Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers
Auto accidents can cause severe, debilitating and permanent injuries. Such injuries very often result in significant financial losses to the individuals involved and their families. However, the law provides an injured person with the right to recover his or her damages from the responsible party. Such damages include, but may not be limited to, medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses and other economic losses. Individuals are also entitled to recover for the pain and suffering caused by their injuries and treatment. The spouse of the injured person is entitled to recover for the loss of consortium or services of his or her spouse. Although a monetary recovery can never repair the damage which is done to the individual, it can at least ease the financial burdens created by the car accident.
The insurance company for the individual who caused the auto accident will start an investigation immediately. It is the insurance company's responsibility to try to limit the recovery of the injured person to the lowest possible amount. Accordingly, insurance companies have established very specific and elaborate procedures on handling auto accident claims, especially in the early stages of the claim. During this time the insurance company will take recorded statements from the persons involved in the car accident, have the vehicles examined, have photographs taken, obtain the police report and try to establish the extent of the injuries suffered in the auto collision. The insurance company is usually able to accomplish all of these items within the first week after the auto collision and many of them within the first 24 to 48 hours after the auto accident.
Although the approach or tactics of insurance companies vary, many insurance companies try to reach a quick settlement with an injured person. Their purpose is to avoid responsibility for future medical expenses, lost wages and other damages that are likely to develop. This is a trap which an injured person needs to avoid. When a person is injured in an auto accident, it very often takes months to completely assess the person's injuries. At that point, the person may need surgery or other extensive treatment. The injuries may leave the person permanently disabled even after corrective surgery. Therefore, the true value of a claim can only be assessed after a firm prognosis has been established by a physician. The State of Georgia provides in most, but not all, cases a two-year period of time in which to file a lawsuit on a claim. Accordingly, there is no need to rush to a settlement with an insurance company. You will only regret the settlement later when your injuries have become progressively worse.
There are other significant issues that develop for persons injured in an car accident. For instance, if your health insurance company pays for your medical bills they will very often seek to obtain reimbursement from your settlement with the other driver's insurance company. There are significant limitations on their right to obtain such reimbursement. Likewise, if you were on the job when injured, the worker's compensation insurance company will try to obtain reimbursement of their payments for medical expenses and lost wages. Again, there are significant limitations on their right to receive reimbursement. These are important issues that you need to understand prior to agreeing to any settlement with the other driver's insurance company.
In the State of Georgia, individuals are required to maintain liability insurance coverage for their automobiles. The minimum requirements for bodily injury liability insurance coverage in Georgia are $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. Since these insurance limits may be insufficient to cover the claim of an injured person, very often the injured person must explore what other insurance is available to the responsible driver or the extent of the driver's personal assets. The responsible driver may have the right to coverage from insurance policies of family members, an employer, a rental car company or from an "umbrella" policy. In addition, other unknown persons or entities may also have liability for the auto collision. For instance, if the road or a light was defective, a government agency may share responsibility for the collision. In addition, your own insurance policy may provide you with coverage for your injuries.
Determining the appropriate value of a claim for personal injury is complicated. It involves evaluating the nature and extent of the injury, the economic losses that are recoverable, and the liability issues related to the accident. The location where a trial would take place and any prior injuries suffered by the claimant are issues that are also factored into any evaluation of a personal injury claim. Since insurance companies have vast experience in evaluating personal injury claims and will seek to obtain the lowest settlement possible, it is important to have a person with considerable experience dealing with the insurance company on your behalf. Generally, it is best to retain an Atlanta auto accident lawyer who regularly handles personal injury claims and will be prepared to institute litigation on your behalf if the insurance company is unwilling to settle your claim for a fair value.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Atlanta, Decatur, Marietta, Roswell, Alpharetta, Macon, Columbus, or anywhere in Georgia, contact our law office today at (404) 460-0101 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.