Car accidents are catastrophic events. Sometimes it can be difficult just to determine what happened, let alone who may be at fault. Even when you can determine what happened, the other party may deny that it was their fault, or may even say that you caused the accident. If the other driver is trying to blame you for the accident, don’t lose home – there are things you can do to protect yourself and still successfully pursue a claim.
Get Statements from Witnesses
The people who were involved in the accident aren’t always reliable witnesses. For one, they may not have seen what happened or may have difficulty remembering details. Second, they are sometimes motivated to give a version of events that is biased in their favor. Any third-party witnesses to your accident can be tremendously helpful when it comes to proving liability. Because they are considered to be neutral parties, their statements or testimony can be very persuasive.
As a result, ask your witnesses to provide you with a statement as soon as possible. Ideally, they should provide their statement in writing, but any kind of recorded statement is sufficient. The purpose is to memorialize when they remember from the accident so that you have a clear account of what happened weeks or months down the road.
Understand Comparative Negligence
In some cases, both drivers may share some fault in the accident. If you think this might be true in your case, that doesn’t mean you can’t still pursue a claim. Georgia law allows injured parties who are partially responsible to recover compensation but reduces their recovery based on how much their own negligence contributed to the accident. For example:
- Annie and Bill are involved in a car accident. Annie was speeding, but Bill ran a red light.
- Annie sues Bill for injuries she suffered as a result of the accident, seeking compensation in the amount of $100,000.
- At trial, the jury determines that Bill’s negligence accounted for 70% of the accident, while Annie’s negligence contributed for 30%.
- As a result, Annie is awarded $100,000 reduced by 30% – her share of the liability for the accident. Annie is therefore awarded $70,000.
There is an important detail to this rule that you should understand – if Annie is more than 50% responsible for the accident, she cannot recover any compensation.
Be Careful When Discussing the Accident with the Insurance Companies
Insurance companies want to limit the amount they pay on your claim as much as possible. As a result, they may take anything you say and use it to undermine your claim. You should therefore be extremely careful when speaking with them.
- Do not opine as to the cause of the accident.
- Do not accept fault.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say you don’t know or don’t recall. Do not expand on this answer.
In short, you need to be very careful about what you say as it may be used to support the other driver’s claim that the accident was your fault.
Talk to a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The Atlanta car accident attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can evaluate your case and help you understand your options. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 888-474-9616 to speak with one of our lawyers and how they can help you.