If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
- Page 1
What Happens If You Crash a Leased Vehicle?
The process of handling things when you crash a leased vehicle a bit different from when you own or finance a car. Typically, you want to take the following three steps when involved in a car accident with a leased vehicle.
- Call your insurance company.
- Notify the dealer or leasing company.
- Document damage and get an estimate on repair costs.
Call Your Insurance Company
Like any other car accident, calling your insurance company is your first step. Report the accident to the insurer, but do not agree to a recorded statement until you speak with S. Burke Law.
The State of Georgia mandates minimum car insurance coverage. However, leasing a car is a bit different than owning one outright. Leasing companies may require you to carry certain types of insurance beyond the minimum to protect their property in the event of an accident. The leasing company may require you carry collision and comprehensive coverage, for example.
Depending on the type of insurance you have, your deductible determines how much you can receive to repair your vehicle. For example, let us say your car sustained $2,000 worth of damage, and your collision coverage deductible is $300. Your car insurance company will pay the remainder of $1,700 to repair the vehicle.
Notify the Dealer or Leasing Company
Though you’re driving the car every day, you are required to notify whoever you lease from because they own the vehicle.
Even if you are financing your car, you would call your insurance company to notify them that you were in an accident. The insurance company would either send over an adjuster, or you would provide them with an estimate from a body shop.
But in leased vehicle accidents, the leasing company may specify certain requirements to fix the vehicle. In some cases, car dealers will require that the repair be made using the manufacturer’s parts, not secondary parts.
Check with the leasing company or car dealer before you make any repairs, as failing to comply with their requirements could leave you on the hook for penalties for violating the terms of the lease.
Document Damage and Obtain an Estimate on Repair Costs
Once you call your insurance and leasing company, you are ready to document the damage and learn how much repairs cost. In most cases, this is a straightforward process similar to when you repair a vehicle you own outright.
The insurer may deal directly with the party performing the repair, such as the car dealer itself, and provide reimbursement for the repairs directly to the repair company.
Gap Insurance When Your Lease is a Total Loss
Insurance companies may consider a vehicle a total loss if the repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the vehicle’s value. You might find yourself in a precarious situation if there is a gap between the value of the totaled vehicle and what you owe on the lease.
Most leasing companies require you to carry gap insurance as part of the terms of the lease. Gap insurance covers the difference between what the insurance company is willing to pay for a totaled vehicle and the remaining balance on the lease.
Call an Atlanta Attorney Today if You Crash a Leased Vehicle
If you or someone you care about was involved in a car accident with a leased vehicle, we encourage you to speak with a personal injury attorney.
Call S. Burke Law today for legal guidance. Our team can walk you through what to expect with a free consultation. Call us at 404-842-7838 today to schedule your free case review.
Police reports document the details relating to an accident to varying degrees.
The information on a police report varies depending on the accident. The information depends on where your accident occurred, who was at fault, and who witnessed your accident. The one constant which holds no matter what is that Georgia motorists must call the police and file a police report after an accident. Failing to report an accident to the police could result in criminal charges filed against you.
Police Reports Can Help Your Personal Injury Case
While the specific details in a police report vary from case to case, there are some basic details which appear on every standard police report. That information often proves to be very helpful if you decide to file a personal injury claim. Police reports help prove that someone violated traffic laws in your accident.
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our compassionate team has spent the last 20 years serving personal injury victims in Atlanta. In many of those cases, the details listed on police reports provided vital information which helped collect a settlement. Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation.
Standard Information Contained in Police Reports
While the specifics of a police report vary, there are a few common things contained within them. If you ever request a copy of a police report, you can expect to find a list of the following items on your police report:
- Drivers and vehicles involved in the accident
- Names of passengers and witnesses
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Accident report
- Statements from witnesses
Drivers and Vehicles Involved in the Accident
The name, address, and driver’s license number of the parties involved in the accident is among the most important bits of information on a police report. The driver’s name and address, as well as date of birth, will be visible on the driver’s license. In addition to their vital information, driver’s licenses commonly contain regarding any physical impairments (vision for example). This could be helpful in a personal injury claim if one of the drivers was not wearing corrective eyewear.
