A car wreck can change your life and your plans in an instant. Even though we all know how common these accidents are in the abstract, no one is ever truly ready when they happen.
Typical injuries range from broken bones and lacerations to paralysis, to seemingly minor strains that later become chronic spinal issues. Young, healthy people with long lives ahead of them can be lost with no chance to say goodbye.
On top of the pain and grief of the accident itself, most survivors and family members are forced to spend the time after an accident struggling to cover sudden expenses. Many must adjust to permanent changes in their homelives, bodies, and minds, which threaten their ability to make ends meet in the long term.
Below, we’ll talk specifically about Sandy Springs car accidents, how to recognize the need for a lawsuit, and how a lawyer can help prevent your bills from outweighing your insurance checks. If you’d rather speak to a Sandy Springs car accident lawyer directly, feel free to reach out at any time.
Car Wrecks Are One of the Most Common Types of Negligent Accidents
Put simply, personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are appropriate when one person’s negligence harms or kills another person.
Exactly what kind of behavior qualifies as negligence depends on the situation, varies by jurisdiction, and can be somewhat subjective at times. The basic idea, however, is that we all have a responsibility to consider the safety of others and refrain from behaviors that pose an unreasonable danger to those around us. Failure to honor that responsibility is called negligence.
The level of responsibility an individual has for the safety of others depends primarily on how much power that individual wields in the situation at hand. For example, a restaurant owner has much more power than their employees do over how the restaurant is run. If someone gets sick from eating at the restaurant, the negligence generally lies with the owner, rather than the employee who actually served the unsafe meal.
For most people, the responsibility for the safety of others is at its highest while driving. Lives literally depend on each driver on the road staying alert, following the rules, and applying adequate skills to the task. People who exercise the power of driving, and fail to meet this standard, are legally responsible for the harm they cause.
Just like the hypothetical restaurant employee, however, professional drivers often don’t hold nearly as much power over their approach to road safety as their bosses do. If the vehicle that causes an accident is an on-duty big rig or a MARTA bus, for example, then the trucking company or MARTA would be the appropriate defendant to sue, rather than the individual driver or their personal insurance company.
Negligence-Related Car Accidents Take Many Forms
Dense traffic, rushed drivers, and high ratios of large vehicles can all contribute to higher rates of serious car accidents. Sandy Springs highways must support a great deal of Atlanta commuter traffic and some major trucking routes. The MARTA rapid transit system, intended to ease traffic problems in the Atlanta area, sometimes causes accidents of its own. To top it off, Sandy Springs is home to the international headquarters for UPS, one of the biggest and most famous ground shipping companies. Altogether, it can be a hectic and dangerous place to drive.
Car accidents in Sandy Springs (and elsewhere) tend to fall into a few major categories.
- Large truck-versus-car accidents. These are particularly deadly for the car occupants, because of the massive size of commercial trucks. They also tend to cause a great deal of collateral damage and disruption. A truck-versus car accident was what shut down the 400 freeway for two hours last January. Truck drivers are less likely than car drivers to be at fault, but it does happen.
- Multi-car accidents. These tend to happen when one driver gets impatient, reckless, or aggressive toward others, or makes a careless error that snowballs into a collision or pileup. Sometimes the fault is clear cut, as in the recent head-on collision caused by someone driving the wrong way down the 400. Other times, it’s more complicated. In August of 2021, three cars attempted to use the Glenridge Drive exit of the I-285 at once and got stuck, side by side. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but if they had been, determining who had right of way would have been a crucial and tricky task.
- Vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents. Drivers have a responsibility to watch out for pedestrians at all times, not just at crosswalks, so liability usually falls on the driver in these cases. This is partly because, when something goes wrong, it may be impossible to avoid walking in areas not intended for pedestrians. For example, in March of 2021, a car struck and killed a man walking on the 400. The man was trying to get away from a previous, unrelated accident.
- One-car accidents. These occur when a car strikes a stationary object, such as a divider. One-car accidents are less likely than other types to justify a lawsuit, because the driver of the wrecked car is usually at fault, but this isn’t an airtight rule. Sometimes, one-car accidents happen because of vehicle defects, or because the driver was forced off the road by another driver who managed to avoid the actual crash.
