded in damages.

Perhaps the defendant challenges the severity of your injuries. Perhaps the defendant believes that you contributed (partially) to the accident, thus reducing your total damage recovery. If the defendant is particularly aggressive, they could complicate your dispute. As such, it’s important that you work with an attorney who is comfortable under the spotlight and is capable of advocating aggressively on your behalf. Contact the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC for assistance.

Common Risk Factors Contributing to Car Accidents

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to car accidents. Examples include, but are not limited, to:

  • Mechanical defects
  • Road hazards
  • Intoxicated driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Unlicensed drivers.
  • Following too closely
  • Violation of Georgia’s “hands’-free” law

Not all disputes progress in the same manner. Car accident claims can give rise to arguments brought on the basis of premises liability, product defect liability, and negligence-based personal injury theories. The tactics, arguments, and damages available to an injured plaintiff may vary along a wide spectrum based on the circumstances underlying the accident.

For example, a Georgia court may not only award compensatory damages, but it may also punish the defendant and award bonus punitive damages in certain cases. Punitive damages are awarded under very limited circumstances in the state of Georgia, such as in drunk driving accidents where the defendant-driver acted with a particularly wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

I Was Injured From A Car Accident – What Am I Owed?

Before you can consider what you are owed, you first need to establish that the other party is liable, which means the other party caused your motor vehicle collision. This is often disputed in cases where your vehicle was side swiped, the other driver isn’t cited by the responding police officer, or when, worse of all, no police report is made that documents the motor vehicle collision. Only then can you consider what amount of compensation you are entitled to. You are entitled to payment to compensate you for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Permanent physical impairment
  • Punitive damages

If you were injured, you are entitled to receive reimbursement for the cost of the medical bills that you incurred that are a result of your wreck. If any doctor gives a medical opinion that future medical treatment is needed, then you are entitled to payment that covers the cost of your future medical needs that are caused by the car accident. Your physical pain and suffering is something that cannot be undone. In our legal system, the only way to compensate you for the pain you’ve felt due to the negligence of another person is from money.

How much money you are entitled to as a result of your pain is complicated and depends on multiple factors. If you’ve suffered emotional trauma, especially if the trauma has caused you to seek counseling from a mental health professional, you are also entitled to compensation for your emotional harm. Time missed from work is also a category of damages. If you are no longer able to perform what are referred to as “activities of daily living” such as gardening or spending time with your children, then you are entitled for this loss. Punitive damages are losses that are designed to punish wrongful conduct, and occur in rare instances, and as a result this is an extra category of damages you may be entitled to.

What Should I Do Right After a Car Accident?

Check for the condition of other passengers in the car with you, and if safe, make sure the other driver is also physically in a stable condition. If the cars are in a safe place, then call the police. If things remain cordial between you and the other driver, exchange insurance information with one another. Also, call the police so a report can be drafted by a police officer.

Do NOT provide a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance company. Immediately seek medical attention after the responding police officer concludes their investigation of the collision scene and provides you with a police report number. Once you’re made it home, check your declarations page of your own automobile insurance policy to see if you have either medpay or personal injury protection that you may use to pay medical bills for your wreck. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, or another doctor within your health insurance network who customarily treats people who have been injured in car accidents.

The Insurance Company Offered Me Money Right After the Accident – Should I Represent Myself?

While it is always best to consult with an experienced car accident attorney, there are times when it may make sense to settle your car accident case on your own. For example, if you know your injuries are minor after consulting with a doctor, and the offered amount from the insurance company is enough to pay all of your medical bills and compensate your pain and suffering, then it may make sense to settle your case without an attorney. We advise that you still consult with an attorney before settling. In the past, we have provided free guidance for injury victims on whether an offer from an insurance company is fair. We are happy to do so for you as well.

What if I Can’t Afford My Own Lawyer?

