Thousands of motor vehicle accidents happen in Georgia each year. In 2021 alone, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported more than 1,700 traffic fatalities. Car collisions account for 34% of those deaths.
In 2021, the state amended some of its legislation to make roads safer, starting with the adoption of a law that regulates the sales of mixed drinks to-go by restaurants. It also reduced the number of required hours in DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction programs and updated its rules concerning bicycle riders on the highway.
Other laws concerning car accidents are listed below, along with other information that you can use if you have been involved in a car accident.
Georgia Traffic Safety Laws
Knowing the state’s laws will help you decide whether to file a claim for compensation after an accident or not. The guidelines for local auto and traffic safety are outlined in Title 40 of the Georgia Code.
Georgia's reckless driving code, for instance, prohibits the following:
weaving in and out of traffic,
ignoring the safety of pedestrians and other motorists,
failing to yield,
using a vehicle to perform stunts on public highways, and
driving on sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
Anyone who violates this code faces up to $1,000 in fines and up to 12 months in prison, or both.
Georgia’s uniform rules of the road state the repercussions of failing to yield the right of way, which may be in the form of not safely merging onto a highway, giving way to oncoming traffic while making a turn at a junction or from a driveway, or stopping for pedestrians crossing the street and school buses that have stop signs. A $150 fine and other penalties may be imposed on violators.
The tailgating law in Georgia requires drivers to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle they are following. The current standard is one vehicle length for every ten miles per hour of speed. If a driver does not follow these rules, they may face a $150 fine.
Georgia Vehicle Safety Laws
Vehicle owners must comply with the state’s safety equipment requirements to be registered in the state of Georgia. The Georgia Code contains various laws that cover this ground.
According to the vehicle inspection law, all vehicles registered in Georgia must have an emissions inspection every year. It also requires some commercial vehicles to get an annual safety inspection. A motorist who operates a car without a current inspection certificate faces a $100 fine for the first violation and a $500 fine for each subsequent infraction.
Georgia's car registration law addresses all facets of vehicle registration. It states that a person who owns or operates a vehicle without a valid registration can be charged with a misdemeanor, faces a fine of up to $100, and temporarily lose their driving privileges.
Georgia Driver Behavior Laws
The purpose of driver behavior laws in Georgia is to control how local motorists act while operating a vehicle on public roads. These laws promote safety, help reduce accidents, and hold drivers accountable. You may refer to the following laws if your case involves driver behavior leading to an accident:
Georgia’s DUI law prohibits driving with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08 grams in people aged 21 and above, with zero tolerance for minors. A first DUI violation carries a fine of $300 to $1,000, a prison sentence between 12 and 24 months, and community service of 40 hours. A license suspension of up to a year may also be imposed on a DUI offender.
The implied consent law establishes that anyone using a motor vehicle on a public road in Georgia is automatically consenting to a blood chemistry test. If a motorist refuses to take a test, they must pay a fine, and their license will be suspended for one year for the first violation, three years for the second, and five years for the third.
Georgia Criminal Laws
Victims of car accidents may also sue under the criminal laws of Georgia, which include the following:
The hit-and-run law which mandates that a driver must stop or return to the scene of the incident without posing danger to traffic. He or she must also leave his information, help those who were injured, and file a police report. Failure to comply with this law may result in a $100 fine. Leaving the site without completing one's obligations may result in criminal prosecution, severe penalties, jail time, and license suspension or revocation.
The rules against aggressive driving are meant to hold Georgian drivers accountable for serious injuries or deaths caused by their reckless or careless driving, especially when the goal is to irritate, harass, intimidate, hurt, or slow down others. Any person who violates the law by driving aggressively faces up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Georgia Pedestrian Safety Laws
Georgia has laws in place to protect pedestrians, including the following:
Under the Georgia law on who has the right of way in crosswalks, motorists are expected to yield to pedestrians regardless of whether a crossing has painted lines. The law also addresses pedestrian responsibilities, which include using the crosswalk when crossing. Violation of this rule is punishable by a $1,000 fine or a 12-month jail sentence. The driver may also face increased insurance costs and license suspension.
The rule that deals with crossing at locations other than crosswalks is another crucial regulation that pedestrians need to be aware of. In Georgia, if there are no crosswalks, pedestrians are still allowed to cross the roadway, but they must yield to approaching cars. They must also cross the road at a straight angle and take the shortest possible route.
It is still the driver's duty to be as careful as possible to avoid hitting a pedestrian. They must give signals, like blowing their horns, to let people know that vehicles are coming. A driver who violates this may be fined up to $100. They may also face more severe penalties, like felony charges and imprisonment, if the violation results in a fatal accident.
Georgia Laws Related to Minors
Georgia has specific rules for teen and minor drivers.
“Joshua’s law”, or Georgia Code § 40-5-24, requires that all 16- and 17-year-olds must finish a driver education program before getting a Class D license. This law also qualifies 17-year-olds who enlisted in the U.S military service to a Class C license without the class holding a class D.
Although the law on driving without a license does not specifically mention minors, it is generally unlawful to drive in Georgia without a license, regardless of age. Minors who are caught driving without a license may face delays in processing their licenses as well as higher insurance premiums.
