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!
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Are Car Accident Cases Hard to Win?
To win a car accident injury case, you have to identify the party whose carelessness caused the wreck and then collect the evidence to prove your allegations of fault and damages.
How to Determine Who Was at Fault
Before we can hold someone accountable for your losses, we have to show that he was at fault in causing the accident and your injuries. Depending on the facts of the case, we can use evidence like these items to show what caused the crash:
- Police report
- Security camera footage
- Accident reconstruction experts
What Happens if More Than One Person Caused the Crash
In many situations, two or more people made mistakes and their actions combined to cause the accident. In these cases, you might be able to sue both negligent parties.
For example, one driver could not stop in time at a red light at an intersection because she was speeding. She hit a car that was traveling through the intersection on a green light, but that driver was not keeping a careful lookout because he was looking at the dashboard while changing the radio station. He could have avoided the wreck if he had been giving his full attention to the road.
Let’s say that you were riding your bicycle in the bike lane at the time of the collision. The impact of the cars sent one of them careening into you, causing you to sustain significant injuries. You can sue both drivers for your losses.
What We Have to Prove to Hold Someone Liable for Your Damages
Although the facts in each case are unique, we have to prove the same elements in every car accident negligence case. We must show all of these factors to hold a person responsible for your losses:
- Duty of care. We have to establish that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care under the law. It is a simple matter to do this in a car accident case, because everyone who operates a motor vehicle on the roads must do so carefully and obey the law.
- Breach of the duty of care. It is negligence when someone fails to live up to the requirements of a legal duty of care. Let's say that a driver was arguing with someone in the back seat of his vehicle. When he turned his head to look at the person with whom he was talking, he did not notice that the traffic signal had become red. Failure to keep a careful lookout and pay attention to the road is negligence.
- Causation. The negligent act must be the thing that caused the accident and injuries. Because the at-fault driver was not looking where he was driving, he ran the red light and crashed into the cross traffic. The careless driver will be liable for the damages he caused by his negligence.
Damages in Car Accident Cases
The damages you can collect for getting hurt in a car accident will depend on the unique facts of your case. Your losses might be different from someone sitting next to you in the same car. Here are some examples of the damages people can recover for a successful car accident injury claim:
- Medical expenses. Georgia law allows you to seek compensation for the reasonable cost of medical care you needed because of your injuries. This category can include such things as the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, x-rays and other imaging services, prescription drugs, physical therapy, diagnostic procedures, and doctors.
- Rehabilitation center, if you suffered a devastating trauma that caused you to need intensive treatment at a specialized facility.
- Long-term care, if you need daily assistance with medical treatments and personal care because of your injuries.
- Lost wages, if you missed out on income like wages, salary, self-employment, or other income because of the crash and your recuperation time.
- Decreased earning capacity, if you cannot make as much money as before the wreck, because of your injuries.
- Disability, if you are unable to support yourself through gainful employment because of the trauma you suffered.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical discomfort and psychological distress you endured.
- Other intangible losses, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, depression or anxiety, and a spousal claim of loss of consortium.
Getting Legal Help for Your Car Accident Case
The car accident team at S. Burke Law can help if someone else's negligence caused you to get hurt in a car accident. We can investigate the crash, gather the evidence, and deal with the insurance company or file a lawsuit.
Call us today at 404-842-7838 to get a free consultation. There is no obligation. We can provide free consultations because we handle car accident cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that our legal fees come out of the settlement or verdict. You do not have to pay upfront legal fees.
How Does MedPay Work in Georgia?
Medical payments coverage, also called MedPay, is a type of motor vehicle insurance available in Georgia. MedPay works similarly to health insurance but only applies after a car accident.
Georgia law does not require you to purchase this optional coverage as part of your automobile insurance policy. If you get hurt in a car accident, however, you could find this coverage to be immensely valuable.
MedPay coverage can be useful in situations like these:
- The person who caused the crash was uninsured (in other words, did not carry valid or current automobile liability insurance that would have paid for your medical expenses).
- The insurance company of the at-fault driver is disputing the driver’s liability or for some other reason is not paying your medical expenses promptly.
- Your health insurance agrees to pay some of your medical expenses from the wreck, and the MedPay coverage can help with the co-pays, coinsurance, and deductible.
