Car Accident Attorney in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2022 Georgia ranked number 14 in the nation with 1.44 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles nationwide. In the first half of 2022, 901 persons died on the highways and byways of the Peach State., or 15 persons for every 100,000 residents.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a vehicular accident caused by an at-fault driver in or around Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, contact us at The Law Office of George Haskell.
After discussing your situation, we will then provide you with a frank assessment of your case and what we feel would be the best strategy to pursue. We also proudly serve car accident victims in all surrounding areas, including Milledgeville, Houston County, Warner Robins, Monticello, and Forsyth.
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What to Do if You’ve Been in an Accident
The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that every vehicle operator will be involved in some sort of traffic accident every 17 years, or two or three times in one’s driving lifetime. Of course, some people will never suffer an accident, but most will—perhaps at frequencies higher than every 17 years.
You can leave your home on a sunny morning heading off to work or to pick up groceries, and suddenly another driver rams into you out of the blue. What do you do then?
Since Georgia is an at-fault auto insurance state, you have two options when concerning your vehicle damages:
Report the accident to your insurance company and file it under your collision coverage (if applicable), and then allow your company to seek a subrogation/reimbursement claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. When your insurance company obtains reimbursement from the a-fault driver's insurer, they will refund your deductible.
Make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer by yourself or through an attorney.
If you or your loved one was injured in the accident, you should retain an attorney to protect your legal rights and secure your personal injury claim against the at-fault driver's insurance and potentially any applicable uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage under your personal automobile coverage and/or the automobile coverages of any resident relatives in your household.
The one common thread in the first two options is that both insurers will have their claims adjuster investigate the accident. The goal of their insurance company may be to try to pin as much blame on you as possible to lowball or even deny any settlement. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can make all the difference. George Haskell will be able to stand up to the adjuster’s tactics and advocate for the compensation you deserve.
Georgia Insurance Requirements
The basic Georgia auto liability insurance policy can be summed up as 25/50/25. The first 25 stands for $25,000 in personal injury liability for injuries you cause to one other person. The 50 equates to $50,000 in injuries to all persons you harm in one accident, and the final 25 means you have $25,000 in coverage for property damage you cause. Note that none of these basic provisions cover you, your passengers, or your vehicle.
If you want to protect your own vehicle against property damage, you can purchase additional collision coverage, which is not mandated and costs extra. You can also purchase comprehensive, which covers loss or damage to your vehicle outside of a collision, such as theft, fire, and vandalism. Though Georgia requires everyone who drives to have auto insurance, not everyone does. In a case where the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance, you can purchase additional uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
As noted in the beginning, Georgia is also an at-fault insurance state, affording you three options to recover for your injuries and property damage. Those claims involving insurance companies will bring on claims adjusters, who will try to get you to say things or admit bad conduct or mechanical defects that they can then use against you. If you’re going the insurance route, make sure you have your car accident attorney negotiate and answer questions for you.
How Long Does It Take to File a Claim?
If you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, there is a two-year statute of limitations from the time of your injury. It’s four years for a property damage lawsuit, but keep in mind that insurance company policies contain prompt reporting clauses.
If you decide to go the insurance claims route, you will have to report everything within days or perhaps a few weeks at most. If it's later than that, the insurer could possibly doubt your reporting or even just reject your claim as being submitted too late.
The Rule of Comparative Negligence
Another crucial consideration is Georgia’s legal reliance on the modified rule of comparative negligence, which both courts and insurance companies will use in determining a settlement or court award. Pure comparative negligence (which Georgia does not follow) means that each party will be assigned a percentage of fault. Even if you’re 90 percent at fault, you can still collect 10 percent from the other party.
In contrast, modified comparative negligence has a stopgap, which is why it is also called the 51 percent rule. Thus if your fault rises above 50 percent, you cannot collect anything. Say, for instance, you’re driving along the highway with someone too close behind you. You slam on your brakes to avoid running over a stray animal. You get rear-ended and injured.
However, your brake lights didn’t work. The adjuster or jury might find you 30 percent (or more or less) at fault. If your claim/lawsuit is for $20,000, you would thus receive only $14,000—in other words, $20,000 minus 30 percent. If you are found 51 percent or more at fault, you get nothing.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you lose a loved one in an auto accident, you have two options for recovering through the legal system. One is a wrongful death lawsuit, and the other is known as a “survival action.” The first can be filed by the family to recover both economic and non-economic damages, the latter consisting of pain and suffering and loss of consortium (companionship).
The survival action must be filed by the executor of the person’s estate. The executor is named in the person’s last will and testament to manage the estate after the death of the testator, or will-writer. The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is two years from the date of the death, not from the injury date. For either of these actions, you will definitely need to guidance and expertise of a car accident attorney.
Car Accident Attorney in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
Don’t face the insurance companies alone. Obtain the services of a skilled car accident attorney to handle everything for you—even if it means all roads lead to a lawsuit. Statistics have shown that accident victims who rely on attorneys receive two to three times the settlement of those who try to navigate their case alone.
Here in Macon-Bibb County and surrounding counties and communities, reach out to us at The Law Office of George Haskell. We will meet with you personally and strive to ensure that any decision you make about your personal injury matter is well-informed.