A subsection in the DUI law, k1, states that drivers under the age of 21 caught driving with a BAC of 0.02 but not more than 0.08 may be charged with “underage driving under the influence.”
The parent liability law states whether a minor who is driving a vehicle involved in an accident in Georgia should be held accountable for their willful negligent actions. In this case, a thorough investigation is required, and the complainant must prove that the parent or guardian of the accused was aware of the actions that contributed to the accident but did nothing to prevent it. Once proven guilty, the parent or legal guardian may be required to compensate the injured party for their losses and expenses.
Georgia Auto Insurance Laws and Requirements
Georgia ranked 23rd on the list of states with the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in 2019. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12.4% of drivers in the state do not have the minimum insurance requirements.
Based on the formula and data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average car accident insurance expenditure in Georgia has only marginally increased from $1,173.71 in 2018 to $1,182.79 in 2019 and $1,186.09 in 2020. One explanation for this could be that some drivers are indigent and unable to afford an insurance policy for their cars.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements for Motorists in Georgia
The state's minimum requirement for driver's insurance is outlined in O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11. This law stipulates that a "25/50/25" policy, or the following minimum liability insurance coverage, is mandatory for all drivers:
$25,000 for each individual who sustains physical harm or dies in an accident brought on by the operator of an insured vehicle
$50,000 for physical harm or demise in each accident brought on by an uninsured vehicle
$25,000 for damage to property brought on by an uninsured motorist
Vehicle owners must keep in mind that non-compliance with these standards is punishable by law.
Penalties for Non-Compliance with the Insurance Law
In Georgia, driving without insurance is against the law, and you must always carry proof of coverage. The penalties for failing to provide proof of one’s insurance can result in any or a combination of the following:
fines of up to $1,000
suspension of license
criminal charges, such as when a driver was involved in an accident
Drivers may also be asked to file an SR-22 or a certificate of financial responsibility in order to demonstrate that they have existing liability insurance.
Optional Insurance Coverage Plans
Georgia has a minimum insurance requirement, but drivers are not restricted by it and are allowed to get additional policies on top of the government-mandated ones. Here are some options you can purchase from your insurance provider:
Uninsured motorist coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage
Other Laws Related to Car Accident Insurance in Georgia
There are other laws in Georgia that relate to car insurance policies. Listed below are some helpful codes and their goals:
The cancellation of policies aims to protect people’s rights in relation to an insurance company's cancellation obligation.
A provision in Title 33 of the Georgia Code describes the condition in which an insurer may revoke a policy.
The goal of Georgia’s Unfair Practices Act is to protect policyholders against unethical claims settlement practices by insurance firms.
Another law under Title 33 of the Georgia Code establishes accurate information about the inclusion of insurance plans issued in the state.
The Georgia law that regulates rates also promotes fair practices by insurance companies when processing claims.
Georgia Is a Fault State for Car Accidents
Georgia is a fault state when it comes to car accidents. This means that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying for damages using their insurance, their own funds, or through a settlement with the other party’s insurance.
However, the injured party’s compensation will still depend on the degree of their fault in the crash. Under the state's modified comparative negligence law, if the plaintiff is more than 49% at fault, they cannot recover any damages from the defendant. This is known as the “50% bar rule.”
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
The statute of limitations, or the period during which you can file a case in Georgia, varies depending on the type of proceedings to be conducted. Criminal proceedings have a time limit of two years from the date of discovery, while civil cases normally have a four-year time period. If a lawsuit is filed beyond the given timeframe, it may no longer be admissible.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, you have two years from the date of the accident to take legal action for personal injury. The families of individuals who have passed away after being involved in a car accident are also given two years to seek restitution. However, if you would only like to obtain compensation for property damage after being involved in a car crash, you are given more time, which is four years, to take action.
How Much Someone Can Sue in the State of Georgia
There is no limit on the amount of compensation that can be sought in Georgia. The injured party may sue for a number of damages, such as:
hospitalization, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and other medical-related costs;
damages to property, including expenditures for repairing or replacing a vehicle;
income and salary lost as a result of missed work days or disability; and
pain and suffering, which include emotional distress and mental anguish.
Punitive damages, or those intended to make a party answerable for reprehensible behavior, such as when an intoxicated driver causes catastrophic injuries in an accident, are subject to a cap of $250,000.
Legal Resources for Car Accident Victims in Georgia
Georgia state licenses are issued by this department. You may reach it by phone at (678) 413-8400 or on its website at dds.georgia.gov.
In Georgia, the insurance industry is governed by this agency. Visit its website at oci.ga.gov or give the office a call at 800-656-2298 for any insurance concerns.
The court system’s website contains guides and information about filing lawsuits, including downloadable court forms and other resources.
This division strives to reduce traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities on Georgian roadways. On its website, information on traffic accident data and traffic safety rules is available. You can find out more about the office by visiting its website or calling 404-565-6996.
Building and maintaining Georgia's transportation network is the responsibility of the GDOT. Information on traffic patterns, construction activities, and transportation issues may be found on its website. You may also contact the agency by calling 404-631-1990.
The GBI handles investigations into accidents involving fatalities and serious injuries. You can reach it by calling 404-244-2600.
This program aims to help low-income families seeking legal services. You may visit its website or call 404-206-5175 to learn more.
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