If you were at fault in the accident, MedPay coverage can help to pay your medical bills, since MedPay usually provides coverage regardless of fault.
Your MedPay Benefits Can Vary
An insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. In general, the insurer only has to provide the benefits stated in the policy. We will have to review your automobile insurance policy before we can say definitively how your MedPay coverage will work.
Your insurance company can deny coverage under MedPay if it deems that your medical treatments were unreasonable or unnecessary. Georgia law requires that the insurance company reimburse you for reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses caused by a motor vehicle accident.
Who MedPay Covers
A MedPay policy does not provide any benefits to people in other vehicles. MedPay coverage generally provides help with the medical bills of the policyholder, passengers in the covered car, and someone who drives the vehicle with the permission of the owner.
By way of example, you carry MedPay coverage on your automobile policy. You are driving to work, carpooling with two coworkers. The driver of another vehicle runs a red light and T-bones your car, injuring you and your passengers. Your MedPay coverage can help pay the medical bills for you and your passengers, but it will not cover the driver of the other vehicle.
MedPay Coverage Outside of a Vehicle
An interesting aspect of the coverage your MedPay policy can provide is that you do not necessarily have to be in a vehicle to receive MedPay benefits. Let's say that you carry MedPay coverage on your car. If a car, truck, or another motor vehicle hit you while you were walking or riding a bike, the MedPay coverage of your automobile insurance policy can kick in and cover some of your medical bills, up to the limits of your policy's coverage.
MedPay Only Reimburses Expenses
MedPay coverage is usually reimbursement only. This means that if you have $5,000 MedPay coverage on your automobile insurance policy, and your out-of-pocket medical expenses were only $3,500, your MedPay will reimburse you for the $3,500 that you paid, and not the full $5,000 of the policy limits.
If some other source of insurance or funding paid your medical bills, your MedPay coverage will not pay you benefits. Also, if you have unpaid medical bills, your MedPay insurer is likely to send a check directly to the healthcare provider instead of to you.
MedPay Benefits in the Event of a Fatal Accident
If a person who is eligible for MedPay benefits under your auto insurance policy dies from the injuries sustained in the car accident, your MedPay coverage can cover some of the funeral expenses for that person, up to the limits of the MedPay coverage. Depending on the specific terms of your policy, however, the policy limits, might not be sufficient to pay all of the medical bills and funeral expenses of the people your policy covers.
Time Limit for Medical Bills and Funeral Expenses
The Georgia statute that defines medical payments coverage states that the expenses must be for services received within three years of the wreck. The statute does, however, allow an insurance company to specify a longer time period.
We understand how confusing insurance and coverage issues can be. Also, since insurance coverage is a contract, the terms of your policy might be different than the general coverage discussed in this article.
Call S. Burke Law Today for Help
You do not have to become an expert on insurance or accident law to navigate through MedPay coverage for your car accident. We will be happy to review your automobile insurance policy with you and explain your legal rights. Our car accident lawyer can also help you file a claim against the other driver if they contributed to your accident. Just remember there is a time limit to file a lawsuit.
Give us a call at 404-842-7838 today, and we will set up your free consultation at S. Burke Law. There is no obligation.
What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident?
There are a few things to do if you witness a car accident in Georgia. While the law does not require you to take any immediate action, it can help save a life or protect an accident claim. If you feel compelled to help, it is important to do it in a way that protects both your own safety and the safety of those involved in the crash.
Below is a list of guidelines for what to do after witnessing a motor vehicle crash. If you feel the need to speak with a car accident attorney, Sheryl Burke and the S. Burke Law team are happy to help. We offer a free consultation. Call us today at 404-842-7838.
Note: If You Decide to Assist the Accident Victims, Georgia’s Good Samaritan Law Protects You from Liability
Some people hesitate to lend a hand because they worry about liability. We have all heard horror stories about people who saved someone’s life by performing CPR, only to turn around and face legal action for breaking a rib.
In Georgia, the Good Samaritan Law protects you from such a nightmare scenario. It states that any citizen who, in good faith, intervenes in an emergency situation is protected from liability for any injuries that occur.
