Traffic collision, also known as a traffic accident, motor vehicle collision, motor vehicle accident, car accident, automobile accident, or car crash, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or utility pole. Traffic collisions may result in injury, death, and property damage.
Georgia has its share of reckless, negligent and drunk drivers that are a serious hazard for innocent drivers on the streets and highways in the area. Motor vehicle accidents cause the loss of time, property, health and even life. Such accidents occur because of elements including driver error, negligence, manufacturing, defects and dangerous weather.
Automobile accidents give rise to the majority of personal injury claims in the United States. This is not surprising, given that every 10 seconds someone in the United States is involved in a car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Determining who is at fault in an auto accident is a matter of deciding who was negligent. People who operate automobiles must exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” A failure to use reasonable care is considered negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay for any damages, either to a person or property, caused by his or her negligence. The injured party, known as the plaintiff, is required to prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligence was a proximate cause of the accident, and that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Issues of fault can be complicated by who acted when and which laws governed the situation. If the other driver was negligent, you may have to prove that the driver breached a duty of care to you and that the breach caused your damages. The assistance of an attorney can be immensely valuable at this time. Contact the auto accident attorneys at Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, LLC., to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney. Our attorneys have over 100 years of experience and will help you determine who was at fault for your accident.
Some factors in determining whether a driver was negligent may include, but are not limited to:
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Driving above or below the posted speed limit
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Sleep deprivation
- Distracted Driving – including texting or talking on cell phone
- Improper or excessive lane changing
Defective automobiles can cause car accidents. Automobile parts, such as tires or brakes, which are defective may also cause car accidents. If a part is defective, persons who were injured because of the defect may sue the manufacturer or supplier of the part under the legal theory of products liability. Courts generally treat products liability as a strict liability tort, meaning that the court will hold the manufacturer or seller liable regardless of whether or not they acted negligently.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident you may be able to seek monetary compensation for injuries and damages. Cases are specific, typically with complex issues of proof and fault in dispute. Working with an experienced attorney at Slover, Prieto, Marigliano & Holbert LLC will help you sort out your legal options. Call us today to discuss your legal rights.
What should I do if I have an auto accident?
Yes. First, you may need to call the police. Second, report the accident to your insurance company. Ask your insurance company or insurance agent what forms you should fill out and to help you make other necessary reports on the accident. Third, contact an attorney at Slover, Prieto Marigliano & Holbert, LLC to discuss your rights.
As soon as you can get to a telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and give the exact location of the accident, so that help can arrive quickly. Be sure to mention whether you need an ambulance or a fire engine. Remain on the telephone until the operator tells you it is okay to hang up. Or, flag down a passing car and ask the driver to go for help. The driver may have a cell phone in the car and can make an emergency call on the spot.
Yes. Georgia law says you must stop-whether the accident involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone’s property. If you drive away, you can be charged with hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. You must also exchange information with the other driver-your name and driver’s license number, the vehicle identification number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car’s owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number (or other evidence of financial responsibility, such as a bond posted with the Department of Motor Vehicles).
Hit-and-run penalties are severe. Depending on the damage or injuries, you may be fined, sent to jail or both. You also could lose your driver’s license.
If you hit a parked car or other property, try to find the owner or driver. If you cannot, the law says you may drive away only after you leave behind, in a conspicuous place, your name, address and an explanation of the accident, and the name and address of your car’s owner (if other than yourself). You also must notify the police either by telephone or in person as soon as possible. You must immediately call the 911 and report it to the police if the accident caused a death or injury. An officer who comes to the scene of the accident will conduct an investigation.
Do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the accident. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should first talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer or both. Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later.
Do not agree to pay for damages or sign any paper except a traffic ticket until you check with your lawyer. However, be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigating the case. But, stick to the facts. For instance, if you were driving 30 miles an hour, say so. Do not say, “I wasn’t speeding.”
A checkup may be a good idea for both you and your passengers if any of you have concerns about your health. You could be injured and not know it right away. You may wish to call your doctor or another health care provider for advice. Your automobile insurance may pay some or all of these health care bills. You should consult your policy or agent for details on what is covered.
Sign it. A ticket has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. When you sign, you are only promising to appear in court to contest the ticket, or to pay it later if you wish. If you do not sign the ticket, the police officer can arrest you.
While it is okay to sign the ticket, you may want to talk with your lawyer before you pay a fine or plead guilty to the charges. Find out if you can attend traffic school instead. If you plead guilty, you may hurt your chances of collecting damages from the other driver later. Or, you may help the other driver to collect damages from you.
- Drunk driving. Driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher (or any percent if you are under 21) is illegal, and the penalties for drunk driving in Georgia are severe.
