We in America love our cars. That is most evident right here in Georgia’s ‘Museum City’ – home to the Savoy Automobile Museum. But we also get in a lot of wrecks in our cars. When drivers don’t prioritize safety and engage in risky driving behaviors, accidents are more likely to happen. Persons who are injured by the unsafe driving of others are entitled to be compensated for their losses.
Most drivers have insurance – since the law requires it – to cover the damage they do while driving. Claims after an auto accident are usually made to an insurance company. What people may not realize is that fault and damages still must be proven even though no lawsuit has been filed. Trying to get money from an insurance company can be complicated and frustrating for people who aren’t familiar with the adversarial nature of the claims process.
The car accident attorney at Joel Thrift Law, LLC, knows that settling a personal injury claim with an insurance company is much easier when you can anticipate the insurance company’s objections and provide the information necessary to convince them to pay your claim. For help with a personal injury claim after an auto accident in Cartersville, GA, contact Joel Thrift Law, LLC.
What are the Chances of Getting in a Car Accident?
The chances of getting in a car accident can increase or decrease based on the behavior of the driver. Drivers who engage in risky driving behaviors increase the risk of getting into crashes. Drivers who pay attention and obey driving laws are much less likely to be involved in accidents.
But no driver, no matter how careful they may be, can control all of the external circumstances that may be encountered while driving. Insurance industry statistics indicate the average driver can expect to be involved in an accident about once every 18 years. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash are 1 in 93.
How Frequently Auto Accidents Occur
Accidents involving motor vehicles are happening almost constantly in the U.S. On average, around 6 million car accidents occur each year. That is a little more than 1 accident every 3 seconds. About 3 million people are injured in car accidents. Close to 13% of those injured lose their lives and 67% are left with permanent injuries.
Seatbelt Wearing and Accident Frequency
Wearing or not wearing a seatbelt does not really affect the likelihood of getting into an accident. But it can certainly affect what happens during an accident and the injuries that can be suffered. Not wearing a seatbelt is associated with an increase in both the frequency and the severity of car accident injuries.
Types of Injury Accidents with Cars
Persons injured in car accidents are not always in other cars. Some of the most devastating injuries occur when passenger motor vehicles collide with other persons or vehicles that do not have the occupant protections offered by passenger cars.
Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 7,000 pedestrians were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2020. Pedestrians accounted for 1 out of every 6 traffic fatalities. Over 100,000 pedestrians were treated for non-fatal, crash-related injuries.
In the past, children and older adults were more likely to be killed by motor vehicles as pedestrians. But in recent years the pedestrian fatality rate for persons under age 20 or 70 years and above has declined considerably while the pedestrian fatality rates for persons ages 20-69 have increased.
Motor Vehicle/Bicycle Accidents
The CDC reports that about 1,000 bicyclists die and more than 130,000 are injured in crashes with cars every year in the U.S. The following statistics are also known of accidents between cars and bicyclists:
- Bicycle fatalities are more likely to involve adults ages 55-69
- Male bicyclists are at least 5 times more likely to die or be injured than female bicyclists
- Most bicycle fatalities happen in urban areas
- 64% of bicycle fatalities occur away from intersections and 27% occur at intersections
- Bicycle fatality accidents are highest between June and September
Passenger Vehicle/Motorcycle Accidents
In 2020, there were close to 5,600 motorcyclists killed on the nation’s roads. The motorcycle accident death rate was the highest it has been in 45 years. Motorcyclists represented 14% of all traffic fatalities.
About 48% of the fatal crashes involved a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. The driving maneuver most often leading to a fatal accident was the larger vehicle turning left in front of the motorcycle. Initial impact occurred with the front of the motorcycle more than 75% of the time.
Most Car Crashes are Preventable
The unfortunate truth is that most car accidents never need to happen. Rarely are the circumstances resulting in an accident outside of the control of the driver causing it. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) says 98% of the 6 million plus auto accidents each year are caused by human error.
The GSA recognizes the following types of driving errors as the most common contributors to crashes:
- Excessive speed
- Failure to anticipate the actions of other drivers
- Following too closely
- Maneuvering without looking out for other traffic
Car Accidents Caused by Aggressive Driving
Anyone who has ever driven in congested traffic knows how frustrating it can be to have another driver cut you off or practically force you off the roadway as you try to merge. Most of us just mutter our appreciation and continue on our way. But some drivers aren’t so forgiving and can escalate the experience by taking aggressive action toward another motorist.
Aggressive driving, known in its worst form as road rage, is behavior that is more culpable than mere error. There is an actual intention to endanger another motorist. The following information is known about aggressive driving:
- 66% of driving fatalities involve aggressive driving
- Males and younger drivers are more likely to drive aggressively
- Aggressive driving tends to encourage an aggressive driving response
- 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm
Older Age as a Risk Factor for Car Accidents
There were close to 48 million licensed drivers in the US aged 65 or older in 2020. That number is up 68% from only about 32.5 million in 2000. And the number of older drivers is expected to keep growing as people continue to live longer and want to maintain their independence.
Older age can be associated with an increased risk of getting into accidents. Older drivers are more likely to have some type of mental or physical impairment that may affect judgment while driving or interfere with perception and reaction times.
Older drivers are also typically more vulnerable to injury in crashes. Drivers over age 70 have higher death rates per number of crashes than younger drivers.
Hit and Run Car Accidents
Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270) requires that anyone involved in an accident resulting in injury or property damage must not leave the accident scene without providing contact information and reasonable assistance to persons injured.