Do Not Put Yourself in Danger
If you stop to help, do not make a bad situation worse by putting yourself in danger. It is natural when adrenaline gets flowing to go full steam ahead and try to save the day. But keep a cool head about you and avoid taking any action that could put you in harm's way. If the situation is dangerous, do not attempt to intervene.
Pull Over and Park Your Car Out of the Way
If the crash is severe, you can expect emergency vehicles to materialize on the scene in short order. Make sure you are not impeding their ability to get to the crash and its victims. Pull your vehicle to a safe location and activate your hazard lights.
If you cannot safely pull over to help, consider calling 911 when you are able to pull over or have a passenger call.
As soon as you can do so safely, pull out your phone and call 911. If you are in heavy traffic, or if cars are swerving every which way to avoid the accident scene, keep your eyes on the road and avoid reaching for your phone until you can pull over to a safe location. When you get a dispatcher on the line, calmly explain your location and describe the accident as best you can.
Take as Many Photos and Videos as You Can
Once you have stopped your vehicle in a safe location, try to take photos and videos of the accident scene — but only if it is safe to do so. These can help the police piece together what happened, which makes it easier for them to hold the responsible party accountable.
If You Can Do It Safely, Help Those Involved
The driver and passengers involved in the accident may need help getting out of the car. If you can do it safely, try to assist in extracting them. Deployed airbags can make this task difficult, and if the car is a hybrid or electric vehicle, there is an added danger of fire or shock that you should consider. If you have any doubt about the safety of approaching the vehicle, wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
If someone appears injured, DO NOT move them. You could worsen their injuries. The only time you should move an injured person is if they are in immediate danger (e.g., you smell gas, the vehicle is smoking, etc.)
When the Police Arrive, Give Them a Report
If you witnessed the accident happen, the police will probably want to talk to you and take a statement about what you saw. Even if you came upon the scene shortly after the crash, the police may still have questions. The information you give them offers a lot of value as they write up their report and deal with the aftermath of the crash. Eyewitness testimony can also be very important to an accident case.
Have Questions About a Car Accident in Georgia? S. Burke Law Can Help. Call 404-842-7838 for a Free Case Evaluation.
The S. Burke Law team can help if you were involved in a car accident in Georgia. Our team fights to help accident victims recover the damages they deserve. For a free case evaluation, call our office at 404-842-7838.
Do I Have a Case if There Was No Damage in a Car Accident?
You may have a case even if there was no damage in a car accident. There could be damage under the hood, especially if your car starts making noises. It is important to take your vehicle to a mechanic to get it checked out right away. This will help you establish any potential damage.
You may also develop physical injuries days or weeks after the seemingly “no-damage” car crash. However, you may have difficulty proving your case if there was no visible damage to your car. Should this happen, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer.
At S. Burke Law, we can investigate your car accident and help you build a claim to pursue compensation for your injuries or damages, regardless of the damage to your vehicle. Call us at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation with a member of our team.
Types of Hidden Damage Your Vehicle Might Have After a Crash
Not all vehicle damages are visible right away. Your vehicle may have damage to its frame, or your battery may fail because of the impact of the crash.
Your car’s mechanical components may have been damaged or you may have an oil or another type of fluid leak.
You Still Want to Report an Accident Even If There Was No Damage
Be sure to call the police to report the crash to get an official record of the accident, even if you do not believe there is damage to your vehicle. An officer may not respond to a non-injury car accident, so you may have to go to the police station to report the accident.
You should also exchange personal and auto insurance information with the other driver in case you need to file an injury claim in the future.
Report the Accident Even If the Other Driver Asked You Not To
If you do not report the crash, you may leave yourself unprotected if the other driver files a claim against you or your insurance company. For instance, what if the other driver claims they suffered injuries from the crash? The driver may even blame you for causing the accident and demand that you pay all the damages.
On the other hand, what if the other driver caused the crash and you later develop physical injuries? By failing to report the crash, you may be unable to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
What to Do if The Other Driver’s Insurer Claims You Did Not Sustain Injuries in the Crash
It is not uncommon for an auto insurance company to question whether you can sustain injuries from a crash with no visible vehicle damage. In other cases, they may claim you sustained no injuries. Insurers use a variety of strategies to save money and one strategy is to minimize claims.