- Seat belts/child passenger restraints. You can be pulled over and ticketed by the police if you or your passengers are not wearing seat belts. In addition, children must be protected by a special safety seat until they turn 6 or weigh at least 60 pounds. Children who are required to be in safety seats also must sit in a back seat under most circumstances. And youngsters are not permitted to ride in the front seat of a vehicle with an active air bag if they are under a year old, weigh less than 20 pounds or are restrained in a rear-facing car seat.
If the other driver was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation-for your personal injuries, car damage and other expenses, such as lost wages or the cost of a nurse needed after the accident. If you had your own insurance at the time of the accident, you may also be able to sue for pain and suffering. You should make a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. But, if you are not satisfied with the amount they offer, you may want to sue.
If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims-so act quickly.
Since many records now are confidential under the law, you may not be able to obtain the information that you want from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). So be sure to get as much correct and complete information as you can at the scene of the accident. You and the other driver should show each other your driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.
Then you should write down:
- The other driver’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver’s license number and expiration date, and insurance company.
- The other car’s make, year, model, license plate number and expiration date, and vehicle identification number.
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance companies of the other car’s legal and registered owners-if the driver does not own the car.
- The names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and telephone numbers of any passengers in the other car.
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay to talk to the police. If they insist on leaving, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down.
- Try to identify people at the accident scene, even if they will not give their names. For example, if someone who saw the accident drives off, take down his or her license plate number. Law enforcement officials can trace the owner’s name and address.
- The name and badge number of the law officer who comes to the accident scene. Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of any accident report.
- A simple diagram of the accident. Draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or streetlights. If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene, and of the other drivers and occupants. However, do not place yourself in a position of danger in order to complete an accident diagram. Be aware of traffic conditions and skip any measurements that could place you in a position of harm.
Make notes, too, on weather and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, note whether the streetlights were on. Estimate your speed and that of the other vehicle. Be sure to record the exact time, date and place the accident happened.
First and foremost, call 911 so that emergency responders can provide assistance. In addition, the law requires you to give reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured. However, if you are not trained in the appropriate first aid procedures, do not move someone who is badly hurt; you might make the injury worse. However, you should move someone who is in danger of being hurt worse or killed (for example, in a car fire) even if you do make the injury worse.
In addition, to help prevent additional collisions, try to warn other motorists that an accident has occurred. Placing flares on the road (only if there are no flammable fluids or items nearby), turning on your car’s hazard lights and lifting the engine hood are usually good ways to warn others on the road. Arrange to get help for anyone who is injured, and try not to panic.
If the other driver’s insurance is not enough to pay for all of your damages, your own insurance may pay the difference-if you have underinsured motorist coverage.
If you do not have these kinds of insurance or if your damages are more than the policy’s limit, you can sue the other driver. However, even if you win the case, you cannot be sure that the other driver has the money to pay.
If you have collision insurance, it will usually pay for the damage to your car, minus your deductible, no matter who is at fault.
That depends on who is at fault, whether you and the other driver have insurance and what kind of insurance you have. There are two major types of automobile insurance: liability and collision.
- Liability. If you are to blame for an accident, your liability insurance will pay the other driver for property damage and personal injuries up to your policy’s limits.
- If you are not at fault, the other driver’s liability insurance pays for your car damage and/or personal injuries up to the policy limits of the other driver’s policy.
- In California, if you and the other driver both have car damage or injuries and you both are partly responsible for the accident, you each may be able to collect part of your loss, but not all of it. How much each of you collects from the other’s policy (or from each other’s assets if there is no insurance) depends on the amount of your damages and on how much each of you is at fault. If you loan your car to someone who has an accident, your insurance can also help pay for the damages.
- Collision. No matter who is at fault, your collision insurance pays for damages to your car (not your medical expenses), minus the policy deductible.
You may have other insurance, too. Your health insurance, for example, may pay your medical bills. Also, your automobile insurance may have medical payments coverage. If so, it can pay the cost of necessary medical treatment for you and your passenger up to the medical payment policy limits.
Protect yourself and others:
- Drive defensively.
- Don’t drive after drinking.
- Make sure you and your passengers wear seat belts.
- Use appropriate and properly installed car seats for small children.
- Have adequate insurance coverage.
If an accident happens:
- Help or get help for injured people.
- Warn motorists (use flares, hazard lights).
- Call 911 to contact the police if an injury or death occurs.
- Cooperate fully with law officers, but speak with an attorney before accepting any blame.
After an accident:
- Call or see your physician if you have any health concerns.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Make a claim with your insurance company and/or the other driver’s insurance company to pay for your injuries and losses.
- Contact an attorney at Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, LLC. to discuss your rights.