Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that over three million Americans sustain…
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, then it’s likely that you have many questions. Nathan Fitzpatrick, an experienced car accident lawyers in Atlanta, GA, is here to answer your questions, including how long after an accident you can claim your injuries in Georgia. You’ll also learn what to expect after you file a lawsuit. By the end of this article, you’ll know whether or not you can legally file a claim.
An Overview of Car Accidents and Personal Injury Claims
When you’re trying to prove that you were injured by another driver, you must show proof of two things.
- Was the defendant responsible for any injury/injuries?
- If so, what exactly are the damages?
If you’ve got both of these things working for you, then you may wish to proceed to a personal injury lawsuit.
Importance of knowing when to claim injury after a car accident
If you have been injured in a car accident, you might wonder if you’ve been hurt badly enough to file a lawsuit. So, ask yourself if your physical and/or mental injuries lasted over a few days. Additionally, how much did everything cost?
If you just got a small bump on your head and went to your personal doctor for care, you probably don’t have enough of a basis to file a claim. However, if you went to the hospital and/or still have problems months later, you should definitely file a lawsuit.
That being said, not only is it important to know when to claim an injury, but it's also important to get medical care and document your injuries and issues that stem from them later. If you don't document evidence like this, it may be difficult to prove your claim in court.
Understanding Car Accidents and Injuries
It's helpful for car accident claims and when working with attorneys to know about the basics of automobile accidents and injuries. Then you'll be better informed about what's coming if you are a car accident victim.
What you need to know regarding your claim centers on common types of automobile accidents, types of injuries that can result from automobile accidents, and how an injury can impact your life.
Common types of car accidents
Five types of car accidents are common in Georgia. These include:
Believe it or not, a single-vehicle car accident is among the deadliest. In fact, single-vehicle crashes were responsible for 51% of all traffic accidents in GA in 2020.
So, why are single-vehicle crashes so deadly? There are many different theories, such as drivers being more reckless on an empty road, driving over the speed limit, checking their phones, etc. Another thing that causes single-vehicle crashes to happen more often is that drivers may be intoxicated or tired. Having your judgment impaired in this way may prevent you from seeing or reacting to a stationary object.
Roadway Departure Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a roadway departure car accident is when a vehicle “crosses an edge line or a center line, or otherwise leaves the traveled way.” In other words, this is a head-on collision where the driver enters the opposite lane of traffic.
The State of Georgia lost 705 people in 2019 due to roadway departure auto accidents. This accounted for 49% of all traffic fatalities.
Intersections may be common, but they’re also frequently involved in accidents. A driver might get confused about who has the right of way. They could also break improperly and end up rear-ending someone, make a risky move without enough clearance, etc.
In 2019, 26% of all traffic fatalities involved an intersection. This accounts for 394 deaths, which makes it Georgia’s third most common traffic accident.
If a vehicle turns too sharply or quickly, trips over an object falls down an embankment, or is impacted on its side due to a multi-vehicle accident, it’s possible for a rollover to occur.
This type of traffic accident isn’t as common as the first three types, but it can cause serious injuries, including being thrown from the vehicle. There were 314 fatalities (21%) caused by a rollover accident in 2019.
Most people probably believe that speeding is the worst thing you can do, but it doesn’t appear on this list until number five. Still, speeding is extremely common and was responsible for 260 fatalities (17%) in 2019.
Types of injuries that can result from car accidents
There is a virtually endless list of injuries that you could sustain from being in a car accident. However, the following injuries are the most common in Georgia.
- Head Injuries – These may not show up immediately, so it’s important to visit your doctor for a checkup.
- Whiplash – This type of injury is quite common when you’ve been rear-ended. With whiplash, the soft tissue in your shoulders, neck, and head will be affected.
- Broken Bones – Any of your bones could be broken during a collision. Fractured ribs are, by far, the most common and may lead to additional issues. You might need an extensive amount of time to recover if you have a seriously broken or fractured bone.
- Knee Trauma – The knee is the most commonly injured joint. You might be looking at a really long recovery time if the muscles and ligaments around your knee, the knee itself, and/or the knee cap are hurt. You may have to use crutches, wear braces, or even have surgery to correct your knee trauma.
- Internal Bleeding – After an accident, you might have a headache or an upset stomach. Although neither of these sounds like internal bleeding, they absolutely could be. Getting a medical exam is the only way to rule internal bleeding out.
- Scrapes, Cuts, and Bruises – These types of injuries are very common and are often not given the attention that they need. However, broken glass, your airbag, etc., can cause deep cuts and bruises. Plus, if your cut becomes infected, it could cause scarring.
- Herniated Discs – When your disc moves out of place in your spine, you have a herniated disc. This can lead to sciatica and can cause extreme discomfort.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – It’s possible for you to suffer from PTSD as a result of overwhelming stress. Whether you’re worried about your financial losses, injuries, or getting into your vehicle again, this can wreak havoc on your life and health.
How an injury can impact your life
Being in a car accident can seriously impact your life. From the normal problems, such as not having a car to get around in, all the way to PTSD, you can expect to face at least a few of the following.
- Cost of Vehicle Repairs – This could set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If your insurance company is playing games with you, it could take even longer.
- Higher Insurance Premiums – If you’re found to be even partially at fault, it could make your insurance premiums shoot up.
- Traffic Ticket Resulting from the Accident – Again, if you were found at fault, you will have to pay through the nose. Expect to get a traffic ticket as the starting point.
- Emotional Damages – If your injuries are more severe, you will likely face emotional damages such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- Short-Term Injuries – They may not last very long, but these injuries can still be quite cumbersome and might result in high medical bills.
