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Car Accident Lawyers in Carrollton, GA

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SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers Carrollton (19)

Car Accident Lawyers in Carrollton, GA

After a car accident, contacting our car accident lawyers in Carrollton, GA, is imperative to ensure your rights are protected. With the screech of brakes and the sounds and sights of the collision still fresh in your memory, you are likely overwhelmed, emotionally and physically. Once you've had a beat to catch your breath and your bearings, however, you need to focus carefully on the next steps.

A car accident – even one that doesn't lead to serious injuries – can make everything seem like a blur afterward. But if someone else caused the crash, or if you or someone you know got hurt, your well-being and chances to obtain fair compensation for damages may depend on what you do in the critical hours that follow!

This quick how-to guide and checklist would give you essential information to give you a sense of clarity and control, no matter if the accident occurred in Atlanta, Gainesville, Carrollton, LaGrange, or any other part of the State of Georgia.

After a Georgia Car Accident: A Checklist

  1. Do not admit fault. If you seek payment for damages after an auto accident, insurance companies know that the burden of proof for fault lies with you, the plaintiff. It is human nature to apologize to the other driver after an accident but do not – especially if you suspect the other driver was at fault or contributed to what happened. Insurance companies can use even a simple "I'm sorry" as an admission of guilt.
  2. Call the police. Injuries in an accident can be disorienting. Even after a minor accident, once you have checked on yourself and your passengers, dial 911. Once the police arrive, ask for a copy of the report. Your 911 call and the police report can serve as evidence later, and police reports are critical in determining fault in a car accident.
  3. Gather contact information. Get the other driver's name, address, license, plate numbers, and insurance information. If multiple drivers were involved in the crash, get this information from all of them. Also, ask whether the driver was driving for their employer during the collision. If so, get the employer's contact and insurance information as well.
  4. Talk to witnesses, and take pictures. Passengers or bystanders on the street can all serve as witnesses to the crash. Ask them for their contact information and to give their accounts to the police. If you do not have a camera, ask a witness to take pictures of the crash, the surrounding area, any traffic signs and stop lights, and other relevant information. When in doubt, document it – it is better to have too much information than not enough.
  5. Call one of our Car Accident Lawyers in Carrollton, GA. Call the experienced attorneys at SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.

Getting Your Car Repaired After A Georgia Car Accident

If you recently were involved in a car accident, but your vehicle was not totaled, you'll want to visit a mechanic as soon as possible to assess the damage and fix your car. Keep the following considerations in mind as you interact with your mechanic:

Who Covers the Cost of the Repair in Georgia?

Georgia is a fault state, so if you are deemed responsible for 49 percent of the accident or less, you can obtain damages, including the cost of your vehicle's repair. However, if courts deem that you played a small role in the accident (perhaps by speeding or following another vehicle too closely), your total compensation may be reduced.

When to Take Your Car to the Mechanic in Georgia

Timing is everything in car accident cases. Before visiting the mechanic, you'll need to file a police report, seek legal counsel, contact your insurance company, and speak with a claims representative. Some insurers send reps to inspect the damage; others prefer to have you work with a mechanic on your own time. Wait for instructions before moving forward, and visit a certified mechanic.

Working With Your Georgia Mechanic

It's best to obtain multiple estimates, but you should first determine whether the shops you intend to visit charge diagnostic fees. Because you will (hopefully) be compensated, you want the best possible repair; the mechanic suggested by your insurer may offer an overpriced quick fix. Don't downplay the status of your vehicle; let your mechanic know all the symptoms and the full scope of your accident. If you struggle to explain these symptoms, allow your mechanic to take the vehicle on a brief test drive.

Once you receive your estimate, discuss the repairs needed and why. Later, compare estimates from mechanics to determine who will provide the most extensive service for the best price.

Types Of Damages Available To Carrollton, Georgia Car Accident Victims

In general, there are two types of damages potentially available for Georgia car accident victims. 