Hit-and-run drivers can face criminal penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. If someone is severely injured or killed, a hit-and-run driver can face felony charges punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
A driver is still required to provide contact information even if no one was in or around the other vehicle at the time of the accident. Hit-and-run with an unattended vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail.
Hit-and-run car accidents can leave an injured person responsible for the cost of their damages if the fleeing driver cannot be located. This may mean trying to recover compensation under the uninsured or underinsured motorist provisions of their own auto insurance policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Georgia but must be offered by insurance companies. It will provide coverage for hit-and-run accidents but only for injury claims and not for property damage when the responsible driver cannot be identified.
What Happens When a Car Accident is Caused by a Minor?
Drivers ages 16 – 20 make up the smallest age group of licensed drivers but they have the highest percentage of involvement in fatal crashes. A minor may have their own car insurance but will often be covered by a parent’s policy while they live at home. The parent-child relationship does not automatically make a parent liable for the accidents of a minor driver.
However, there may be instances where a minor is not covered by insurance or does not have adequate insurance to cover all losses. Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2) states the parents of a minor may be held responsible for the consequences of the minor’s driving conduct under two legal theories.
Under this legal theory, parental liability for a minor’s accident is based on the parent’s ability to control the use of the vehicle driven by the minor and an awareness of the likelihood that the minor might be involved in an accident.
A parent who knew or should have known that a minor was likely to get in an accident and let the minor drive anyway can be held liable for the damage done by the minor.
Family purpose doctrine
The family purpose doctrine imposes liability on parents when the vehicle being driven by the minor is for the general use of family members, and the minor has general permission to use the vehicle.
This theory of parental liability is based on the relationship between the parent and the minor being like that of master and servant. The parent owns the car, and the minor is considered to be acting on behalf of the parent when driving the car for a family purpose.
If the minor’s accident was the result of driving for a reason that cannot be considered a family purpose, the parents of the minor will not be liable for the minor’s conduct.
Serious Injury by Vehicle in Georgia
In Georgia, a driver who causes an accident may commit the felony offense of ‘serious injury by vehicle’ (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394). If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or driving recklessly when the accident happened and someone received any of the following injuries, serious injury by vehicle has occurred.
- Loss of a body part
- Rendering a body part useless
- Disfiguring the body
- Brain damage rendering a body part useless
When any of the qualifying injuries are experienced and the driver is convicted of DUI or Reckless Driving, the penalty is between one and 15 years in prison.
Someone who is not driving under the influence or recklessly can still commit serious injury by vehicle if they leave the accident scene before exchanging information knowing that there are persons injured.
When Car Accident Injuries Result in Fatalities
In 2021, traffic fatalities in Georgia reached the highest number in 10 years. There were 1,797 people who died in traffic accidents – up 66% since 2012. When someone is killed in a car accident caused by someone else, the family members of the decedent have the right to make a claim for the wrongful death of their loved one.
The right to recover for wrongful death is first given to the surviving spouse. If there is no spouse, then the children of the decedent have the right to bring an action. If there is no spouse or children, the parents of the decedent are entitled to recover for the wrongful death of their child. In cases where no persons are available to make a claim, the decedent’s own estate has the right to bring the claim.
Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim are for the full value of the decedent’s life. Compensation includes the money the decedent would have earned and the value of the decedent’s companionship. Family members may also receive compensation for the decedent’s loss of enjoyment of life.
Cartersville Car Accident FAQs
People who get injured in car accidents can have a lot of questions about their rights and what they should do to legally protect themselves. Below are answered some questions frequently asked by car accident clients.
Can I recover compensation if I was partially at fault for causing the accident?
Yes, if you are not too much at fault. Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule. A person is only allowed to recover damages if they are 49% or less at fault for causing the accident resulting in their injuries.
How long do I have to bring a personal injury claim?
For most injury claims from auto accidents in Georgia, an action must be brought within 2 years from the date the injury occurred. Circumstances can exist that extend the time to file a claim but such circumstances are unusual.
Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company after an accident?
You will probably have to but don’t be pressured into anything and make sure you are prepared. You can decide when to speak with the adjuster. If you have questions or feel unsure about providing information to the insurance company, consult with our car accident attorneys so you understand your legal rights and how to best protect yourself.
How does a violation of traffic laws affect a car accident claim?
When an at-fault driver has violated a traffic law in connection with causing an accident, the violation creates the presumption a driver was acting negligently (unreasonably) as a matter of law. When an injured claimant violates a traffic law, it may eliminate or reduce the amount that can be recovered depending on whether the violation is a cause of the accident or only affects the severity of the injuries.
How a Georgia Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help with Your Injury Claim
A car accident not only wrecks your car, but it can wreck a lot of your plans as well. No one ever plans on becoming injured or having their lives change in an instant. There are so many unexpected things that have to be dealt with right away and so many unknowns about the future. It can be quite overwhelming for the injured person trying to sort it all out.
Making a personal injury claim is a legal process. There are rules to the game. There are strategies for winning. Car accident lawyers have the training and experience to make sure the interests of injured claimants are given adequate consideration and prompt attention.
At Joel Thrift Law, LLC, we understand that a car accident can really mess up a person’s life. Our clients often come to us frustrated by insurance company tactics and ready to level the playing field. We do our part by taking insurance companies to task and getting our clients paid so they can focus on healing their injuries and getting back to their lives.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Cartersville or the Atlanta Metro area, contact Joel Thrift Law, LLC for a free consultation and learn more about how you can recover compensation for your injuries.