Car Accident Injury Lawyers Marietta Ga
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Car accidents make up the bulk of personal injury cases in the US court system. These accidents happen for a variety of reasons which include improperly maintained roads, poorly marked signs, and defective parts (as a few examples). The most common reason, however, is definitely driver negligence.
There are more distractions in the car environment today than at any other time in history. Cell phones, portable DVD players, and radios are just a few examples of distractions we face in our daily commute and transit. These devises may seem harmless, but the distractions from these devices can cause serious injuries when they result in car accidents.
Without question, injuries from car accidents can certainly represent some of the most serious type of injuries that people can sustain. These accidents cause injuries ranging from the less severe but long-term, like soft tissue injuries and whiplash, to the very serious, like brain trauma, lacerations, disfigurement, and even wrongful death. The discussion below is intended to assist you with evaluating and handling a personal injury claim. Of course, if you have any questions or you need assistance with your personal injury automobile wreck claim, please do not hesitate to call or contact the attorneys of Jackel & Phillips for a free legal consultation.
SHOULD I SPEAK WITH AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER FOR THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WRECK?
The general recommendation most lawyers give is “Don’t give a written or recorded statement to the insurance adjuster representing the person responsible for the wreck” and we at Jackel & Phillips would repeat the same advice. DON’T GIVE A STATEMENT. It is usually fine to speak with an insurance adjuster for the other side if it is strictly to discuss the resolution of your property damage case (see below), but don’t give a statement which can be used in your personal injury claim case. Why? An insurance adjuster is an employee of the insurance company who makes a determination as to fault, and then pays a claim. Typically, when discussing a potential personal injury claim, the adjuster will ask you to give a recorded statement. This is the adjuster’s first chance to get your version of what happened, and since it is being recorded, you are going to be stuck with whatever you say, even if it doesn’t come out quite right. More importantly, anything you say “can and will be held against you.” Also, do not provide the insurance company for the other driver a medical authorization to obtain your medical records if you intend to hire an attorney.
If you decide to give a recorded statement without the help of an attorney, please keep several things in mind. First, the insurance adjuster is not your friend. Second, he or she is not legally obligated to act fairly. Third, the insurance adjuster’s only job is to save the insurance company as much money as possible, which the adjuster accomplishes by paying you as little as possible.
Assuming that the accident is completely the fault of the person who hit you (i.e., the “defendant”), also bear in mind that you have the right to have your vehicle repaired wherever you choose. Additionally, the defendant’s insurance company should supply you with a rental car comparable to the vehicle you were driving or at least pay you a certain amount for each day that you are unable to use your vehicle.
WHEN SHOULD I FILE A CLAIM WITH MY OWN INSURANCE COMPANY?
Sometimes, because of the hoops that a third-party insurance company will make you jump through, it is preferable to have your vehicle repaired through your own insurance coverage. Repairs covered by your own auto-insurance provider are often completed more quickly because your provider is legally obligated to give the coverage. You will probably have to pay your deductible, but you can get reimbursed for it through the third-party company later (assuming that the other driver is at fault). If you use your own insurance coverage, you will only get a rental car (if you had purchased that coverage when you bought the insurance policy). If you don’t have rental car coverage, you will have to pay for the rental, or borrow a vehicle, and try to get the money from the third party later.
WHAT IS A “TOTALED” VEHICLE?
If the cost to fix your vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of the pre-accident “fair market value” of the car, then the insurance company may “total” your vehicle. This means the company will declare the vehicle a total loss. At that point, the insurance company must give you the amount equal to the fair market value” of your vehicle just before the accident. The overall condition and mileage of your vehicle will affect its value. Similarly, any recent work done to the vehicle, or money put into it, may affect its value. As discussed below, there is usually some negotiation in this process, so it is crucial to find evidence to support your claim of value. The Kelly Blue Book value is not enough. You need to find comparable vehicles that are actually for sale or have just sold. For example, E-Bay Motors is also a good place to find the values of similar vehicles that have recently sold.
DO I NEED TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR MY PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM?
Generally speaking, the answer is “not usually.” Automobile property damage claims come in many shapes and sizes. If your vehicle was hit by another vehicle while on the road or while parked, it is considered a property damage claim. If your mailbox, lawn, or home is damaged by a vehicle, that type of claim is also considered a property damage claim.
In a nutshell, if your vehicle is not “totaled” a property damage claim involves paying for the repairs to your vehicle and the “diminution of value” to your vehicle. In the State of Georgia, the law is that all insurance companies doing business in Georgia must assess and pay for any loss in market value for vehicles damaged in a wreck and repaired, as part of the damages of the claim. This loss in value is known as “Diminished Value” or DV. Many insurance companies will look to pay very little or nothing on the “Diminished Value” claim. If you are encountering problems with recovering a proper value for your “Diminished Value” claim, you may want to consider hiring a specialized service (available on the internet) which will conduct a “market” search to find the actual sales of similar cars to your damaged vehicle with property damage compared to cars without property damage. With this market data, you will be in a better position to negotiate with the responsible insurance company.
One other thing to keep in mind, insurance companies in the State of Georgia must “adjust” or negotiate your property damage claim in “good faith” or they may face “bad faith” penalties. Accordingly, the majority of property damage claims are resolved without the help of an attorney. Of course, if you find that you’re having difficulty with the insurance adjuster handling your claim, then it may be advisable to contact an attorney.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR MY CAR ACCIDENT INJURY CLAIM?
The answer to this question often depends on the level of injury involved. In cases of serious injury, you should always consult with an attorney. In cases of minor injuries, however, you should consider consultation with an attorney, but you may want to handle the claim yourself.
Please keep this in mind when considering whether to handle your personal injury claim with or without the assistance of an attorney. Attempting to handle a claim on your own and then later seeking out a lawyer may complicate and undermine the claim process. It is similar to trying to treat a medical condition on your own before you go to the doctor – actions you think might help the injury or illness could actually make things worse and it may be a more difficult recovery once you finally seek medical treatment. If you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a claim, contacting an attorney immediately after your car wreck for help in making your claim go as smoothly as possible is probably the best path forward.
Remember, the insurance company you are making the claim against will have attorneys representing and fighting for them. Lawyers are professionals who spend years and countless hours studying the particulars of the law and gathering knowledge to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. The last thing you want to face is being a “fish out of water” when it comes to presenting your case in court.
WE CAN HELP
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an automobile accident due to the fault of another, please do not hesitate to call the legal experts of Jackel and Phillips, PC for a free legal consultation. We will help you assess your case, guide you through the pratfalls of making a personal injury claim and assist you in making a fully informed decision as to how to handle your personal injury claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver.