On this page, our personal injury lawyers will look at Atlanta auto accident lawsuits. We will explain the relevant law as it applies to car accident cases in Georgia and we will examine the average settlement compensation payout in Atlanta car accident lawsuits.
Auto Accidents in Atlanta
Atlanta is the capital and largest city in the state of Georgia. The population within the city limits of Atlanta is just under 500,000, which only ranks as the 38th largest city in the U.S. This is very misleading, however, because the larger Atlanta metropolitan area has a population of over 6 million which makes it the 8th biggest metro area in the U.S.
The fact that the Atlanta metro has a large population spread out between the city and suburbs means that the area is a maze of highways and major roads that host an extremely high volume of traffic. Not surprisingly, the Atlanta area is a hotspot for car accidents. Pedestrian accidents are common in downtown Atlanta, while high-speed collisions and big truck accidents happen on the major highways that cross through the area.
Atlanta Auto Accident Injury Laws
Georgia has its own unique laws that apply to auto accidents including tort law; traffic laws (rules of the road); and insurance laws regulations. Below is a brief outline of all the key Georgia laws that apply in Atlanta car accidents.
2-Year Statute of Limitations for Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuits
If you are injured in a car accident in Atlanta, Georgia law imposes a strict deadline on how long you can wait before filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This law is called the statute of limitations.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for auto accident lawsuits is 2-years. GA Code § 9-3-33 This means that if you want to file a lawsuit to get compensation for injuries in an Atlanta car accident, you must file the lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident. If you don’t file your case within 2-years, your claims will be legally barred.
Georgia’s Modified Comparative Fault Rule
In many Atlanta auto accident cases, both drivers may be partly negligent in causing the accident. In situations where the plaintiff’s own negligence is partly to blame for their injuries, Georgia follows the legal rule known as modified comparative fault. Under comparative fault, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage share of fault. So if a plaintiff is found to be 10% at-fault for their own injuries, their damages would be reduced by 10%.
Under the modified version of comparative fault adopted in Georgia, if a plaintiff’s share of fault exceeds 50%, then they are totally barred from recovering any damages.
Damages Available in Atlanta Car Accident Cases
Georgia does not have a statutory limit or cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded in a car accident injury case. Georgia law allows all the standard types of economic and non-economic damages in auto accidents including:
Medical Expenses: If you are injured in an Atlanta car accident, Georgia law allows you to recover damages for all medical expenses incurred for the treatment of physical injuries caused by the accident. So let’s say Jill gets in an accident and goes to the hospital. She gets diagnosed with a back injury and undergoes physical therapy treatment for several months along with medication. Jill can get money damages for the cost of the hospital trip, the physical therapy, the medication, and everything else.
Plaintiffs are entitled to damages not just for past medical expenses, but also for future medical expenses they expect to incur if they are related to injuries suffered in the accident. For example, let’s say that in addition to the treatment described above, Jill’s doctor says that she will need to have spinal fusion surgery next year to correct her back injury. Jill is legally entitled to recover damages for the estimate cost of that surgery.
Lost Income: Georgia personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for any wages or income lost from injuries sustained in the car crash. This includes both past and future lost wages/income. Lost income is also available for some family members in wrongful death cases.
Pain & Suffering: Georgia law also allows damages to be awarded for mental pain and suffering related to injuries sustained in a car accident. The more severe and painful the injury, the more pain and suffering damages. The judge or jury determines pain and suffering damages if a case goes to trial.
Settlement Value of Atlanta Car Accident Lawsuits
The potential settlement payout value of an Atlanta car accident injury case depends on a number of different factors, but the most important factor is the severity level of the plaintiff’s physical injuries. Auto accident cases involving more serious, permanent injuries have a higher settlement value.
Accident cases involving what we call Level I or “minor injuries” (e.g., whiplash, back sprains, and other soft tissue injuries) have an average value of around $18,000 to $35,000. Level II or “moderate” injuries have an average settlement value of $57,000 to $160,000. Auto accident cases involving the most serious or Level III injuries (including death in permanent disability) have a settlement value range of $200,000 to $520,000.
The Atlanta area is a very favorable jurisdiction for personal injury plaintiffs. Plaintiffs tend to do very well at trial in Fulton County and the surrounding areas. This means that Atlanta auto accident cases have a slightly higher average settlement payout value compared to accident cases in others areas in Georgia.
Calculating Settlement Amount in Atlanta Car Accidents
The calculation of settlement amounts in Atlanta car accident lawsuits can be a complex process, often requiring the expertise of a skilled Atlanta car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer in Atlanta can assist in accurately estimating the value of a claim, which involves a detailed assessment of several key factors.
Firstly, economic damages are considered. These are tangible costs resulting from the accident, such as medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, property damage, and lost wages due to time away from work. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents and evidence to support these claims.
Non-Economic (Pain and Suffering)
Secondly, non-economic damages are factored in the settlement amount. These damages are more subjective and include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. There is no cap on these damages in an Atlanta car accident claim.
This is the hardest and most important measure of damages to calculate. A car accident lawyer in Atlanta can help you determine what your pain and suffering should be, but there is no precise calculation, and even the best Atlanta accident attorneys will disagree on how to what that amount should be.
