Getting into a car accident in Georgia can leave you with a lot of questions. You may be suffering serious personal injuries on top of dealing with a totaled vehicle and lost wages. The other party might be trying to evade fault, while insurance claims adjusters are calling you daily. Knowing how to correctly handle a minor or severe car accident in Atlanta is important for your personal protection and the future of your claim. Follow these steps to come out on the other side with your rights intact.
1. Pull Over
First, stop your car at the scene of the accident (or as close as is reasonably safe). You have a legal obligation to stop at the scene of any accident and remain there until you have fulfilled your responsibilities. These may include checking for injuries, checking if any motorcyclists or pedestrians were involved in the accident, calling the police, and getting medical help for those injured. Failing to stop at the scene makes you guilty of a hit and run. This is a crime with serious penalties in Georgia. You could be guilty of a misdemeanor or felony crime depending on the severity of the vehicle accident if you fail to stop.
2. Report the Crash, If Necessary
In Georgia, you must call the police to report an accident if it is serious enough to have caused personal injuries, deaths, or property damage in excess of $500. Some cities in Georgia also require a police report, regardless of crash severity, as do some insurance companies. When in doubt, call 911 to be safe. Once the police arrive, give them your side of the story but do not admit fault. If you are unsure whether you have injuries, say you do not know until you see a doctor.
3. Gather Information
While still on the scene of the accident, gather important information about the wreck. This will include the other driver’s name and insurance information, a description of both vehicles, photographs of the crash and your injuries, and the contact information of eyewitnesses. The more information you gather about your crash, the better. If you cannot collect evidence, have a trusted friend do so for you. The police can help as well. Get a copy of your police report number before leaving the scene.
4. Get Medical Attention
You should see a doctor after any accident, no matter how minor or sever it seemed. Many serious and life-threatening injuries can have delayed symptoms that do not appear for days or weeks after the crash. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may not show any signs of damage until the bleeding or swelling in the brain becomes severe enough to interfere with the victim. It is important to seek medical attention immediately after any crash. Only a medical evaluation can help you diagnose injuries. Keep copies of your medical records, bills, and treatment plans.
5. Call an Accident Attorney
Georgia is a fault-based insurance state. You will need to prove the other driver’s fault for the crash to obtain recovery from his or her insurance company. Unfortunately, the insurance company will not want you to recover maximum compensation. It may try to convince you to settle your claim for less than it is actually worth. For this reason, you should always seek a second opinion from an experienced car accident attorney. A lawyer will be honest and up front with you about the value of your case.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you will not have to pay out of pocket for services. You can fight for fair and full compensation from the at-fault party without worrying about the cost of the attorney. Your lawyer will deduct his or her service fee directly from your settlement or verdict award, rather than charging you directly. Speaking with an attorney after a minor or severe accident can ensure you protect your rights during the claims process.