Jefferson Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are an unfortunate part of our lives. Most of us in North Georgia drive everywhere we go. However, driving is also one of the most dangerous things we do. With more cars on the road than ever before, and the extraordinary growth our small town of Jefferson is going through, car accidents are unfortunately increasing.
Car Accidents on U.S. Route 129 in Georgia
U.S. Highway 129 in Jefferson, also known as the Major Damon Gause Bypass, is a hotbed for motor vehicle accidents. Tractor trailers heading to and from Gainesville and Athens take this highway every day. There are not enough traffic lights along this stretch of highway to accommodate the growing population, and Jefferson residents are paying the price.
Additionally, passenger cars routinely speed along this stretch of road, which is why the police are very active at citing people for speeding. While speeding tickets are annoying, the ultimate goal is to reduce accidents and make the road safer for everyone. Car accidents can range from minor fender benders with no injuries to severe wrecks with fatalities, and everything in between.
Injured in a Car Accident in Jefferson, Georgia
If you have been hurt in a car accident, the odds are that you are not going to get rich, even though the radio commercials may try to convince you otherwise. And if you are like most people, you probably just want to make sure that you get better and that the insurance company pays for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and car repair bills without giving you a headache. That’s understandable. That’s what should happen.
Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works because the insurance company is not your friend. They are in the business of trying to pay you as little as possible, because that is how they save money. This page should give you some information on what you are entitled to and what you need to know about your car accident claim.
Our firm is not in the business of chasing ambulances, faking injuries, or trying to take advantage of anyone – insurance companies included. We are in business to make sure our clients get the treatment, care, and compensation they deserve.
How much is your Jefferson, Georgia car accident case worth?
If you have been injured in a car wreck because of someone else’s negligence, then you are entitled to be “made whole” under the law in Georgia. What exactly does it mean to be “made whole”? The law provides that you are entitled to compensation for the following items:
Special Damages are quantifiable economic damages. These are your hard costs that can be calculated. Special Damages include the following items:
- Medical bills already incurred
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Any other out of pocket expenses that actually flow from the car accident
It is usually pretty easy to determine how much your special damages are. Unfortunately, the insurance companies like to use certain tricks and tactics in an attempt to avoid paying you. First, they may try to claim your injuries were preexisting, even if there is no evidence of that at all. Next, they may argue that your medical bills exceed the normal and customary charges, but that argument has no basis. Or they may say that you do not really need the surgery that your doctor says you need. Adjusters often like to pretend they know more than doctors.
These are all crummy ways the insurance company tries to pay you as little as possible, which is why you need an attorney that specializes in car accident cases and personal injury cases in Jackson County, Georgia, and who regularly represents accident victims in North Georgia.
General Damages are your non-economic damages for which there is no exact dollar, and include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Disability/physical limitation
- Mental anguish/anxiety/worry
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society/companionship/consortium
- Other nonpecuniary losses of any kind or nature
Georgia Law presumes that pain and suffering accompany a physical injury. See White v. Hammond, 129 Ga. App. 408 (1973); Cochran v. Lynch, 126 Ga. App. 866 (1972). In addition to physical pain, “pain and suffering” includes mental/emotional suffering, anxiety, shock, and worry. See Williams v. Vinson, 104 Ga. App. 866, 893 (1961).
It can be difficult to calculate the amount of general damages that a person is entitled to. The beauty of the American justice system is that if the claimant (you) and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement amount, you have the option to file a civil lawsuit, take your case to trial, and have a jury of your peers decide, based on the evidence and testimony, how much money you are entitled to for the pain you have gone through, and perhaps will live with for the rest of your life.
Every case differs, and your general damages will be specific to the facts of your case. Did the pain from your injuries keep you from being able to sleep? Were you unable to play with your children or grandchildren after the accident? Do you have a scar that will permanently affect your appearance? These things matter. When you’ve been injured in a car wreck due to someone else’s negligence, that person has taken away certain aspects of your life. That’s not alright. However, the only way our justice system allows them to make it up to you is with money. You can’t get that part of your life back, but you can be compensated for the damage done. Our job is make sure you receive full and fair compensation.
A skilled injury attorney in Jefferson will be able to articulate the particulars of your case and how the injuries have impacted your life to get you the compensation you deserve.
Your car accident case is often comprised of two separate and distinct claims: your personal injury / bodily injury claim and your property damage claim. This is probably obvious, but your property damage claim refers to the damage done to your vehicle and any other tangible property that was damaged or destroyed as a direct result of the accident.
Here are some things to know about your property damage claim:
- You can get your car repaired at the mechanic or body shop of your choice
- You are entitled to receive a payment for the diminished value of your car; but you will likely need to demand it
- If your car is totaled, Georgia law provides that you are entitled to the fair market value for your vehicle
- It may be easier and quicker to go through your own insurance and have them go to the liability insurer for reimbursement later
- You probably do not need a lawyer to handle your property damage claim
One of the most important considerations in any car accident claims is the type and amount of insurance coverages available.
This is the insurance that covers others injured as a result of the insured’s negligence. The minimum policy limits for bodily injury that a Georgia driver must maintain are: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
For example: if there are 2 people injured by the at-fault driver, they can each collect up to $25,000 from the at-fault insurance company (subject to some very limited exceptions). But what if there are 3 or more people injured? The total amount of coverage is still only $50,000, so there will be a race to recover that money, and if the injuries are severe, the victims will likely not be made whole under the at-fault insurance policy.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist (“UM”) Insurance
Georgia drivers are not required to carry UM insurance, but we highly recommend it. As seen above, if the person who hit you has the minimum coverage, and you have been seriously injured, you may be left hung out to dry.
Consider this: if you’re in a bad wreck that was caused by someone else and you take an ambulance to the Emergency Room, you may already have incurred $25,000 in medical bills within a few hours. What if there are multiple cars / other people injured in the wreck? That $50,000 in total coverage will be exhausted extremely fast. In such a situation, you will need a significant amount of UM coverage to cover your medical bills. If not, you may be in trouble.
Additional Insurance Policies
This is another reason why it is extremely important to have the right attorney after an accident. There may be additional insurance coverage out there. It may not be obvious, and the at-fault driver and the insurance company is certainly not going to offer it up. You need a knowledgeable attorney who knows what to look for and where to look. This could be the difference in you being “made whole” and being left hung out to dry dealing with bills on your own.