Compensatory Damages

Sometimes referred to as actual damages, compensatory damages reimburse victims for financial and emotional harm inflicted by the crash. Examples include payment for lost wages, accrued medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

Was your vehicle destroyed in a car accident caused by somebody else's negligence? The cost of repair may be covered via personal injury damages. As the name indicates, punitive damages are designed to punish the responsible person or other party, such as a negligent trucking company that hired a driver with a checkered driving history who then rammed your car with his 18-wheeler. These types of damages are rare and are generally reserved for cases involving malice or gross negligence. However, in rare cases, the victim of a car accident can successfully sue for punitive damages designed to penalize the defendant. For punitive damages to be awarded, the person responsible for the accident must have demonstrated incredibly reckless or malicious behavior behind the wheel. For example, in the recent case Dagne v. Schroeder, a Georgia court awarded the plaintiff both compensatory and punitive damages based on allegations that the defendant was impaired at the time of the accident.

A Closer Look at the Types of Damages Available to Georgia Car Accident Victims

Monetary damages cannot reverse the pain of a car accident, but they at least can provide an element of financial relief. Let's take a closer look at the various forms of compensatory.

Medical Expenses

Depending on the extent of the injuries related to the accident, medical expenses can pile up quickly. In addition to sometimes lengthy hospital visits, victims may require ongoing rehabilitative care. On top of covering hospital bills, compensatory damages may provide money for rehabilitative care (e.g., physical therapy, prosthetics, ongoing chiropractic, etc.), which could be required months, even years after the accident. Compensatory damages may cover a variety of immediate and ongoing medical expenses.

Pain and Suffering

The suffering caused by a car accident goes far beyond physical pain. Emotional trauma is also common, with many car crash victims experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders years after the accident occurred. Pain and suffering damages recognize this and compensate victims accordingly. Often referred to as general damages, pain, and suffering awards are challenging to calculate. Some juries use "multipliers," in which multiples of the individual's lost earnings and medical bills are calculated. For example, the victim's pain and suffering may be valued at three times the total medical and wage-based damages.

Loss of Wages

If the injuries that occurred during your Georgia accident have left you unable to carry out your usual duties at work, you may be eligible for remuneration. The medical issues stemming from a car accident may make it impossible for the victim to return to work, or they may substantially reduce what type of work the individual can perform or for how long. As a result of this limited capacity, the person might have to abandon billable hours and give up pursuing new projects that could lead to future business.

How Does A Carrollton Georgia Car Accident Settlement Typically Work?

With personal injury settlements, sooner is not always better. Typically, it is best to wait until you are medically stable, as you will only understand the full extent of your injuries. However, it is also essential to keep the statute of limitations, generally two years from the date of the accident, in mind.

Settlement Demand Package and Negotiations

Once you've obtained appropriate documentation, submit a demand package, including a letter explaining what happened and how it impacted you, plus plenty of documentation to back up your allegations. After the demand package is reviewed, there will likely be some negotiations with the insurance provider. The insurer may claim that the demand is too high, given the extent of the injuries – but this can be negotiated until a settlement that both parties find acceptable is reached. Further complications may occur due to Georgia's modified comparative fault approach, in which the negligence of both parties is considered.

Contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP today to schedule a private consultation; we can help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life.

Is There a Formula To Determine The Compensation You Will Receive From Car Accident Injuries?

Statistics rule the insurance industry, and yet, there is no clear formula for calculating the value of injuries incurred in car accidents. Insurers generally use averages to determine what a typical driver may receive, but in reality, nobody fits perfectly into the profile of the "average" person. A vast array of factors play into compensation values, as highlighted below:

Georgia's Fault-Based System

As in many states, Georgia follows a fault-based system in which the at-fault individual is responsible for both property damage and personal injury. This approach offers the potential for several resolutions:

  • The injured person can file a claim with his or her insurance company, which then obtains remuneration from the other driver's insurer.
  • The victim can go directly to the other party's insurer for compensation.
  • The issue can be settled via a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Insurance adjusters seek to determine what the injured party would receive in a jury trial. Companies put a lot of effort into compiling personal injury statistics, along with negotiated settlements.
  • Through examining this data, adjusters have developed multipliers, which may be combined with special damage awards to determine the full extent of compensation.

The Role of Comparative Fault

Comparative fault makes an already confusing system that much more complicated. In Georgia, the primary victim of an accident may be found partially at fault for the incident and, therefore, not entitled to complete damages. For example, if evidence indicates that one driver was impaired, but the other also demonstrated reckless behavior behind the wheel, fault may lie with both parties. The upside? You can usually still secure remuneration if you somehow contributed to the accident — it's just tricky to predict how much you'll receive.

