Car Accident in Savannah, Georgia?
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If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know all too well how debilitating and traumatic the experience can be. The road to recovery can be long and arduous, and dealing with the insurance companies involved only make the situation that much more difficult. Make no mistake, a car accident claim is a complex financial and legal process. Getting to successful settlement for your car accident takes attention to detail, persistent focus and zealous advocacy.
At Sawan & Sawan, our family of skilled Savannah, Georgia Car Accident Lawyers know insurance law, policy exclusions and liability statutes. We can help you navigate the often confusing patchwork of laws and insurance policy provisions to help put the pieces of your life back together. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident in Savannah, Georgia – the Georgia Car Accident lawyers at Sawan & Sawan are here to help.
In our over 35 years of combined legal experience spanning two generations of the Sawan family, we know all too well the damage a car accident can cause. Your life can change in an instant. Because we’ve seen the confusion after a car accident first hand, we decided to create and publish this guide to Ohio Car Accident law to provide some information we think all victims of negligence should know.
Without aggressive and smart representation, car accident victims can be left with little or no compensation due to inadequate insurance coverage or because they made a serious mistake when filing their accident claim. As a family of lawyers, we take our client’s legal matters personal. We recognize the impact a car accident can have on a family, and we fight relentlessly to ensure the insurance companies and responsible parties play fair.
What to Do if You're in a Car Accident in Georgia
Personal injury claims are brought by accident victims against the person(s) or entity responsible for their injuries. These claims can assist accident victims in recovering for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
If you are involved in an accident in Georgia, these are the steps to take to recover for your injury and damages.
Seek medical treatment– If you have sustained injuries in an accident, immediately seek medical help to ensure you receive the treatment you need. The most important thing is that you tend to your health and well-being so you can get back on your feet after the accident.
Call 911 or report the accident to the appropriate person– Depending on the type of accident you should report the accident to either law enforcement officials or the correct party within the business. For example, you should report a car accident to the local police. Consider who you should report the accident to after it occurs and follow through with your own documentation as to what happened. This documentation can become incredibly important as you work to resolve your car accident claim later so it pays to be diligent.
Contact an attorney – Seeking the help of a car accident lawyer early on can protect your claim and assist you in obtaining the best legal outcome. Most attorneys will work on a contingency fee. That means they will not take a fee unless successful in either a settlement or jury verdict. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident in Savannah, Georgia, call us today at 1-866-INJURY-0.
Document your injuries and any property damage – You will want to obtain copies of the police or accident report, take pictures of your injuries and any damage, and jot down notes about how the accident occurred. As you work towards the resolution of any potential claims, the documentation of the accident becomes some of the most important evidence. In general, the more documentation you have, the higher your chances become of a successful resolution – especially where you are entitled to compensation.
Obtain witness contact information – Witnesses can prove crucial to your case. Ask witnesses for their names phone numbers, addresses, statements, and other basic information. Your attorney can assist in interviewing witnesses as well. As with documentation, witnesses to the accident serve as strong evidence in support of your claim.
Do not give statements or sign releases of liability without your attorney’s advice – You will likely be approached by the insurance company to provide a statement or sign a release of liability. These actions can be devastating to your potential injury or property damage claim. Contact your car accident lawyer before talking to anyone other than the police or signing any legal document. We offer free consultations. Call 1-866-INJURY-0.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents Claims
Depending upon the facts surrounding your accident, you should be able to file a claim against the party responsible for your injuries. These claims are complex, and you can greatly benefit from the assistance of a licensed Georgia car accident lawyer. All personal injury claims must be filed within a certain period following an accident. This is known as the statute of limitations. Georgia personal injury law sets out the time frame for filing personal injury actions in O.C.G.A, 9-3-33.
Liability for Personal Injuries in Georgia
Georgia uses the legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence to assign fault after an accident. This doctrine is set out in O.C.G.A. 51-11-7 . Under the code provision, an injured accident victim can receive compensation if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. The plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
For example. if you are in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light, and you were speeding, the jury may find the driver who ran the red light 70 percent negligent while you were 30 percent negligent. You would be awarded a reduced amount of 70 percent of your total damages, If instead, the jury found you were 50 percent negligent or more , you would be barred from recovery at all.
Uncovering the party responsible for your injuries is not always an easy task. At times, the true cause of an accident will not readily present itself. P It is important that you and your car accident lawyer closely review the facts surrounding your accident to accurately determine its cause and hold the correct party responsible.
What Are the Damages for a Car Accident in Georgia?
Damages stemming from a car accident can be devastating. Accident victims find themselves in the hospital, needing ongoing medical treatment, unable to return to work, and much worse in serious cases. A catastrophic injury can impact not just the accident victim, but their entire family.
In a car accident case, injured accident victims and their families can seek compensation for their damages caused by negligent actions of the Defendant. Potential damages in Georgia include, among others:
- Emergency room expenses and ambulance or helicopter transportation
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Income lost due to permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Your exact recovery will depend on the unique facts surrounding your case. At times, punitive damages can be awarded if the jury finds the defendant acted in a malicious, willful fraudulent, or oppressive manner. These damages are usually capped, and a portion is awarded to the state. Since damages are very important to help you get back to where you were before the accident, you should always consult with skilled car accident lawyers in Georgia if you’ve been in an accident in Savannah.