In addition, your police report should list the make, model, and license plate number of both vehicles. Again, this information could prove to be helpful if you file a personal injury claim.
Names of Passengers and Witnesses
A police report should include the names and contact information for passengers and witnesses as well. This is particularly important because passengers and witnesses often provide better accounts of the situation and circumstances of the accidents than the drivers.
Date, Time, and Location of the Accident
Knowing the setting of the accident provides context into some of the circumstances of the accident. For example, did the accident occur late in the evening at a busy intersection? Was it a rainy day at rush hour? All these details may not seem wholly important but can influence the outcome.
Once the police officer has spoken to the drivers involved in an accident, he will gather all the information and write a report. The more detailed the report is, the better. Whether the accident is something as simple as a fender bender or a more severe one, every detail counts.
In some cases, you may have to fill out a testimony. In this case, it is not only important to remember what happened leading up to the accident, but also be able to explain what happened clearly.
Statements From Witnesses
As we mentioned above, testimonies from witnesses and passengers are sometimes more reliable than from the drivers. That makes collecting accurate statements from anyone who was in the car or within eye shot of the accident very important. A witness statement which conflicts with the other driver but lines up with your account is a very powerful testimony and would be very beneficial to a personal injury claim.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Many people do not realize how important police reports are to their personal injury claims. A detailed police report can make collecting damages after an accident relatively easy. But a thin report could make it quite difficult. That makes reviewing police reports very important for Atlanta car accident victims.If you were involved in a car accident recently and would like help looking over your accident report, or anything else, feel free to call S. Burke Law. Our consultations come at no cost, so we encourage you to gather the information you need. And if you do decide to file a personal injury claim, you can rest assured we will do everything within our power to effectively represent you. Call us at 404-842-7838.
Who Is At Fault for an Accident in a Parking Lot?
Like accidents on highways and roads, determining who is at fault for an accident in a parking lot is not always a simple matter. However, in any case, the party or parties that breached their duty of care will be at-fault for a parking lot accident.
Determining Fault and Liability in Atlanta Parking Lot Accidents
Like all personal injury claims, collecting a settlement depends on your ability to prove another party’s fault and liability in your accident. But to determine fault, we must first understand how to prove fault and liability.
Determining fault for an accident in a parking lot requires proving four elements. Those elements are:
· Duty of care
Duty of Care
Every driver has certain responsibilities and expectations when they take the road. The expectation of how another driver or party will act is the duty of care.
Essentially, Georgia defines the duty of care as the expected reasonable actions drivers must take when navigating roads, intersections, and parking lots. The following is among the actions in a parking lot which would constitute reasonable care:
· Drive at a reasonable speed. Many parking lots post speed limits ranging from 10
to 15 miles per hour. However, even if there is not a posted speed limit, you should
not exceed reasonable speeds.
· Do not drive recklessly.
· Do not drive intoxicated or under any influences.
· Follow the parking lot’s posted traffic rules. Many parking lots have one-way streets, stop signs, left or right turn only lanes, and more.
· Watch for any oncoming vehicles as you back out of parking spaces. The driver
pulling out of parking spaces must yield for oncoming vehicles.
Breach of Duty of Care
If the other party failed to fulfill its duties, then you might be able to prove negligence. For example, let us say you were driving in a parking lot with no stop sign in your path. However, a vehicle to your right did have a stop sign but ran it. If you collided with that vehicle, the driver would be at-fault for the collision.
The other driver’s negligent behavior caused the accident and your injuries. Continuing our example from above: the driver ran a stop sign and T-boned your car. The impact caused you to suffer broken ribs.
You must have suffered damages in the accident. If you were involved in a parking lot accident but did not suffer emotional, physical, or financial harm, you do not have a case. Common damages include:
· Medical expenses
· Lost wages
· Pain and suffering
The S. Burke Law team can help you prove negligence as well as establish the damages you suffered.
Instances When Third Parties are At-Fault in Parking Lot Accidents
While this does not happen very often, there are instances when neither party involved is at fault for the accident. This usually happens when there are conditions present at the site of the accident impairing the vision or judgments of the drivers.
For example, if there is excessive debris or damage (e.g., potholes) in a parking lot, this could contribute to your car accident. In this case, the property owner would not be fulfilling their duty of care. They might be negligent if they were aware of the unsafe conditions.
