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What Happens When You Are Sued After Causing a Car Accident in Georgia?

As the saying goes, accidents happen. If you happen to cause an auto accident and are sued by an injured party, chances are you will feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Remember, though you cannot prevent someone from filing a lawsuit against you after a car accident, working with an attorney can significantly reduce the consequences. If your attorney can show that you did not cause the accident, you may even be able to turn things around by filing a claim against the actual at-fault party.

Even if you think you may have caused a car accident, the compassionate attorneys at Kevin A. Adamson, P.C., are standing by to make sure you know your legal rights and options. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Duluth personal injury attorney.

How Is Liability Determined in a Georgia Car Accident?

In most auto accident cases, fault is established by proving that someone was negligent, which simply refers to failure to use reasonable care to avoid harming others. If a plaintiff can prove that they were injured due to a defendant’s negligence, the defendant will be ordered to pay them damages.

Alternatively, plaintiffs may also establish liability by showing that the defendant was negligent per se. This requires proving that the plaintiff was injured when the defendant violated a law or regulation meant to keep others safe. If this is successfully shown, the defendant will be held negligent per se regardless of how much reasonable care they took to avoid the accident.

As we all know, there are numerous laws and regulations meant to keep roads safe. Easy examples include laws against driving while intoxicated, texting while driving, speeding, and running red lights. A violation of any one of these laws may result in negligence per se if it results in injury.

What Is the Standard of Proof for Establishing Liability in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

No matter which theory of liability is applied in your case, plaintiffs need to prove their claim by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, the evidence must show that the defendant was more likely than not responsible for the accident. Each side will draw on a wide variety of evidence to prove or disprove liability, depending on which side of the aisle you stand.

Relevant car accident evidence may include things like:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and videos from the accident scene
  • Footage from traffic and surveillance cameras
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • Testimony from doctors, traffic engineers, accident reconstruction specialists, and other experts
  • Cell phone and traffic signal logs
  • Medical treatment and billing records

What If More Than One Person Is at Fault for the Car Accident?

In many cases, faults may be shared between two or more drivers. In these situations, Georgia courts will apply the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under this rule, injured parties who contributed to the cause of the accident may still recover compensation.

However, this baseline rule comes with two important caveats. First, the damages the plaintiff receives will be reduced proportionately to their degree of fault. Second, if they contributed more than 50 percent, they would be barred from receiving any compensation at all. In the latter case, defendants may even be able to turn the table by filing a counterclaim seeking compensation against the plaintiff for their own injuries and losses. Contact our Duluth car accident lawyer today.

Will Auto Insurance Cover My Liability?

In Georgia, all drivers are required to carry auto liability insurance that meets the minimum levels required by state law. In the event of an accident caused by the policyholder, this insurance will cover other drivers’ injuries and losses up to the policy limits.

The legal car accident insurance minimums in Georgia are as follows:

  • $25,000 per person in bodily injury coverage
  • $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage
  • $25,000 per accident in property damage coverage

Again, these are only the legal minimums. Once policy limits are exhausted, the policyholder may be on the hook for any damages in excess. Injured drivers may turn to their Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance to cover the remainder, assuming they purchased this nonmandatory coverage. However, they could also sue the at-fault driver and secure a judgment lien for unpaid damages.

As a final note, all drivers should be aware of the serious legal consequences they may face if they fail to purchase the minimum auto insurance required by law. A violation results in a misdemeanor, and potential penalties include a fine between $200-1,000, up to 12 months imprisonment, or both.

Will My Insurance Premiums Go Up If I Was at Fault?

Though each insurance company will make its own determination, chances are your premiums will go up after an accident, especially if you are at fault. According to some studies, your monthly premium may jump by 50% or more.

Many factors go into an insurer’s decision to raise premiums. For example, if you are involved in your first accident, they may be more lenient. However, the best way to avoid higher premiums is to work with an experienced injury attorney to prove that you were not at fault for the accident.

Importantly, when speaking to insurance adjusters after an accident, do not provide a recorded statement or admit fault until you have secured legal representation. This will give your attorney a chance to thoroughly investigate the true cause of the accident. If another driver’s insurer calls, remember that you are not legally required to speak to them at all.

Contact a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer Today

Being served with a lawsuit is never a pleasant experience. Even so, remember that you do not need to face this situation alone. Even if you cause a wreck, the Georgia car accident lawyers at Kevin A. Adamson, P.C., are here to make sure you know your rights and options. After we conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, you may find that things are not nearly as bad as they may seem. Contact us today to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in a free, confidential consultation.