Unfortunately, car accidents happen every day in Augusta, GA. Whether your accident stems from a driver running a red light, a failure to check a blind spot before merging, a distracted driver, or another cause, car accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries.

In fact, according to the Augusta, GA, traffic engineering division, over 3,000 people experience critical injuries from car accidents across the state monthly because of excessive speeding alone.

If you are injured in a traffic accident, there are things you need to know if you want to pursue compensation for your injuries.

Time Limits to File a Case in Georgia

A statute of limitations is a time period in which a lawsuit can be filed. Once that time period has passed, the victim can no longer file a claim. Time limits vary from state to state and are based on the type of lawsuit. 

Car accidents are civil suits. The state of Georgia limits these kinds of claims to two years from the date of the accident. In other words, a car accident victim in Georgia cannot wait more than two years to try to claim personal injury damages. 

What If I’m at Fault?

Georgia also has laws that prevent you from being able to collect damages for your injuries if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident. 

Because of this law, insurance companies often try everything they can to make it appear as though you are at fault. Having legal representation on your side can help you navigate these tricky situations so that you don’t accidentally say or do something that will work against you in the future.

What Kinds of Compensation Could I Seek?

Damages are the amount of money legally owed to a victim when they’ve been harmed by another party. Damages are divided into two distinct categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are bills and income losses incurred due to the accident.

When someone is involved in a car accident, the financial damages are usually quite obvious. These include:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Ambulance and EMT costs
  • Surgeries
  • Follow-up care, like physical therapy
  • Medications

If the accident causes severe injuries, there may be lifelong medical care costs associated with rehabilitation, disability, loss of limb, and loss of income due to the inability to work.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages may not be immediately obvious. These can include impacts on a person’s mental or emotional state, their pain, or the loss of an ability to enjoy activities.

Common examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Ongoing PTSD, fear, or anxiety
  • Changes in social habits
  • Ongoing physical pain
  • Mental anguish

Someone who has lifelong scarring or disfigurement from an auto accident, for instance, may battle deep depression. They may also change their social life because they no longer feel comfortable being seen in public. 

These combined changes might also alter their married life, making intimacy difficult or eventually resulting in divorce.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Evidence can begin disappearing quickly after the scene of an accident is cleared. If there were witnesses to the event, they may not be able to reliably recall details of what they saw just hours after seeing it. 

Security camera videos may not be available after 24 hours, and the accident scene itself can change dramatically within weeks or months. 

With these things in mind, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself and your ability to recover compensation from the responsible party.

File a Police Report

In the state of Georgia, this is required by law if there are injuries, a death, or property damages totaling more than $500. 

When the police arrive, they’ll ask witnesses for statements while the accident is still fresh in everyone’s memory. They’ll also note the conditions of the road, pavement, surrounding structures, and obstructions, if applicable. They may take pictures to include in the record.

All of these items will help your case in the future.

Even if you do not seek legal counsel right away, the police report will be a public record that your attorney may be able to access later.

Check for Injuries and Exchange Information

If you’re able, check on each person involved in the accident and see if you can do anything to help. Call 911 if anyone needs immediate medical care.

Next, begin exchanging insurance information with the other parties involved. Be careful not to apologize to anyone or say something that could be taken out of context and make you sound like you believe you’re at fault for the accident.

Write Down Your Observations

Try to remember the events that led up to the accident and what you believe you saw or did. Take your own pictures of the road, vehicles, structures, and other people. 

Visit Your Doctor or an Emergency Care Clinic

Even if you believe your injuries are minor or that you didn’t sustain any injuries at all, this may prove to be wrong once the adrenaline wears off. 

Keep track of all receipts, including those for over-the-counter pain medications if applicable.

Don’t Agree to a Recorded Statement or Sign Anything

If another party’s insurance company calls or visits you, avoid agreeing to or signing anything without first consulting a legal specialist. Insurance companies will often attempt to skew any information they can to make it appear as if you were at least 50% or more responsible for the injuries you sustained to protect their own bottom line.

Call an Auto Accident Lawyer

Attorneys who specialize in helping car accident victims often know what details to look for and how best to gather evidence for future reference. They will also be able to help you get the full extent of the compensation you deserve.

Even if you suspect you may be at fault for an accident, don’t put off the above steps. You may not immediately know what was happening in the other car. You may have forgotten to turn on your turn signal, yet the other driver could have been drinking and speeding recklessly. 

Gather all of the evidence and let the experts decide, but don’t delay in filing a case. With a short statute of limitations on car accident cases, pursue the compensation you need right away.