To prove your claim, you could provide your medical records to prove your injuries. Even in a crash with minor damage, you could suffer a:
- Back injury
- Neck injury
- Brain injury
- Head trauma
- Internal injury
We can help you collect evidence to prove that your injuries were a result of your car accident.
Types of Evidence You Should Collect for a Car Accident with No Visible Damage
Evidence that supports a claim for injuries and damages may include:
- Your medical records
- A police report of the accident
- Eyewitness statements
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Your lost wages
- Video footage of the accident
If you were in a vehicle accident, we can help you recover damages. Call a car accident attorney at 404-842-7838 for a free evaluation of your case.
Recoverable Damages in a Car Accident Case
The damages you can recover primarily depend on the severity of your physical injuries and financial losses. The most common damages accident victims sustain include:
Medical expenses include costs for your visits to your doctor and medical specialists, surgeries, prescription medications, and more.
Lost wages include the amount of income you lost because you could not work after the accident.
This includes the damage to your car, laptop computer, camera, smartphone, and other personal property you lost in the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering involves the physical, mental, and emotional damages resulting from an accident.
Let Us Help You with Your Car Accident Case
You may still have a case if there was no damage in a car accident, as long as the other driver’s negligence contributed to the crash. S. Burke Law can help you pursue the compensation you deserve from an accident.
Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free case evaluation.
Can I Sue for Child Care Costs After a Car Accident?
You can usually sue the person who caused your injuries in a car accident for the reasonable and necessary expenses you incurred because of the wreck. If you incur extra child care costs as a result of your injuries, you might be able to collect that expense, but you need to be aware that child care costs are not standard damages after a car accident.
Your situation must be out of the ordinary for you to recover child care costs. If you already pay for child care, you will not be able to recover those expenses after a car accident.
Here are some situations in which you might be able to get compensation for child care costs after a wreck. Each scenario assumes that you have very young children, no spouse or significant other whose work schedule allows him or her to take care of the children, and no nearby family members or friends who could take care of your children for you.
- You already pay for part-time child care, but you had to pay for full-time child care after the crash because your injuries made you unable to take care of your children.
- You had to pay for round-the-clock child care because you had to stay in the hospital after the wreck.
- You are a stay-at-home parent who provided all the child care for your children before the collision, and you had to pay for child care while you recuperated from your injuries and medical procedures.
What We Have to Prove to Make Someone Pay Your Damages
Georgia law requires that we establish four factors before we can hold someone responsible for your losses from a car accident. These elements are:
Duty of care. All drivers must operate their vehicles with caution, keep a proper lookout, and obey the rules of the road.
Breach of the duty of care. If another driver failed to meet the standard of the duty of care, he is negligent. Let’s say that the other driver ran a red light because he was texting while driving. Both acts, texting while at the wheel and running a red light, are negligence.
Causation. The other driver’s negligence must be the thing that caused the wreck. If the driver t-boned your car because of his negligence, the facts satisfy the requirement of causation.
Damages. The negligence must cause both the wreck and your injuries. If you got physically hurt when the inattentive driver crashed into your car, you have damages, and he will have to pay for them.
In this example, the negligent driver might have to pay for your child care costs if:
- His carelessness caused the wreck, and
- His negligence caused your physical injuries, and
- Your physical injuries render you unable to take care of your young children, and
- You do not have an appropriate adult nearby who could help with the children, and
- Your resulting child care costs are reasonable and necessary.
Typical Damages from a Car Accident
Regardless of whether you can recover child care costs, once you establish liability, depending on the facts of your case, you can seek compensation for these more common damages after a car accident:
Medical expenses. Any reasonable bills you have for the treatment you needed because of the wreck can be compensable. Some examples are the ambulance, emergency room, hospitalization, diagnostic laboratory work and imaging (like x-rays and CAT scans), prescription drugs, surgery, physical therapy, and equipment like crutches or a wheelchair.
Lost wages. This category includes income you missed out on because of the collision, including wages, salary, and self-employment.
Diminished earning capacity. These damages address the situation in which you cannot earn as much money after the accident as you did before. If you have permanent impairment from the wreck that causes you to work fewer hours or take a lower-paying job, the at-fault driver can be liable for your loss. For example, if you worked a high-paying skilled construction worker job but you can no longer lift heavy objects, you might have to work a job that pays less.