Common Defenses Insurance Companies Use To Deny Georgia Car Accident Claims

Claim denials are undeniably frustrating, particularly when ample evidence indicates that the policyholder qualifies for compensation. Insurance adjusters use every trick in the book to put a stop to deserved claims — a few of their more disturbing ploys are highlighted below:

Acts of God in Georgia

Adjusters who rely on the "Act of God" defense may claim that a given accident only occurred due to unexpected weather conditions or other uncontrollable circumstances — driver negligence supposedly played no role. In certain cases, this defense may be valid, but often, drivers and their insurers use this excuse to cover for irresponsible behavior behind the wheel.

Playing the "Good Guy"

Be cautious of overly sympathetic insurance adjusters — they're rarely on your side! Rather, they demonstrate false compassion in hopes of convincing you to downplay your symptoms or even admit fault. Problematic adjusters may also claim that they're making every effort to close the case as soon as possible. In reality, they stall in hopes of missing the statute of limitations.

Social Media Stalking

Don't mention your accident on Twitter or Facebook; you could compromise your case. Increasingly, companies follow accident victims online, as foolish individuals often incriminate themselves while discussing their vehicular mishaps. Insurers are also eager to determine whether your injuries are as severe as you claim. Consider waiting until your case is closed before posting those surfing or skydiving pictures.

Incentives for Georgia Claims Representatives

Insurance companies incentivize employees to deny as many car accident claims as possible. For example, the American Association for Justice highlights a Farmers Insurance executive who quipped that representatives should wear a fake tooth grin while responding "Sorry, no more" to policyholders in desperate need of compensation.

How To Handle The Insurance Company Adjuster After Being Injured

You're still trying to process the car accident, your injuries, and all the ramifications, and now you have to deal with the insurance company adjuster. It's a difficult but necessary situation. You must notify your own insurance company as soon as possible. Speak to a qualified attorney if you have been badly hurt before giving a statement.

Remember that the other party's insurance adjuster has one primary purpose – to get you to agree to the lowest settlement possible. So say as little as possible, and don't sign any agreement until you speak with your attorney. Remember that you get one chance at a settlement, and if you make a bad decision, you're out of luck.

Just the Facts

You must give the adjuster your basic personal information:

  1. Name, address and phone number.
  2. Confirm the location, time, and date of the accident, but do not provide detailed information regarding the circumstances or your injuries, or how you feel subjectively. You can tell the adjuster about the type of accident – head-on crash, rear-end collision – but you don't need to say anymore.
  3. Do not mention what you believe caused the accident, and never say it was your fault.
  4. Do not allow a recording of your statement.

The insurance adjuster may ask you seemingly innocuous questions but avoid answering them. They do not need to know where you work, what you do, or your medical history. What you say could be twisted and used against you to deny or diminish your claim. Just mention you are giving out information once you consult your car accident lawyers in Carrollton, GA at 770-214-2500.

Different Insurances May Apply

Insurance is complicated, and insurance adjusters don't want to make it any easier. Depending on who was involved in the accident and the type of insurance you and the other driver carry, there may be various sources of liability coverage. Your lawyer can sort through the applicable coverage to ensure you receive the maximum compensation.

Loose Lips Sink Settlements

If you're recovering from an accident, you may have a lot of time on your hands. Social media may become more critical to your sense of community than ever, but do not give details about the accident or your injuries or post photos on those platforms. Insurance companies – and their lawyers – might monitor these accounts, and any posts or photos may be used against you.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor After Your Georgia Accident

If you receive treatment for accident-related injuries after a crash, your doctor can be a valuable source of clarifying information. Arm yourself with the appropriate questions before seeing the physician, and document your treatment and the doctor's responses. Here are some best practices to follow:

Speak Up

When you see the doctor, tell them that you were injured in a car crash, and describe in vivid, journalistic detail what happened to you, what you did immediately afterward, and what kind of treatment, if any, you have already received. Be clear about your symptoms as well. This process will ensure that you get the medical care you need. It will also encourage your attending physician to document your records, which can be used as evidence down the road when you seek damages.

Ask About Pre-Existing Injuries

Ask your doctor to determine what pain seems directly related to the crash. Avoid exaggerating or downplaying your symptoms; be honest and mindful of your symptoms. (Be advised that you cannot recover damages for a pre-existing injury unless you can show that the accident made the previous injury worse.)