For cases involving car accidents, we never charge a client out of pocket for any attorney’s fees. This means that there is no situation where clients who have been in car accidents will owe us any money before their case settles. To put it another way, when you sign up as a client with our firm, you will not pay us a single dollar. Once your case settles or reaches a jury verdict, our attorney’s fee comes from a portion of your recovery. If for whatever reason your case does not result in a settlement or jury verdict, you will still not owe any attorney’s fee. This arrangement is known as a contingency fee agreement.

What if the Other Driver Didn’t Get A Ticket?

As long as the other driver is truly at fault for your car accident, you should be able to establish your entitlement to money for your medical bills and injuries. There are cases where the responding officer believed the other driver to be at fault, but via officer discretion decided not to issue a ticket. While the responding officer is vital to creating a neutral account of the causes of the motor vehicle collision, the officer is almost never an eyewitness to the collision.

What If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Calls Me?

Regardless of whether you have your own attorney, you are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. And you have nothing to benefit from speaking to the other driver’s insurance representative. If you are not represented by an attorney by the time the other driver’s insurance company calls, simply tell the insurance rep that you do not wish to answer any questions about how the accident occurred or about your injuries that have resulted from the wreck. If you are represented by an attorney, simply inform the insurance adjuster that you are represented by counsel, and the adjuster should cease questioning you about the car wreck.

I Don’t Feel Hurt – Do I Still Need to See A Doctor?

Yes.You should always seek the attention of a doctor after a car accident. Your top goal following a car accident is to have your physical and emotional health returned to where it was before the wreck occurred. You may not know that you have sustained an injury until days, or even longer, after the accident occurred, and your late visit to a doctor may have a negative impact on your medical recovery.

Do I Have A Case If I Was Partly At Fault?

When in doubt about whether you have a car accident case, you should always consult with an attorney. Our attorney-client consultations are free, so there is no harm in speaking with an attorney to determine whether you still have a case, despite what you may think about your role in contributing to the car accident. In some cases, even if you are partly at-fault for your car accident, you may still be able to recovery money from your car accident case.

How Do I Get My Car Repaired?

Once the responding officer finishes drafting the police report, which usually occurs a few days after the motor vehicle collision, you will then be able to see the insurance company and policy number of the at-fault driver. Use this information to open a property damage claim on the other driver’s insurance policy. This allows you to avoid making a property damage claim on your own policy, which helps you avoid paying a deductible for your car to get repaired. Select a reputable body shop to repair your car. Once you have selected a dealer, inform the insurance adjuster for the other driver. The body shop should send you an estimate for your repairs, and notify you of the final cost once repairs are made. Often, the body shop will bill the insurance company directly, and you will not have to worry about payment for your car repairs.

What If the Other Driver Didn’t Have Insurance?

Uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage applies when the driver who causes the wreck did not have insurance coverage. If you have an uninsured/ underinsured motorist policy, then you have insurance coverage that you can apply to your car accident. To see if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you should review your auto insurance declarations page.

Even if your own automobile policy does not show that you had uninsured motorist coverage, you still may receive coverage under a number of situations, which include but are not limited to the following: (1) if you lived in the same household of another person who possessed UM coverage at the time of the accident, (2) if you were a permissive driver of a vehicle that had UM coverage, and (3) if you were a passenger in a vehicle where the driver possessed UM coverage.

Generally speaking, there are two types of uninsured motorist coverage – the first type is referred to as “add-on” or “excess” uninsured motorist coverage. These policies allow you to “stack” coverage on top of the liability policy. The other, and less favorable type of underinsured motorist coverage is “reduced by” coverage – which means the amount of UM available is reduced by the amount of liability coverage that the at-fault driver possessed at the time of your motor vehicle collision. 

What is My Case Worth?