The designer/architect of the parking lot could also be at-fault for a collision if the design contributed to the accident occurring. For example, the designer created an intersection in the parking lot but did not place stop signs at the entrance to the intersection. If the lack of a stop sign is determined to be the cause of the collision, the designer may share fault.
Recovering Compensation If You Contributed to the Accident
Shared fault is common in all types of car accidents. You may still be entitled to compensation, even if you contributed to the collision. However, you must be 49 percent or less for the accident to recover compensation, per Georgia’s comparative negligence law.
Call an Atlanta Parking Accident Attorney
We expect entering and exiting parking lots to be the safest part of our outings. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you or someone you love was involved in a parking lot accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our team has spent the last 20 years serving Atlanta residents such as yourself in personal injury cases. In that time, we have collected millions on behalf of our clients.
If you are curious how S. Burke Law can help you, reach us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation. We will guide you through your options at no cost to you.
Can I Sue if I Was Hit By a Car While Walking in a Parking Lot?
Yes, you can sue if a car hits you while walking in a parking lot, but it depends on how your accident occurred and who is responsible for the accident. Walking in parking lots is something people do nearly every day. You probably do not even think about it when walking to and from your car.
However, parking lot accidents are more common than you likely realize. If you or someone you care about was involved in a pedestrian accident recently, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law for a consultation. Our consultations are always free, so there is no commitment. Call us at 404-842-7838.
Damages Parking Lot Victims Can Collect
Pedestrian accidents in parking lots can result in severe, if not catastrophic injuries. These injuries range from bruises and scrapes to paralysis and even death.
These injuries leave victims wondering how they will make ends meet while they recover. If another party was at-fault for your parking lot collision, you can recover damages from that party. While no two pedestrian parking lot accidents are identical, there are a handful of damages you can expect S. Burke Law to seek on your behalf if we work with you. Recoverable damages include the following:
- Medical expenses: Medical expenses typically represent the largest portion of your claim. Medical expenses encompass everything from ambulance trips, overnight stays at the hospital, medication, therapy sessions, and more. In some cases, medical expenses include long-term medical expenses like in-home care and wheelchairs.
- Lost wages: Lost wages typically represent your largest expense after medical expenses. Pedestrian parking lot injuries often result in serious injuries, and many victims miss a lot of time at work. Lost wages encompass time missed at work for various reasons. Whether your injuries left you unable to work, or you missed time because you had specialist or therapy appointments, S. Burke Law seeks these damages on your behalf.
- Lost earning capacity: In more severe cases, your injuries may require you to stop working or change careers. S. Burke Law seeks lost earning potential damages in those cases as well.
- Pain and suffering: You can also recover compensation for any physical or emotional pain and suffering you endured.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Parking Lot Accidents
Most of us consider parking lots relatively safe places. But the accidents occurring in parking lots can be severe. Pedestrian parking lot accidents occur for a variety of reasons, but often result from one or more negligent actions:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving represents a significant portion of pedestrian parking lot accidents. Drivers often use parking lots as an opportunity to fiddle with the radio, send text messages, take calls, and more.
- Pushing the wrong pedal: Pushing the gas and brake pedals are so intuitive drivers do it without thinking. But, occasionally, drivers hit the gas instead of the brake and cause a serious accident.
- Speeding: Most parking lots do not have posted speed limits. Occasionally, drivers consider this an opportunity to zip around the lot looking for a space.
- Focusing on looking for a parking space: Pedestrian parking lot accidents occur frequently in full or nearly full parking lots. The reason is many drivers often focus more on finding a parking space than their surroundings, which often includes pedestrians.
- Drivers not checking before backing out: Pulling out of spaces frequently causes car accidents. Many drivers do not look closely before pulling out of their spaces.
Recovering Compensation If You Contributed to the Accident
Fault in a pedestrian accident is rarely cut-and-dried. If you contributed to the accident, you may still be eligible to recover compensation. However, it is important to note that you must be less at-fault than the other party, per Georgia’s comparative negligence laws.
For example, say you were walking through a parking lot when a vehicle quickly backed out of a parking space and hit you. An investigation found the driver 75 percent at-fault. You were 25 percent at-fault because you were listening to music with your headphones.
