Determining Fault in a Car Accident Case
Each year, thousands of drivers in Georgia get into car accidents. Car accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Still, most of them result from some negligence on one of the involved driver’s part, such as distracted driving, speeding, or driving under the influence of illicit substances.
If you were injured in a car accident because of another driver’s negligent actions, proving fault can be complicated. However, it’s a necessary step when you’re trying to recover compensation for your injuries. So how is car accident fault determined in Atlanta, Georgia?
Our team at Dressie Law Firm is here to help you understand this process and guide you through the legal steps of obtaining compensation for your injuries. We have years of experience dealing with car accident cases and can provide tailored, expert advice for your situation.
Read on to learn more about how car accident fault is determined in Atlanta, Georgia.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia
Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning blame must be assigned to at least one driver (or potentially both drivers equally). In Georgia (and other at-fault states), injured drivers can pursue damages for their medical costs, lost wages, and property damage by filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Suppose the other driver’s insurance company refuses to recognize their policyholder’s culpability or isn’t willing to make a fair claim payment. In that case, you can seek reimbursement for your expenses by filing a personal injury lawsuit. This lawsuit can help you obtain compensation for medical treatment and other damages the insurance company won’t pay for.
What Must You Prove to Establish Fault?
To seek compensation for your injury-related expenses, such as medical bills or lost wages, the burden of proof lies mainly with you, the plaintiff. In other words, it’s up to you to prove your case.
There are four things you must prove when claiming the other party is at fault for the accident and your subsequent injuries:
- The at-fault driver owed the injured passengers, drivers, or pedestrians a duty of care: The driver had a responsibility and legal obligation to follow traffic laws, drive safely and attentively, and refrain from actions that could hurt other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
- The driver breached the duty of care: Examples include distracted driving, speeding, disregarding traffic laws, road rage, and drunk driving.
- The breach caused damages: The driver’s negligence resulted in the accident and your injuries.
- Proof of damages: You can prove your damages with concrete evidence like medical bills and written documentation from your employer showing lost income.
When you file a personal injury claim, an insurance adjuster is assigned to your case. Their job is to determine fault based on the police report as well as by conducting their own investigation. Any photographic evidence or video you took of the accident scene can be incredibly beneficial, as can dashcam footage if you or another vehicle involved in the accident had a dashboard camera.
The investigation typically includes reviewing vehicle damage, witness statements, and medical documentation about your injuries. After the investigation is complete, the insurance adjuster will make a liability decision. The burden of proof for establishing fault in your case falls on you, and it’s up to you to provide evidence that proves the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries.
What Is Proportional Comparative Fault?
When more than one driver shares fault in a Georgia car accident, compensation can be awarded based on proportional comparative fault.
Under this principle, drivers can share different degrees of fault. For instance, if an accident involved two drivers and one driver was speeding while the other ran a stop sign, both drivers may be liable for the crash. To be eligible for monetary recovery, a driver must be less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If both drivers are determined to be 50 percent at fault, neither one is entitled to compensation.
When the fault is difficult to determine, an insurance company may employ its own investigator. Remember that insurance companies aren’t unbiased and will typically try to deflect fault away from their clients to avoid large claim payouts. When this happens, you’ll need a skilled car accident lawyer to help you gather compelling evidence and negotiate with the insurance company.
If a fair settlement can’t be reached, your personal injury lawyer should be prepared to take the insurance carrier to court. You’ll need to prove fault using the same four elements mentioned above, but a judge and/or jury will make the final decision in this situation.
Expert Tips for Proving Fault in a Car Accident Case
Proving fault in a car accident case can be challenging, but there are specific steps to strengthen your case and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
- Immediately seek medical attention: Even if you feel fine or don’t believe you sustained any injuries, getting checked out by a doctor after a car accident is important. Some injuries take time to manifest, and having medical documentation right after the accident will strengthen your claim.
- Gather evidence from the scene: If you’re physically able, take photos of the damage done to both vehicles involved in the accident and any visible injuries you or other passengers may have sustained. Additionally, if witnesses were present, get their contact information in case you need them to provide a statement.
- Document your injuries and medical expenses: Keep track of all medical treatments you receive and any other expenses related to the accident. These can include transportation costs, prescription medication, and even over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Hire an experienced car accident lawyer: A skilled personal injury lawyer will not only help you gather evidence and negotiate with the insurance company, but they can also provide valuable guidance throughout the entire legal process.
Consult an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today
Were you hurt in a car accident? You have the right to compensation from the driver responsible for your injuries.
Contact the Dressie Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly experienced and compassionate car accident lawyers.