Long-term care. In the case of catastrophic injuries, a person might need daily medical and personal care assistance. This expense is compensable.
Pain and suffering. Merely paying your medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses from the accident does not honor the physical pain you suffered, your inconvenience, and your emotional distress. Pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for these intangible losses.
Loss of enjoyment of life. For some people, depending on their injuries and recuperation, life after a wreck is never the same again. If you have a residual impairment that robs you of abilities that you used to have, like walking or being independent, you might not enjoy life as much as before.
Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, to set up your free consultation. We will not charge legal fees until you win.
Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?
You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident if you experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. Motor vehicle crashes are a common cause of PTSD, particularly if there were gruesome injuries or fatalities.
An Overview of PTSD
According to the Mayo Clinic, a terrifying event can trigger a mental health condition called PTSD. Sometimes the injured person gets the disorder, but other drivers, passengers, or even bystanders can end up with PTSD after a crash, as well.
It is common to experience stress from a car accident, and there is a difference between trauma and PTSD. Your stress may rise to the level of PTSD if your symptoms:
- Interfere with his ability to cope and function in everyday activities
- Get worse, not better
- Continue for months or years
Remember, you do not have to be directly involved in an accident to suffer from PTSD.
Top Causes of PTSD
These are some of the most common traumatic situations that can cause a person to develop PTSD:
- Child abuse
- Sexual assault
- Military action and/or combat
- Assault or threat with a deadly weapon
Although many different people might see or experience the same traumatic event, they usually do not all develop PTSD. Medical experts do not know why some people develop the disorder and others do not, but people with previous traumatic experiences are more likely to get PTSD than others.
How PTSD Can Impact Your Life
PTSD can put a person at high risk of other mental health issues, including:
- Misuse of alcohol and other drugs
- Suicidal ideation and attempts
- Eating disorders
It is important to seek treatment for PTSD as soon as possible to help avoid these and other complications.
PTSD can make it hard to hold a job. If you struggle to function in everyday situations, it can be challenging to show up day after day and maintain your focus. Since PTSD often causes sleep disturbances, an employee might also experience ongoing sleep deprivation, which can interfere with cognitive ability and concentration.
PTSD can lead to divorce or break-ups of other personal relationships. It can be difficult for a significant other to understand what you are going through and to realize that your anger and other behavior is not directed at them, even when it might seem to be.
Without stable employment, a person with PTSD can experience two-fold financial harm: in the short-term, they cannot pay their bills and might lose their home or vehicle. The long-term result of being unemployed is that the person does not contribute to Social Security. They might face dire poverty in their old age if they are not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits or Medicare health insurance.
Compensation for PTSD from a Car Accident
Our courts recognize that PTSD is a legitimate condition. We can include a claim for compensation for PTSD in an injury case when there is supporting medical evidence.
How to Prove a PTSD Claim
At S. Burke Law, we file legitimate claims for PTSD. We can build your case by using:
- Medical records. Your doctor’s notes will show when you have talked with your doctor about the symptoms you experienced. They will also include information about prescriptions, referrals, or other measures the doctor took to treat your condition.
- Expert witnesses. We can use expert witnesses to explain to the judge and jury that you developed the PTSD from the car accident and demonstrate how PTSD affects your life.
Let the team at S. Burke Law answer your questions about PTSD and car accidents. We investigate our clients’ accidents and gather the evidence to prove their personal injury cases. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to schedule your free consultation.
What Happens If I Was in a Car Accident While on the Job Clock?
If you were in a car accident while on the clock, you probably have questions about who will pay your losses if you sustained injuries. You might think that your boss is automatically responsible for all your damages, but in some situations, both your employer and third parties share the liability. In other situations, third parties alone must compensate you.
When an Employer Is Liable for Car Accidents of Employees
Your employer’s liability will depend on the facts of your individual case, but companies are often liable for the losses of employees when they get into collisions during a work shift. Here are some examples of when your employer will be liable:
- Your job is to drive a delivery truck, and you get into a wreck while making deliveries for your company.
- You are installing appliances at houses throughout the day, and your wreck happens when you are driving from one installation location to the next.
- You are on a business trip attending a convention in another city. You get into a car accident while on this business travel.