The driver would be responsible for 75 percent of your damages (e.g., if you requested $10,000, he would owe you $7,500).
Call an Atlanta Pedestrian Parking Lot Accident Attorney
Every accident comes with its own set of concerns. Parking lot accidents amplify these concerns. Taking a direct hit from a vehicle while in your own car causes serious enough injuries. Being hit by a car, even at low speeds, while walking is that much more catastrophic and has a potential for even worse injuries.
If injured in an Atlanta pedestrian car accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law. Our team prides itself on representing Atlanta residents. Call us now at 404-842-7838. Our consultations are always free.
What Are The Different Types of Car Insurance?
There are several different types of car insurance, all of which protect drivers in various ways. How they protect you depends on whether they pay for injuries or damage you caused or suffered.
Below, we discuss the different types of car insurance and what they cover.
Like most states, Georgia requires drivers to carry liability insurance. Motorists cannot register their vehicles without it. A liability policy covers any damage you cause in a car accident. There are two types of liability coverage you must carry on your policy to drive your car:
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury liability covers the medical expenses we mentioned earlier. In Georgia, your bodily injury liability coverage must meet these minimums:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability
Property damage liability covers damage to vehicles involved in an accident. The minimum property damage liability Georgia drivers must carry is $25,000 per accident.
Unlike liability coverage, collision coverage protects your vehicle in an accident.
Your collision coverage becomes available to use in the following scenarios:
- If you are involved in a collision with another car;
- If you crash into an object such as a pole;
- If your car flips over.
In cases where your car is totaled, collision coverage pays for the total current value of the car.
To use your collision coverage, you typically must pay a deductible. How much you must pay depends on your policy, but most deductibles are typically between $100 and $2,000.
An optional insurance coverage that falls under the collision coverage window is GAP coverage. This insurance will pay the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe on a loan or lease if the insurer deems it a total loss. For example, say the insurance company determined your vehicle was worth $6,000 but you have $9,000 left on your lease. GAP coverage would pay that $3000 difference.
Comprehensive coverage is another optional policy. It comes in handy when facing an unexpected accident or event. Comprehensive does not cover any damage you suffer from a vehicle accident. Instead it covers the following:
- Vandalism and riots
- Fire and explosions
- Glass and windshield damage (the size of the cracks in your windshield may play a factor in how this is covered)
- Fallen trees, limbs, and other objects
- Natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, hail, floods, and lightning (also known as “acts of God” in many policies)
- Collisions with animals, such as a deer in the road (Allstate notes that comprehensive coverage will not apply if you hit another vehicle or object swerving to avoid an animal. If this is the case, you must use your collision coverage.)
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection
While Georgia requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, this is not always the case. If a driver was uninsured or did not carry enough to cover your injuries, you can use your uninsured or underinsured motorist protection.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection alleviates a lot of the burden involved with these situations. Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection is optional; however, insurance companies must offer it and you must decline it in writing. So, it is possible you have this coverage and do not realize it.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection will also cover you if you were struck by a driver who fled the scene. In some cases, your uninsured motorist protection coverage may pay for injuries you suffered as a pedestrian or cyclist.
Both injury and property damage coverage are available.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, covers your medical expenses after an accident. MedPay covers medical expenses and funeral expenses regardless of fault. In addition, medical payments coverage typically covers the following as well:
- Passenger’s medical expenses in addition to your own
- Insured victims who were struck while cycling or walking
Rental Reimbursement Coverage
After an accident, you might find that you need to rent a car while yours is in the shop or until you buy a new one. Many insurers offer rental car reimbursement coverage. Many policies cover up to $30 a day for 30 days.
What Insurance Applies If Another Driver Was At-Fault for My Accident?
If another party was at-fault for your accident, you would file a claim with that driver’s liability policy. This applies to both injuries and property damage.
If you cannot wait to get your car repaired, you can file with your own collision coverage and request reimbursement from the other driver in your settlement. This also applies if you needed to rent a car after the accident.
