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Being involved in a car crash can certainly be traumatizing. You may find that you are overwhelmed with everything you need to do regarding your case. You likely will have a lot of questions if you find yourself in this difficult situation.
One of the most common questions accident victims have following an incident—whether it’s a relatively straightforward traffic accident or a complicated, multiple-vehicle collision—is, “how much can someone sue for a car accident in Georgia?”
A car accident leads to many expenses. If you didn’t cause the accident, you should not be obligated to pay for these expenses, and it is your legal right to recover financial damages from the at-fault driver (even if it’s via their insurance company).
What Expenses Will Be Considered “Damages” Following an Auto Accident?
Georgia is considered an at-fault state, which means that the driver who was responsible for the collision is responsible for all of the costs of the accident. This includes obvious costs like property damage and medical costs for the injured person, but it can also include indirect costs as well. These expenses are more commonly known as damages.
What expenses fall under this category?
- Vehicle Repair Costs – If your car, truck, or motorcycle was damaged due to the incident, the at-fault party is responsible for all repair costs. This includes complete replacement in the event that the car is totaled.
- Medical Costs – Injuries are expensive. They can lead to years of treatment and recovery. Expenses such as doctor visits, hospital bills, prescription medication costs, examination or surgery fees, and the costs of ongoing treatment such as physical therapy or rehabilitation can all be qualified as damages. This can include not only present medical costs caused by the accident but also future medical costs.
- Loss of Income from Missed Wages – In many cases, you will have to take off work if you have been injured in a car accident, which means you will miss out on income you would have otherwise made.
- Other Damages – It’s easy to see how an accident can lead to physical pain that requires medical attention or vehicle damage that needs to be repaired. However, there are some damages that can be more difficult to calculate like emotional pain, permanent disability, depression or anxiety, a diminished quality of life, or loss of companionship if the accident led to the wrongful death of a loved one, just to name a few.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages only apply in cases where someone has shown willful misconduct, malice, or fraud or someone has willingly put others in danger. These damages are paid by the at-fault driver to the accident victim as a punishment for breaking the law, acting recklessly, or intentionally causing harm. An example of this would be a drunk driving accident.
Read more about what to do after a car accident in Georgia
Do I Have to Sue for Damages?
An insurance provider can handle most accidents in Georgia, and there is no reason to file a lawsuit. However, there are some situations where it is appropriate to sue:
- The at-fault driver doesn’t have sufficient (or any) insurance – In the event that the other driver either doesn’t have insurance at all or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of the damages, a lawsuit may be the only way to recover them.
- A fair settlement could not be reached – In some cases, an insurance company will refuse to pay out the proper amount. If this has happened, a car accident attorney can negotiate for a settlement that is fair. In the event that this is unsuccessful, the case may need to move on to a trial in order to recover damages. An experienced car accident lawyer can discuss this with you if this has happened.
While these are the most common reasons accident victims file a lawsuit, they certainly aren’t the only ones. The best thing to do is to speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss your specific options and your unique circumstances.
How Much Can I Expect to Receive?
The amount you can expect to get from a car accident settlement can vary depending on the level of injury and other factors. These are some of the most common situations.
- Minor injuries – This is generally the case in accidents that cause whiplash. The settlement can typically fall in between $10,000 and $25,000, but for very moderate cases, the minimum amount may be more in the range of $2,500 to $10,000.
- Severe Injuries – With these injuries, cognitive function is impaired and surgery is required. Examples would be severe brain injuries, spinal injuries that cause paralysis, and other injuries that necessitate daily assistance. Compensation in these cases can range from a few hundred thousand to millions.
- Brain Injuries – Brain injuries are unfortunately quite common in severe collisions that lead to head trauma. These cases can range from $100,000 to $250,000.
- Spinal Injuries – If a spinal injury does not result in paralysis, but it does require surgery and/or therapy, it can result in compensation from around $75,000 to $100,000.
These are only ranges and estimates. A discussion with a personal injury attorney will give you more concrete information pertaining to your case.
Read more about 7 delayed car accident symptoms not to ignore
What Can I Do if I am Offered a Low Settlement?
It can be tempting to accept the first settlement offered by the insurance company, especially when you need money immediately following the accident. However, in many cases, it can be a mistake to accept this offer.
Insurance companies are first and foremost a business, and they are much more interested in their profits than in your needs. This is why it is often crucial for you to have an accident lawyer who is on your side.