- You are driving the company car when you collide with another vehicle.
When an Employer Might Not Be Liable for Car Accidents of Employees
There are some situations in which your boss might not have to pay for your car accident damages even if the accident happened during your ordinary work hours. Here are a few:
- An employee is supposed to be at work, but she leaves the job site without permission, goes to a bar, drinks alcoholic beverages while there, and then gets into a wreck.
- An employee is delivering a package for the boss, but on the way, leaves the intended route to go to the casino and has a crash while driving to the casino.
- An employee intentionally crashes a vehicle.
A car accident lawyer can determine fault and help you recover damages caused by your accident.
Other Parties Who Can Be Liable
Whether your boss is responsible for your injuries or not, sometimes, depending on the facts of the situation, other people can have to pay compensation for your damages. Here are some examples:
- You were riding the company shuttle from the parking lot to the hospital where you work. On the way, the shuttle driver, who was intoxicated, crashed into a tree. In addition to seeking damages from your employer, you can also pursue compensation from the shuttle driver for his negligence in driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- You drive a delivery truck. While making your usual rounds, another driver ran a red light and t-boned your delivery truck. Both your employer and the negligent driver can be liable for your damages.
- You are driving a company car. The brakes failed, causing you to plow into a building. The party whose negligence is to blame for the faulty brakes can be liable for your damages. The third party could be the company mechanic who maintained the company fleet, the installer of the brakes, or the brake manufacturer.
Elements of Negligence
If we are to seek compensation from someone other than your employer, we must demonstrate that their negligence led to your injuries. Negligence has four elements, all of which we must prove to hold someone liable:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have had a duty of care toward you. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles cautiously. In the example of the shuttle bus crash, the driver had a duty to be sober when at the wheel.
- Breach of the duty of care. Negligence is when a person violates a duty of care toward you. When the driver drove while drunk, he violated his duty of care.
- Causation. The negligence must be a cause of your injuries. Since the driver’s intoxicated state caused the smash-up in which you got hurt, the facts satisfy the causation element.
- Measurable damages. If you suffered physical injuries in the wreck, you satisfy this final element of damages. In addition, having physical damages opens the opportunity to claim non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
What Happens if You Were Also Negligent?
In many crashes, more than one person made a mistake that led up to the wreck. If you were partly to blame for the car accident, you can still recover some of your damages. Georgia follows the law of comparative negligence, which allows you to collect compensation, but reduces it to account for the percentage of your fault.
Let’s say that your damages were $100,000 from an accident. If the judge found you to be 10 percent at fault, you could still get $90,000 for your losses, after the law deducts your proportion of the total negligence.
How to Get Help for a Car Accident That Happened During Work Hours
You might have questions about who is responsible for your injuries if you got hurt in a car accident during your workday. The team at S. Burke Law will be happy to answer your questions and explain your right to compensation. Just call us at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you win.
Is Eyewitness Testimony Important for a Car Accident Case? | S. Burke Law
Sometimes eyewitness testimony can be valuable after a car accident, but only if the witness’s account is accurate. A factually incorrect eyewitness can do more harm than good in a lawsuit. Contact our firm at 404-842-7838 to learn more about eyewitness testimony and how it is typically important for car accident cases. You can also find out additional information such as how fault is determined in a car accident and what’s considered negligence in a Georgia car accident.
When Accurate Eyewitness Testimony Can Be Vital
An eyewitness can help to prove your case when there is contradictory evidence. For example:
- The police report gets the facts wrong. Let’s say that you were driving west in the late afternoon and the sun was in your eyes. Someone ran between two parked cars on the side of the road into your path. Because the sun impaired your vision, you did not see the person in time to stop. The police report incorrectly says that you were driving east. If an unbiased third party, such as a person on the sidewalk, testifies that he saw you driving west, what he says can bolster your argument. Find out if you’re required to call the police if you’re involved in a Georgia car accident.
- Settling a “he said, she said” situation. Some people try to lie their way out of situations to avoid having to pay for the harm they cause. If you were in a wreck and the person who ran the red light tells the officer that you caused the accident, the testimony of an eyewitness who saw the driver crash into you can be valuable. Judges hear so many people lie that they almost expect people to fabricate stories if doing so helps their cause.
