Car accidents remain a significant public safety concern nationwide, and statistics on traffic collisions in Georgia reveal the risk for motorists. According to data compiled by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GA DOT), there are almost 387,500 total crashes across the state every year. More than 2,000 people lose their lives in these accidents, while another 154,300 suffer serious injuries. It is unfortunate that these auto collisions are preventable and only happen because of motorist negligence.
To alleviate the impact of driver errors that lead to car accidents, automakers have been developing and installing advanced safety features for decades. Ideally, they would prevent all auto collisions from happening, but some equipment goes a long way toward crash mitigation.
Still, it is not possible to prevent all collisions. You will need an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer to assist with your legal remedies if you were hurt, since enforcing your rights can be challenging. An overview of advanced safety features in cars and the legal process is also useful for understanding how these cases work.
Safety Features for Accident Prevention
Automakers have focused significant research and development efforts to prevent crashes, and many are available on today’s models:
- Warnings Systems: This technology uses a network of sensors and cameras to detect hazards the driver needs to know. Forward collision warning alerts the motorist when the vehicle approaches an object ahead, and lane departure warnings sound when the driver veers.
- Adaptive Cruise Control: Vehicles have been equipped with cruise control for decades, but recent solutions are smarter. Adaptive cruise adjusts speed to maintain a preset distance between the vehicle and the one ahead.
- Lane Centering: Unlike lane departure warnings that only issue an alert, lane centering is an advanced safety feature that will actually take over steering if you stray from your path.
Advanced Safety Features Mitigate Tragedy
When it is not possible to avoid a collision entirely, it is still a worthwhile effort to reduce the implications for occupants. One of the first safety features for accident mitigation is one that will be familiar: The seat belt. The hip strap keeps you from being tossed within the vehicle upon impact, and the shoulder straps prevent violent forward movement.
Other vehicle advanced safety features that mitigate the harm include:
- Safety restraints for children, including rear-facing car seats, forward-facing chairs, and booster seats; and,
- Any of the advanced safety features intended for prevention. They may slow down the vehicle before impact or deflect the energy of an impact by steering away.
Your Rights in a Georgia Car Accident
Advanced safety features hold the key to accident prevention and mitigation, and development continues on new technologies. However, keep in mind that the presence of these features does not affect your rights. A motorist is still ultimately responsible for driving the vehicle. If he or she breached the legal duty to exercise reasonable care when driving, you may qualify for compensation under the concept of negligence. Some examples of driver negligence include:
- Running red lights;
- Driving while impaired;
- Failure to yield; and,
- Distracted driving.
Note that you could have a claim regarding an advanced safety feature that is defective. For instance, air bags that did not deflate or exploded have been the subject of product liability lawsuits.
Seeking Compensation After an Auto Crash
With car accident claims, your first step in the legal process is filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. There are two critical points at issue when dealing with the insurer, and they are at fault and your losses. You need to convince the company that their policy holder was responsible for causing the crash, and you must back up your claim for damages with proof about the physical, financial, and emotional consequences.
Despite having solid evidence, you may get pushback from the insurance company. Insurers are in business to make a profit, and your claim is a hit to the bottom line. When the company refuses to settle for a fair amount as compensation, you must sue in court and take your claim to trial.
Monetary Damages are Available
Whether you work out a settlement with the insurance company or go to court, the rules on compensation are generally the same. There are two categories of damages in a Georgia auto accident case:
1. Economic Damages: Some of the losses from a car crash are tangible and can be assigned a dollar value. Medical costs are considered economic damages, so you can recover for emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, and other treatment. Lost wages are also in this category.
2. Noneconomic Damages: The implications of a traffic collision also affect you in ways that are not measurable in dollar value. You may not have receipts or invoices, but you most certainly endure hardship. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and other losses that diminish quality of life.
Know Your Deadlines
Every US state has a law that limits the amount of time you have to file a suit, and Georgia’s statute of limitations is 2 years. It starts the date of the accident, and the results are devastating if you allow it to expire. Your case is barred, and you cannot recover any compensation for your losses.
The statute of limitations applies differently when a child is the victim of a vehicle collision. Once he or she turns 18 years old, the 2-year clock starts to run. However, parents can also take action on their child’s behalf to get the claim resolved promptly.
Set Up a Consultation with an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
Time is of the essence considering Georgia’s statute of limitations, but it is also wise to get started with legal action because you can resolve your claim faster. Our Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys will handle the legal process, applying our experience in dealing with insurance companies and extensive trial advocacy skills. Please contact us today at (404) 529-3476 or via our website. We can schedule a no-cost case evaluation to discuss legal remedies and next steps.