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Georgia Car Accident Laws
If you or a loved one get into an auto wreck in Georgia, you may worry about how you’ll understand state laws regarding car accident liability, fault in Georgia, and compensation for your damages. Georgia car accident laws protect victims’ rights after auto crashes and shed light on the responsibilities of all involved parties.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, motor vehicle accidents were Georgia’s second-leading cause of injury deaths in 2020. The state agency also reports that accidents involving motor vehicles ranked as the second leading cause of emergency room trips and admissions to Georgia hospitals in the same year. Regrettably, thousands more people were injured on Georgia roadways.
But what happens when you are involved in an Atlanta car accident and you have no clue about Georgia state laws? Georgia law allows you the right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit and secure fair compensation after your accident. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get compensation for damages.
Georgia auto and personal injury laws are complex. Having experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers by your side who are well-versed in auto insurance laws and personal injury cases ensures you have an upper hand when dealing with insurance companies and the at-fault driver. That’s where Fry | Goehring comes in. Our injury lawyers are ready to help you understand fault in Georgia, car accident liability, and all auto accident state laws.
Call us today at 404-969-1284 if you have any questions about Georgia car accident laws. Our personal injury attorneys can help you understand how state laws may affect your case. This guide will help you understand car accident laws in Atlanta and what you should expect when filing an insurance claim.
Georgia Auto Insurance Requirements
The state of Georgia requires motorists to maintain certain minimum amounts of auto liability coverage. This type of insurance covers losses inflicted on others during car accidents. The minimum amount of liability insurance that motorists in Georgia can carry is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury liability per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 for property damage liability per accident
Simply put, Georgia auto insurance laws require insurance companies to pay up to $25,000 for every accident victim but only pay a total of $50,000 in damages to all involved parties. The state laws also require policyholders to have at least $25,000 in property damage liability, which may cover damages such as vehicle repairs.
These are the minimum auto insurance requirements in Georgia. Motorists may prefer to purchase additional liability coverage, such as comprehensive insurance and uninsured motorist insurance, to protect themselves and their occupants against the costs related to auto accidents.
Georgia's At-Fault Insurance System
Georgia is an at-fault state. This plays a crucial part in how injured victims and plaintiffs handle insurance claims in the state. In an at-fault state, the driver responsible for your accident can be held liable for any injuries, property damage, or wrongful death action resulting from the collision. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will be the primary source of compensation for injured victims.
Consequently, injured victims in Georgia have three options to seek compensation for damages:
- Filing an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
- Filing a car accident claim with your own insurance company. If your insurer covers your accident-related damages, they’ll seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer through a process called subrogation.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced car accident attorney in a civil court. Such a suit is typically filed against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
To understand the best option for your case, it’s best to speak to an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer.
Georgia Comparative Fault Laws
Georgia follows modified comparative fault laws when handling car accident cases. This legalese may sound confusing for most injured victims, but it generally sets the rules for how blame is apportioned after an accident. “Comparative fault” applies when more than one party is at least partially to blame for a car crash. States follow different approaches when assigning blame in this scenario.
In Georgia, plaintiffs may recover compensation against the at-fault party if their percentage of fault doesn’t exceed 50%. This law also dictates how judges and juries award verdicts in personal injury lawsuits. But before any trial, an insurance adjuster may also reach out to negotiate a settlement in accordance with Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws.
However, it’s important to note that since there is no straightforward formula to assign fault empirically, this decision significantly depends on your ability to convince the judge or jury overseeing your case or how you negotiate with the insurance adjuster.
Consider the following scenario to illustrate the practical application of this state statute:
- Holly was going through an intersection when she was T-boned by a drunk driver who ran the red light.
- Holly was traveling at 15 mph above the posted speed limit at the time of the accident.
- It is determined that the drunk driver who ran a red light is 90% to blame for the crash, and Holly’s fault is 10%.
- Holly’s car accident damages are $25,000.
- In this case, Holly will receive $22,500, representing 90% of the total compensation.
Georgia courts apply this rule in auto accident cases where both parties share blame. Comparative negligence may also arise when an insurer attempts to undervalue your claim during settlement negotiations.
Reporting Requirements After an Accident
If you are involved in an accident in Georgia, you have a duty to stop. Fleeing the scene of an accident, for whatever reason, is illegal and can lead to a fine, license suspension, or a jail or prison sentence. All drivers at the scene should exchange their names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.
If someone is injured, involved parties should offer “reasonable assistance.” This may include moving them away from the road, ejecting them from a smoking car, or calling 911 for professional medical assistance.
