After an auto accident, you may not be thinking clearly but the steps you take next could impact your legal standing and how your personal injury case evolves.
All drivers and other road users need to be aware of what they should do if they are involved in an accident—whether or not they are injured or any major property damage was caused.
Following is an overview of the recommended steps for accident victims in Georgia…
Steps to take after an auto accident in Georgia
Dialing 911 will ensure that you can get prompt medical help if required and that a police officer visits the scene of the accident.
The police will ask questions and file a report, which you will need a copy of later to assist your insurance claim. Reports typically take three to five days to process by the police.
Georgia law states that you must call the police if the accident resulted in injuries or death—regardless of who was at fault.
Arguing with the other driver (or the police officer) will not help you. Remain respectful to all parties and try to stay calm.
Sometimes, it can take time for a police officer to arrive but do not get impatient or angry. In fact, resist the temptation to say too much at all.
Make sure that you collect all of the relevant contact information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident. This should include their insurance and registration details.
If possible, take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card as this can contain important claims information for your lawyer.
Also, if possible, speak to anyone else at the scene who may have witnessed the accident. Write down their contact details before they leave the scene as their testimony may support your claim if legal action is required.
Photographs and/or videos of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and the accident scene can become important evidence for your personal injury case.
In particular, pictures and video can highlight the driving conditions, any relevant roadway obstacles, the condition of the vehicles after the accident and any visible injuries sustained by either driver.
Resist the temptation to post anything about your accident on social media. Insurance companies check social media posts for information that they can use against you. This possibility should be avoided.
The police officer who attends the accident scene will make a note of the other driver’s insurance details but not the insurance limits. You may be able to retrieve this from information printed on the front or back of the card.
Do not call or speak to the other driver’s insurance company before discussing your situation with a personal injury lawyer.
You can contact your insurance company and notify them of the accident. They should provide instructions for the documentation you will need to provide. At this point, it is generally best for your attorney to take over communications with both your insurance company and that of the at-fault party.
Find a personal injury lawyer who specializes in auto accidents as he or she will be familiar with the process for maximizing such claims.
Do this as soon as you can after your accident so that your lawyer has sufficient time to process the claim and the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind.
This is listed last but it is the most important and urgent of all steps. If you are injured, make sure that you receive immediate attention. Not only is your wellbeing at stake—but also your right to compensation from the at-fault party.
By getting a thorough check-up from a qualified medical professional and any necessary treatment for your injuries, your post-accident condition will be fully documented and part of your medical record. This is important evidence if litigation is required to progress your claim.
Hospital bills may be met by your insurance company or you may have to pay first and claim back from the at-fault party. Do not send your bills to the insurance adjuster. Instead, let your lawyer handle this.
Remember your legal obligations after an accident in Georgia
It is important not to leave the scene of an auto accident where there has been damage to property or injuries. The only exception to this rule is if remaining there poses a significant risk to your health or safety.
Not only can leaving the scene seriously impact a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. It is against the law to do so in Georgia.
We all have a duty to stop and aid an injured person, if necessary, after an auto accident. Failure to comply with your obligations may result in a felony charge with potentially life-changing penalties if death or serious injury results from your actions.
The main legal obligations for drivers involved in accidents in Georgia are as follows:
- Provide your name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle you were driving
- Show your driver’s license to any of the occupants of the other vehicle
- Render reasonable assistance to any injured person
- Make reasonable efforts to request assistance from the police and emergency medical services if a victim appears to be dead, unconscious or unable to communicate
Should you move your vehicle after an accident in Georgia?
No attempt should be made to move any vehicles involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death until the accident has been investigated by a qualified law enforcement officer.
Under certain limited circumstances after an auto accident in Georgia, moving a vehicle is acceptable.
In particular, Georgia law requires drivable vehicles to be moved from the flow of traffic as soon as possible following an accident only if all of the following criteria apply:
- There is no apparent serious injury or death
- The uninjured person moving the vehicle has a valid driver’s license
- The vehicle is drivable
- Movement of the vehicle can be performed safely and without risk of injury to the driver or others.
If these criteria are not all present, the removal of the vehicles should occur only after permission from law enforcement.
Need assistance after an auto accident in Gwinnett County?
Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown to arrange a case evaluation if you have been involved in an auto accident in Gwinnett County, Georgia.