How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Insurance Claim in Atlanta?
There are deadlines to file personal injury claims in Atlanta. The legal term for the time limit is the statute of limitations. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need to take action before the deadline expires or you could lose your rights to compensation.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for claims involving auto accidents, wrongful death, and other personal injuries is two years from the date of the injury or death. There are some exceptions, so it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer for advice in your case.
Georgia Car Accident Laws
Georgia is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. Anyone injured in a car crash must prove another party was at fault before they can obtain compensation. In most cases, victims file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to demand damages.
Insurers typically require injured individuals to report car accidents to them shortly after an accident. Check your specific insurance policy to see how long you have to notify your insurance company of the crash. It’s best to contact an experienced car accident lawyer before speaking with the insurance company to avoid accidentally saying something that could hurt your claim.
Comparative negligence is also an important aspect of Georgia car accident laws. This is the law that the state uses to determine who is liable for a crash. In some cases, more than one party is to blame.
Under comparative negligence, you can still collect compensation in an accident even if you are partly responsible for it. Each party is assigned a percentage of fault based on how much they contributed to the crash. Any compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is one of the key ways to insurance companies try to limit their payouts to accident victims. A strong lawyer can make sure that an unfair amount of fault is pushed onto you.
Car Accident Insurance Claims Process
All Georgia motorists are required to report any accident that results in injury, death, or property damage valued at more than $500. Not only may you face consequences from law enforcement if you fail to report a crash, but your insurance company may also penalize you.
After reporting the crash, you should speak to a car accident lawyer that can help walk you through the car insurance claims process. Drivers in Georgia are required to always carry liability insurance. The minimum limits allowed by law are as follows:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of a person
- $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person
- $25,000 for property damage
Car accidents can often result in catastrophic injuries that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat. When more than one person is injured or killed in a crash, all accident victims must also divide the minimum amount among them, limiting their compensation even more. Most drivers also do not carry more than these minimum amounts in order to keep their payments low.
During the claims process, an attorney will collect the evidence needed to support your case. Using that evidence, they will enter into negotiations with the insurance company in an effort to reach a settlement. If the other side refuses to agree to a fair settlement, you attorney can discuss whether filing a lawsuit is appropriate. However, most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Atlanta
While the statute of limitations for car accidents in Georgia is generally two years, there are exceptions.
For example, the statute of limitations is much shorter when the accident involves a government vehicle. You typically only have six months to start the claims process if your crash involved a city vehicle. If the accident involved a state vehicle, you have one year to file your claim.
In cases where a car accident victim is a minor or someone who was mentally incapacitated, it’s also possible for the statute of limitations to be extended, or tolled, until the person reaches 18 or regains mental capacity. Tolling may also be possible if a medical condition or other issue could not have reasonably been discovered within the two-year statute of limitations.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Atlanta
Protect your car accident claim by taking the following steps:
- Report the crash: Make sure you can obtain a copy of the police report, as it can serve as valuable evidence in your case. Keep in mind that it usually takes three to five days to process a car accident police report. Click HERE for how to get a police report after an accident.
- Gather information: Get the name(s), contact information, and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the crash. Also ask for their driver’s license number(s) and write down their license plate number(s). Provide your information as well.
- Collect evidence: The most important pieces of evidence to collect at the accident scene are photos and witness testimony. Take pictures of the entire accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to any vehicles. It is important to take pictures from many different angles, as they can help show how the accident occurred. If there were witnesses that saw the crash, ask for their names and contact information. One of the first questions we ask when a potential client calls us about a car accident is if they have photos from the scene.
- Seek medical treatment: Your health and safety are the top priorities after any car accident. You must see a doctor even if you are not sure if you were injured. Some injuries, such as concussions, may not show symptoms for several days. Seeking medical treatment will document your injuries and prevent the insurance company from arguing that you were not injured because you did not seek medical help.
- Speak to an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer: You may need to speak to multiple insurance companies about the crash. What you say during these conversations can greatly help or hinder your claim. A lawyer can handle all talks with the insurance company to protect your interests. The Champion Firm has won over $45 million for clients since 2014 and offers a personal approach to personal injury with our client-focused firm and case process. Click HERE for case results.
- Call your insurance company: Even though Georgia is an at-fault state for car accidents, your insurance policy still likely requires you to report all accidents to them. We handle this for all our clients personally.
When to Contact an Atlanta Lawyer After a Car Accident
Not all car accidents will require the help of an attorney. However, there are cases where having an attorney’s help is vital to a successful outcome. These include when:
- Your injuries are severe: If you only sustained minor scrapes and bruises during a car accident, you likely do not need the help of a lawyer. Accidents that result in catastrophic injuries, such as brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, or amputation will require the assistance of an attorney. A lawyer will determine your full medical costs and the value of your other losses so that you are fully and fairly compensated.
- The insurance company has denied your claim: Insurance companies do not want to pay out claims because it takes away from their profits. If your insurance company denies your car accident claim, you should call a lawyer to evaluate your situation.
- The negligent party says you were at fault: The other side will often try to deny liability and push the blame onto you. A lawyer will need to collect the necessary evidence to refute these claims.
- You are uncertain about how to file a claim: We get it. The car accident claims process is complicated. Many people aren’t sure how to navigate it, especially if they have never been in a crash before. A lawyer will have the necessary experience to guide you through it with minimal disruptions to your life. Attorney Darl Champion even wrote a comprehensive ebook called After the Crash that can be downloaded for FREE.
- You received an unfair offer: If you do not believe the settlement offer will fully cover the cost of your injuries and other losses, it is time to speak to a lawyer.
How Can The Champion Firm Help Me?
Most of the time, after a car accident, you need an advocate in your corner willing to fight for you. The Atlanta car accident lawyers at The Champion Firm provide top-quality legal services and fight for the best possible results for accident victims just like you.
You don’t need to take on the insurance companies by yourself. Call or fill out our online form to schedule a free virtual consultation today.