Call an Atlanta Accident Attorney
Being knowledgeable about your policy can help you wade through some of the confusion after a crash. Unfortunately, these policies are often difficult for the average person to understand. But not Sheryl Burke. In fact, Sheryl worked at an insurance company before opening her practice. She knows how to decipher the complex language placed in policies and to determine what your policy truly covers.
Once we have determined what your policy covers, we can begin your insurance claim(s). If another party was at-fault, we will file with that driver’s insurance company and recover the compensation you deserve. And because Sheryl worked as an insurance adjuster, she knows the loopholes the insurance company might use to get out of paying you what you deserve. She will not stand for this and will fight for every dollar to which you are entitled.
Call S. Burke Law today to discuss your case with our team for free: 404-842-7838.
How much is my car accident settlement worth?
It is impossible to pinpoint a dollar amount for your car accident settlement without reviewing your case. Several factors will go into determining the value of your car accident settlement.
What Damages Will My Car Accident Settlement Include?
While every car accident settlement is different, most feature a combination of some or all of the following damages:
Current Medical Expenses
Medical costs associated with your car accident might include:
- Hospital stays
- Doctor appointments
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Medical devices
- Disability modifications to your home
We examine your medical bills thoroughly to make sure we recover all costs in the settlement.
Future Medical Expenses
Did you know that after a car accident, the responsible party could be liable not only for your current medical expenses, but also for your future medical costs? This is a good example why it is unwise to take the insurance company's initial settlement offer. Though an initial offer might include all of your current medical bills, it is unlikely to account for any bills you may incur in the future. Our attorneys make sure the settlement covers any foreseeable medical care in the future.
If your recovery requires you to miss work, your settlement can and should include compensation to make up for your lost wages.
Reduced Earning Capacity
Similarly, if your injury decreases your ability to earn a living in the future, you are entitled to the difference between what you are able to earn and what you would have earned had the accident not occurred.
Pain and Suffering
You are entitled to damages for your pain and suffering, which accounts for the physical and emotional turmoil your accident causes. These are noneconomic damages, meaning there is no obvious dollar amount attached to them, so speak with S. Burke Law to review how we might calculate pain and suffering damages for your case.
Does It Affect My Settlement if I Was Partially at Fault?
When it comes to shared fault, Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. You are not eligible to receive compensation if you are 50 percent at fault or more. Further, if the total damages are $10,000, and you were 20 percent at fault, then your damages would be reduced by 20 percent of the total, and you would receive $8,000.
Call 404-842-7838 for a Free Consultation
At S. Burke Law, our clients are like family to us. We fight to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call 404-842-7838 today.
Does Medicare Pay for Injuries From an Auto Accident?
If you are a Medicare recipient, you can use your health benefits to pay for auto accident injuries. But a couple of stipulations apply:
- Medicare is a secondary payer to your auto insurance company. In other words, it will not pay until you have exhausted your coverage through your car insurance.
- If you receive a settlement from the at-fault driver for your injuries, Medicare expects reimbursement for the money it paid out on your behalf.
For these reasons, if you are injured in a car accident and think you will need to use your Medicare benefits to pay for your injuries, we recommend speaking with a lawyer for help filing a car insurance claim.
S. Burke Law fights for the rights of auto accident victims. Before becoming an attorney and opening the firm, Sheryl Burke worked as an insurance adjuster, giving her an inside look at the tactics insurance companies use when dealing with accident victims. When representing clients, she frequently calls on her experience and knowledge to anticipate insurers' efforts to deny claims or pay less than the injured person deserves.
Who pays for my car accident injuries, Medicare or my auto insurance policy?
Depending on the extent of your injuries, it might be only your auto insurance policy that pays, or it could be a combination of your auto insurance policy and Medicare. The one thing that never happens is Medicare paying before your auto insurance policy does. That is because Medicare is a secondary payer; it kicks in only when you cap out other insurance coverage.
Do I have to reimburse Medicare if I receive a settlement for my injuries?
Unfortunately, in most cases Medicare requires that you reimburse them if you later receive a settlement for your auto accident injuries. In fact, they can even place a lien on your settlement.
Exemption for Pain and Suffering Damages
Medicare cannot lay claim to pain and suffering damages allocated within your settlement. However, the court, not your attorney, must specify that the compensation is for pain and suffering.