Your Prognosis and Treatment Plan

Find out what your doctor thinks of the long-term prognosis for your injuries and what he or she recommends as a treatment plan. It can take weeks to appreciate the full extent of your injuries, especially if the crash caused a concussion or soft tissue injuries. If your doctor recommends treatment, such as physical therapy, follow the recommendation – even if you do not believe you need it. Insurance companies can use "refusal of treatment" as a basis to deny injury-related claims.

Likewise, find out if and when the doctor expects you to be able to return to work. If you miss work due to your injury, you may be eligible to recover lost wages from the responsible party.

Healthcare professionals are a line of defense against the denial of benefits. Many people wait for a doctor to tell them what is wrong, but in the aftermath of a car accident, be upfront and clear about your suffering.

Gaps In Treatment After Your Georgia Car Accident

I often run across a client who had a motor vehicle accident but waited 2-3 months or worse, up to a year, to get medical treatment for injuries suffered in the accident finally. What usually happens in these scenarios, the injured person decides not to go to the hospital by ambulance because they feel “alright.” Then they decide that maybe it is just muscle pain, and it will go away eventually, right?

But it doesn’t go away, and the pain gets worse and worse and worse, and for whatever reason, whether it is time, money, lack of insurance, or just plain fear, the person never gets checked on until……they can’t take the pain any longer.

What happens next? They contact me.

The biggest problem with these types of cases is what is generally referred to in the insurance industry as a “gap in treatment.”

In many of my consultations, I am asked the question, “How long do I have to file my claim?”

Although this is a great question as it pertains to the law, it is insignificant as it pertains to you doing something about your case. In Georgia, you have 2 years to file a claim for personal injuries.

This two-year time limit to file your claim does not mean you have two years to decide to go to the doctor.

If you want to prove that the accident caused your injuries, you have to show that you received treatment within a relatively short period after the accident. I would suggest no more than 2 weeks. After this, you may still have a claim, but you will be fighting an uphill battle getting your claim paid because of having a “gap in treatment.”

Don’t delay, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Negotiating With An Insurance Adjuster After A Georgia Car Accident

Negotiating an insurance claim after a car accident can be onerous, even if you have energy and a desire for justice. Deploy the following strategies to protect your claim:

Determine a Minimum — But Don't Share It

Work out a minimum acceptable settlement, but do not reveal that figure to your adjuster. This tactic will prevent you from taking an offer you later regret, especially if the adjuster opts for a "take it or leave it" approach.

Ask for Justification

If your insurance adjuster comes back with a lowball offer, demand to understand the reasoning behind the decision. Probe, and get specific. Why did the insurance company reject the evidence of your low back injury? Why wasn't more credence given to a key witness's account? Etc. If you disagree with the offered explanations, draft a letter addressing each of your adjuster's concerns and why you think they don't invalidate your claim.

Maintain a Journalistic, Fact-Based Tone

It's only natural to feel distressed after a car accident but work hard to be concrete when describing the crash. Likewise, be specific when articulating the nature, duration, and intensity of your suffering. Use language like "Bleeding and contusions forced me to spend eight days in the hospital…" instead of language like "the accident knocked me out and made me feel terrible…." Inexact language, however well-intentioned, can be used to diminish your claim.

Carefully Use "Non-Damaging Admissions"

Your insurance adjuster knows that you're not perfect, and he or she may actually be more willing to work with you if you admit as much.

In negotiating parlance, a "non-damaging" admission does not have a substantive bearing on the issue under consideration. For instance, let's say two toddlers are arguing. Who knocked over an ice cream cone? One child admits to shoving the other after the ice cream hits the dirt. Whether or not he shoved doesn't matter to the question of who knocked over the ice cream. But the toddler who admits to the shoving might come across as more honest for admitting to a flawed behavior.

In a similar way, disclosing certain less-than-flattering information about the accident or what you did afterward can demonstrate to the adjuster that you negotiated in good faith.

However, you must take great care when discussing any details about your accident with an insurance company representative, particularly details that imply that you erred or contributed to the crash. Instead, leave this subtle work to a qualified Georgia car accident attorney who has years of experience negotiating successfully with insurers on behalf of victims.

Why Do Some Georgia Car Accident Settlement Negotiations Break Down, And What Do You Do If This Happens?

