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How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Get?

How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Get?

A passenger in a car accident can get money for their damages. This includes injuries, medical bills, lost income, and other expenses and losses. The value of an individual’s claim depends on the facts of their specific case, which will prove unique even when compared to others hurt in the same crash.

Working with an attorney can help you seek the best possible car accident settlement. Keep reading to learn more about the claims process, calculating a fair settlement value, and how an Atlanta car accident lawyer can help.

What Is My Atlanta Car Accident Case Worth?

To know how much money you can recover as an injured passenger, you must determine the expenses and losses you incurred from the crash. To learn how much your case is worth, you need to identify your recoverable damages and establish a just value for them.

Putting a Price Tag on Your Car Accident Settlement

Calculating the potential settlement value of a car accident case requires understanding and identifying the recoverable damages.

This means:

  • Adding your current economic expenses
  • Valuing your non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering
  • Establishing the costs associated with future medical needs

You can calculate some of these damages with relatively straightforward methods. This is especially true if you keep a file of your related bills and receipts. Having good records makes identifying and including your current economic damages easier. However, things get tricky if you have future expenses or care needs related to your injuries. Injured passengers can also pursue non-economic damages. Calculating the value of these losses can prove complex.

Working with a car accident attorney makes this process easier. They know where to look for crash damages and often identify recoverable expenses that victims previously overlooked. As a result, not only can they determine the fair settlement value of your case, but they may also get you more money for your claim.

Identifying Recoverable Damages

Identifying, cataloging, and valuing as many recoverable damages as possible helps ensure you seek a fair settlement or award in your case.

Some of the most common damages available in a personal injury case include:

  • Medical treatment and related costs, such as ambulance fees
  • Future care and treatment expenses
  • Lost income from time away from work
  • Diminished earning capacity for those who cannot go back to work
  • Miscellaneous related expenses with receipts
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Other non-economic damages

What Are Punitive Damages?

Many car accident victims—passengers and drivers alike—have questions about punitive damages. Under Georgia law, a jury may award punitive damages when the at-fault party acted intentionally or with wanton recklessness, such as when a driver drinks or uses drugs, then gets behind the wheel of a car and injures someone.

Insurance companies do not award punitive damages through a settlement. Therefore, they do not compensate the crash victim for their losses. They instead penalize the liable party for their bad behavior. For this reason, only a jury or court awards punitive damages.

Again, plaintiffs rarely receive these awards. However, you must sue and go to trial to recover punitive damages. An Atlanta car accident attorney can evaluate your case to determine if they think you can recover punitive damages. They may recommend filing a lawsuit if so.

Getting a Fair Settlement Based on Your Damages

Putting a range of potential values on your damages helps you know what a fair settlement looks like. Until you navigate the process of identifying and valuing your losses, you may not know when to accept an offer. This provides you with a guideline for negotiating a settlement. It tells you how much to demand and how low an offer you can afford to accept.

If you work with an attorney, they can handle all of this for you. This includes choosing how much to demand from the insurance company and managing the negotiations. However, you have the final choice. Your attorney can offer advice and guidance, but ultimately you can choose when to accept a settlement offer.

Your Rights as a Passenger in an Atlanta Car Accident Case

Under Georgia law, injured victims have a right to pursue compensation by holding the negligent party responsible for causing the crash. They bear responsibility for the injuries to occupants of involved vehicles.

If you were a passenger in an accident, you have a right to sue the liable driver for their negligence and recover compensation for your damages. This will require taking your case to trial or negotiating a settlement with that driver’s insurance company. Most cases end in a settlement, but some require a lawsuit and jury trial.

You also have a right to work with a personal injury lawyer on your claim or lawsuit. You do not have to try to handle this process on your own. Most provide free, no-obligation case reviews. You can learn about your options, how to pay for legal representation, and how the law firm could help you.

Options for Pursuing Compensation as an Injured Passenger in Atlanta

Passengers hurt in Fulton County car crashes can get justice in their collision cases by seeking compensation for their related expenses and losses. Without this payout, they must pay these costs out of pocket.

Generally, passengers can seek compensation following a collision in two ways:

Navigating the Insurance Claims Process

Most car accident cases settle outside of the courtroom. Whether you suffered injuries as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist, or another injured party, an insurance claims settlement offers a common approach to seeking compensation.

Filing an insurance claim requires contacting the negligent driver's insurer and demanding fair compensation. This demand letter should include basic information about the case, allude to the available evidence, and request a specific payout amount.

The insurance company assigns an adjuster to the crash case. They investigate what happened and calculate their own case value. This often leads to a counter-offer. Settlement negotiations then begin. The insurer seeks to pay out as little as possible while the victim or their attorney fights to recover fair compensation based on the case facts and documented damages.

