Throughout 2020, car accidents were the second leading cause of injuries resulting in death and traumatic hospitalizations in Georgia. Despite having the eighth-largest population in the country, Georgia accounted for the fourth-highest number of traffic fatalities. In other words, car accidents are a significant problem in Georgia.
Being the victim of an auto accident can be the most traumatic event you’ve ever experienced. Making sure you get the medical attention you need should be your first priority. However, the repercussions of an auto accident go far beyond this immediate concern.
Medical bills, time off work, and pain caused by the injuries can add up and take a toll on you. The consequences of the accident can begin to affect every aspect of your life. Victims of car crashes deserve compensation so that they can manage these challenges, and they deserve it fast.
Unfortunately, the settlement process after an auto accident often takes time. As bills add up and the settlement process drags on, it is crucial to understand the answer to one question, How long do car accident settlements take in GA?
Types of Damages in Auto Accidents
In theory, damages awarded after an auto accident are meant to make you whole for the losses you suffered. In reality, no amount of money could make up for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. What compensation can do is help you get your life back on track.
Generally, there are three types of compensation you can claim in Georgia. Special damages, general damages, and punitive damages.
Courts award special damages to compensate victims for their monetary losses. Special damages include the following:
- Property damage,
- Medical bills,
- Ongoing medical costs,
- Lost wages, and
- Other quantifiable costs.
General damages are awarded by courts to compensate victims for mental and emotional injuries that are less easy to quantify. General losses include the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Anxiety or depression,
- Physical impairment,
- Permanent disability,
- Disfigurement, and
- Reduced quality of life.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish defendants for egregiously bad behavior. This type of compensation is only made available to victims in exceptional circumstances. For example, the courts might award punitive damages to a victim if the defendant was driving drunk when they caused the accident.
Finally, if someone dies in an auto accident, their family may be able to file a wrongful death suit. The types of compensation available in a wrongful death suit differ slightly from what would be recoverable by a surviving victim. For example, a family can sue for funeral costs, loss of companionship, and lost future wages and benefits.
Car Accident Settlement Process
Knowing the steps involved is crucial to understanding how long the settlement process might take.
Contact an Attorney
After an accident, once you are safe and able to do so, contact MG Law for a free consultation. Getting the experienced attorneys at MG Law involved early can help protect your rights throughout the settlement negotiations. It can also speed up the process.
Next, an attorney can help you gather all the evidence and documents needed to support your claim. You will need to obtain the insurance information of all parties involved. That information will allow your attorney to determine the coverage available to pay for your claim.
You will also need to gather evidence to prove your claim. Potential evidence includes:
- Official police reports,
- Witness statements,
- A written recollection of what happened,
- Physical evidence from the scene,
- Photographs and video evidence,
- Expert medical testimony, and
- Medical documentation.
The more detailed the evidence, the easier it will be to prove your claim.
Present a Settlement Letter
Once all the evidence is collected, you will need to present the evidence to the insurance companies as part of a settlement claim. A lawyer can draft a settlement letter outlining your evidence and the compensation you seek for your injuries and losses. It is essential to present a solid case that is supported by evidence to the insurance companies.
Once the insurance company receives the settlement letter, they will likely respond with a counteroffer. This response marks the beginning of the negotiation process. A lawyer can help you negotiate the best possible outcome for your case. They will also keep you informed throughout the entire process.
Accept or Reject the Offer
Once the negotiation is over, you must decide whether to accept the offer. Accepting the offer will allow you to obtain compensation quicker than going to trial. It will also let you avoid the risks that trials present. However, sometimes the settlement offer will be inadequate, and your best course of action will be going to trial. The skilled lawyers at MG Law can help guide you through this crucial decision.
Length of Settlement Negotiation
Unfortunately, there is no standard length of time to obtain a settlement. The length of the process will depend on several factors.
First, the severity of your injuries will affect the length of the process. Insurance companies will have more incentive to negotiate harder if your injuries require greater compensation. Small claims usually settle quickly. Longer periods of rehabilitation for severe injuries will also increase the length of the process.
Second, different insurance companies have different processes. Some take longer to process claims and respond than others.
Third, sometimes more than one counterparty participates in the settlement process. If more parties are involved, the process may take longer.
Finally, if the other driver is disputing fault, the process can take more time. Sometimes litigating the case is necessary when the other party denies that they were at fault for the accident. Going to trial means it will take longer to recover compensation, and you face the risk of getting less or no compensation at all.
How an Attorney Can Help with Car Accident Settlements
If you were injured in an auto accident, the skilled attorneys at MG Law can help.You shouldn’t have to deal with the headache of negotiating with insurance companies while recovering from your injuries. MG Law knows how to settle your case quickly and effectively. Our firm focuses exclusively on personal injury matters and will work hard to get you the best outcome possible. If the insurance companies refuse to settle for a reasonable amount, we can zealously advocate for you in the courtroom. Contact MG Law today so we can help you pursue the settlement you deserve.