The settlement negotiation process is notoriously frustrating for car accident victims in Georgia. It's typical for the initial demand to be refused, but ongoing negotiations can often lead to a settlement both parties can agree on. This doesn't always happen, however, due to stubbornness on both sides or a complete lack of communication from the adjuster. Keep reading to learn more about settlement difficulties and how they can be resolved:

Delayed Claims

Car accident victims often find it exceedingly difficult to get a response from insurance adjusters. In some cases, this lack of response is purposeful — the closer to the statute of limitations the case gets, the greater the chance of avoiding a payout.

The Role of Modified Comparative Fault

In Georgia, settlements are made more complicated by modified comparative fault, in which the negligence of both parties is incorporated into the final settlement. For example, if one driver operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and the other was speeding at the time of the accident, the speeding driver's settlement may be reduced. Disagreements over modified comparative fault can quickly cause settlements to break down.

What Happens If Negotiations Break Down?

If negotiations come to an impasse, all hope is not lost. In many cases, mere persistence can spell the difference between coming away with the damages you deserve or nothing at all. Sometimes, the threat of a lawsuit can spur adjusters to act — most are eager to avoid lawsuits at all costs due to both the cost and potential for reputation damage. A different attorney (or, if you've been working alone, an initial attorney) can also make a huge difference.

Car Accident Investigations In Georgia

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. Unfortunately, insurance companies are good at denying legitimate claims. The most common way insurers fight your damage claim after an automobile accident is by arguing over fault. If you file a claim for damages, the burden of proof rests with you, the plaintiff, to show that the other party was at fault. This is why forensic investigations into car accidents can be fundamental to the success of your claim.

  • What Is Involved in a Forensic Investigation? Car accident forensic investigations have several elements. A police officer or an independent investigator generally carries them out. They use different methods and formulas to examine the site of the accident and the damage to property and vehicles. Their job is to determine the cause of the accident. Here are some of the things that the investigator will consider:
    • Vehicle damage. The investigator will likely first look at all of the vehicles involved in the crash and the damage that each sustained. They can match up the locations of bangs and dents on the cars to determine their likely trajectories and points of impact.
    • Accident site. Inspection of the scene of the crash can reveal road and environmental factors – such as road damage, ice, or water – that could have contributed to the accident.
    • Skid marks. When a vehicle skids – for example, when the driver slams the brakes in an accident – the tires leave marks on the road. An investigator will measure them to determine the speeds of the vehicles, how the drivers braked, and other information that can be useful in determining fault.
    • Injuries. Forensic investigators can use any injuries from the accident to help figure out vehicle speeds and trajectories.
    • Wreckage. The location of debris and other wreckage on the road can also help show how the cars were positioned at the time of the accident.
    • Accident reconstruction. Finally, forensic investigators can use all of the data that they compiled from the scene as well as mathematical formulas and physics, to recreate the accident and determine who is at fault. With current technologies at their disposal, forensic investigators generally determine faults with a high level of accuracy. They may even be the first line of defense against manipulative insurance agencies.

What Happens In Georgia If The Driver Who Hit You Had No Insurance?

The Insurance Research Council estimates that up to 11 percent of Georgia drivers lack insurance coverage. These uninsured individuals constantly put others at risk, leaving them on the hook for financial damages when collisions inevitably occur.

If the other person involved in your recent crash failed to maintain a mandated insurance policy, hope is not lost; you may be able to secure compensation for your accident. Additionally, you can take steps to ensure that you are prepared for future incidents with uninsured drivers.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia

Uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) protects motorists involved in accidents with those who drive without proper insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIMC) is similar but designed to accommodate crashes involving drivers who obtain the bare minimum — $25,000 in bodily injury liability for one person involved in a collision, $50,000 for all those in a single accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability, as mandated by Georgia law. The state does not, however, require drivers to purchase UMC or UIMC coverage — these are strictly optional. Insurance companies often hesitate to provide fair compensation for those with UMC or UIMC policies, so be prepared for a fight.

Taking Your Case to Court in Georgia

If the other driver was responsible not only for your financial woes but also for the accident itself, personal injury litigation might be possible. A skilled attorney can help you prove that the responsible party behaved negligently not only by failing to obtain necessary insurance but also by exhibiting other reckless behaviors (such as speeding, running through stoplights, or driving under the influence of alcohol) behind the wheel. Consult with a trusted attorney to determine whether litigation is a potential approach.

