According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 13,864 motor vehicle collisions occurred in Atlanta in 2021. Of these crashes, 5,946 injuries occurred. You might wonder about the Atlanta car accident lawsuit process if you were involved in a car accident in Atlanta. According to Judicature, a Duke University publication, less than 1% of civil cases are resolved in federal or state courts. Instead, most cases are resolved through a civil claim.
A lawyer from Jamie Ballard Law can walk you through the process of filing an insurance claim and taking your case to trial, if necessary. You can contact us to learn more during a free consultation.
Car Accident Investigation
After you hire your car accident lawyer, they will want to conduct an independent investigation into the accident. While the insurance company may have conducted its own investigation, it’s important to understand that your interests are not aligned with the insurance company’s interests. You want to maximize the compensation you receive while the insurance company is interested in protecting its profit margins by minimizing claims as much as possible.
Your lawyer can identify, preserve, and gather evidence that helps prove the various elements of your claim, which may include:
- Car accident report
- Photos and videos of the accident or results
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Accident reconstruction reports
Calculating Damages For Your Accident Lawsuit
The ultimate objective in a car accident claim is to recover money that fairly compensates you for the damages you have suffered. Damages in a car accident case may include:
- Medical expenses related to the accident, including emergency medical treatment and transportation, hospitalization, follow-up care, physical therapy, medication, and medical devices
- Lost wages
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Permanent disability, disfigurement, or scarring
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
An aggressive Atlanta car accident lawyer from Jamie Ballard Law can fight for the compensation you deserve.
Filing a Car Accident Claim
Before you make a demand for compensation, your lawyer may want you to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which you have recovered as much as possible. This is an important time in your treatment because you have a better idea about what the future will look like, how your life may be affected, how much more you can expect to pay in medical care, and how your earning capacity may be impacted.
Next, your lawyer will send a written demand for compensation for your claim. This demand will discuss the following details:
- How the accident happened
- Why their insured is responsible for the accident
- The injuries you suffered
- The full amount of damages you suffered
The insurance company may respond to your lawyer’s demand by offering a lower amount of compensation. Insurance companies may try to use various tactics to minimize the value of their offer, such as delaying the claim so you’ll be desperate and accept a lowball offer or trying to blame you for the accident to try to get out of paying for the damages you have suffered.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
If the insurance company denies your claim or makes an unreasonable counteroffer, you may decide to move forward with your case by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In some cases, simply filing a lawsuit signals to the insurance company that you are serious about the case and may motivate them to offer a fair settlement.
Your Atlanta car accident lawsuit begins when you file a complaint and summons in court, which set out the basic facts of your case and the amount of compensation you are asking the court to award you. The summons notifies the defendant of the legal case and informs them of how much time they have to respond to the complaint.
These documents must be legally served on the defendant. Special rules state who can serve the defendant and how service must be completed. Often, a sheriff’s deputy or private process server is used to legally serve the defendant and provide proof to the court of service.
Waiting for an Answer
The defendant has 30 days to provide a written response to the complaint. The response may deny the allegations in the complaint and may present certain legal defenses. The defendant could even file a counterclaim alleging that you owe them money for damages they sustained in the action.
The next phase in the case is discovery, which is the formal process in which the attorneys exchange information with each other about the case. You can make discovery requests on the
defendant and the defendant can ask you to complete discovery requests. Some types of discovery requests that may be made in a civil case include:
- Interrogatories, which are a list of questions you must answer truthfully and often ask about the evidence and witnesses you plan to present at trial
- Requests for documents related to the case
- Requests that you undergo a medical evaluation
- Requests for admission, which are a series of questions where you are expected to admit or deny allegations
- Depositions, which are question-and-answer sessions that are recorded and made under oath
- Subpoenas, which ask third parties to provide evidence or testimony related to the case, such as surveillance camera or traffic light footage
After discovery, the attorneys involved in the case will have a better idea of the case and its strengths and weaknesses. Many cases that have made it to this stage settle at this point.
Filing of Motions
The attorneys may prepare various motions and file them with the court. For example, they may ask for a summary judgment, which is when the judge decides the outcome of the case because there are no material facts about the case in dispute. If the other party did not provide the requested information in discovery or raised unreasonable objections, the opposing side’s attorney may file a motion to compel evidence.
The parties can agree to settle the case at any point, including right before the judge or jury renders a verdict. If the parties agree to settle the case, they ask the court to dismiss the case and enter into a written settlement agreement for an agreed-upon amount of money.
If you have not settled your case up to this point, it will proceed to trial. The trial phase consists of several steps, including:
- Jury selection – The lawyers on each side question potential jurors to uncover any hidden biases. They ask to excuse jurors from service until a complete panel of jurors has been selected.
