Negligent Driving in Georgia
Who has Accident Liability in a Car vs. Pedestrian Accidents?
Drivers must always be cautious and alert while behind the wheel, especially when driving in areas where pedestrians might be present. It is the responsibility of every driver to exercise reasonable caution while operating a motor vehicle, but there are occasions where even the most cautious driver is unable to avoid an accident.
If there is an accident involving a car and a pedestrian, how is accident liability determined? Even in the cases of a car-pedestrian accident, the pedestrian is not always faultless. A pedestrian can be found at fault in a car-pedestrian collision, depending on their behavior.
- Duty of Care
When operating a vehicle, drivers are responsible for driving with the appropriate amount of care in any given circumstance. This is referred to as a duty of reasonable care or due care. The law recognizes that not all circumstances are the same. Therefore, the duty of reasonable care requires that a driver exercises the caution that a normal, careful person would use in the same situation.
A normal person slows down and pays close attention when they are aware that pedestrians are nearby or maybe nearby. This responsibility supersedes other laws like the speed limit; if a driver saw a child on a bicycle, for example, the law would not consider it reasonable to maintain the 30 miles per hour speed limit, and the driver would likely be considered at fault should a collision occur.
Duty of care is at the center of many personal injury lawsuits. In the case of a collision, the plaintiff is trying to prove that the damages they have suffered were caused because the driver breached their duty of care. But pedestrians are also expected to act in a reasonable manner to avoid traffic accidents, or they might be found at fault in a collision.
- Accidents caused by pedestrians
A reasonable driver would take any possible precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian. However, sometimes pedestrians behave in a way that makes it impossible for even a cautious driver to avoid a collision. For example, a pedestrian might dart out from between parked cars right in front of a moving car or walk on a busy street at night while wearing dark clothes. It is unlikely that even someone driving very cautiously would be able to avoid a collision given the circumstances.
In this instance, the court will find that the pedestrian caused the accident. If a pedestrian acting in this manner forced a driver to take evasive action resulting in injury or damage to another vehicle, the pedestrian may also be found liable for those damages. For example, if in one of the above scenarios the driver swerved at the last second to avoid hitting the pedestrian and struck another car, the pedestrian would be considered at fault and liable for damage to both vehicles and any injury to the occupants of the cars.
- Shared blame
In many situations, there is not an entirely guilty party and an entirely innocent party, and collisions involving drivers and pedestrians are the same. When this is the case, the jury will determine what percentage of fault the plaintiff bears for their own injuries and what percentage of fault is on the driver. The impact that this determination has on the lawsuit varies by state.
In some states, if the jury determines that the pedestrian is 60% responsible for the accident and the driver is 40% responsible, the driver is required to pay 40% of the damages related to the accident. In other states, the driver would not be required to pay anything in this scenario since the pedestrian was judged to be more than 50% responsible for the collision.
When To Call An Attorney After A Car Accident
Car accidents are stressful and place their victims in situations where the next course of action may not always be clear. However, there are many important things that you must remember to do immediately after an accident, as well as a few things to do soon after, including calling a car accident attorney.
1. Check the condition of everyone involved
Car crashes are dangerous, and people can receive some serious injuries as a result. Before you start to assess property damage, make sure everyone involved is ok. If anyone has been hurt, do not hesitate to call for medical assistance. If someone complains about head or neck pain or is unconscious, do not move them unless they are directly in danger where they are.
2. Remain at the scene of the accident
There are grave criminal penalties for people who leave after a car crash. Leaving the scene of an accident is known as a “hit and run.” The criminal charges for a hit and run increase if someone involved in the crash was severely injured.
3. Contact local law enforcement
If anyone involved in the accident is injured or if the crash resulted in any significant property damage, you should call the police. When the police arrive, request a police report be filed, and get the name and badge of the officer that handled your accident.
4. Get the information of the other people who were involved in the car accident
Ask the other drivers for the following particulars: their name, contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number, and general insurance information. If there were passengers involved, get their name, contact number, and address. You should do your best to be polite and cooperative.
Everyone’s emotions will be running high from the accident, and being rude will not help the situation. However, you may not want to apologize at the scene of the crash. Apologizing means you admit that the accident was your fault based on what you know happened at the collision. However, an accident can have several causes, and you only know your side of the story.
5. Speak to any witnesses
If anyone witnessed the crash, ask them what he or she saw. A witness may be able to shed light on what exactly happened, and who is at fault for the accident. You should also get their name, contact information, and address if at all possible.
6. Take photos of the scene
Photographs provide extraordinary evidence about a car crash. You should try to take pictures of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the general scene where the accident occurred. You may send the pictures of your car to your insurance company to help an insurance adjuster determine how much compensation you need for your damages.