Reasons That Eyewitness Testimony Can Be Flawed
Eyewitness testimony is often important for car accident cases, but some inaccurate testimony of eyewitnesses is intentional. But other times a witness can sincerely believe that he is describing what happened, even if he is mistaken.
Intentionally false testimony because of a bias. When a witness deliberately says something that is not true, he usually has one of these motives:
- He wants to help someone else involved in the accident. If, for example, the eyewitness was the spouse of the other driver, riding in the same car, she will have a motive to relate the story in a way that is favorable to her spouse.
- He wants to harm your case. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. Let’s say that you happen to have a crash at the moment your former spouse is walking along the sidewalk. If the divorce was less than amicable, he might take pleasure in painting you in a negative light.
The eyewitness did not see the entire event. Either the person did not observe what happened from start to finish, or her angle on the scene was incomplete. If the witness turned to look because she heard the crash, she did not see what led up to the accident. Anyone who watches instant replay in football games knows how much the angle from which you see something can affect the accuracy of the information.
Imperfect memory or understanding. The brain cannot tolerate a vacuum, so it will fill in tiny gaps in our recollection with information, even if it has to create the data. This concept is reconstructed memory, which can be flawed or flat-out wrong. Hundreds of people get wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness testimony, only to be set free years later because of DNA and other forensic evidence.
If you suffered an injury in a car accident, call S. Burke Law. We will discuss with you whether you might be eligible for compensation and also answer any questions that may arise about eyewitness testimony and the important role it can play in car accident cases. Call us today at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation.
What Is Accident Reconstruction?
Accident reconstruction is method used to prove the cause of an accident. Lawyers use accident reconstruction in car accident cases to resolve disputed facts about how fast a vehicle traveled, the point of impact, the sequence of events, and whether a witness’ account is accurate. We also use accident reconstruction in workplace and industrial accident cases.
Top Three Reasons We Use Accident Reconstruction
Accident reconstruction helps us sort out and prove to the court what actually happened when:
- The other party denies fault.
- Someone cannot remember what happened because of head injuries or other medical issues.
- One of the parties died and cannot tell their story.
Types of Vehicles Accident Reconstruction Can Analyze
Many people think of car accidents cases when they hear the term “accident reconstruction,” but these experts also investigate wrecks involving:
- Farm equipment
- Construction equipment
- Boats, ships, and personal watercraft
- All sizes of trucks, from light-duty pickup trucks to tractor-trailers
- All sizes of passenger cars, SUVs, and limousines
- Smaller vehicles like bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and ATVs
Techniques That Accident Reconstruction Uses
Accident reconstruction experts have multiple methods for explaining to a judge and jury what happened. The facts of the individual case will determine which type they use. Some of the most common techniques are:
- Simulating the accident. They can do a mock-up to show the court the location of each vehicle before, during, and after the crash, and the speeds at which they traveled.
- Analyzing video. Video provides an incredible amount of information experts can analyze to build your case.
- Making calculations. An accident reconstruction expert can show through physics and math that the accident could not have happened the way the other side claims. They can also calculate that the driver was speeding, did not hit the brakes, or blew through the traffic light.
- Photogrammetry. Experts use photographs to determine the precise place where the impact happened, the height of a person in the picture, and many other details.
- Testing impact. An accident reconstruction expert can look at the wrecked vehicles, determine the place on each car where they collided and the direction each vehicle was traveling at the time of impact. This information can be essential in disproving the claims of the other side about which party’s negligence caused the crash.
How We Can Prove Your Case Using Accident Reconstruction
Accident reconstruction experts use scientific data to answer questions for the judge and jury about disputed facts. Here are some examples of issues an accident reconstruction expert can testify about:
- What happened before the crash
- The order in which events occurred, such as which vehicle struck the other first, and everything that happened afterward
- What caused the crash
- The precise point at which a driver applied the brakes
- If a crash was survivable
- Whether an eyewitness could have seen what they claim to have witnessed from their location
- Environmental factors like weather, darkness, road conditions, and whether the angle of the sunlight affected visibility
How Accident Reconstruction Experts Work Their Magic
An accident reconstruction expert analyzes evidence, applies scientific principles and logarithms, and creates a wealth of information about your wreck. Here are some of the ways they perform these functions:
- Police report. The accident reconstruction expert will read the report of the law enforcement officer who came to the scene, but will not accept it as being 100 percent accurate. Accident reconstruction experts often discover mistakes in police reports. If the police report in your case is wrong and it hurts your case, an accident reconstruction expert can prove what actually happened.
