Usually, the driver who is trying to change lanes is at fault in a changing lanes car accident. Drivers in Georgia are not allowed to change lanes unless they can do so safely. However, there are some situations where the driver who changed lanes is NOT at fault and the accident was actually caused by another driver.
Changing lane accidents are common, and when they happen at highway speeds, they can be quite serious, involving additional cars or causing a driver to over-correct and roll over or lose control of their vehicle. If you have been involved in a changing lanes accident in the Atlanta area, a car accident lawyer can help you recover money for your injuries, your vehicle damage, and more.
What does It Mean if a Driver Is “at Fault” in Georgia?
In Georgia, fault is one of the most important factors in any car accident claim. This is because the driver who is “at fault” must pay for the accident, including injuries, vehicle damage, and long-term losses if the accident was serious. Most of the time, this money will be paid by the driver’s auto insurance company.
Georgia drivers have a duty to be reasonably careful and follow the rules of the road when they’re behind the wheel. That means observing speed limits, not drinking and driving, maintaining safe following distances, and just generally being a safe and responsible driver.
If a driver doesn’t follow these rules, they are “negligent.” Negligence is the main reason drivers are found to be at fault in car accidents.
How Can You Tell Who Is at Fault in a Lane-Changing Accident?
Georgia’s laws say that a driver can only change lanes when it is reasonably safe to do so. This means it’s up to the driver who is changing lanes to be aware of surrounding traffic, check blind spots, use a turn signal, and be sure it’s safe before merging or crossing into another lane. Most lane change accidents could have been avoided if the driver changing lanes had been more careful, and this is why lane changing accidents are usually the fault of the driver who is changing lanes.
However, there are some instances where another driver is to blame. A driver may be drunk, overly aggressive, or might have moved into the same lane without looking or signaling.
For example, you might have done everything right when you changed lanes, only to have an aggressive driver appear out of nowhere and hit you at a high rate of speed. You were changing lanes, but the aggressive driver is most likely at fault for the accident.
What if the Insurance Company Says You Are Partly to Blame?
The accident may be partly your fault—or it may not. It’s hard to tell because insurance companies like to spread the blame around to avoid having to pay out as much in claims. If you are partly at fault, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you as much.
How a Lawyer Can Help
And if the accident is 50% or more your fault under Georgia’s modified comparative fault laws, it doesn’t have to pay you at all. The best way to respond is to sit down with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can tell you whether you have a good claim, whether you may share any fault, and how this might affect the amount of money you will receive.
Our law firm launches its own investigation. Looking at police reports, witness accounts, and other types of evidence and piece together what happened. In many cases, we can build a case that convinces the insurer that you are not to blame in any way.
A lawyer can take care of your car accident claim from start to finish, whether you end up settling your insurance claim or going to court with a car accident lawyer in Atlanta. Hiring a lawyer is often the best thing you can do to protect your rights and ensure that you have the money you need to recover and move on with your life.
What to Expect After Filing Your Insurance Claim
After you file a claim with your insurance company, you might have the expectation that you will be awarded the compensation you will need to cover your vehicle repairs and your medical expenses and be awarded compensation for the other ways your life has been affected by your lane change accident injuries. However, you may be shocked to discover that the insurance company pushes back.
You will be filing a claim with the liable driver’s insurance company under Georgia fault-based insurance laws. This means you will be dealing with the liable party’s insurance company as opposed to your own. This can make the negotiations process far more tumultuous than if you were to be filing a claim with your own insurance company.
How the Insurance Company Tries to Lower Payments
You can expect the insurance company to attempt to reduce their financial obligation wherever possible. Insurers have been known to resort to unscrupulous tactics including:
- Placing unwarranted fault on the injury victim for the accident
- Delaying the processing of a claimant’s claim without just cause
- Making a claimant an insultingly low offer in the hopes of tempting them with less than they deserve
- Otherwise denying a lane change accident victim’s claim in bad faith
Fortunately, you can take action to protect your injury settlement throughout the negotiation process. Make sure you have a dedicated lane change accident attorney backing you up so you can hold the insurance company accountable accordingly.
How Insurance Settlements Work After a Lane Change Accident
Since you will need to file a claim with the liable driver’s insurance company, it is important to understand that the compensation you can be awarded through an insurance claim will be entirely dependent on the types and amounts of insurance coverage the liable party purchased. For example, Georgia law requires motorists to purchase a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage is designed to cover your medical expenses when you cause a car accident and someone else suffers injuries.
If the liable party only purchased the minimum amount of coverage under Georgia law, but your medical expenses exceed $100,000, you could be stuck dealing with nearly $50,000 in remaining medical expenses after your insurance settlement payout. With the insurance company attempting to reduce their financial obligation and your ability to recover compensation being limited by the policyholder’s coverage limits, bringing your case to court may be the best way to recover maximum compensation following a lane change accident in Georgia.
What Damages Could You Recover in Your Lane Change Accident Claim?
When you have been involved in an accident caused by improper lane changes, you have the right to be compensated for each and every loss.
Although the insurance company may only regularly provide compensation for things like medical bills and property damages, you have the right to recover restitution for your emotional, physical, and financial damages. Here is more about what your lane change accident claim could be worth.
Compensatory damages refer to the losses you have the right to recover after an accident. These do not include only financial losses but can also describe the ways your entire life has been affected by your injuries. To ensure your losses are accurately accounted for, your attorney may further categorize your damages as being economic or non-economic.
Economic damages have fixed financial values, while non-economic damages do not. Your attorney will need to assign them a monetary value. To do this, they will need to evaluate how your damages have affected your life. To give you a better idea of what your lane change accident claim could be worth, here are some of the more frequently awarded types of compensatory damages in Georgia lane change accident claims:
- Your lost quality of life, including your inability to participate in activities you once found joy
- Disfigurement, dismemberment, or skin scarring
- Lost wages and your future earning capacity, including potential salary increases, bonuses, and 401(k) or other retirement savings plan contributions
- Your current and future medical expenses as they relate to your lane change accident injuries
- The cost of repairing your vehicle or purchasing a new one
- The additional insurance premium expenses when your insurer increases your policy premiums
These are only a few of the more common types of compensatory damages you may have the right to recover in your lane change accident claim. You can find out how much your lawsuit and insurance settlement could be worth as soon as today when you contact your lawyer to discuss your damages further.
Punitive damages are another type of compensation you may be able to recover as part of your lane change accident claim. They are not a type of loss you are entitled to recover but rather an award the jury will grant you when they find the defendant’s conduct grossly negligent, intolerable, or reprehensible.
These are designed to punish the defendant and send a message to the Georgia community that similar conduct will not be tolerated in the future. Your attorney can give you a better idea of whether punitive damages may be awarded in your case, but you should never anticipate being awarded punitive damages, as they are not an entitlement you have the right to recover.
When to Call a Lane Change Accident Attorney for Help
You may not always be sure when it is the right time to call a changing lanes accident lawyer in Georgia for help. However, when you are laying in your hospital bed, wondering what your next step should be, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should call a lawyer for help:
- Is someone else responsible for causing my lane change accident injuries?
- Is it possible that someone else’s negligence or misconduct is the cause of the collision?
- How serious are my injuries?
- Are my injuries going to impact my life financially?
- Have I suffered emotional trauma from the accident?
- Will my injuries affect my life in the future?
When the answers to these questions are “Yes” or “Significantly,” you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit or insurance settlement.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our law firm has a long history of getting car accident victims money for their injuries and auto damage. We offer a free consultation to talk about your claim—and if we don’t win money for you, you’ll never have to pay us a thing. Call us or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.