Auto accidents most often involve two or more vehicles, but they can also happen between a vehicle and a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian. Some of the most serious auto accidents are rear-end, head-on, and side-impact collisions. Some vehicles, top-heavy SUVs in particular, can get into deadly rollover accidents.
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 grounds for an injury or property damage claim under Georgia law.
Statute of Limitations
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 or you forfeit your right to compensation. However, a case involving only property damage must be started within four years.
Liability for Car Accident Injuries
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. When one fails in this duty, thereby exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm, it is called negligence.
Georgia is not a no-fault state, but it does follow the rule of comparative negligence. When the defendant’s negligence exceeds the plaintiff’s negligence, the plaintiff may recover damages from the defendant. However, the amount recoverable may be reduced by the negligence attributed to the plaintiff. Unless the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault, the lawsuit will have no chance of being successful.
Some common forms of negligence include:
- Distracted driving. The use of mobile phones is by far the most common form of distracted driving. However, any activity that takes your attention from the primary task of driving, such as eating, talking with a passenger, or listening to the radio, can cause distraction and ultimately be considered negligence.
- Drunk driving. 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 (BAC) is 0.08% or more. Driving while impaired by drugs, whether they are illegal drugs, validly prescribed drugs, or obtained over the counter, is also against the law.
- Drowsy driving. There are no laws in Georgia that criminalize fatigued or drowsy driving. 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.
- Disregard of traffic laws. Drivers who disregard basic traffic laws, such as speed limits and traffic signals, place everyone at risk. It should be remembered that bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to the same laws.
Damages Recoverable in Georgia Car Accident Cases
Georgia law provides monetary damages to victims of negligence to compensate them for their injuries, treatment, and other losses sustained as a result of the accident. Types of damages awarded can include:
- General damages. General damages are defined 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.
- Special damages. These economic damages must be proven in a specific dollar amount. In car accident cases in Georgia, special damages consist 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 include time already missed from work as well as diminished future earning capacity.
- Punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, these damages are made available to certain victims of automobile wrecks because of aggravating circumstances—which means they are not part of the typical personal injury settlement. These damages are imposed solely to punish, penalize, and deter those responsible for the accident and resulting injuries.
Contact an Athens Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The Athens Injury Law Group is dedicated to helping people just like you. Our personal injury attorneys will negotiate the best out-of-court settlement possible, using every available technique to maximize your compensation. 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 request a free consultation online.