Let's return to the original example one more time. Suppose the $250,000 settlement you are awarded is not all for medical bills. Instead, $200,000 of it is awarded due to pain and suffering. In this scenario, Medicare would not be able to lay claim to the pain and suffering portion of your settlement and would only be able to place a lien on the remaining $50,000 allocated to medical bills. Thus, you would receive $200,000 of your settlement – equal to the full amount awarded for pain and suffering.
The reimbursement process can be complicated, and disagreements often arise between accident victims and Medicare as to what costs must be repaid. For this reason, it is wise to speak with an attorney from S. Burke Law before agreeing to anything with Medicare. We can take over the negotiation process and potentially win you a bigger portion of your settlement.
Still Have Questions? Call 404-842-7838 to Speak With an Auto Accident Lawyer
If you have further questions about how Medicare pays for your auto accident injuries and what happens afterward, an attorney from S. Burke Law can sit down with you and talk you through what to expect. We can intervene with Medicare on your behalf to potentially reduce the amount of your settlement that has to be reimbursed. Every case is unique. For more information, call our office today and set up a free consultation. We look forward to meeting you. Call 404-842-7838.
Who is at fault in a car accident rear ending?
When it comes to assigning fault for a car accident rear-ending, it seems cut and dried. Perhaps you have heard the oft-repeated mantra that the driver in the back is always at fault. For the most part, this is correct. In a rear-end collision, the following driver will generally receive a citation for a violation, such as following too closely.
But there are exceptions to this rule that can affect your accident claim.
How Do Insurers Assign Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
When a car accident happens in Georgia, several factors determine who receives a percentage of fault. The traffic laws of the state are one such factor; generally, a driver who has violated the law bears liability for the collision. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and strikes another vehicle that has the right of way, the red-light runner is at fault.
In some accidents, people involved assume fault based on the circumstances of the crash. Many rear-end collisions fall under this category. Generally, insurers and police officers assume the driver in back is at fault in a rear-end collision.
That is because the vast majority of rear-end collisions occur for one of two reasons: following too closely or inattention to the road. Either the back driver was unable to stop in time because his following distance was insufficient, or he was not paying close enough attention to the road and failed to notice the vehicle in front of him stopping or slowing down.
Not all rear-end collisions, however, are the fault of the driver in back. The following section describes a few exceptions to the rule.
When Is the Trailing Driver Not at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
There are exceptions to the general rule that the trailing driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision. Here are a few of the most common examples:
The Front Driver Makes an Unsafe Lane Change
Suppose you are driving on the highway. You are traveling the speed limit and staying in your lane. Suddenly, another driver passes you; then, the driver cuts in front of you, leaving inches between your bumper and his, and makes a sudden stop. You slam on your brakes, but the other driver did not leave you nearly enough time to react, and you rear-end him.
Technically, this is a rear-end collision, and you are the driver in back. But in this case, fault belongs to the other driver because he made an unsafe lane change and cut off your vehicle.
The Front Driver Makes an Abrupt and Unnecessary Stop
As the trailing driver, you should leave enough room so that if the driver in front of you stops, regardless of the reason, you have time to stop as well. In rare situations, though, a driver makes a stop so abrupt and sudden that even a safe following distance is not sufficient for the trailing driver to avoid a collision.
This maneuver is sometimes done by the front driver in an effort to “punish” a tailgater (also known as brake-checking). But two wrongs do not make a right, and thus there is a lot of gray area in this situation as to who is at fault. You should speak to an attorney as soon as possible if you were involved in a rear-end collision of this nature.
There is a Chain Reaction Collision
If another driver rear-ends you and the collision propels you into the car in front, the fault does not belong to you but instead to the driver who rear-ended you.
The Other Driver’s Brake Lights are Burnt Out
Sometimes, rear-end collisions occur because the driver in front failed to replace his burnt-out taillights. If you rear-end a driver whose taillights are out, we can argue that you would have stopped had you had some type of warning (e.g., had the driver’s taillights been functioning).
A Mechanical Failure Causes a Rear-End Collision
In the unique situation of a mechanical failure, it is possible that the liability belongs to neither the front nor back driver, but to the manufacturer of the vehicle or vehicle component that caused the collision. A common example is brake failure. If you rear-end another vehicle because of faulty brakes, you might be able to pursue the car manufacturer for damages. We can help with this process.