Thirdly, the concept of comparative fault is important in Georgia. If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the accident, their settlement may be reduced proportionally. Most of these cases we see do not have significant issues of who is at fault, but we do have some where the battlefield is responsible for the crash. If that is what you are facing, you need an Atlanta car accident lawyer who will do the groundwork to best establish the full extent of the other party’s liability.
At the risk of repetition, determining settlement amounts is hard, and not every Atlanta car accident lawyer has the skill sets to properly assess these factors and ensure that you know what a fair settlement amount would be. Bottom line: this is not a job for any attorney. It has to be a lawyer who has all the right kinds of experience to maximize your settlement compensation or jury award.
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Atlanta Auto Accident Settlements Amounts and Jury Payouts
Below are recent 2022-2023 verdicts and reported settlements from Atlanta car accident lawsuits. These cases are provided for informational purposes only, to give examples of the types of injuries and associated legal damages awarded in Atlanta auto accident cases. You cannot use this to determine the settlement value of your Atlanta accident case. But seeing verdicts and settlements is very useful for getting a feel for how much money juries give in similar types of cases. Along with other tools, this will help you better understand the settlement value of your claim.
- $167,442 Verdict (Fulton County 2024): A 49-year-old female was a front seat passenger of a vehicle when the defendant, traveling in the opposite direction, executed a left turn across her host driver’s lane of travel. The plaintiff reported injuries including cervical and lumbar disc herniation and bulging leading to spinal radiculopathy at both levels and multiple thoracic herniations, for which surgery and/or pain management therapy was recommended.
- $1,800,000 Verdict (Fulton County 2023): An intoxicated driver ran a red light and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle, and then fled the scene, resulting in the plaintiff sustaining a broken neck. The plaintiff hired an Atlanta auto accident lawyer who filed a lawsuit. The defense argued that the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions, including dormant rheumatoid arthritis, would have caused pain regardless of the accident. The case presented pretty typically with how defense lawyers handle car accident lawsuits. They offer $70,000 pretrial and $200,000 in the middle of the trial. The plaintiff rejected the offers. That decision paid off. After about five hours of deliberation, the jury awarded a $1.8 million payout.
- $18,500 Verdict (Gwinnett County 2023): A 60-year-old plaintiff claimed to suffer ligament sprains and muscle spasms in his neck and back, aggravation of pre-existing arthritic conditions in his spine, headaches, right hand pain and swelling, and 5 percent impairment to his body when he was rear-ended at a red light.
- $100,000 Verdict (Fulton County 2023): Plaintiff suffered whiplash, headaches, shoulder pain and right knee pain requiring surgery when the vehicle she was driving southbound, slowing to make a left turn, was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by the defendant. Jury found that the plaintiff was 40% at-fault, so the $100,000 verdict was reduced to $60,000 based on comparative fault.
- $92,500 Verdict (Fulton County 2023): Defendant failed to yield and made a left turn in-front of the plaintiff causing a collision. The plaintiff reported injuries including a deep gash in her chin resulting in scarring and disfigurement and two fractured teeth, which had to be shaved down to implant veneers, which will have to be replaced routinely as she ages. Damages included $42,000 in past medical expenses.
- $88,117 Verdict (Fulton County 2023): The plaintiff was walking alongside his bicycle, crossing an intersection, when the defendant, driving east, made a right turn and struck him. She hired an Atlanta car accident lawyer who filed a lawsuit that claimed he suffered injuries to his back, left knee and shoulders and sought damages including $89,103 in past medical expenses. The Atlanta jury obviously did not buy the entire argument.
- $147,880 Verdict (Gwinnett County 2023): The plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant when she slowed down for traffic on a highway outside Atlanta. She suffered injuries to her back, neck and right shoulder, due to the collision, causing her to incur approximately $180,918 in medical expenses. The jury only awarded $147,880, which was less than the claimed medical expenses.
- $26,401 Verdict (Gwinnett Count 2022): The plaintiff was rear-ended when he stopped to turn into a driveway. He suffered lumbar injuries including vertebral spurring, bilateral facet joint hypertrophy and cervical injuries. His claimed past medical expenses were $10,000 and the jury in Gwinnett County gave him more than double that for pain and suffering.
- $240,000 Verdict (Fulton County 2022): The plaintiff reportedly sustained a scapholunate ligament tear to his wrist which required reconstruction surgery, as well as cervical radiculopathy, when his westbound host vehicle was struck by a southbound vehicle operated by the defendant. Liability was admitted and the case went to trial in Fulton County to determine the appropriate amount of damages. Past medical expenses were $70,000, which means the jury gave $170,000 for pain and suffering.
- $189,873 Verdict (Fulton County 2022): The adult, female plaintiff claimed that she suffered lumbar disc ruptures leading to chronic lumbar radiculopathy, as well as post-traumatic headaches, when her vehicle was rear-ended at a red light on an interstate off-ramp. She claimed past medical expenses of over $253,000 and she was only awarded $134,00 plus $40,000 for pain and suffering so clearly the jurors in Fulton County thought she was pushing it a little.
Contact an Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer
Call 800-553-8082 if you are looking to maximize the settlement amount of your Atlanta car accident case, or contact us online.