Georgia Car Accident Laws
From Atlanta to Savannah, you can find thousands of miles of roads to explore in Georgia. The roads of this growing state are used by more than 9 million drivers who drive an average of 12,500 miles per year. Because of the rapid growth of Georgia, it is more likely you could get in a car accident when you drive here. It is important to know the basics about car accident laws, statistics and related driving information.
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Statistics and Notable Georgia Car Accidents
If you are ever injured in a car accident in Georgia, you are just one of many. On average, every resident of this state will be in a car accident every decade. Statistics show that more than 1720 drivers are in car accidents in Georgia each day. This is more than 70 drivers per hour.
Below are more concerning statistics about car accidents in Georgia:
- Three pedestrians per week are killed in Georgia.
- Pedestrians are at least 30 times more likely to be killed in auto crashes than are auto occupants.
- One out of 16 pedestrians in Georgia car accidents are killed.
- Car accidents in Georgia are the top cause of death for children.
- Child safety seats will reduce the risk of injury by 71% for infants.
- The number of traffic accidents in 2008 in this state was 342,500.
- The number of traffic deaths in 2008 was 1703.
- Average crashes per day is 1198.
Top causes of car accidents in this state are:
- Driver lost control of the vehicle
- Unsafe speed
- Wrong side of the road
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
- Disregarded stop or turn signal
In the last few years, texting and driving has caused a major spike in auto accident deaths in Georgia. Such deaths increased by 33% from 2014 to 2016. This is the fifth highest increase in the US and is more than double the national average, according to recent data from the National Safety Council. This latest report found that 1500 people died in Georgia car accidents in 2015. It found that the top three killers in the state currently are distraction, speed and alcohol.
Safety advocates are uncertain why the state has outpaced the nation in rising distracted driving deaths. But there is no doubt that bicycle, pedestrian and motorcycle deaths increased by 1/3 in Georgia in 2016. Also with a big increase was car accident deaths where the vehicle ran off the road. This is a sign that the driver may have been distracted.
National statistics also show that I-285 in Georgia had more fatal crashes per mile than any other interstate in 2013.
One of the worst accidents in recent years in Georgia involved a tractor trailer driver who was high on crack when he ran a red light and killed a woman in Augusta, Georgia in 2017. He was also speeding and fighting with his girlfriend when he ran the red light and hit the woman. He got a 14 year prison sentence. He was driving a tractor trailer on US 50 east of O’Fallon on Nov. 8, 2016 when he slammed his vehicle into several cars. Police said he was speeding when he hit the four vehicles. The driver of one of those cars was killed.
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Georgia Accident Settlement Taxes
So, the legal settlement has been finalized and the numbers have come in. But you may be concerned about receiving a lump sum payment in Georgia because you are afraid of the state tax bill. Fortunately, for the most part, you do not usually have to pay state income taxes on the settlement. While the personal injury portion is not usually taxes, other parts can be.
For instance, if the judge determines that the personal injury you suffered was so outrageous that the person who did it should be financially punished, you will be awarded punitive damages. These damages are not for reimbursement of any expenses. They are just supposed to punish the person or entity that harmed you. Both the IRS and the state of Georgia will consider this as income and you will need to pay taxes on it.
Next, had you not been injured, you would have continued to work and earned a salary. This salary would naturally be taxed as income. So, if you are given a financial award for lost wages, this would be considered taxable income in Georgia. If you are working on commission and bonuses, the court will make an estimate of your lost wages, which would be taxed.
Compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress directly due to your injuries are taxable. But if you are entitled to such payment that are not due to your injuries, then it is taxable income in Georgia.
Georgia Negligence Laws
In some states, if you are one percent at fault for the accident, you cannot recover damages. But most states allow you to recover property and injury damages if you were partially at fault. Georgia is one of these as it is a modified comparative negligence state. You can recover damages if you were 49% or less at fault. If you were 50% more at fault, you may not recover damages. In this type of case, it is very important to have an effective attorney who can prove the other person was responsible for more than 50% of the crash.
So, if you were 40% responsible for the car accident, your potential recovery would be limited to 60% of the total damages.
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Car Insurance Requirements in Georgia
You are required to carry a minimum level of car insurance in Georgia. If you do not, you can face severe financial penalties and possibly jail time. The minimum amount of insurance you can carry in Georgia legally is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person per incident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all people in an accident
- $25,000 property damage liability
Georgia does not have a law requiring you to carry additional insurance, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist or personal liability insurance.
Other Georgia Driving Laws
Below are some new laws that affect drivers in Georgia:
- There is a ban on cell phone use entirely for novice drivers, including hand held and hands free
- There is a complete ban on texting and driving.
- Since 2012, all Georgia drivers who want to get a new or renewed driver’s license are required to provide three types of ID.
- Georgia drivers who are convicted of repeat drunk driving offenses must install and maintain an ignition interlock device.
Also, note that there is a cap on punitive damages of $250,000. This means if you are injured in an accident where the other driver is grossly negligent, your punitive damages will be limited to that amount. Punitive damages are commonly awarded by juries when the negligent driver’s behavior was especially wanton or reckless, such as a drunk driver who was well over the legal limit.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Georgia features a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases. The two years starts on the day of the crash for personal injury, and on the day of death of the individual for a wrongful death action.
Georgia Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in Georgia, you should review the below resources to help you to deal with this stressful time in your life:
- If you are curious what your car accident claim or lawsuit may be worth, use our tools at Lawsuit Info Center to determine what your potential settlement could be.
- If you were in an accident and need a copy of the police report, you can visit the Georgia Department of Public Safety and make a request.
- You are required to file a police report if the car accident involved property damage above $500, or involved a death or serious injury. It is recommended that you file a Personal Report of Accident form if you are in any type of accident. The form cannot be used against you if the claim goes to court.
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