- Hit-and-run. This is an additional category that can apply to any kind of accident, if someone flees the scene without exchanging the appropriate information with the other people involved. In April of 2021, one driver struck a car near Roswell Road and the I-285, fled, then fatally struck a pedestrian and his dog on Hammond Drive, fled again, and was finally arrested. Hit-and-run is illegal, and drivers who do this are almost always considered negligent to some degree, even if the original accident was not their fault.
Just about any car accident in which you were following the rules of the road, someone else made an error, and you suffered an injury as a result, can be grounds for a lawsuit. The same logic applies if your loved one was following the rules and was killed due to someone else’s mistake.
A Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Interests After a Car Accident in Sandy Springs
Car wreck survivors are often hesitant to seek legal help, especially if their own level of fault is in question, or if the wreck was clearly an honest accident on the other driver’s part. Many people view hiring a lawyer as aggressive or selfish, and believe that it should not be necessary as long as everyone involved in the accident is willing to be civil and honest about it.
The trouble with proceeding without a lawyer is that, unless the person who caused the accident happens to be extremely wealthy and self-insured, you’re not just counting on the honesty of individuals. You’re counting on the honesty of insurance companies.
When someone injures you on the road, it’s their insurance company that actually owes you compensation. It doesn’t matter that the driver was the one who performed the negligent act, or that it wasn’t the company’s fault. Financially covering the policyholder’s liability is the main purpose of car insurance. It’s the service the company agrees to provide in exchange for the monthly premiums they collect.
Insurance companies are, by design, not interested in making sure victims’ bills are paid, or even making sure their own contractual obligations are fulfilled. Their goal is to maximize their profits by paying out as little as possible on each of the many claims they receive every day.
This is what happens if you go through the insurance company’s official channels to collect compensation for your losses. The claims department will collect information on the accident, for the purpose of defending the company, and then either deny your claim or offer you a small payout, in the hope that you will take it and give up your right to sue for full compensation.
A car accident lawyer can help you assess the true cost of the accident, including your pain and potential future medical expenses, and defend against insurance industry practices intended to leave you with less than you need.
Quickly Finding the Right Lawyer Greatly Improves Your Chances of Compensation
Picking a lawyer to represent you after a car accident is a potentially life-altering decision that should not be made lightly. It’s vital to make sure that the lawyer you work with is reliable and skilled, and has enough experience in the specific areas of law that pertain to your case.
At the same time, it’s equally important to take decisive action and hire someone before evidence can be lost, or anything else can happen to weaken your case. Even the world’s best, most successful lawyer in a particular field may not be able to win a legitimate case if they start too late.
For example, a car accident survivor who accepts a small payment without understanding the terms, or who accidentally makes a self-deprecating joke about their driving to the insurance company, may have no recourse left, even if they were completely blameless in the accident. Hiring a lawyer later can’t undo that damage.
To protect yourself, your best option is to make finding a qualified car accident lawyer one of your top priorities after a wreck, second only to the immediate health and safety of those involved.
The Stoddard Firm Has Expert Attorneys for Sandy Springs Car Accidents
If you’re in need of a car accident lawyer in Sandy Springs, you’ve come to the right place. At the Stoddard Firm, we’re experts in traffic law, personal injury law, and wrongful death law.
We’re also closely familiar with Sandy Springs and all of the Metro Atlanta area. We know the roads, so we can understand and relay descriptions of accidents and traffic patterns more knowledgeably than someone from out of town.
We’ve been here for over a decade, fighting for the rights of the injured. We know our way around Fulton County Superior and State Courts, and we already have a rapport with many of the people likely to come up in the investigation of your case. We’ll coordinate with Northside or Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital to make sure the full extent of your injuries goes on record. We’ll talk to Sandy Springs Towing Service, or the local branches of the big tow companies, to check that all the statements and physical evidence related to the accident are consistent.
After suffering an injury or losing a loved one to a car accident, recovery alone can become a full-time, unpaid job. We can help make the process of standing up for your legal rights as simple as possible, so that you and your family aren’t left struggling with the financial fallout forever.
To get started with a free consultation, just call 678-RESULTS or reach out through our online chat function.