- Long-Term Injuries – If you’ve got a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or any injury that causes disfigurement and/or permanent scarring, it’s going to take a very long time to recover if you ever do.
- Death of a Loved One – This is the worst-case scenario, and it will haunt you for a very long time. Although a lawyer can’t bring your loved one back, they can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
The worst part is that these are just some of the impacts a car accident injury could have on your life.
When to Claim Injury After a Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car crash that has caused you to miss work and/or pay out a lot of money, you should definitely be thinking about filing a car accident claim. Just don’t spend too much time thinking, as you’ve got to file a car accident lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Georgia
Georgia only allows you to file a personal injury claim for two years. This is also the statute of limitations on filing a different type of car accident claim and a wrongful death suit.
Factors that can affect the time frame for claiming injury
Numerous factors can affect how long after a car crash you should claim your bodily injury. These include:
- The type and severity of your car accident injuries
- Your medical expenses, both current and future
- Lost wages from missing work due to car accident injuries
- How much time has passed since the accident occurred
- Whether the car accident was caused by a drunk driver or other negligent parties
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand these factors better and provide you with a timeline that fits the specifics of your car accident.
The importance of seeking medical attention immediately after a car accident
Failure to seek out medical attention could cause you to deal with unseen injuries such as internal bleeding. From a legal standpoint, it could also make your case seem a lot less viable. Therefore, always seek out medical attention immediately.
Working with a Personal Injury Attorney
Starting the process with a personal injury lawyer is easier than it may seem. For starters, most attorneys in Georgia give a free legal consultation to help you understand the specifics of your personal injury case. Also, the vast majority of these lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means they only get paid if you win your claim. It also means that if an attorney doesn’t think you have a viable case, they’ll tell you.
What a personal injury attorney can do for you
Your attorney will investigate all the case facts, including medical records and the police report. Then, your lawyer will gather evidence, such as reviewing photos from the scene and interviewing witnesses. They’ll also interview doctors to learn about the short-term and long-term effects of an injury like yours. Finally, they’ll prepare the case and begin negotiating with the insurer.
The benefits of hiring an attorney for car accident claims
There are so many reasons that hiring an attorney could benefit you. Here are the top five reasons.
- Your medical expenses are most likely much more than your attorney’s fees.
- An attorney takes on big insurance companies and corporations for you.
- Working with an attorney could mean that your liability is minimized.
- If your lawsuit will need legal witnesses, you’ll definitely want an attorney.
- A fair settlement will not be easy to get on your own, but your attorney has the skills necessary to negotiate one.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
This section discusses important information about what to expect when you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident and file your car accident lawsuit.
The steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit
Filing an injury lawsuit should follow four primary steps:
- Filing the Claim – The plaintiff files a claim and waits for the defendant to answer.
- Discovery Hearing – This is not the final determination of your case.
- Going to Trial – You’ll only reach this point if a settlement can’t be agreed upon.
- Case Deliberation – Hiring an experienced and aggressive attorney is advisable as the insurer’s lawyers won’t hold back.
The benefits and risks of filing a personal injury lawsuit
There are a number of benefits, including getting fair compensation for your injuries. However, watch out for these common mistakes.
- Not keeping critical evidence
- Relying solely on your memory
- Assuming all law firms are the same
- Assuming your question is silly and, therefore, not asking it
What to expect during the litigation process
The car accident lawsuit process can be a long one, so it’s important to understand what you can expect. First, the defendant may raise defenses such as comparative or contributory negligence or that your injuries weren’t caused by their driver.
Your attorney must prove that the auto accident was due to another party’s negligence. This could take months, depending on the complexity of your case. A car accident injury claim in Georgia generally takes anywhere from one to four years to be resolved, although some cases can take longer.
What is the time frame for insurance claims?
In Georgia, an insurance company must accept or deny a car accident claim within 30 days of filing. If you haven't heard anything from the insurance company after 30 days or they deny your claim, it's time to consult with a car accident attorney to start laying down a legal strategy.
Car Accident Injury Claim FAQs:
Here are the answers to some of our most commonly received questions.
Can I claim injury even if I was at fault for the accident?
The Peach State is an at-fault state, meaning motorists pay for the car accident that occurs because of their negligence. Considering that, it’s vital to have a skilled, experienced lawyer who can prove who is at fault for the auto accident. Also, importantly, in situations where more than one person is at fault for the car accident, Georgia’s modified comparative fault rule will take effect. It reduces damages by each claimant’s percentage of fault.
How long does a personal injury lawsuit take?
Anywhere from three months to two years after you get a lawyer involved. The actual court case will most likely take between two and four court days. However, it can take longer than that if your medical injuries are severe or long-term. In addition, the timeline can increase if the car accident case becomes complex or if there are several car accident injury claims involved.
Do I have to go to court to settle my car accident claim?
No. If you know how to write a formal demand letter, you can send this to the insurance company and try to settle the car accident claim out of court. However, you may want to get help from a car accident attorney if negotiations with the insurance company aren’t going well or if you are unhappy with the settlement amount. In addition, the attorney can help you write the demand letter if it is your first time. That fact is important because an insurance company will deny a car accident claim if it is not written correctly.
What kind of damages can I recover in a personal injury lawsuit?
The most common damages include:
- Loss of wages
- Medical expenses
- Home or car adjustment (to accommodate your disability)
- Property damages
- Physical suffering
- Quality of life issues
If You've Been In An Accident, Contact The Fitzpatrick Law Firm For A Complimentary Case Review
If you’ve been in a car accident, be sure to contact The Fitzpatrick Law Firm by calling (678) 607-5550 or filling out the form below to receive a complimentary case review. Our experienced and skilled personal injury attorneys are committed to helping you receive justice and reach the best financial compensation for your case.