According to Georgia Code Section 40-6-273, all drivers in Georgia must report car crashes that:
- Result in the wrongful death of a person
- Result in injury to any person
- Result in property damage valued at $500 or more
When you call 911 to report the accident, the 911 operator will ask you a few questions regarding the accident and send emergency responders to your location. Once the police arrive, they will investigate the accident to determine its cause and who is to blame.
Accident reports that police prepare are invaluable when proving car accident liability and fault in Georgia. They can help prove how the crash happened, whether it was due to speeding, distracted driving, or fatigued driving, and who was liable for your car accident.
Driving Under the Influence Laws
It is illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Georgia and all across the U.S. State laws consider drivers of the age of 21 and above as drunk if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent.
Depending on the circumstances, a DUI charge is either a misdemeanor or a felony in Georgia. All DUI charges in Georgia are considered misdemeanors unless the driver flees law enforcement, causes serious injury to another person or an unborn child, causes loss of life, or if the driver has had over two DUI arrests in the last ten years.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim
If you are involved in a car wreck, you should act swiftly to protect your rights and interests. A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets the maximum time plaintiffs have to file personal injury lawsuits in Georgia. These deadlines may vary depending on the type of case file and the harm suffered.
Like most other states, Georgia applies a similar statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits as it does for personal injury lawsuits. Section 9-3-33 of the Georgia Code requires injured victims to file suits for injuries within two years from the date of the accident. This time limit applies to various parties in car accidents, including:
For a property damage lawsuit due to the accident, you have four years before time runs out.
If your loved one passed away during or after a horrific accident, you may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. The deadline for a Georgia wrongful death suit is also two years, and the clock starts on the date of their demise. This date may be several weeks or even months after the accident.
The purpose of statutes of limitations is to prevent cases involving historic auto accidents from being filed in court long after crucial evidence has been destroyed and the victims’ memories have faded. They also shield would-be defendants from witch hunts since, after a long time, most evidence will be obscure or unretrievable.
Although two years might seem like a long time, they will pass quickly. Your best option after a crash is to hire an experienced lawyer to help you understand car accident liability as you review Georgia auto accident laws.
It’s important to note that these statutes don’t apply to insurance claims. Insurance companies require policyholders to report crashes “promptly” or “within a reasonable time.” This is open to interpretation, but most auto insurance policies have specific timeframes — typically days or weeks — within which they require policyholders to report accidents.
Damages for Car Accident Claims
As part of any auto insurance claim or lawsuit in Georgia, injured victims have the right to file car accident cases to recover compensation for their losses, commonly known as “damages” in the legal world. However, being entitled to damages in a personal injury case all comes down to fault. Who is responsible for the crash, and how much blame do they deserve? So, if someone else caused your car wreck, you could file an insurance claim or a car accident lawsuit to recover damages such as:
- Medical costs, including bills from doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, travel costs, rehab expenses, physical therapy, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages, including missed opportunities and loss of future income
- Rental car costs
- Vehicle repairs or replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
In some car accident cases in Atlanta and Georgia, injured victims and their families may be entitled to punitive damages. The damages aren’t meant to compensate victims or their families for the pain and suffering the at-fault party has made them endure. They are designed to punish the defendant and deter other negligent and reckless drivers on Georgia roads from committing similar actions or inactions.
Is There a Limit to the Amount of Compensation for Car Accident Claims in Georgia?
Currently, there is no damage cap for personal injury cases, including car accident cases, in Georgia. In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that capping damages violates an injured victim’s right to a trial by jurors. However, this exception doesn’t apply to punitive damages, which are capped at $250,000.
Georgia Car Accident Laws and How They Affect Liability: Get Legal Help and Representation Today
There’s a great deal of legal nuance that applies to Georgia car accident laws. If you are involved in an accident, or someone you care about is hurt in a horrific car crash, it can feel overwhelming to peruse through all the personal injury legalese. The great news is that you don’t have to be an expert to file a personal injury case in Georgia.
Even though it’s good to have a basic understanding of Georgia personal injury and car accident laws, you might need more than the basics if you sustain severe injuries in a car wreck. Discussing your case and options with an experienced personal injury lawyer is advisable.
If you are unsure what to do or have questions regarding Georgia’s laws, contact the legal team at Fry | Goehring. Our team of legal experts is experienced in handling car accident cases in Atlanta and all over Georgia. We are also well-versed in both federal and state auto accident laws.
Fry | Goehring has, over the years, helped many injured clients obtain fair settlements and verdicts. We are ready to do the same for you. Our Atlanta car accident attorneys see right through the tactics of insurance companies. We’ve got your back every step of the way.
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