Failure To Report An Accident

Several years ago (before I was an attorney), I was driving on I-85, approaching downtown Atlanta when the traffic stopped. I was not speeding and had left plenty of space between myself and the car in front of me. However, another vehicle to my right did not leave enough room and swerved his car right in front of me. I had nowhere to go, and I bumped him from the back. We were traveling at about 5 MPH at the time. His vehicle was acceptable, and my Chrysler Sebring had a damaged grill. We both pulled over, and he admitted it was his fault. I honestly did not want to wait an hour for a cop to show, and since I was willing to live with the minor damage, I just told the guy not to worry about it.

We both got in our cars and left quietly into the traffic.

Little did I know at the time that Georgia law requires that any accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage of more than $500 must be reported to the police as soon as possible after the accident.

Recently I had a desperate client of 68 years old call me and tell me her story. She was involved in an accident and damaged another vehicle at a local gas station. She got out of the car and spoke to the other gentleman. They exchanged contact information and went on their merry way.

Approximately two hours after the accident, she had a police officer knocking on her door. For what, you ask? To charge her with hit and run and for failure to report an accident.

That’s right! The other man in the accident called the cops after she left and alleged that the client failed to stay after the accident even though the man had all her contact information. Nevertheless, she did not report the accident, which was against Georgia Law.

That is a hard lesson to learn. The client was given probation and a steep fine for hit and run and failure to report. If you are involved in an accident, immediately notify the authorities to document what happened.

Car Accident Claims: Summing Up the Big Ideas

Georgia roads grow safer every year, but drivers and passengers do remain exceedingly vulnerable. The Governor's Office of Highway Safety reported 116,458 traffic-related injuries in 2013—down considerably from 128,315 in 2007. These injured parties can face a lengthy negotiation settlement process and, sometimes, litigation.

The following are the most important takeaways to keep in mind as you pursue a car accident settlement:

The Settlement Negotiation Process

Many Georgia car accident victims prefer the apparent guarantee of a settlement to the risk of trial. Nothing is ever certain, however, and the settlement process can be frustratingly complex. Insurance adjusters often delay claims in hopes of avoiding significant payouts. Further complications can be caused by modified comparative fault, which holds drivers at partial fault for accidents liable. Negotiations often break down, but the threat of a lawsuit can sometimes spark action among difficult adjusters.

Uninsured Drivers

Complicated in the best of situations, car accident cases become especially thorny when uninsured or underinsured drivers are involved. Uninsured motorist coverage provides valuable protection. Unfortunately, insurance companies often balk at providing fair coverage for drivers with UMC policies. Lack of insurance may play a role in personal injury lawsuits, especially if accompanied by speeding, running lights, or other reckless behavior.

Researching, Qualifying and Hiring a Georgia Car Accident Attorney: a Roadmap

Hiring an experienced good Georgia car accident attorney makes a lot of sense if you've been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. But how do you go about finding appropriate legal representation? You're in the midst of a difficult situation, and you may be tempted to simply go online and contact the first law firm appearing on the search engines. Resist that temptation – your entire case depends on doing your research and finding a qualified firm that shares your values and has the capacity, knowledge, negotiating chops, and courtroom skills to advocate aggressively on your behalf.

Define Your Purpose and Standards

Before calling up firms to schedule consultations, stop and clarify what you need out of the relationship and what you expect. Fill in this blank: "I need a Georgia car accident attorney because ______." Maybe you just crave fair compensation for your injuries. Maybe you need insight into what to do if the other driver lies and/or takes action against you. Maybe your goal is to get this off your plate ASAP, so you can finish a big work project or finalize a divorce.

Next, spell out your standards. What do you expect from your team? Maybe you need to hire someone within 15 miles of your house. Maybe you want to be sure the firm will treat you as an individual and really spend time with you. Maybe you want to find the most aggressive possible car accident lawyers in Carrollton, GA.

Define your purpose and standards before you start vetting firms.

Questions to Ask When Searching for your Carrollton, Georgia Car Accident Lawyers

Before choosing a firm, interview prospective lawyers in person. Have a list of questions to ask. These might include:

  • Why do you and your team practice personal injury law? What drew you to this field?
  • What are your firm's strengths? What makes your team special?
  • What are your weaknesses? Why wouldn't someone hire you?
  • What sort of experience do you have with cases similar to mine?
  • What charges can I expect? (Many car accident lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, but not all do. Some firms bill for things like photocopying and postage. You may need to pay fees for medical and other experts to review the case. Get clarity.)
  • How often can I expect updates on my case?
  • How long do you guess my case will take? What are potential challenges that could arise?
  • What's your process for handling cases like mine?