The value of car accidents always depend on a number of factors, as no two cases are exactly the same. The most common factors affecting the value of a case include the amount of medical bills, type of medical treatment needed, duration of medical treatment, extent of time missed from work, whether permanent bodily impairment exists, whether surgery has occurred or is recommended, the potential venue for the lawsuit, and whether the defendant is a corporate defendant. While keeping all of these factors in mind, it is important to note that there is no set formula for figuring out the claims value of a motor vehicle accident claim. The subjectivity comes applies when considering what a jury might do when determining the extent of your pain and suffering and other damages that do not have a fixed dollar amount. 

If I Hire A Lawyer, Do I Have to go to Court?

No. Most claims for car accidents settle without ever having to file a lawsuit. And for cases where a lawsuit is filed, the vast majority settle before ever having a trial before a jury. In most cases, claims for car accidents settle when the insurance company offers enough money to satisfy your medical bills and adequately compensate you for your pain and suffering. Whether a case goes to trial or settles, of course, is your choice as the client. 

My Car Accident Happened While I Was Traveling Out of State – Who Do I Hire?

We have settled injury cases on behalf of injured people who were out of state when their injury case occurred in Georgia. We have also settled cases on behalf of Georgia residents who were injured outside of the State of Georgia. To put it in other words, call us if you were injured in a car accident that occurred outside of the state in which you were living. Attorneys frequently represent clients outside their state of license through associating with attorneys who are licensed in the state where the client has been injured.

Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Lawsuits – Georgia

Statutes of limitations are statutes that provide for the deadline to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the time provided by the time period required for your case, you lose the right to recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and any other category of recovery.

In most cases, Georgia drivers have two years from the date of the collision to settle their claim or file a lawsuit. In claims against cities in Georgia, an ante litem notice must be properly delivered within six months. Courts impose very strict guidelines as to what constitutes sufficient notice to cities in the State of Georgia. If you wish to make your own claim with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council has a claim form on its own website. Similar notice must be properly delivered to Georgia counties within 12 months, and Georgia state agencies within 12 months. In cases where the minor is the claimant, the deadline to file is tolled, or in other words delayed, until the minor reaches the age of 18. In cases where the underlying tort is prosecuted as a crime, tolling provisions also apply. Tolling also applies when either the claimant or at-fault driver has died.

Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Lawsuits – Louisiana

In Louisiana, Article 3492 of the Civil Code governs the statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Unlike many other states where the minimum statute of limitations for most personal injury actions is two years, Louisiana implements a one-year statute of limitations, referred to in Louisiana as a liberative prescriptive period, that runs from the date of injury. If you fail to file your claim before the one-year statute of limitations deadline passes, then you will lose your right to recover damages under the law. Georgia has a two-year statute of limitation period for most personal injury claims, but shorter statute of limitation periods exist for claims against Georgia government agencies.

Given the importance of filing a timely claim, we encourage you to get in touch with the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC as soon as possible. We will evaluate your car accident injury claims and — if we take you on as a client — will file a lawsuit in a Georgia or Louisiana court of law on your behalf.

If the deadline for your claim has already passed, all is not necessarily lost. There are a number of exceptions to the statute of limitations that allow you to extend the deadline, such as the discovery rule, which suspends the running of the statute of limitations period until you discover (or reasonably should discover) your car accident induced injuries.

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Car Accidents Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation

Here at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, we have extensive experience handling a range of personal injury claims, including car accidents disputes. Attorney Walter Gabriel has worked as both a prosecutor and as a plaintiff’s attorney, and the substantial breadth and depth of his experience in litigation has given him a unique perspective on how to approach a dispute so as to secure a successful result in challenging circumstances.

We are a fundamentally client-oriented firm. We believe that the key to effective legal representation in the personal injury context is close engagement with the client. We have critical information on the case at-hand and how it relates to the client’s aspirations and concerns. This empowers us to be aggressive and to act decisively on behalf of our clients, rather than in a defensive and reactive manner.

Find out if you have a case. Call 404-549-6742 or submit a case evaluation form online to request a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC today.