At North Metro Litigators, Our Alpharetta Car Accident Attorneys Will Have Your Back
After you’ve suffered an injury in a car accident, many unfamiliar challenges await. Recovery from your injuries can involve lengthy medical treatment and multiple surgeries. You may need extensive rehabilitation to regain the ability to function as you did before your accident. Pain, loss of mobility, and the inability to work for an extended period add further stress to an already difficult time. If another driver’s recklessness or negligence caused your injuries, you might also find yourself dealing with lawyers and lawsuits for the first time. At North Metro Litigators, our Alpharetta car accident lawyers will handle you case with compassion and tenacity.
Steps to Take After Your Auto Accident
When you retain an Alpharetta car accident attorney to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, you expect he or she to take the leading role in the effort. After all, that’s why you hired them. There are, however, some steps you can take to help your case:
You have a lot to deal with in the minutes after a collision: shock and confusion, tending to injuries and getting medical assistance to name a few. But you also want to understand what happened or at least get the information that can help you, the police and your lawyers determine the reason for the accident. While you don’t need to turn the scene into “CSI: Car Accident,” you should try to gather as much information and evidence as you can to preserve important details that can be used in negotiations with the insurance company or presented at trial. Fading memories, deteriorating evidence, or unknown witnesses can be countered with pictures, relevant physical material, and the names and contact information of anyone who saw your accident.
Hire an Alpharetta Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as You Can.
Even if lawyers and lawsuits are the last things on your mind after an accident, you should reach out to an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as you are able. Calling a lawyer doesn’t mean you are going to be filing a lawsuit or mean that you have a claim. Calling a lawyer can help you understand your rights and preserve your options for pursing compensation. If you want to get the help you need to recover from your injuries, pay your bills, and make up for lost earnings, you will want to find and hire a good lawyer. There are strict time limits for when you can file a personal injury claim in Georgia, and if you wait too long, you could lose your right to seek compensation altogether no matter how strong you claim may have been. And remember, the other driver already has a team of lawyers from their insurance company working to avoid paying you. With an Alpharetta car accident attorney on your side, you can balance the playing field and keep the insurer from taking advantage of your situation, because you should…
…Never Negotiate With Insurance Companies On Your Own.
Despite their ads and friendly spokespeople (or spokes-geckos), insurance companies are not your good neighbors and you are definitely not in good hands when trying to negotiate with them. Car insurance companies are in the business of making money, and every dime they have to pay out in claims hurts their bottom line. When they reach out to you, they will try to deny any liability or get you to accept a settlement which is likely far less than you are entitled to. They know you need money to pay your bills and that their lowball offer may be extremely tempting. A good Alpharetta car accident lawyer will not be intimidated or fooled by the insurance company’s tactics, and will be ready to negotiate an appropriate settlement if possible and take your case to trial if necessary. When an insurer knows that they may be in for the long haul and that they have a formidable opponent, their calculus changes in a way favorable to claimants.
Damages Available to Car Accident Victims
In the state of Georgia, if you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts of a third-party, you may be entitled to damages accounting for the various losses that you have suffered. Damages available in Georgia car accident lawsuits operate much the same as in other jurisdictions — plaintiffs may recover compensatory damages and, infrequently, may be awarded punitive damages in cases involving conduct that is particularly egregious. Have you been injured in a car accident due to the fault of another? You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, in accordance with Georgia law. As with other injury claims, there is a statute of limitations that applies to car accident claims — failure to pursue litigation before the deadline will result in forfeiture of your claim, so make sure to consult with an experienced Alpharetta car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Damages are critical to a lawsuit. Even if you succeed in proving that the defendant is liable for their negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing, your case result may not be favorable unless you can recover your asserted damages in full. For example, suppose that you are claiming damages equivalent to $500,000. If you win your case (i.e., prove that the defendant is liable), but the jury finds that your damages are only $100,000 in total, then that is a lost opportunity to obtain full and adequate compensation for your injuries. In the pre-trial litigation phase, evidence of significant damages can help you secure an early and favorable settlement with the defendant. If the defendant believes that your success at trial could lead to significant damages, they may be more willing to avoid the risk of trial litigation and negotiate. Damages are separated into categories based on their function. Let’s take an introductory look at these basic categories: compensatory and punitive.
In personal injury lawsuits (including car accident lawsuits), damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries. In other words, damages are meant to put the plaintiff in a position that closely approximates their position if the accident had never occurred. For example, if the plaintiff loses their job due to serious injuries that render them incapable of working anymore, then the damages must account for this loss somehow (i.e., through past and future wage loss damages that approximate the total lifetime losses attributable to being rendered incapable of working). Fundamentally, compensatory damages must be reasonably related to the actual losses — they are not intended to be substantially lower or higher than the actual losses. Compensatory damages can be broken down further into two subcategories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are linked to monetary losses. Economic damages include:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Property loss
- Past wage loss
- Future wage loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- And more
Non-economic damages are linked to subjective losses that cannot be objectively measured, and as such, estimations of non-economic damages tend to vary substantially. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Deterioration in quality of life
- Mental and emotional distress
- And more
Your Alpharetta Car Accident Lawyer May Be Able to Fight for Punitive Damages
Punitive damages (sometimes referred to as exemplary damages or vindictive damages) are quite different than compensatory damages. Whereas compensatory damages are an attempt to “rebuild” the plaintiff in a manner that closely approximates their life if the accident had not occurred, punitive damages are not focused on the plaintiff (though, ultimately, punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff). Punitive damages are defendant-focused and are awarded as a means of discouraging bad behavior and punishing the defendant. Pursuant to Georgia law, punitive damages will only be awarded when the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, oppression, wantonness, or want of care that demonstrates a conscious indifference to the consequences. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, though when they are, the damage amounts are often so substantial that the cases become the subject of media sensationalizing. In Georgia, there are no limitations on punitive damages in cases where the defendant acted with specific intent to cause harm or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. So, for example, if the court awards punitive damages in a drunk driving accident, the punitive damages will not be limited. For all other car accidents, punitive damage awards will be limited to a maximum of $250,000 (in addition to the compensatory damages).
Don’t Delay. Contact an Alpharetta Car Accident Attorney at Our Firm Today!
We know it can be a scary and difficult time when your world has been turned upside-down because of a serious car accident injury and that things can be even more devastating if you have lost a loved one because of another driver’s negligence or recklessness. If you have questions or concerns about the specifics of your case, and you want to know more about your legal rights and options, contact our office today for assistance.