In the vast majority of personal injury cases that arise from collisions on the roadway between automobiles, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians 911 is called and the law enforcement that responds typically issues a citation to the person responsible for causing the collision.
Section 17-10-1.1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated created a duty for prosecuting attorneys to accept and consider Victim Impact Statements on a form provided by the prosecuting attorney. The Prosecuting Attorney might add additional charges or withhold certain plea offers (such as allowing a plea of nolo contendere which is not an admission of guilt) depending on the severity of your injuries as Georgia has additional laws that govern serious bodily injury caused while driving a motorized vehicle.
Section 17-10-1.2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated also allows the victim of any auto collision to give oral testimony and evidence as to the impact to their lives. If a ticket was written after a collision on the road, then the victims injured in the collision have the right to testify and present medical bills to the Judge who can then impose higher penalties and even include court-ordered restitution.
Most State and Municipal courts in Georgia that handle high-volume traffic tickets have built efficient systems where Defendants’ cases are addressed in a matter of minutes. Often the Judge does not hear any details of the case other than the name of the charge and whether the Defendant is pleading guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. If you have been injured in a car wreck and law enforcement created a report, there is a high likelihood that the person responsible was written a traffic ticket and given a court date to appear before a Judge.
Insurance companies love to find ways to deny liability or reduce payments under liability policies. Getting a traffic citation dismissed or allowing the Defendant to plead nolo contendere resolves the Defendant’s ticket and eliminates potential key evidence of the Defendant’s culpability. Given the streamlined nature of courts that handle large volume traffic citation cases, a Defendant may be able to hire an attorney and have their citation reduced or dismissed altogether. When your personal injury attorney appears in court and presents the severity of your injuries and whether you have been compensated for your property damage to the Judge, it creates an opportunity for the Judge to make the fairest decision with all the relevant facts. The Judge might also place the Defendant on probation until they have paid you back for any damage to your vehicle and for any medical bills submitted to the Judge.
Your attorney should also provide this information prior to the traffic citation arraignment to the prosecuting attorney to assist them in keeping the charges as written or even increasing the charges if your injuries are severe.
In some jurisdictions, if no victims appear at the Defendant’s court date the Judge may dismiss the charges entirely against the Defendant. If your attorney fails to attend this important court date your case could go from one with clear-cut liability to a case of “he said, she said.”
It is important to hire a personal injury attorney with experience collecting evidence and coordinating witnesses to inform the Judge and prosecuting attorney of all the relevant facts in your personal injury case.
Renée Morgan is a litigation attorney who has recovered millions for persons injured on the roadway and continues to provide comprehensive representation in both Civil and Criminal cases.