If you can walk away from a car accident in Atlanta without any injuries, you are fortunate. Most car crashes result in physical injuries. Victims may even sustain catastrophic injuries that result in permanent impairments, depending on the severity of the car accident.

Common car accident injuries include:

When a person sustains injuries in a car crash, that person can sue the at-fault driver for compensation of damages. Damages include economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Damages also include non-economic damages, or “pain and suffering” damages. 

If you are not injured in the car accident, you might lose your lawsuit against the other driver. One of the legal elements of a negligence claim is damages.

Proving Liability for a Car Accident in Georgia

Most car accident claims are based on negligence. Negligence is failing to act with a level of care that a reasonable person would use in the same or similar circumstances. The “reasonable person” is a hypothetical person. A jury decides what is “reasonable” in a car accident case.

To recover damages for a car accident claim, you must prove each of the four elements of negligence, which are:

Duty 

You must show that the party who caused your car accident owed you a duty of care. All drivers owe a duty of care to operate their vehicles according to traffic laws. Drivers must take steps to avoid causing accidents.

Breach of Duty

A driver breaches the duty of care when they violate traffic laws or fail to act with a reasonable level of care. For example, a driver breaches the duty of care when he operates a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. A driver may also breach their duty by exceeding safe speed limits, tailgating, or making improper lane changes.

Causation 

You must be able to link the cause of your car accident with the other driver’s actions. In other words, can you prove that your car crash was a direct and proximate cause of the other driver’s conduct?

For example, would the accident have occurred if the driver didn’t speed, follow too closely, or run a red light

Damages

The final element of a negligence claim is damages. This element is concerned with what harms you suffered because of the defendant’s actions.

Were you physically injured? Did you sustain financial losses because of the accident? Did the accident cause you to experience emotional distress and mental anguish?

You must provide proof of these damages to recover compensation. The value of your car accident claim is the total of your damages. If you did not sustain damages, there is nothing to claim.

Can I Recover Compensation Without Sustaining a Physical Injury?

There is a great deal of confusion about whether you must sustain a physical injury to recover compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish. 

When a person sustains a physical injury, they will likely experience a certain level of emotional distress and mental suffering. However, can you suffer emotional distress and mental anguish without sustaining a physical injury?

Historically, the law has required a victim to sustain a physical injury before recovering compensation for mental and emotional distress. However, there are exceptions, and there have been some favorable court rulings in the recent past.

The best way to determine if you have a valid claim for a car accident is to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. An attorney provides an honest assessment of your cases and explains your options for seeking compensation from the person who caused your injury. 

Most Car Accident Cases Settle Without Filing a Lawsuit

Most of the claims related to motor vehicle accidents are settled directly with the insurance company. Drivers in Georgia must carry a minimum about of liability insurance for motor vehicle accidents. Attorneys prepare settlement demand packages to send to insurance companies that begin the negotiation process for settling an injury claim.

If the insurance company refuses to agree to a fair amount for damages or disputes liability, a personal injury lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit. The lawyer would discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit for a car crash, especially if the victim was not seriously injured in the accident.

It could be best to settle minor car accidents without filing a lawsuit to avoid the time and cost of litigation. If you are unsure what you should do after a car accident, seek legal advice before agreeing to a settlement offer.