PI settlement Claim Value
At a very early age, most of us learn several things about mistakes. We all make mistakes. Sometimes they are entirely our fault and sometimes they are only partially our fault. Furthermore, all mistakes have consequences. These consequences may be rather, well, inconsequential, or they may be earth-shattering. Finally, regardless of the impact, we must all face the consequences of our mistakes.
These principles are at the heart of a personal injury settlement. A negligence case does not really “blame” anyone for the accident. Instead, it’s about getting fair compensation for one’s injuries.
Typically, a Marietta personal injury attorney recovers compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Traditional and Nontraditional Evidence
Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in civil court. So, solid evidence forms the core of all personal injury claims. In car wrecks, this evidence usually includes three traditional sources. But for various reasons, these sources may be inadequate:
- Police Accident Report: Emergency responders interview witnesses, examine physical evidence, and put their fault conclusions in a report. But emergency responders only interview witnesses who loiter at the scene. For various reasons, many people do not like talking to police officers. Furthermore, in terms of physical evidence review, even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstruction professional.
- Medical Bills: Frequently, medical bills convey excellent information about diagnosis, treatment, and cost. But they sometimes lack the human touch regarding pain and suffering. Some jurors have a hard time translating cold, hard facts into human emotions, like physical and emotional discomfort.
So, to fill in the gaps, many Marietta car crash lawyers turn to nontraditional evidence sources, such as the Event Data Recorder. EDRs offer bulletproof evidence as to things like steering angle, vehicle speed, and other essential car crash metrics.
There are issues with all this evidence, mostly regarding information privacy. To stay with the EDR example, Georgia has one of the strictest vehicle information privacy laws in the country. Generally, attorneys must obtain court orders before they inspect and download EDR data.
On a related note, EDRs are technically sophisticated devices. That’s especially true of semi-truck EDRs. A lawyer needs a lot more than a laptop and a screwdriver to access this critical data.
The legal aspects of a case, both from the plaintiff’s and defendant’s perspective, also have considerable bearing on a case’s settlement value.
There are basically two theories of liability in car wreck claims: ordinary negligence and negligence per se. Device distraction is a good illustration of the difference between these two theories.
The Peachtree State has a literal hands-free law. It is illegal to hold or support a cell phone with any part of the body while driving. If tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate this law and cause crashes, they may be liable for damages as a matter of law. No further inquiry is needed. So, negligence per se cases are rather easy to prove in court.
Speakerphones and other hands-free phones may be even worse than hand-held phones. Hands-free gadgets cause users to take their eyes off the road and their minds off driving. Furthermore, these devices give many tortfeasors a false sense of security.
So, using a hands-free phone arguably violates the duty of reasonable care. Evidence on this point includes things like call logs, text message records, and web browsing logs. Because the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk, many Cobb County jurors award larger damages in ordinary negligence cases. The consequences are larger.
Frequently, the insurance company can point to a legal defense. Some common defenses in car wreck claims include:
- Contributory Negligence: This doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. Since Georgia is a modified comparative fault state, the tortfeasor is responsible for a proportionate share of damages even if the victim was 49 percent at fault.
- Assumption of the Risk: In Georgia, this defense could involve seat belt or motorcycle helmet non-use. Legally, victims who fail to take these basic precautions might be responsible for their own injuries. However, assumption of the risk is not easy to prove in court.
- Last Clear Chance: This rule sometimes comes up in head-on and rear-end wrecks. If Driver A had a chance to avoid a crash with Driver B, perhaps by changing lanes, Driver A may be legally responsible for the wreck, even if Driver B was at fault for the collision.
The presence of insurance company defenses usually at least delays settlement, as outlined below.
Resolving a Car Crash Claim
Over 90 percent of call vehicle collision claims settle out of court. If there is no question as to liability, the insurance company must settle the claim within a few weeks. But as outlined above, there is almost always at least some question as to liability.
Some delay works in favor of the victim/plaintiff. If the case settles too early, the resolution may not include enough compensation for all damages, such as future medical expenses. It is almost impossible to reopen cases that have settled.
So, many times, settlement negotiations do not begin in earnest until the victim’s medical treatment is at least substantially complete. At that time, an attorney usually sends a demand letter to the insurance company.
If the case does not settle at that point, it may be necessary to file court paperwork, to preserve the victim’s legal rights. At that point, most Cobb County judges refer contested cases to mediation. A third-party mediator, who is normally an unaffiliated Marietta personal injury attorney, is frequently able to settle even bitterly contested cases.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Lawyer
Achieving a fair car crash settlement usually takes time and legal expertise. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. Home and hospital visits are available.