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