Hundreds of thousands of automobile accidents occur on Georgia roadways every year. While many motorists will thankfully walk away from these incidents unscathed, over a thousand of these annual crashes are fatal. And there is naturally a full spectrum of minor to major accidents in between these extremes.

When establishing what constitutes a “serious injury” in a Georgia courtroom, one must first examine the legal definition of the term under Georgia law. 

“Serious Injury” Under Georgia Law

The question of what constitutes a “serious” injury is not merely a matter of semantics or subjective opinions. “Serious injury” is a term used under Georgia Law, so understanding what the term means can have serious implications for the total amount of damages you’re able to seek after an injurious automobile accident.

When a driver in a Georgia automobile accident is determined to be fully at fault for the accident, was breaking the law during the accident, and the accident results in serious injuries, the penalties may be extremely severe. 

“Serious injury by vehicle” is defined as its own crime under Georgia law (Official Code of Georgia Annotated §40-6-394). For a Georgia driver to be guilty of causing “serious injury by vehicle,” that driver must be either:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (may be subject to additional DUI charges)
  • Driving recklessly/illegally
  • Or both of the above

Additionally, the driver’s impaired or reckless driving must have caused at least one of the following:

  • Victim loses a limb or “member of his body.”
  • A limb or “member” of the victim’s body is rendered nonfunctional.
  • Substantial disfigurement to the victim or a body part.
  • Brain damage to the extent that the victim’s body becomes wholly or partially nonfunctional. This brain damage must be “organic,” which is to say it was caused by the physical trauma of the car crash and did not develop due to psychological damage (e.g., PTSD).

Malicious intent is not necessary to prove a serious injury by vehicle charge. This is to say that whether the at-fault party meant to drive recklessly is irrelevant. The damage done to the victim is the defining factor of a serious injury by vehicle charge—not the perpetrator’s attitude or level of remorse after the fact. A serious injury by vehicle charge can be related to other motorists, pedestrians, or even passengers in the perpetrator’s own vehicle.

Most Common Types of Serious Car Accident Injuries in Georgia

Georgia law does not define specific types of injuries as “serious.” Rather, each case is evaluated using some of the criteria listed above. Some of the types of injuries that have been deemed “serious” in Georgia courtrooms include:

  • Disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Injuries involving a loss of consciousness (especially a long-term loss of consciousness leading to additional associated medical problems)
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing

Proving Serious Injury and Reckless Driving in Georgia

The legal award for a serious injury case can involve damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive fees. It can be difficult to prove these cases in court, however. You must first establish that the perpetrator was driving recklessly or under the influence, and then you must also prove the severity of your injuries. This two-pronged evidentiary process can be overwhelming, and cases that involve multiple drivers, insurance carriers, and medical systems can quickly become complex.

Let the expert personal injury team at Lamar Law Office, LLC handle your case so you can focus on getting well. Call us today for a no-hassle consultation.