- Opening statements – Your lawyer gives an opening statement about the accident and how it has affected you. They may also discuss how the accident occurred. Next, the defendant’s attorney gives their own opening statement about their version of events.
- Presentation of your case – In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, so it’s up to you to convince the judge or jury of your version of events. Your lawyer may call you to testify and ask you questions about the accident, how it occurred, and how it has impacted your life. Your lawyer may call other witnesses and present evidence supporting your case.
- Defense – The defense will have an opportunity to challenge your evidence and cross-examine your witnesses. They may also present their own witnesses and evidence, which your lawyer can challenge and cross-examine.
- Closing arguments – Both attorneys have an opportunity to present a closing argument to the court. They may summarize the evidence and how it supports their version of the case. They ask the court to rule in their client’s favor.
- Deliberation – The jury reviews the evidence and discusses the case until they reach a decision.
- Verdict – The verdict is read aloud, which states whether the court has ruled in the plaintiff’s or defendant’s favor and how much compensation is awarded, if applicable.
Unfortunately, this is not always the end of the case. Even if you are awarded a verdict against the defendant, you will have to find a way to collect on the judgment. Additionally, the defendant could file an appeal, which can drag the case out even longer.
How an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
As you can see, the Atlanta car accident lawsuit process is complicated. An experienced lawyer can assist you with every phase of your case by:
- Conducting an independent investigation into the accident and identifying all potentially at-fault parties
- Gathering evidence to support your case
- Guiding you through the insurance claim process and acting on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery
- Handling communications on your behalf with other parties, attorneys, and insurance adjusters
- Protecting your rights by raising proper objections to discovery requests and making claims on your behalf
- Filing claim paperwork and meeting case deadlines
- Ensuring the insurance company acts in good faith in working to resolve your claim
- Demanding fair compensation that provides a sufficient sum of money for the harm you’ve suffered
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Consulting with doctors and experts, as necessary, to analyze and evaluate your claim
- Preparing discovery requests and answers
- Presenting a strong case at trial
Your Atlanta car accident lawyer can help reduce the stress you are experiencing and protect your legal rights while you focus on your recovery.
Contact a Compassionate Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident in Atlanta, you deserve to be fairly compensated for the harm you’ve suffered. Jamie Ballard Law can pursue the compensation you need and protect your rights. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.
FAQs About the Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuit Process
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about the Atlanta car accident lawsuit process:
How Long Will the Lawsuit Process Take?
The length of any given case will depend on various factors, such as:
- The court’s docket where the case is heard
- The complexity of the legal issues involved in the case
- Whether the parties have complied with discovery requests
- Whether any continuances have been requested and granted
- Whether the case makes it all the way to trial or is resolved through a summary judgment or settlement before trial
- How many witnesses will be called for the plaintiff and defense
- Whether the case is appealed
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Atlanta?
Unfortunately, this question is impossible to answer with a number. Every single case is different. Additionally, settlements are usually confidential, so results may not be reported or able to be shared.
The potential value of a case can depend on several factors, such as:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- Current, past, and future costs of medical care required to treat the injuries you sustained in the accident
- The amount of income you lost while recovering from your accident
- Whether the accident resulted in permanent disabilities
- The amount of damage to the vehicles
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
- How the accident has affected your life
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering you have experienced because of the accident
Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?
This is a question that only you can answer. Most car accident cases are resolved through settlement. Trials are expensive. There are extra costs involved, like court filing fees, expert witness fees, discovery costs, and more. You could ultimately be responsible for these costs.
Settling a case is often faster and cheaper than going to trial. However, you also want to ensure that any settlement you accept fairly compensates you for the losses you incurred and the future losses you anticipate suffering because of the defendant’s negligence. An experienced lawyer can advise you whether or not a specific settlement is in your best interest.
When Should I Call an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer immediately after you are involved in a car accident that you believe was someone else’s fault. The insurance company may try to deny your claim or settle it for an unreasonably low amount.
Also, important evidence can get lost, erased, or destroyed if you do not act quickly to preserve it. A lawyer can help gather time-sensitive evidence and identify all the parties who may be at fault for the accident. A lawyer can also represent you in settlement negotiations and explain whether you should file a lawsuit.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Atlanta?
The statute of limitations sets a time limit to take certain legal actions in a case. For most personal injury cases in Georgia, you must file your claim within two years of the date of the accident. However, this does not mean you should wait two years before reaching out to a lawyer. It will take time to build your claim and try to resolve your case through a settlement before proceeding with a trial. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.