If they negotiate a settlement, the victim will sign a release stating they will not sue or attempt to pursue additional compensation in the case. The insurer will cut the check and forward the payout to the attorney or individual.

Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver

To file a lawsuit, you must prepare a complaint against the at-fault driver and submit it to the appropriate civil court in the county where the crash occurred.

You may take several steps to navigate the civil suit process.

They include:

  • Filing the initial complaint
  • Serving the defendant
  • Pretrial motions
  • Discovery
  • Mediation and negotiations
  • Jury selection
  • Trial

If an attorney suggests you sue the at-fault driver in your case, circumstances likely point to this option as the most likely to provide a fair payout. This could occur because the insurer will not negotiate, the insurer disputes the case’s facts, the offers are too low, or other issues prevent a fair settlement.

A passenger may also sue the at-fault driver because time is running out. Georgia law gives victims of personal injuries up to two years to sue the negligent party. Allowing this statute of limitations to lapse jeopardizes their ability to sue and negotiate a fair settlement. It only applies to the lawsuit but also affects the leverage used to get a just payout through negotiations.

Proving Your Georgia Crash Injury Case

Whether filing a claim or suing the liable party, your car accident case depends on showing the at-fault driver acted negligently. Negligence is key in any personal injury case. Showing fault and liability for a crash depends on demonstrating negligence.

You must prove that four elements existed in your case to show negligence occurred, including:

  • The accused party had a duty to act in a specific way.
  • They failed to uphold this duty.
  • Their action or inaction caused the collision.
  • The victim suffered harm—physically, emotionally, and financially.

In collisions, the at-fault driver usually must take a specific action based on traffic laws. This includes obeying traffic signs and signals, yielding to oncoming traffic, checking adjacent lanes before moving over, and more. When a driver violates a traffic law—regardless of whether police issued a citation—and it causes a crash, the incident likely supports a claim or lawsuit.

You or your lawyer must gather and analyze evidence to determine what happened, who bears liability, and how to show this to the insurance company or the jury at trial. These investigations can prove quite complex.

Some actions an attorney may take to build a case include:

  • Identifying and interviewing witnesses
  • Surveying the crash scene
  • Obtaining copies of the police report and other key documents
  • Completing accident reconstruction
  • Analyzing relevant medical records
  • Meeting with experts to learn the client’s prognosis and ongoing care needs
  • Seeking video of the collision
  • Preserving evidence held by a trucking company, corporation, or another involved party
  • Documenting recoverable damages

Strong support for your insurance claim can prove essential to recovering a fair settlement. The police report, witness statements, and video are particularly pertinent to showing negligence occurred and the accused driver bears legal responsibility for the crash.

The Role of a Car Accident Attorney in a Passenger’s Injury Claim

Many people wonder if they must hire a lawyer to handle their car accident claim. Georgia law does not require you to have an attorney advocating for you but protects your right to hire one. You could experience many benefits by working with a knowledgeable legal team from a personal injury law firm.

Overall, having a lawyer manage your claim or lawsuit makes the process much easier and less stressful for you. Attorneys handle the legal case so their clients can focus on their treatment, recovery, and healing.

A Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights

Car accident attorneys know how the insurance companies work. They understand how insurers reduce the value of a passenger's claim in any way possible. This is why they handle all communication with the insurer and recommend not giving a recorded statement. They ensure clients meet the applicable deadline to sue, too.

Your Attorney Can Manage Your Case

Car accident lawyers understand how to navigate the claims process from beginning to end. They take charge and manage all aspects of a passenger’s insurance claim or lawsuit, representing their best interests and seeking justice on their behalf.

They investigate what happened, develop a strong case, and act to recover compensation based on the facts of the case. They use law firm resources to do this, including time and money you might not have if you tried to manage your claim on your own.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, Personal Injury Accident Attorney
Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert, Car Accident Lawyer

A law firm brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to your case. You not only have someone on your side to handle the necessary steps to recover money damages, but they answer questions, address concerns, and give you the guidance you need to make good decisions.

Work With an Attorney to Maximize Your Potential Payout

Working with a car accident lawyer may help you recover more compensation than you can secure on your own. Law firms have experience, knowledge, and resources to build stronger support for claims and navigate the claims process more easily. They can also help you deal with any challenges in your case. If an insurance company does not want to pay what you deserve, a car accident lawyer can advocate for you.

Many lawyers also offer free consultations and work based on contingency fees. You could hire an attorney with no upfront costs or expenses.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert - Owner & Attorney

Attorney Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert was seriously injured in a collision and experienced firsthand dealing with uncooperative insurance companies. She knows what it is like to feel overwhelmed and under-educated about your rights after a collision. That is why she has dedicated this firm to fighting for accident victims and their loved ones. The goal of The Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC is to provide you with excellent legal advice, based on our experience in representing injured automobile drivers and passengers from all across the State of Georgia.

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