Some people think they should wait to see an auto accident lawyer in Athens until they know for sure that they have a case. The whole reason we offer our clients a free, initial consultation is so that we can review their case and let them know if it has merit. Otherwise, by the time a person realized it was time to hire an attorney, they’d probably miss the statute of limitations period. If you wait too long, you may give other driver time to file their own lawsuit. Rather than have this happen, we always suggest that you at least meet with an injury lawyer in Athens, Georgia within a few days of your accident. If your injuries are too serious to do this, we can always conduct your consultation by phone or even by Skype.
Here, we’ll discuss various factors that impact whether you have a case. It’s important to understand going into this that just because you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, that doesn’t automatically entitle you to damages. The only way you can collect compensation from the other party is if you can prove that they caused the accident. You also need to prove that you suffered some type of damages. There’s no reason to sue somebody if you aren’t hurt. If all you suffered was damage to your vehicle, your insurance will cover that. You’ll just have to pay the deductible which you would have had to pay in either case.
What Happened When You Filed Your Auto Insurance Claim?
When you first meet with your auto accident lawyer in Athens, they’re going to ask you what happened with your insurance claim. If you’re meeting with an attorney within a day or two of your crash, then it would make sense that you hadn’t yet filed your insurance claim. But if it’s been weeks or months since the accident, you should already know whether the insurance carrier is going to pay your claim.
If you claim was paid, you shouldn’t be meeting with an injury lawyer in Athens, Georgia. You should have already received your check and moved on. This means there’s a good chance that your claim was already denied. It’s really important that you provide your attorney with a copy of your letter of denial. This way, they know why your claim was denied and can get in touch with the insurance company to find out if they’re willing to negotiate a settlement.
The First Thing Your Auto Accident Lawyer in Athens Must Do is Prove Fault
In order to prove your case, your auto accident lawyer in Athens is going to have to prove negligence. We’re sure you’ve heard the term negligence used before. You just may have never heard it in as a legal concept. Negligence just means that the other party didn’t behave the way a reasonable person would have given the circumstances.
For example, if the other driver was texting at the time of the accident, then they clearly violated a rule of the road. The law states that you cannot text and drive in Georgia. The same thing is true if the other driver was drinking prior to the accident. If their BAC was over 08, then they were above the legal limit. A reasonable person given the circumstances would not be driving if they had already been drinking.
Your Injury Lawyer Must Also Prove Your Damages
In addition to proving negligence, your attorney is also going to have to prove your damages. As we stated clearly in the introduction, you can’t sue somebody unless you are hurt. Your auto accident lawyer in Athens will have to prove each type of damages you list in your complaint. Some of these may include the following:
- medical bills and future medical bills
- property damage in case your vehicle was damaged or destroyed
- lost wages if you missed more than a couple of weeks from work
- lost future income if you can no longer do the same type of work you did prior to the accident
- pain and suffering to compensate you for any mental or physical anguish caused by the crash
Since you can only be compensated for injuries you’ve actually suffered, it’s important that your auto accident lawyer in Athens be able to prove all the above.
What if the Defendant Argues that You Were at Fault?
It’s never a good thing to have the other driver’s attorney submit evidence that paints you in a bad light. They may have proof that you were partially responsible for the accident. You should never let this freak you out. Very rarely is one driver 100% at fault for any motor vehicle accident. Plus, under Georgia law, you can still collect damages, even if you were partly at fault for the crash.
This is because Georgia follows the contributory negligence rule. This rule dictates that you can still collect damages, even if you’re partially at fault. However, it also states that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Imagine that you sued somebody for $100,000 after they hit you from behind. They submit proof that your brake lights weren’t working at the time of the crash. The judge determines that you were 30% at fault. Your damages will be reduced from $100,000 to $70,000.
In Most Cases, it Makes Sense to Settle
Most people don’t know this, but more than 95% of all car accident cases settle. And most of these cases settle long before trial. There are several reasons for this. First of all, if you settle, you don’t risk losing in court. Just because you think you have a strong case, that doesn’t mean you’ll win. You have no idea how a judge or jury will view your case. They may feel that both drivers were equally responsible. Worse, they may find that you were the primary cause of the crash. The last thing you want to have happen is have the court order you to pay the defendant’s damages.
Of course, the odds of your auto accident lawyer letting things get that far are slim. If they decide that things aren’t looking too good for you, they’ll try to salvage some type of settlement. The problem is that you never know what the other side is going to do. If they start to feel overly confident about their chances, they may want to see how things play out.
Hire an Auto Accident Lawyer in Athens for Your Best Shot at Winning
If you or a loved one have recently been injured in an accident, you should call and speak with an auto accident lawyer in Athens. Having an attorney by your side will increase your chances of winning and receiving their compensation you deserve. Contact our office today so you can schedule your free, initial consultation.