Paying for Property Damage After a Georgia Car Accident
In Georgia, as in most states, recovery for your damaged vehicle will not usually make you whole, even if you were not at fault. So it’s important to know that if you have been in an accident and suffered property damage, you must learn how to effectively recover full and complete compensation.
Property damage is defined as any damage to your personal property that results from an accident. Your damaged vehicle, laptop, cell phone, purse, or clothing are just a few of the items that would be recoverable.
In personal injury accidents you are usually making a claim for not only physical injury but also property damage. Usually the repair of your vehicle has a high cost. In property damage claims only, there are no injuries. The insurance company will separate the property damage claim from the personal injury damages. In fact, there are usually different insurance adjusters for these claims.
Potential insurance recovery for property damage claims is necessary because vehicle repair or replacement costs are often the most expensive charge. Generally, if you are not injured in an accident, you can still recover under another part of the insurance contract for your damaged property.
If you have a property damage claim, start collecting information as soon as possible after the accident. Items such as; photographs of all damage, accident report, and witness information need to be gathered.
The insurance company will assess the damage to your vehicle and determine whether to repair or total it. You must decide if you will accept their appraisal. If you do, then you have the choice of repair shops. Often times the insurance company wants you to use their shops. It is always wiser to use your own shop as your mechanic may find more damage to the vehicle. If so, your mechanic can deal with the insurance company on those additional damages. The insurance company, however, will only pay for what they determine to be reasonable costs. If you don’t agree then you have the option of filing a complaint for those damages.
As to the filing a complaint, you first have to file an insurance claim with the insurance company of the at- fault party. You will provide documentation of all the damage to your personal property. Always include receipts, written and signed estimates, as well as all the information you gathered immediately after the accident. If you can’t settle the claim, then you must file in the appropriate court of law. At trial you will have to prove that the other driver caused the accident and that your personal property was damaged. You will also need to prove all damages. You will only have so much time to file within which to file or your claim will be forever time barred.
Finally, Georgia recognizes a “diminished value of property damage” claim. This type of claim requires the insurance company to pay for the loss of your vehicle’s value after the accident. Again you will need to provide repair bills, receipts of improvements, mileage before the accident, and pictures of your vehicle before and after the accident.
Georgia Seat Belt Law
One of the easiest ways to decrease the likelihood of serious injury or death in a car accident is to wear your seatbelt. Not only is it a safety precaution, but wearing your seatbelt is required by law. Presently, Georgia like most states requires drivers and front-seat passengers to use their seat belts when driving. In addition, anyone 17 years of age or younger must where their seat belt in the back seat. Although adults are not required, they should always wear their seat belts while sitting in the back.
Currently a Georgia Senate committee is supporting new legislation that will require everyone in an automobile to wear a seat belt. In the past such legislation has not been welcomed by lawmakers. A recent Senate Study Committee which was studying safety belt analysis supported this requirement. They based their decision on testimony which established that seat belt use safes lives and prevents injuries. The seat belt in a vehicle is meant to contain the occupants within the vehicle. By so doing, the person is protected by the vehicle doing a crash. Many serious injuries have been caused by people violently thrown out of a vehicle. Statistics support the total use of seat belts for all occupants.
For example, in 2017 44% out of 1,057 people who died in accidents on Georgia roads were not wearing their seat belts. Nationally, 43% of people who died in accidents also were not wearing their seat belt. To address these issues, the following timeline is instructive.
- 1988 – Georgia adopts the state’s first seat belt law. Front seat personnel must wear a seat belt. Vehicles mounted on truck chassis were excluded. None- use of a seat belt was a secondary offense. That meant that the arresting officer would not cite anyone for non use of the seat belt unless they violated another traffic law.
- 1990 – Occupants of pick up trucks were exempt from use of a seat belt. That law was followed up three years later and required minors to be restrained.
- 1996 – Seat belt violations became a primary offense. If an officer saw you were not wearing your seatbelt, you would be charged directly with a seat belt violation.
- 2010 – The truck exemption was eliminated.
As to children, more than 2,600 of them under 13 years of age are involved in an accident. While most parents are vigilant and use car seats, many of them do not know how to properly install and use them. In Georgia, under O.C.G.A. 40-8-76, all children under the age of eight must have an approved child restrain system taking into account the height and weight of the child. To assist in this requirement the following guidelines should be used:
- Use a child fitting location;
- Keep your child rear facing at all times;
- Choose a seat belt that fits in your vehicle based on your child’s age and size always using that model;
- Read the owner’s manual and instructions always referring back to them when necessary;
- Finally keep your child in the back seat until at least through twelve years old.
As to ages the following is recommended:
- Birth to 12 months – Always keep them in the back seat using a rear-facing car seat for at least two years. As they grow, there are different car seats which can be used. This way you can keep them back there for a longer period of time. Always take into consideration the height and weight of your child.
- 4-7 years – Your child can stay in the forward-facing car seat until they outgrow it. At this time a booster seat can be used. It must still be used in the back seat.
- 8-12 years – Your child will continue to use the booster seat until they are big enough to use the seat belt. Your child should still ride in the back as it’s safer there. To use the seat belt your child should be at least four foot, nine inches to insure the seat belt fits properly.
Dennis E. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Florida
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan