Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Q: I was hurt because of somebody else’s negligence. How long do I have to sue?

A: While it’s always best to consult with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney about your particular case, the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years under Georgia Code § 9-3-33. However, depending upon the type of case (and other factors), the time for making a claim could be significantly shorter.

Q: How does the type of case affect the time for filing suit?

police carGenerally speaking, when an Atlanta car accident is caused by the negligence of someone who is “on the clock” with their employer, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the resulting injuries to the plaintiff.

There are some exceptions to this general rule, and the defendant in a given case may have a good argument that it should not be held liable under a certain set of facts. Even if vicarious liability is not possible, an injured person who is hurt by someone who is purportedly acting within their employment – or, at the least, is driving an automobile owned by their employer – may have another claim, such as negligent entrustment.

An appellate court in a recent case involving a police officer explored these different types of liability, ultimately concluding that some of the plaintiff’s claims had to be dismissed as redundant in that particular case.

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large potholeIn an Atlanta car accident lawsuit, the defendant is not always a negligent motorist whose actions led to a crash. Sometimes, a party who was not even present at the accident scene may be named as a defendant – such as in a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of an uncrashworthy vehicle or, as in a recent appellate case, a city (and city officials) who allegedly failed to maintain a roadway, thus causing an accident.

When the defendant happens to be a governmental entity, however, special rules apply, and such cases can prove to be more difficult than cases against “regular” defendants, such as individuals or businesses.

Facts of the Case

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In order to recover money damages for injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death following an Atlanta car accident, the claimant must be able to prove that the defendant owed the claimant a particular duty, that the duty was breached, that the claimant suffered some type of damage, and that there was a link of causation between the breach of duty and the damage suffered by the claimant.

If all of these elements of negligence can be proven, the claimant may be able to recover substantial compensation. Typically, this compensation is paid by the negligent party’s liability insurance company, which has a duty to negotiate claims in good faith. But what happens when an insurance company and a claimant have drastically different opinions as to the value of a particular claim? A recent case illustrates what can happen when an insurance company “lowballs” a settlement offer, and the claimant goes on to recover a seven-figure jury verdict.

Facts of the Case

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Atlanta wrongful death lawsuits can be very difficult, not only emotionally but also procedurally. Often times a family must relive the accident as they seek to prove the elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages), in addition to dealing with the inherent difficulties of placing a “value” on the loss of their loved one.

It might seem that such a case would be easier when it is against one’s own insurance company in an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, but this is not necessarily the case. More often than not, even these types of claims are met with just as much contention as when a case proceeds directly against a negligent motorist.

In most cases, the parties can at least agree on the maximum possible payout of the UM/UIM claim, even if they do not agree on the exact amount due to the claimants. In a recent case, however, a dispute arose as to whether the claimants were entitled to payment under a single policy or under two separate policies. It was an important distinction, since each policy had a limit of $500,000.

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man on motorcycleWhen the cause of an Atlanta motorcycle accident is disputed, one or both parties may seek to introduce the testimony of an accident reconstructionist. Such testimony is not automatically heard by the trier of fact at trial, however, since the burden of proving the admissibility of the witness’ testimony is on the party seeking to introduce it. Unless the proposed expert is properly qualified to testify as to the issues at hand, the trial court judge will not allow the testimony.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case under consideration by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in a motor vehicle collision in August 2014. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was riding a motorcycle. He filed suit against the defendants, the driver of the truck that allegedly struck the plaintiff’s motorcycle and the driver’s employer. Two insurance companies were also named as defendants.

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One of the reasons that it is so important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after a motor vehicle collision or another accident resulting in injuries or death is that there may be several potential theories of recovery, some of which may not be obvious to the injured party or his or her family.

Unless these claims are handled promptly and appropriately, the plaintiff may not be able to effectively pursue compensation from certain potentially liable parties later. Continue reading

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Under Georgia Code § 36-11-1, a claim against a county government must be presented within 12 months after it accrues or becomes payable. Otherwise, the claim is barred, and the plaintiff has no further recourse.

It seems like a simple enough idea, but the issue can be more complex than it initially appears. The parties in a recent case had a strong difference of opinion as to whether a particular claim was “presented” within the meaning of the statute.

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How much do you know about your automobile accident insurance coverage? Hint:  this is not a “yes” or “no” question. It’s not about whether or not you have insurance, but instead about the type of coverage and the amount of money available to you if you’re seriously injured in a car crash.

If you aren’t sure of the answer, it is very important that you contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. While Georgia law requires those who own or lease a motor vehicle to have liability insurance, this simply provides a minimum amount of coverage to those who are injured by the driver’s negligence. Liability insurance does not provide any coverage for the driver’s own injuries or for damage to his or her car.

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Recognizing that there are instances in which the plaintiff in a lawsuit may have a reason to voluntarily dismiss an action prior to trial but wish to refile the claim at some later time, Georgia law provides a procedure for what is referred to by some as “a nonsuit.”

However, there are certain procedural steps that must be followed in order for the second lawsuit to survive a challenge on statute of limitations grounds, assuming it was filed past the normal deadline.

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