Georgia Car Accident Laws
What's In This Article
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.
A lot of factors can contribute to the severity of car crash cases such as driving under the influence, high on drugs, and texting. While it’s possible to be involved in a car accident no matter how careful you are, there are laws that can protect your rights as a motorist. Georgia Car Accident Laws are there so you would know what to do and what to expect if you find yourself involved in a car accident in the Peach State.
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Georgia Car Accident Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations refers to the period of reporting a case when there is an injury or death. In The Georgia car accident statute of limitations is 2 years, and generally applicable to all cases with injuries and wrongful deaths, such as a car, motorcycle, or truck accidents. 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.
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 1504 people died in Georgia car accidents in 2018. 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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What to do When You Get in a Car Accident in Georgia?
According to Georgia Car Accident Laws, all parties involved in a car accident are required to report the incident immediately. You should be able to inform local law enforcement once you find out that there are injuries or deaths in the event. In case there are no injuries or deaths, property damage of more than $500 is enough to report the issue. On top of this, both parties need to exchange information as part of the process. Names, addresses, contact information, insurance information, and license numbers should be disclosed to each party.
As part of the state’s law, you are also required to get help when somebody is injured. You need to be at the scene of the accident until all the liabilities are settled. Else, you will be involved in more disputes or worst, lawsuits.
Reporting a Car Accident in Georgia
Calling 911 will automatically connect you to the nearest police station in the place of the accident. This is the first step in reporting a car accident in Georgia, especially if there are injuries or deaths. Once the police arrive at the scene and confirmed that there are injuries or fatalities or property damage of more than $500, they will automatically submit a copy of the crash report to the Department Public Safety (DPS). This department should receive the report within 10 days from the date of the accident. It is the responsibility of the parties involved to file the report with DPS in case the police are not able to do so.
Request a copy of the accident report
The police officer who was present at the scene should be able to give you his calling card so you can ask for a copy of the report. Reach him through the contact information written on the card and request a report copy. The police station can give you the copy directly but in the circumstance where it is not available, you will be transferred to DPS. To request a copy of the police report, you will need to pay a small amount.
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.
Third-party Liability Laws in Georgia
Third-party liability laws in Georgia revolve around settlements. Instead of spending years over an argument, hiring a lawyer, and filing a claim only to find out that one party is going to lose, most people who are involved in car accidents choose to settle first before they take the matter to court. A settlement is considered an informal solution to resolve a case and it is mutually agreed by both parties. The injured party can get compensation equivalent to how big the damages were. Although it is not required by Georgia to undergo a settlement proceeding first, you have it as an option.
The settlement coverage depends on many factors and the major one is the amount of damages. For instance, a mere scratch on a parked car will require a lesser settlement than a drunk driver who killed more than one individual in a car crash. There are considerations during a settlement. Included are the insurance coverage, car repairs, medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income from being away from work.
Insurance is a very essential matter under car accident laws. If in case the negligent driver has no capability to pay the damages out of his pocket, the insurance company can pay for the compensation instead. This is the reason why insurance is mandatory when driving in Georgia.
Where does Georgia rank in the list of best & worst drivers in the US?
Georgia has a high number of fatalities due to car accidents. The percentage of deaths due to automobile accidents was declining in 2006, however, it rose again in 2015 and 2016, bringing the case to 1,554 deaths. This was 8.5% higher than in 2015. 368 people were killed due to impaired driving, 476 were unrestrained fatalities, and 266 were related to speeding. This information was written in the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety 2017 Annual Report.
Meanwhile, in 2017, it reported 1,549 death due to auto accidents. Of this figure, 56% were drivers not wearing seatbelts while 17% were those who were involved in vehicle accidents and pedestrians. In 2018, the number decreased to 1,515, still, a high number compared to other states in the country. But in 2019, the number of fatalities was brought down to 487 as of the year-end.
Atlanta, as one of the major cities in Georgia, has ranked in 2020 America’s best and worst drivers and it was placed under the “worst.” This city was the 186th safest city among the 200 mentioned in the report. It was the 15th least safe city to drive in the U.S. Atlanta has 6.2 average years between claims, 24.3 “hard-barking events” for every 1,000 miles, and the 182nd in the 2017 overall national rank.
Compared to this city, other places in Georgia ranked higher when it comes to safety. Augusta was at rank 69, Macon at 70, Columbus at 78, and Savannah at 168.
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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