The growing Sun Belt state of Georgia is home to part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, a varied landscape, and warm climate. With nearly 11 million people living there as of 2021, car accidents are a daily fact of life across the Peach State. Sadly, over 1,600 people in Georgia die in auto accidents every year. In 2020, motor vehicle crashes were the second-leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations, and ER visits in Georgia. Thankfully, Georgia car accident laws can help victims recover damages in the form of financial compensation where appropriate.
How Georgia Car Accident Laws Protect Injured Victims
Georgia car accident laws are in place to help drivers, passengers, and pedestrians stay safer while on the road. They’re also designed to answer common questions car accident injury victims may have, such as:
- How insurance companies or courts determine liability
- What economic or non-economic damages you may qualify for if you’re injured
- How the state of Georgia regulates car insurance
It is a good idea to consult an auto accident lawyer with experience helping other injured victims like you. Each crash is different, and liability isn’t always clear. You need an attorney who thoroughly understands Georgia car accident laws to get the most out of your settlement.
How to Report a Car Accident in Georgia
First, the driver or anyone conscious after an accident should check for injuries. Immediately contact emergency medical help and the Georgia police if anyone is visibly hurt. GA Code § 40-6-273 states you must report a crash to nearby law enforcement when:
- A crash proves fatal to anyone at the scene
- One or more people in the accident has injuries
- Property damage occurs with an estimated value of more than $500
When you report a collision to the police, they will investigate the crash as well as create a traffic collision report at the scene that provides important evidence for your claim. To pursue a claim for compensation after your accident, you must first prove you are not liable for the crash. The accident report will help you – and your attorney – establish who’s at-fault.
Those involved in an auto accident can request a copy of a car accident police report. It can come from the investigating precinct where the accident occurs, the Georgia Department of Transportation, or websites like BuyCrash. Again, you need this report to get money for vehicle repairs, medical bills, or non-economic damage (i.e., pain and suffering).
IMPORTANT: Georgia car accident laws say that staying at the scene of the accident and reporting it are crucial for victims. This will lead to a police report (in most situations). If no one has bodily injuries, take pictures of everything at the scene, including any other vehicles in your collision.
If the police require additional information from witnesses, an officer will usually have them stay so their statements can be given and that the victim can collect their details. Be sure to get the contact information of the other driver when exchanging insurance data. Lastly, contact your insurance company.
Is Georgia a No-Fault State?
Georgia is an at-fault state meaning any injured victim seeking compensation from another driver must prove the other party was more than 50% at-fault for the accident. The accident report will help support your claim for compensation. If you were partially at-fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced to pay for the damages you were responsible for.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Georgia Car Accident Laws
Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. This legal term sets the rules for what happens if another driver caused a crash, but you were partially at-fault. Provided your percentage of fault DOES NOT exceed the other driver’s percentage, you can pursue a claim for damages in Georgia according to OCGA § 51-11-7.
IMPORTANT: If the police or insurers find you 50% or more at-fault, then you cannot recover any damages.
If Georgia car accident laws hold you partially responsible, then you cannot receive the maximum cash award for your injuries. Both litigation and insurance settlements can apply modified awards. The adjuster (or court if your case goes to trial) will look at the evidence available and set the award.
For example, if you’re speeding and cannot stop in time, Georgia car accident laws may find you 80% at-fault. An injured victim must convince a judge, jury, or insurance adjustor who holds what percentage of fault in the accident.
Georgia Insurance Claim Laws
The state of Georgia assigns fault in car accidents. Filing a claim is the first step when contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. The insurance claims adjuster will then:
- Investigate your auto accident.
- Review the police report, if available.
- Determine how much each insurance policy should pay in damages, if applicable.
The adjuster usually collects enough information to create a settlement offer. Then, you can either accept the offer or reject it if you feel it’s too low. This is where a lawyer’s expertise is truly important. They know how much compensation is appropriate.
In most circumstances, drivers will contact and negotiate their settlement details through the insurance companies that provide coverage. It is rare for a case to go to a court trial.
Georgia Minimum Insurance Requirements
All licensed drivers must have car insurance in the state of Georgia. The minimum limits of liability insurance under Georgia’s insurance laws are as follows:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
You are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Georgia. However, you must always carry proof of insurance coverage in the vehicle or on your electronic device. Failing to provide proof of insurance may result in a citation. The police may also charge you with a misdemeanor.
Georgia Car Accident Statute of Limitations
You have two years from your accident to bring an auto accident lawsuit claim forward. For collisions that only involve vehicle damage, you have four years from the date of the car accident to file.
IMPORTANT: Do not to wait to file your car crash claim. You may lose evidence during that time, and worse, your memories of the incident can fade. If you have injuries, your medical bills may be higher than you anticipate and could take months to arrive. Don’t wait until an unexpectedly large medical bill lands to consult an attorney.
The same two-year time limit also applies for filing wrongful death suits. If someone dies in your crash, immediate family members must file claims within two years on a loved one’s behalf.
Damages After a Car Accident in Georgia
Economic damages: There is no cap on compensatory damages in Georgia. Examples of economic damages resulting from car accident include:
- Medical bills and related expenses
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Rental cars
- Lost wages
Non-economic damages include things that are hard to measure and don’t produce receipts, such as loss of affection or companionship. Much of the compensation in successful wrongful death cases comes from non-economic damages. Additional examples include:
Victims may not realize they qualify for a higher payout until an auto accident lawyer explains these types of non-economic damages.
Georgia car accident laws also mention one additional type of damages available to injured victims. Punitive damages are meant to punish a party for “reprehensible conduct.” This becomes relevant when a drunk driver causes severe or permanent injury to another party in a collision, for example. Georgia car accident laws limit each victim’s punitive damages to no more than $250,000.
Contact LegalASAP to Connect with a Georgia Auto Accident Lawyer
Expert legal help ensures you receive the most compensation your injuries deserve after a car accident in Georgia. An attorney will navigate the complex legal process for you. In most cases, you’ll receive a higher pay amount than if you accept the insurance company’s settlement offer.
LegalASAP can connect you with an auto injury attorney in your area to review your case for free. The whole process is free of charge until after you win your cash settlement.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.