Once you have asked these and other relevant questions, spend time deliberating. Pay attention both to the technical information you've obtained as well as to your intuition about the firm. Sometimes, our gut instincts pick up on key factors that our conscious minds neglect.

Distracted Drivers in Georgia

Georgia law prohibits drivers from engaging in any activities — including text messaging — that might impede them from safely operating motorized vehicles. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore this ban. Their unsafe behavior leads to far too many accidents.

Do you suspect that a behind-the-wheel texter caused your car crash? The right evidence can help you hold negligent drivers accountable.

Signs of Texting Behind the Wheel

It's easy to spot drivers who text behind the wheel. They lower their heads, weave, and drive at a snail's pace. At night, their phones emit a distinctive glow. Drivers distracted by other objects or activities may veer over lane lines or fail to stop at signs or lights.

Proving the Role of Texting or Other Distractions

Texters beware: in the event of an accident, it can be surprisingly easy (at least in certain cases) for law enforcement and skilled legal representatives to prove that cell phone activity played a role in your collision. The following sources of evidence are particularly common:

Witness Testimony

Pedestrians, bikers, or other drivers often witness problematic behaviors immediately preceding a crash. These individuals can be called upon to provide detailed feedback regarding the collision's circumstances. Passengers who accompanied the distracted driver at the time of the wreck serve as even better sources of information, although their testimony can sometimes be unreliable.

Cell Phone Records

Cell phones provide irrefutable proof of the other driver's distraction just prior to the accident. Car crash victims should note the exact time of the event; this can later be used to prove that the responsible party sent or received texts shortly before the collision occurred.

Photos of the Vehicle

The position of the mobile device within the vehicle could indicate its placement at the time of the accident. Certain locations are notoriously amenable to texting.

Carrollton Georgia Car Accident Claims: Summing Up the Big Ideas

Georgia roads grow safer every year, but drivers and passengers do remain exceedingly vulnerable. The Governor's Office of Highway Safety reported 116,458 traffic-related injuries in 2013—down considerably from 128,315 in 2007. These injured parties can face a lengthy negotiation settlement process and, sometimes, litigation.

The following are the most important takeaways to keep in mind as you pursue a car accident settlement:

The Settlement Negotiation Process

Many Georgia car accident victims prefer the apparent guarantee of a settlement to the risk of trial. Nothing is ever certain, however, and the settlement process can be frustratingly complex. Insurance adjusters often delay claims in hopes of avoiding significant payouts. Further complications can be caused by modified comparative fault, which holds drivers at partial fault for accidents liable. Negotiations often break down, but the threat of a lawsuit can sometimes spark action among difficult adjusters.

Uninsured Drivers

Complicated in the best of situations, car accident cases become especially thorny when uninsured or underinsured drivers are involved. Uninsured motorist coverage provides valuable protection. Unfortunately, insurance companies often balk at providing fair coverage for drivers with UMC policies. Lack of insurance may play a role in personal injury lawsuits, especially if accompanied by speeding, running lights, or other reckless behavior.

Returning to the Road

You may suffer anxiety when you finally get behind the wheel, or you may feel guilty about your role in the accident, no matter how minor. Commit to driving distraction-free. Follow the rules of the road and pull over if anxiety takes over. Apply the lessons from your accident to your daily drives, and those feelings of guilt and fear will lessen with time.

Contact Smith, Wallis, and Scott, LLP at your earliest convenience to learn more about the settlement process. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve and reclaim peace of mind.

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    - Catrena Lowe
    "Chris Scott and his entire staff was great to work with and I would highly recommend this Law Firm!"
    - Regina Phillips
    "I would recommend this group to anyone seeking an honest and effective law firm."
    - Sherry Barnes
    "They handled my case in a very timely manner and were extremely easy to work with."
    - Caleb Portwood
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SWS Accident and Injury Lawyers in Carrollton GA
Carrollton's Trusted Law Firm Since 1996
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327 Bankhead Hwy, Carrollton, GA 30117
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