Car safety has continue to improve with technology. However, poor weather conditions, distracted drivers, poorly maintained cars, and driver fatigue still cause car crashes resulting in serious injuries including fatalities. The latest published statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that there were 5284 total fatalities of drivers in Georgia between 2013 and 2015.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR CRASH
- Call 911 to request a police officer to the crash scene.
- Look for any eyewitnesses who may have seen your car crash. If there are any eyewitnesses, see if you can get their contact information such as
- Current address; and
- Phone number.
- Photograph the crash scene before moving all cars involved to clear the scene. Photographs should show the following:
- Broad view to capture the impact and positions of all cars at the crash scene; and
- Close-up view of the car damage for all cars involved.
- Exchange insurance information with all drivers involved in the crash.
- Get the police report number from the police officer.
- Seek medical attention if you have been injured.
- Contact your own insurance company to report the crash.
- If the other driver's insurance company calls you asking for a statement of what happened, it is best to decline providing such a statement because their questions may affect the value of your potential injury claim.
PROVING FAULT AGAINST DEFENDANT DRIVER
For determining fault against defendant driver, the basic components for proving fault or responsibility in a motor vehicle crash are:
- Proving there was a duty of reasonable care that each owed you;
- There was a breach of duty owed to you for each who may be responsible;
- The breach of their duty caused your motor vehicle crash injuries; and
- You did not contribute to causing your motor vehicle crash injuries. In Georgia, the person making an injury claim must be 49% or less at-fault than the other responsible party or parties to recover.
In Georgia, the violation of a traffic law is negligence per se, which means that negligence is presumed. See Maxineau v. King, 304 Ga. App. 217, 695 S.E.2d 732 (2010). However, this does not automatically prove fault. Rather, it shifts the burden of proof to the defendant to show that the traffic violation was unintentional and exercise of reasonable care. Unless the defendant has plead guilty to a traffic violation, evidence of any traffic court charge and disposition of that traffic case is not admissible against the defendant. See Eubanks v. Waldron, 263 Ga. App. 75, 587 S.E.2d 253 (2003). Further, the Georgia Court of Appeals has stated that a defendant's mere payment of a traffic fine is also not admissible of his or her guilt or fault. See Howard v. Lay, 259 Ga. App. 391, 577 S.E.2d 75 (2003).
Even if an injured claimant can prove a defendant's negligence whether negligence per se or otherwise, that claimant must still prove that the defendant's negligence was the cause of his or her injuries as the Georgia Court of Appeals has stated in Cannon v. St., 220 Ga. App. 212, 4698 S.E.2d 343 (1996).
POTENTIAL FAULT OF OTHERS BESIDES DEFENDANT DRIVER
There are four other potential parties that may be at-fault in a motor vehicle crash.
- Negligent entrustment where a party may be responsible for entrusting the negligent defendant driver with a motor vehicle knowing that driver was not fit to drive such a vehicle because of young age; inexperience; physical or mental condition; or having a habit of being reckless. See Gunn v. Booker, 259 Ga. 343, 381 S.E.2d 286 (1989).
- Family car doctrine under O.C.G.A § 51-2-2 where an owner of a family automobile may be responsible for the negligent driving of his or her family member.
- Dangerous instrumentality doctrine where a vehicle owner lends that defective vehicle to another driver that injures an innocent victim. Such vehicle was dangerous because of the defect and it could have discovered by the vehicle owner's exercise ordinary care. See Gregory v. Ross, 214 Ga. 306, 104 S.E.2d 452 (1958).
- Respondeat Superior where the employer may be responsible for an employee's negligence while within the scope of his or her employment that injures another as held by the Georgia Supreme Court in Hicks v. Heard, 286 Ga. 864, 692 S.E.2d 360 (2010).
WHAT IS A CAR CRASH INJURY WORTH?
There are many factors and variables that go into calculating the value of your injury claim. Please see our bodily injury claim value page for more information. Unless the other party or parties are 100% at-fault, some percentage of fault may be assigned to you and every other party that contributed to causing your injury. However, medical payments coverage from your own automobile insurance policy may help pay for some medical expenses. This would allow more amount of recovery for you.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We understand that vehicle crashes can be serious and cause you great pain and suffering. We will ensure that you receive the best care possible and get you back on the road to recovery. To ensure that you receive your rightful compensation, we will investigate your claim to determine whether multiple parties may be responsible for your serious injuries. Our injury consultation are free so connect with us for our expertise in dealing with vehicle crashes.