Car Accidents

Lawyers in Macon, GA

In 2020, there were 331,796 reported motor vehicle collisions in Georgia, most producing some injury to a driver or passenger in the vehicles involved. Tragically, Georgia has the unfortunate distinction of historically ranking near the top when states are ranked based on the number of fatal car crashes.  In 2020, for example, 1,588 Georgians died as the result of a motor vehicle accident – more than four per day!

When you or a family member or friend are involved in a car accident, a lot of issues arise, and for fifty years Reynolds, Horne & Survant has been helping people answer those questions and providing helpful guidance.

Four types of car insurance come into play when you are involved in an accident, even if the accident was not your fault. 

Liability insurance

Liability insurance covers the at-fault driver.  His insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend him and will pay any judgment up to the limits of coverage.  Georgia only requires $25,000 in liability coverage; therefore, most liability policies are insufficient to handle a claim of any significance.  An ambulance ride to the hospital and an evaluation by the emergency room physician can easily cost between $2,000.00 and $5,000.00.  As a result, most driver have inadequate insurance to protect those injured in car accidents caused by the carelessness of its insured.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurance

This is insurance you hopefully have.  It provides coverage if the at-fault driver either does not have liability insurance (almost ¼ of Georgia drivers) or does not have enough liability coverage.  There are two types of UM insurance, often referred to as “offset UM” or “add-on UM.” 

Examples are the best way to explain this unique coverage.  If you have “offset UM.” your coverage will be “offset” by the liability coverage.  If you have $25,000 in “offset UM” and the at-fault driver has the required $25,000 in liability coverage, your UM coverage becomes zero.  The $25,000 in UM coverage is offset by the $25,000 in liability coverage.  $25,000 minus $25,000 equals zero. Your total potential recovery would only be $25,000 from the at-fault driver’s policy.

If you have “add on UM,’ on the other hand, your coverage is added to the available liability coverage.  If you have $25,000 in “add on UM” and the at fault driver has $25,000 in liability coverage, you have a total potential recovery of $50,000. 

UM coverage can also come from different sources and combine or “stack” to cover one accident.  If you are injured driving a company vehicle, for example, and the at-fault driver does not have enough liability coverage, your UM coverage and your employer’s UM coverage, if any, may “stack,” thereby providing you with more potential insurance. 

Beware, most insurance companies push for you to buy “offset UM” because in most cases, your UM coverage will evaporate due to the liability coverage.  In other words, the insurance company can collect premiums for “offset UM” knowing that it will not have to pay anything, even if you are seriously and permanently hurt.  You should make sure with your insurance company that you have “add on” UM.

Medpay coverage

This coverage pays for medical bills incurred as the result of a car accident.  This coverage should be on your policy; it does no good if the at-fault driver has it.

Property damage coverage

This coverage is for the damage to your vehicle, a rental car, and the diminution in its value after repair.  The at fault driver’s insurance company will typically pay the property damage, but if it doesn’t, the collision coverage you have on your vehicle will pay to fix it (less the deductible).   If you don’t have collision coverage, however, and the at-fault driver’s insurance has denied coverage or liability, you will be left with no one to pay for your vehicle’s repair.

Other common questions related to car wreck cases

In Georgia, drivers have to exercise a general duty of ordinary care or prudence while driving.  In addition to establishing general carelessness, we also rely on Georgia’s Rules of the Road.   Those rules specifically set forth the maximum speed limits, the proper way to pass a vehicle, the proper way to make a turn, and the proper way to slow and stop a vehicle.  They also deal with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and a driver’s being distracted by a cell phone or other electronic device.  If the driver who caused your accident violated one of these Rule of the Road, they will be deemed negligent as a matter of law, making your case much easier.

Anyone injured in a car accident can testify about what areas of his body were injured and how those injuries affected his day-to-day activities.  It takes a medical doctor, however, to establish the specific medical injuries and to link those injuries to the wreck.  You can say you hurt your knee in the accident, but it would take a medical doctor to say that your injury was, for example, a torn ACL and that doctor would then outline for the jury the nature of the surgery he did to repair it. In Georgia, that medical testimony can be in the form of the doctor’s appearing as a live witness at trial (which is very expensive), or the doctor can appear via a videotaped deposition or even a written narrative.

There can be more than one avenue to recover in car wreck cases.  Typically, the at-fault driver and the owner of the vehicle will be sued, but what if the person causing the wreck was running an errand for his employer while using his own car? Under those circumstances, the employer would also be responsible for the actions of its employee.  If the person causing the accident had gotten drunk at a bar prior to crashing into your car, that bar may be liable, too, if it served alcohol to an openly intoxicated person.  The manufacturer of your car may also be liable if your injuries were caused or worsened by a defective vehicle.

Yes. An attorney is necessary to do the necessary investigation into the accident, to determine all possible sources of recovery to maximize your recovery and to guide you through a jury trial, if necessary.  Almost without exception, your net recovery after paying an attorney will be more than you could have obtained without the assistance of counsel.

For your convenience, our office is in Macon, Georgia, but we serve clients throughout the southeastern United States and nationwide. The best car accident attorney in Macon, GA for your case will put your needs above all else. Call (478) 217-2582 to schedule a free case evaluation today.