Even if you do everything right, there is a risk that you could end up involved in a serious traffic accident.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 58,581 crashes reported in Fulton County in 2017. Altogether, these collisions resulted in at least 17,947 injuries.
If you were involved in an accident, you need the maximum available financial settlement to pay for your car repairs, rental car costs, medical bills, and support for your family.
At Georgia Auto Law, our Atlanta, GA personal injury lawyers want everyone to know how to protect their rights.
In this article, we highlight the top five ways to get a full and fair settlement after a car crash in Georgia.
How to maximize your auto accident settlement in Georgia
1. Get Medical Treatment & Attend Follow-Up Appointments
Following an accident, emergency medical needs come first.
If you or anyone else at the scene of the wreck suffered a severe injury — call 911 right away. Of course, emergency situations are not the only ones that require a doctor.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to effectively pursue a personal injury claim unless you have received a comprehensive medical evaluation and sought follow-up care.
This is an important part of maximizing your settlement after an accident: you need medical documentation that validates your injuries. When medical records are missing, insurance companies will use that against you in an effort to reduce a settlement offer or even to deny a claim outright.
Do not give them the opportunity — make sure you see a doctor, attend follow-up appointments, and keep your medical records well-organized.
2. Secure Relevant Evidence & Be Ready to Build a Case
Similar to most other U.S. states, motor vehicle accident claims in Georgia are based on fault.
To hold a defendant — and their insurance company — legally liable for an accident, you must establish negligence.
In an auto accident claim, relevant evidence can come in a wide range of different forms, including:
- The police report;
- Video footage;
- Eyewitness statements;
- Victim statements;
- Electronic records; and
- Expert analysis.
The more evidence you have in your possession, the easier you can build a compelling and successful legal claim that proves liability.
Some forms of evidence will degrade in the hours or days immediately after the crash. You must act fast.
If you need help obtaining, securing, or understanding evidence, contact a Georgia car accident attorney immediately.
3. Avoid Making any Statements to the Insurance Company
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Of course, you can also reach a settlement outside of the litigation. Under Georgia law (GA Vehicle Code § 40-9-35), parties to a traffic collision have the authority to reach a written settlement. Most auto accident claims are eventually settled outside of the courtroom — only a small percentage of car accident cases are ever litigated.
One of the consequences of this type of system is that large insurance companies have extensive experience handling the settlement negotiation process. They have developed an array of strategies to protect their own profits and to reduce the value of settlements.
As an individual, it is not in your best interests to give a statement to the insurance company. They will try to twist your words and use them against you. Following a serious crash, you should handle all correspondence with the insurance company through an attorney.
4. Stay Patient — Do Not Try to Rush the Settlement
Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33), car accident injury claims are subject to a strict two-year statute of limitations.
A person injured in a crash must file a claim within two years of the date of the accident or their case will be dismissed. That being said, you should never wait to take action. In the hours and days following a crash, you need to protect your health, well-being, and rights. As was mentioned, you should seek professional medical attention and secure relevant evidence.
At the same time, you should not rush through settlement negotiations.
It is entirely normal and understandable to want to reach a quick settlement. Most people want to get their car accident behind them and move forward with their life.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies know this and will take advantage. In many cases, insurers offer plaintiffs a quick, unfair settlement offer in an effort to resolve the case for far less than it is worth. They may offer you as little as 10% of the true value of your case.
Be patient — insurance companies are not going to lead with their best and final offer.
5. Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
You do not have to go through the auto accident claims process alone.
A car accident attorney will protect your rights and expertly negotiate with the insurance company.
When helping you with your case, personal injury lawyers should:
- Conduct a free review of your case;
- Explain your rights and options;
- Answer your questions;
- Organize your medical documents and records;
- Obtain the evidence needed to prove liability;
- Build a strong, persuasive legal claim; and
- Handle settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
With a skilled lawyer by your side, the insurance company will take your claim far more seriously.
We know how to hold the big insurance companies accountable, and we ensure that insurance companies offer our clients the full settlement that they deserve.
If they fail to do so, we are always ready to take our clients’ cases to court.
Get Help With Your Claim
At Georgia Auto Law, we fight tirelessly to protect the legal rights and financial interests of injured victims.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a car crash in Georgia, our legal team will help you recover every penny that you rightfully deserve.
To set up a free, no obligation initial consultation, please call our office at (404) 662-4949 or send a message to [email protected].