Can Both Parties Share Fault?
Yes. This is a common occurrence. If you were following too closely, but the driver’s brake lights were out, you might share fault. Per Georgia’s comparative fault rule, while you can recover compensation if you were less than 50 percent at fault for the crash, your fault will decrease your settlement (e.g., if you were 20 percent at fault, you can only recover 80 percent of your settlement award).
Get Help Determining Liability for Your Rear-End Collision. Call S. Burke Law.
After a rear-end collision, whether you were the front or back driver, you need a skilled and compassionate attorney who will fight for your rights. I am that lawyer. I am committed to winning you the max compensation for which you are eligible. And because I worked as an insurance adjuster before I opened my law firm, I am prepared for every tactic the insurance company might use to deny or reduce your award.
Come in for a free consultation to talk with us. We will answer all your questions and give you honest answers on what to expect with your case. Call today for an appointment: 404-842-7838.
What should I do after a car accident that's not my fault?
If you are involved in a car accident that’s not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation, but you must make sure you take four steps before you do so.
What Steps Should I Take After an Accident That Is Not My Fault?
Protect yourself and your right to compensation by taking the following four steps:
1) Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Always seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident. Do this even if you feel fine and do not have a scratch on your body. There are two reasons to get yourself checked out immediately after any collision or accident:
- Even if you feel fine on the outside, you might have damage on the inside that is not visible or apparent. Not all injuries present symptoms right away. You could have internal bleeding, brain hemorrhaging, or a host of other serious (even life-threatening) conditions that do not show any signs until weeks or months down the road. All the while, the injury could be worsening inside you, making it harder to treat when you finally do realize something is wrong.
- There is also a financial reason to seek medical attention right away. When you pursue the responsible party and its insurance company for compensation, one factor that determines your settlement amount is the severity of your injuries. You need a thorough medical exam to provide proof of how badly you are hurt, and the sooner after the crash, the better. By waiting to see a doctor, you give the insurance company the opportunity to cast doubt on whether the accident was the cause of your injuries.
2) Speak to an Attorney
The next step is to speak to a car accident lawyer in Atlanta about your case. A skilled attorney from S. Burke Law can investigate the details of your accident, identify all potentially responsible parties, determine what evidence is necessary to prove the liability of those parties, and set out to gather the evidence we need to build a strong case.
We can also take over all correspondence with the insurance company, coordinate with your treating physician to obtain the medical reports needed to show the severity of your condition, and put together a case for pain and suffering damages. Getting help from an attorney can help ensure you do not leave thousands or even millions of dollars on the table.
3) Keep Up With Your Follow-Up Medical Care
Once you hire us to fight your case, we will handle all the details, big and small, for you. Your main responsibility at this point is to focus on your health and recovery, and this includes making sure you attend all follow-up doctor appointments and continue to receive any medical care you need. This will speed up your recovery and help get your life and your health back on track.
It is also important to your case that you keep up with your medical care. Failure to attend appointments for medical care, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and so on can give the appearance that your injuries are less severe than you and your attorney claim, and the insurance company can use this as evidence against you. The insurance company might even claim that you are falsifying or contributing to your injuries.
4) Turn All Evidence Over to Your Lawyer
If you have any evidence relating to the accident, make sure your attorney gets it. This includes photos taken at the crime scene, pictures of your injuries, statements made by witnesses following the crash, and all receipts for expenses you encounter because of the accident (e.g., rental car, repair bills, medical bills, and so on).
We will gather most of the evidence we need on our own. But the more help you can provide by offering evidence of your own, the better.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After the accident?
If there is one thing you should NOT do following a car accident that is not your fault, it is talking to the insurance company without first speaking with an attorney.
There is a good chance that the insurance company will call you soon after the accident and try to extract a statement. It might entice you by saying it has a settlement offer put together. Do not let an appearance of generosity or a what seems like a willingness to help fool you. The insurance company is NOT on your side, and it does NOT have your best interests in mind.
I know this because I used to work for insurance companies. The less you say to the insurance company after an accident, the better. It can and will use anything you say against you. So, until you have spoken with an attorney, send insurance company calls to voicemail, or if you decide to answer the call, politely decline to comment until you have spoken with your lawyer.
