For most of us, our vehicles are critical to our lives. They get us to work, to the grocery store, get our kids to school and allow us to see family, go on vacation and have fun. Most days you probably don’t even think about your vehicle, but if you’re involved in a vehicle accident, that car-centered life can come to a crashing halt. Alderman & Hutcherson represents those injured in vehicle accidents. We help injured folks by investigating the accident, helping to arrange for medical care, negotiating with the insurance company and, if necessary, filing suit and trying your case if a fair settlement can’t be reached.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you’re in good company. The Georgia Department of Transportation provides the following estimates about Georgia accidents for the period from 2000 to 2006:
- More than six million people were involved in a motor vehicle crash as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, averaging 2,394 people each day.
- Nearly one million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, so on average about 2,500 people were injured each week.
- 11,435 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, or about 31 deaths each week.
Unless the accident victim can show the other driver intentionally caused the crash, motor vehicle accident cases normally focus on the person filing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) proving by a preponderance of the evidence (it’s more likely than not) that the responsible party (the defendant) was negligent. That’s done by proving these elements:
- A duty by the defendant: The party owed you a legal duty of care (to follow the laws, the rules of the road and to keep their vehicle in a safe working condition and under control).
- A breach of that duty: The other party didn’t live up to that duty and breached their duty of care in at least one way; e.g., the driver was speeding, distracted, intoxicated or failed to maintain the vehicle in a safe way.
- Causation: The other party’s breach of duty resulted in or caused your injuries. Perhaps the other driver was distracted because he was texting while driving, didn’t stop the vehicle at the red light and crashed into your vehicle, causing your injuries.
- You suffered damages: Through evidence such as bills, receipts, medical files and expert witness testimony, you can show that you sustained real damages for which you’re seeking compensation. This can be the pain and suffering from broken bones and soft tissue injuries, permanent physical limitations as a result of the injuries, out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, and lost wages due to time missed from work.
Each state has its own set of rules for negligence cases. In Georgia, you may be able to obtain compensation from a party that’s more at fault than you are, but the recovery is reduced by the percentage of your own fault. This is called “modified comparative negligence.”
- If it’s determined your fault was equal to or greater than that of the other party, there will be no recovery.
- If your damages are determined to be $10,000 and you’re judged to be 40% at fault for the accident due to mistakes you made, your recovery would be $6,000.
This affects not only the outcome of a possible court case but the amount an insurance company may offer to settle a case. Assigning how much a party is at fault is rarely clear cut, so that often turns on the results of an investigation into the accident, which can include an accident reconstruction and an interpretation of applicable laws.
There are many types of accidents that can lead to injuries:
- Truck accidents: A commercial vehicle was improperly loaded, negligently maintained and/or the driver was inattentive due to fatigue.
- Intoxicated driver: A driver couldn’t safely operate the vehicle because he or she was under the influence of alcohol, illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
- Pedestrian: A person walking on the side of the road or crossing it was struck by the vehicle.
- Motorcycle and bicycle: The motorcyclist or cyclist either caused the accident due to their negligence or suffered injuries due to the negligence of others.
- Racing: One or more drivers were engaged in illegal racing on a public street or highway and because of that excessive speed couldn’t control the vehicle, which caused the accident.
- Defective product: The vehicle was unsafe for its intended use because it was improperly designed, engineered or manufactured. A vehicle that suddenly accelerates due to a defective design, causing a crash, would be a defective product.
- Distracted driver: The driver was distracted by a smart phone or a conversation or was focused on some aspect of the car, which resulted in being inattentive to what was in front of the car.
Vehicle accidents can cause severe, life-long and sometimes fatal injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in a vehicle accident, contact Alderman & Hutcherson so we can discuss your situation, how the law may apply and your options for obtaining compensation. We defend our clients’ interests and protect their legal rights so they can obtain fair compensation for their injuries, get their lives back together and move on with their lives. From our office in Macon, we help accident victims throughout the state of Georgia. Call (478) 476-9110 to speak with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney when you have been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle crash.