7. Contact and inform your insurance company
You should notify your insurance company that you have been in an accident as quickly as possible. You need to cooperate with them and tell them the truth about what happened in the crash and how severe your injuries are. It is imperative that you explain the accident as clearly and truthfully as possible. If an insurance company learns that you lied to them about an accident, your insurance may be revoked, and you will be forced to pay for the damages of the accident on your own.
8. Get an evaluation of your property damage
Once you obtain your insurance evaluation of the cost of compensation, you may feel that the value is too small. You should then get two other estimates or replacement quotes. If the new estimates are far off from your insurance estimate, you should voice your concern. If you and your insurance can not agree on the value of the damage, you may need to seek mediation or consult a car accident attorney.
9. Call a Car Accident Attorney
If anyone sustained a serious injury, your insurance company is being unfair to you, or if you and the other parties involved are unable to decide who is at fault for the accident, you may want to hire an accident attorney. A car accident attorney can maximize the compensation you will receive for your injuries, or defend you better if your mishap was the cause of the crash.
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Accidents Involving Company Cars, What To Do?
Gather Insurance & Other Information
You need to do the following to preserve your right to compensation:
- Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. You will also share the same. If more than two vehicles were involved, you need information from all vehicles.
- Take pictures of the damage as well. You can use your smart phone to get pictures of all dings, scratches, and missing car parts. Take pictures of any debris field and skid marks.
- Remember to call the police to come out to the scene and write a police report. A report helps document the accident.
Contact Your Employer
Because your employer owns the car, they need to know about the accident. Chances are, they have bought insurance on the vehicle, so they will need to contact the insurance company.
You also might have been injured while working. Some people travel for their job, to conferences or to meet with clients. If so, you could have a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer needs to be timely notified of the accident so you can qualify for benefits. In Georgia, you have 30 days to notify your employer, but there is no reason to delay.
Of course, you might not have been traveling for work. Generally, you cannot receive benefits if you were injured driving to your workplace or home at the end of the day. Nevertheless, the fact remains: your employer needs to know about the accident.
Fault matters in an accident involving a company car just as it would in a crash involving your own vehicle. Under Georgia law, the party at fault for the accident pays compensation to victims.
Does this mean you will have to pay money if you were at fault? Possibly. However, most claims are made on the insurance policy, which your employer should have purchased and paid premiums for. Of course, you could still be sued personally if your negligence caused the accident. But that doesn’t happen very often.
If you were harmed in the accident, you also need to know who is at fault. You will make a claim on that person’s insurance. Often, another driver on the road is to blame. Maybe they ran a red light or failed to stop in time and crashed into you. This is why you got the insurance and personal information for all people involved in the crash.
However, it might be the case that your employer is to blame. If the car was defective when you got it, then your employer might share some of the fault. For example, the brakes might have failed soon after receiving the vehicle, or a tire could have blown. An employer who delivers an unsafe vehicle shares partial fault for the wreck.
Georgia law allows fault to be apportioned among multiple parties. Never discount the possibility that your employer is at least a little bit to blame for the accident. Your attorney might need to inspect the vehicle to check.
Understand Vicarious Liability
As a rule, Georgia allows injured victims to sue a person’s employer when an employee injures them while working. This is called “vicarious liability.” It exists to help those injured obtain compensation after an accident. Really, it is a legal concept based on fairness. Employers typically have “deeper pockets” and can pay compensation when an employee hurts someone.
If you were at fault, then the victim might sue your employer in addition to making a claim on the insurance policy. For vicarious liability to apply, you will need to have been working at the time of the accident. Generally, this means running errands for your employer, traveling to or from a client, or traveling for a training or conference. Driving home at the end of the day or driving into work in the morning are not situations where an employee is “on the clock.”
You also can’t have committed a criminal offense. If you were drunk on the way to a client appointment, for example, then your employer is not responsible. The same is true if you intentionally hit someone out of anger or road rage.
Why do you need to understand the rules of vicarious liability? Because the victim you struck could sue you personally. And if they win, they could come after your assets to collect on the court judgment. Often, however, an employee can avoid responsibility if their employer ends up paying the judgment.
Get The Car Repaired
Your employer should tell you where to take the car to be fixed. If another driver was at fault, then their insurance should pay to fix property damage. If you were at fault, your employer might have collision insurance. This is no-fault insurance you can use even when you cause a wreck. Many insurers have networks of body shops that they use. You take the car to the shop to be fixed and they invoice the insurance company.
What happens if your employer has no collision—and you are at fault for the crash? Your employer might bill you. That’s the reality you might face. If you were really at fault for the accident, chances are you could pay. You need to look at the agreement regarding use of the car. Also check company manuals and handbooks, which might have language regarding who pays if you cause an accident in the company car.