- Vehicles. Crashed vehicles contain valuable information about the wreck and what caused it. An accident reconstruction expert can examine a wrecked car and establish that the other driver must have driven faster than they admitted. The point of impact can also tell the expert that your vehicle did not drift into the other person’s lane as claimed.
- Video footage. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video must be worth far more. Even footage from nearby properties can be of value. For example, a hit and run driver turns himself in three days after the wreck. He denies that he was impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident. Video footage from nearby properties that showed him driving erratically in a manner consistent with alcohol impairment can be critical evidence.
- Witness statements. An accident reconstruction expert can calculate whether a party or eyewitness is telling the truth about what happened before, during, or after the crash.
- Measurements. The accident reconstruction expert can go to the scene, take precise measurements, and evaluate photographs. They will apply formulas to analyze the facts of the case and determine who is telling the truth about what occurred.
How to Get Help for Your Accident
If you suffered harm in a car crash or other accident, call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.
How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
Choose a personal injury lawyer who is reliable, transparent, trustworthy, and possesses the resources necessary to get a fair settlement for your damages.
Review the lawyer’s qualifications, credentials, and testimonials from past clients. And be sure to ask the right questions to help you find a lawyer who will look out for your best interests.
What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer
Experience & Background
Consider the lawyer’s experience with personal injury law.
- How long has she been practicing?
- What types of personal injury law does she practice?
- Does she have other relevant experience (e.g., insider information about insurance companies) that is relevant to your case?
- Where can I find a list of your previous case results?
Transparent About Fees
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. Ask about attorney fees and how they work at the law firm. The lawyer should be clear and upfront about attorney fees.
Also ask how the attorney handles court costs, e.g., court filing fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses. Who pays those costs?
You should know how the law firm handles attorney fees and court costs. If you are unsure, ask for clarification before hiring the lawyer.
Ask the lawyer if she will personally handle your case or if she will pass it off to another lawyer who you do not know. Be sure you know who will work on your case and represent you with the insurance company or in court.
Your lawyer should possess the resources to build a thorough case that establishes the defendant’s fault or liability and proves the value of your damages. The law firm must investigate your case and may work with expert witnesses who can testify about various aspects of your accident and injuries.
Ask the lawyer if she has adequate resources to build a case that establishes your entitlement to compensation for your full range of damages.
How well do you communicate with the lawyer? Do you feel she listens to you?
Ask who your point of contact will be and how the law firm updates clients on the statue of their case or new developments. You should know how to get in touch with the lawyer or other members of the team when you have a question – and you should not have to wait too long to get a response.
Free and comfortable communication with your lawyer can make the legal process less stressful. So, make sure the lawyer you work with is a good communicator.
Will Take Case to Court
Your lawyer should be willing and able to take your injury case to court, if necessary. While your lawyer may try to negotiate a settlement before your case ever gets to trial, some cases might necessitate going to court.
Ask the lawyer if she will take the case to court if that is what it takes to get the compensation you need so you can pay bills, recover lost wages, and compensate you for other damages.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Personal Injury Lawyer
Have a list of questions ready for when you meet or speak with a prospective personal injury lawyer. Here are a few important questions to get you started:
- Have you handled personal injury cases similar to mine?
- How long have you been practicing personal injury law in Georgia?
- Where can I find testimonials from your past clients?
- How do I contact you when I have questions about my case?
- Do you have experience negotiating with insurance companies?
These are just a few examples of questions to ask a prospective injury lawyer. Create your own list and include questions specific to your accident and injuries.
Ready to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
S. Burke Law can help. And we offer free consultations to help you decide if we are a good fit for your case.
During your free consultation, you can ask questions about our practice and our experience with cases like yours. Please feel free to come prepared with a list of questions to help you decide if we are a good fit for your case.
Call us at 404-842-7838 for your free consultation to learn how attorney Sheryl L. Burke can help you.