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Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Car Accident Claim

Chances are you are reading this because you or a loved one has been injured in a crash. The trauma of the impact alone is frightening enough.

But now you are faced with a lot more.

You may have been severely injured and need medical treatment. If you lack health insurance, you may be panicking about how you will cover your medical bills.

Your injuries or a totaled vehicle mean you are not able to work. Even though your paychecks have stopped coming in, the bills haven’t.

Where do you turn? What do you do next? What are your rights? What are the insurance company’s responsibilities?

We’ll answer all of these concerns and more. And if you have questions, our team of experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers is just a phone call away.

The 3 Things You Must Prove in A Personal Injury Claim

When trying to prove a personal injury claim to an insurance company or a judge, we have to establish that:

  1. someone was negligent in causing the wreck (someone besides yourself);
  2. the person’s negligence was the proximate cause of the injuries;
  3. and show that the injuries and damages were sustained as a result of the wreck.


We have to prove that someone (besides yourself) was at fault for causing the wreck, often referred to as “negligence.”

For example, if the defendant crashed into the rear of your car because they were riding your bumper and tailgating, they were negligent as they did not maintain a safe following distance or failed to keep a proper lookout of the road ahead.

Proximate Cause

Once we prove the other driver was negligent, we must show that their negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries.

This may sound confusing. How could their negligence not be the cause of your injuries? Here is an example of how proximate cause works:

You stop at a traffic light. Vehicle 2 stops behind you. Suddenly, vehicle 3 comes along and crashes into vehicle 2, forcing that vehicle to rear-end your car.

Your car is damaged, and you are injured because vehicle 2 hit you. However, vehicle 2 was not the proximate cause of your injuries. The driver of the car directly behind you was not negligent in any way. Their vehicle was pushed into yours because of vehicle 3’s negligence.

Therefore, you do not have a claim against vehicle 2 — they did not proximately cause your injuries. Your claim would be against vehicle 3.


Finally, we have to prove damages. Damages could include the following:

  • Past and future medical bills (i.e., the ambulance ride, emergency room physician, radiology, specialists, chiropractors, physical therapy, prescriptions, etc.)
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering

In some situations, we may even seek punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish, penalize, or deter the negligent driver from repeating their dangerous conduct.

Punitive damages can be sought in wrecks where the defendant was driving their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and/or they attempted to flee the scene.

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How to Get Medical Treatment (Even If You Don’t Have Health Insurance)

There are two ways a personal injury lawyer can help. The first thing we would look at is your auto insurance policy. We want to see if you have medical payment coverage (also known as med-pay coverage or MPC).

Med-Pay Coverage

Med-pay coverage is like health insurance on your car. The insurance company pays for all of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to the limits of the policy — regardless of who is at fault. If you have med-pay coverage, we submit the medical bills to your insurance company to get them paid.

What if you don’t have med-pay coverage? In such cases, our attorneys negotiate with your doctor to treat you under a medical lien.

Medical Lien

A medical lien is an agreement between the injured party and a doctor. When the personal injury claim for the car accident settles, the attorney pays the doctor’s outstanding medical bills using the personal injury settlement.

In most cases, doctors are unwilling to treat a patient on a lien basis unless the injured person has an attorney to back them up. They know that a personal injury lawyer will fight to get their clients the maximum financial recovery for their injuries, so they are willing to take that risk.

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Why You Should Promptly Get Medical Care

If you have been injured in a car wreck, you should seek immediate medical care for your injuries. This should be done regardless of whether or not you plan on pursuing any kind of claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company. You had your health before the wreck and you need to get that back as best you can.

If you are hurt in a wreck and you plan to pursue a personal injury claim, do not delay in seeking medical treatment. The insurance company will use any delays to try and diminish the value of your claim.

Here are five things to keep in mind while in the hospital or when you visit the doctor for treatment for your injuries:

  1. Tell the doctor about all of your injuries. Do not downplay your pain. The doctor needs to know what is wrong with you so they can accurately treat you.
  2. Keep all of your medical appointments and communicate with the doctor’s office if you need to reschedule.
  3. Comply with the doctor’s treatment recommendations.
  4. Keep your attorney updated about your medical treatment.
  5. Keep track of all of your doctors and medical bills. Your medical records become part of the demand package sent to the insurance company as a part of your personal injury claim.

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What Your Personal Injury Case Is Worth

You may have seen ads from lawyers on television who claim that all you have to do is call them, and they will tell you what your case is worth.

Unfortunately, that is not how personal injury claims work. No attorney, no matter how qualified or experienced they are, can accurately tell a person what their case is worth, especially right after the accident happens.

A good attorney knows they need the facts of the accident before evaluating the worth of a personal injury claim. Here are a few of the questions we ask potential clients when we begin working on their cases:

  • What are your injuries, and are any of them permanent?
  • How much are your medical bills so far, and what are your future medical needs?
  • How much insurance does the other driver have?
  • Were they on the job at the time of the crash?
  • Were you working at the time of the crash, and when do you think you will be able to return to work?
  • Was the defendant driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash?

At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we make sure to get as many of the facts about the car accident as we can. Once we know the facts, we can explain the personal injury process to our clients step-by-step so they understand their options.

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Taking On the Insurance Company

Talking to the insurance company, especially if you are in pain and have a million questions, can feel like a daunting task. The insurance adjuster assigned to you may be polite and friendly or unresponsive and antagonistic.

They might try to assure you with all kinds of promises that they will take care of you and that you do not need a car accident lawyer because you are covered. There is a fair bit of irony to this claim because the insurance adjusters consult with the company’s lawyers after they hang up the phone with you.

Saying or signing the wrong thing can put your personal injury claim in jeopardy. Insurance adjusters will use anything and everything they can against you if you aren’t careful.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have the time, patience, and knowledge to handle this claim on your own?
  • What statutes of limitation apply to your claim?
  • Do you have a full understanding of what the future may hold for you medically?
  • Do you have the time to manage all of your medical records from all of your health care providers?
  • What if they ask you to sign a medical authorization that allows them access to your entire medical history?
  • Will you have to repay your health insurance company for any amount paid to your health care providers? If so, how much?
  • Do you know what documentation the insurance company needs to fairly evaluate your claim?
  • Will you know what to do if the insurance company takes their time getting back with you, or worse yet, completely ignores you?
  • Do you know if the insurance company will give you a fair settlement?
  • Does the settlement leave open the possibility that their insured could come after you for any damages or injuries sustained in the wreck?
  • Are you prepared for the possibility that your claim may not settle?

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Know All of Your Options

Talk with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys about the facts of your claim. Consultations are free, and we can answer any questions you have quickly.

Even if you don’t hire Gary Martin Hays & Associates, consider hiring a law firm that specializes in personal injury law and auto accidents.

Isn’t it time you stopped losing sleep over how you will battle the insurance company and their team of lawyers? We can step in immediately to offer protection to our clients.

You have been hurt enough due to the wreck. The last thing you need is additional hassles from an insurance company that does not have your best interests in mind.

You don’t have to be an expert in personal injury law — that’s our job. Let our team of experts go to work for you.

Our goal is to develop an open, honest, and cooperative relationship with all of our clients so we can lead you through your medical treatment and the settlement process. We pride ourselves on being caring, supportive, and reassuring with our clients.

Give us a call right now: (770) 934-8000. You can also email Gary Martin Hays with your questions at

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