Auto Accidents

Posted in Legal Information by admin on the February 22nd, 2011

According to a 2008 report from the Georgia Department of Transportation, between 2000 and 2006, over six million people were involved in auto accidents in Georgia, either as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.  During that same time period, over one million people were injured in Georgia auto accidents and 11,345 people lost their lives in traffic accidents.

What To Do At the Accident Scene

If you’re involved in an auto accident, Georgia law requires you to stop.  This is true even in minor traffic accidents.  If possible, you should move your car off the road so as not endanger other drivers.  You should also:

  • Assist the injured;
  • Call the police;
  • Identify the other driver and get his name, address, phone number, year, make, and model of his car, and his insurance information;
  • Obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses;
  • Take notes about the accident and draw a diagram showing the position of the vehicles before the crash and after the crash;
  • Take photos of the accident scene; and
  • Don’t admit fault to anyone at the scene, including the police officers.

After the Accident

After the accident, you should see a doctor.  Although you may feel fine immediately after the accident, you should still see your doctor.  Sometimes, serious injuries are not immediately apparent; so, it’s important to be examined as soon as possible after the accident to make sure that you have not sustained a life threatening injury.

Next, you should notify your insurance company of the accident.  Most insurance policies require that claims be reported within a limited amount of time.  If you fail to report the accident according to the terms of your auto insurance policy, your claim could be denied.

Next, you should contact an experienced Atlanta accident attorney.  Under Georgia law, there is a two year statute of limitations on auto accident claims.  This means that you must file the auto accident lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident.  All claims are barred after expiration of the statute of limitations.

Although two years seems like a long time, it’s important to hire a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible.  Your auto accident lawyer will begin investigating your case immediately by reviewing the police reports, contacting witnesses, visiting the accident scene, and gathering any other important evidence while it is fresh.

Settlement Negotiations and the Lawsuit

After gathering all the evidence about the accident, your Atlanta accident attorney will forward a demand package to the insurance company.  The demand package will set forth all of your damages and will specifically request or demand a sum of money to compensate you for your injuries and property damage.

In most cases, the insurance company will make a counteroffer and the negotiations will begin.  If you are unable to reach a settlement, your accident attorney will file the lawsuit.  After the lawsuit is filed, the complaint will be served on the other driver and his insurance company (the defendants).  The defendants must file an answer within 30 days of being served with the complaint.

After the answer is filed, the discovery period begins.  Discovery is a method of investigating the case and narrowing the issues to be litigated.  Accepted discovery methods in Georgia include interrogatories, requests for admissions, requests for production of documents, and depositions.

Your case may be placed on the trial calendar at anytime after the discovery period has ended.  If your case goes to trial, you are entitled to a jury trial, but may choose to have a bench trial (a trial where the judge hears the evidence and decides the case).  Once your case has been presented and the defendant’s side has been presented, a verdict will be rendered by either the judge or jury, depending on whether you have requested a bench trial or a jury trial.  If either side is dissatisfied with the verdict, they may file an appeal.

Getting Legal Help

On the surface, auto accident litigation may seem fairly simple.  In reality, though, it is very complex and requires the knowledge, skill, and expertise of an auto accident attorney.  If you’ve been in an auto accident, the best way to protect your rights and  get a satisfactory outcome is to hire a qualified Atlanta auto accident attorney as soon as possible.

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One Response to Auto Accidents

  1. kieth says:

    This is very true. It underscores the point that it is definitely worth hiring an attorney.

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