Call S. Burke Law After an Atlanta Car Accident
You need a skilled and compassionate lawyer to fight for your rights after an Atlanta car accident. You need S. Burke Law. Call us today to set up a free consultation to see how we can help you win the maximum compensation: 404-842-7838.
How is fault determined in a car accident?
To determine fault in a car accident, the insurers for both parties investigate the accident. Fault in a Georgia car accident is not always cut and dry. In some cases, one driver is completely at fault; in others, both drivers share fault.
However, you can be sure that both insurers are doing everything they can to place blame on the other side, often resorting to underhanded tactics to trick victims into admitting fault or handling their case alone. This is why you need a skilled lawyer to fight for your rights after a car accident.
Call the team at S. Burke Law before talking to the insurance company or anyone else involved in the crash. We will advise you of your rights and the best way to move forward. Call for a free consultation: 404-842-7838.
What criteria do insurers use to determine fault in a car accident?
Insurers consider several factors when assigning fault in a Georgia car accident:
Like every other state, Georgia has traffic laws that govern what a driver may and may not do on the road. These laws exist to protect the safety of everyone on the road, including motorists, pedestrians, and workers. When drivers apply for a Georgia license, they implicitly agree to uphold a duty of care to others on the road. When a driver violates a Georgia traffic law and causes an accident, they can be liable for any injuries that result.
If a driver in an accident was doing any of the following, an insurer might assign him partial or total fault for the accident:
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Making an improper U-turn
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to yield right of way
- Reckless driving
- Failing to use due care and caution
This is only a partial list, as the number of traffic laws in Georgia is extensive. Just know that if officers find a driver in an accident violated the law, the driver will likely be liable for the collision.
Automatic Assumption of Liability
In some cases, the specific circumstances of a car accident result in one driver's assumed liability. The classic example is that of the rear-end collision. When an accident occurs because one driver strikes the back of another vehicle, people will almost always assume the driver in back is at fault.
But even this rule has exceptions. These include the driver in front:
- Backing up without warning.
- Neglecting to replace broken or burnt out brake lights.
- Cutting off the rear driver.
A skilled attorney at S. Burke Law can look at the circumstances of your car accident and determine if the insurer may have improperly assigned fault to you.
How do I prove that another driver was at fault in my car accident?
To receive compensation from another driver or their insurance company, you need evidence of liability. We can gather evidence on your behalf and build a strong case against the responsible party. Ultimately, the evidence needs to prove three things:
- The other driver violated a Georgia traffic law or was negligent in some way.
- The driver's negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
- The accident resulted in injury, property damage, or both.
The team at S. Burke Law seeks out extensive evidence to show liability. This evidence might include:
- Police reports
- Video surveillance
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert witness testimony
- Accident reconstruction
- Medical documentation
Without sufficient evidence, it is too easy for the insurance company to cast doubt on who was at fault in the crash or on the severity of your injuries.
How do I deal with the insurance company following a car accident?
The short answer is, you never want to speak to an insurance company after a car accident without speaking to an attorney first. You will probably start receiving calls from the insurance company within a day or two of the accident, and they might even entice you by offering a settlement right off the bat.
Remember, however, that the insurance company is not actually looking to help you, nor does it have your best interests at heart. I know this from experience. Before opening my law practice in Atlanta, I worked as an insurance adjuster and I know how insurers deal with accident victims. Ultimately, they have one goal — to pay as little as possible or, if they can get away with it, to not pay at all.
By speaking to the insurance company, you are giving it the opportunity to take your words and twist them to fit the narrative it created. Instead of taking the insurance company’s calls, send them to voicemail and call S. Burke Law. We will take over all correspondence on your behalf and make sure your settlement includes all the compensation you deserve.
Call S. Burke Law for Help After a Car Accident
A car accident is stressful enough. Do not make a bad situation worse by allowing the insurance company to push you around and dictate how much compensation you receive. The team at S. Burke Law fights for your rights with compassion and conviction. We know from experience how insurance companies take advantage of accident victims, and we will not let them hurt you. Call us for a free consultation: 404-842-7838.