Car Accidents in Athens, Georgia


Athens Car Accident Lawyers

The Athens Injury Law Group is available to consult with anyone who has been involved in an auto accident. We can determine if you have good grounds for an injury or property damage claim under this state’s laws.

Auto accident claims are governed by the legal concept of negligence. Every driver has a duty to exercise reasonable care toward their passengers, other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  This duty is discharged by observing a degree of care exercised by ordinarily prudent persons under the same or similar conditions.  When one fails in this duty, thereby exposing others to unreasonable risks of harm, it is called negligence.

Georgia is not a “no-fault” state, but does follow the rule of comparative negligence.  If a jury determines that both parties were negligent in causing the accident, it must then determine if the negligence of the plaintiff equals or exceeds the negligence of the defendant.  If a jury finds that the plaintiff’s negligence equals or exceeds the negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff’s negligence will bar a recovery.  In other words, unless a jury finds that the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault, the lawsuit will have no chance of being successful.  When the defendant’s negligence exceeds the plaintiff’s negligence, the plaintiff may recover damages from the defendant, but the amount recoverable may be reduced by the negligence attributed to the plaintiff.

For auto accident claims resulting in personal injuries, Georgia applies a two-year statute of limitations.  This means that, with limited exceptions, lawsuits must be filed in court within two years of the date of the accident. However, a case involving only property damage claims must be started within four years.

Different types of car accidents

Auto accidents most often involve two or more vehicles, but they can also happen between a vehicle and a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian. Although far less common, single-vehicle crashes also fall under Georgia auto accident law. Some of the most serious auto accidents are caused by rear-end, head-on, and side-impact collisions. Some vehicles, top-heavy SUVs in particular, can get into severe rollover accidents.

Our Athens car accident lawyers handle cases involving some of the many accidents that occur in this state each year. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, there were 1,549 traffic fatalities in 2017 alone. Preventable crashes caused by “unsafe behaviors” (i.e., negligence) were the primary cause of these tragedies. 56% of the people killed in crashes in Georgia in 2017 were involved in multi-vehicle collisions. 17% of them were pedestrians.

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety shares some significant historical data as well. Among the 1,554 car crash fatalities that occurred in 2016:

  • 266 died in speeding-related crashes
  • 402 died in rollovers
  • 362 died in intersection-related crashes
  • 849 died in crashes involving a roadway departure

Many of the accidents fit into more than one category. 583 of the fatalities in 2016 were occupants of passenger vehicles, while 232 were pedestrians and 172 were motorcyclists. Occupants of light trucks like pickups, utility trucks, and vans comprised another 467 of them.

Various forms of negligence

Some common forms of negligence include distracted, fatigued, drunk, and drugged driving. The use of mobile phones is by far the most common form of distracted driving.  Georgia banned texting while driving back in 2010, and in July 2018 the Georgia Legislature passed a law banning hands-on phone use (except in cases of emergency). The law does not ban the use of phones while driving altogether.  Drivers can still use voice-to-text features and in-car navigation, among other things, provided that they are not physically holding or supporting their phones. Strictly speaking, any activity that divides your attention you’re your primary task of driving, such as eating, talking with a passenger, or listening to the radio, can cause distraction and ultimately be considered negligence.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is another form of negligence.  Passenger vehicle drivers 21 years of age and older are guilty of driving under the influence in Georgia if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams  or more. Driving while impaired by drugs, whether they are illegal drugs, validly prescribed drugs, or were obtained over-the-counter, is also against the law.

There are no laws in Georgia that criminalize fatigued or drowsy driving, and it can often be hard to prove. Where there is evidence, however, that a driver’s fatigue led to another motorist or passenger being injured, the fatigued driver can be held liable for damages in a lawsuit.  Additionally, there have been cases where injury victims have prevailed on claims against employers that required unreasonably long work hours without considering the risks associated with fatigued driving.

Other accidents are caused when drivers disregard basic traffic laws. It should be remembered that bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to the same laws.

Damages recoverable in Georgia car accident cases

People with legitimate personal injury claims related to automobile wrecks can expect to recover money damages from the at-fault party (or parties).  Georgia law provides damages to victims of negligence to compensate them for their injuries, treatment, and other losses sustained as the result of the accident.  These compensatory damages generally fall into two categories – “general” and “special” damages.

General damages are defined by statute as “those which the law presumes to flow from any tortious act,” and may be recovered without proof of any specific amount.  Physical and mental pain and suffering are the major components of general damages.

By comparison, special damages are economic damages that must be proven in a specific dollar amount.  In car accident cases in Georgia, special damages consist of primarily of medical expenses and lost earnings.  Medical expenses that are recoverable include doctor and hospital bills, prescription and over-the-counter medication, nursing care, physical therapy, the purchase or rental of crutches, wheelchairs, canes, hospital beds, and other devices, medical supplies, and travel expenses.  Lost earnings and lost or diminished earning capacity are also recoverable as special damages.

In addition to compensatory damages, some car accidents cases in Georgia involve the imposition of punitive damages on the at-fault driver.  Punitive, or “exemplary” damages are made available to certain victims of automobile wrecks because of aggravating circumstances.  These damages are not given as compensation to the injured party – they are imposed solely to punish, penalize, and deter those responsible for the accident and resulting injuries.

Contact an Athens personal injury lawyer today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.  The Athens Injury Law Group’s lawyers have dedicated their law practices to helping people just like you.  Our personal injury attorneys will negotiate the best out-of-court settlement possible.  If the at-fault driver (or, most often, his or her insurance company) is unwilling to fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries, we will take your case to court.  You can rest assured that if you are represented by the Athens Injury Law Group, you will get the justice that you and your family deserve.  Contact us now at 706-559-0159 or here for a free consultation.