Unfortunately, even the safest and most careful of drivers may still end up in an accident.
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that nearly 20,000 people suffer ‘serious injuries’ on our state’s roadways each year, with tens of thousands more people sustaining mild and moderate injuries.
Following a crash, you need to take the proper steps to protect your health, well-being, and legal rights.
At Georgia Auto Law, we are committed to serving injured victims. Our law firm wants to make sure that every person has the information and tools that they need to protect themselves after an accident.
Here, we explain what you should do immediately following an accident in Georgia.
Six steps to take after an accident in Georgia
1. Check Yourself and Others for Injuries
Emergency medical needs always come first.
In the immediate aftermath of a motor vehicle crash, you should quickly check yourself, your passengers, and other people involved in the collision for serious injuries. If someone has suffered an injury, they need emergency medical attention — call 911 or ask a bystander for help.
Other issues are always secondary to medical emergencies. Once the scene of the accident has been stabilized and everyone is in a safe place, you can worry about the next steps in the claims process.
2. Exchange Information, Call the Police, & Report the Accident
While you are at the scene of the crash, you should also exchange information with all of the other people involved in the wreck.
It is best to get as much information as possible from the other parties. Specifically, drivers involved in a crash should exchange:
- Phone number;
- License plate number;
- Vehicle make/model;
- Insurance policy information; and
- Any other information deemed relevant.
In addition to exchanging information, the accident should be reported to law enforcement.
Under Georgia law (GA Vehicle Code § 40-6-273), motorists have a duty to report a crash if there was more than $500 in total property damage or if someone suffered an injury. A state or local police officer will be dispatched to the scene of the collision to write an official accident report.
Keep in mind that this report will serve as an important form of evidence.
3. Get a Comprehensive Medical Evaluation
If you suffered any type of injury, you need to see a doctor.
Of course, in an emergency situation, you should take an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital. Beyond that, even if you feel that you can deal with your injuries on your own, you should still seek an in-depth medical evaluation.
You may be far more seriously injured than you recognize.
Many common auto accident injuries are not immediately apparent. The adrenaline rush associated with an accident can temporarily mask or reduce the pain. With back injuries, soft tissue injuries, and concussions, it can take several days for the victim to feel the full effects of the impact.
Beyond protecting your health, you will not be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim unless you have seen a physician.
Auto accident victims have a right to seek financial compensation for the full extent of their injuries — but without official medical documentation, financial recovery will be all but impossible. Get yourself to a doctor as soon as possible.
4. Document the Crash & Secure Relevant Evidence
Negligent parties must be held accountable—you deserve compensation for their carelessness.
When making a car accident claim against another party, plaintiffs will be required to prove liability. The more evidence that you have, the smoother and easier the claim process will be.
To the best of your ability, you should try to secure as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. Important evidence includes:
- The police report (you can get a free copy here);
- Photographs of the crash;
- Photos of any visible injuries;
- Contact information for any witnesses; and
- Personal testimony.
For obvious reasons, some evidence will quickly disappear as the wreck is cleaned up. It is imperative that you take proactive measures to preserve this evidence.
Take as many pictures of the crash as possible and make sure that you ask for the contact information of anyone who saw the collision — regardless of whether or not they were personally involved in the crash.
5. Avoid Making a Statement to Insurance Adjusters
The insurance company is not on your side.
The primary objective of the insurance company is making money. Insurers are not interested in offering injured victims full and fair settlement offers.
In fact, they put a lot of resources into training their employees and representatives to sound as friendly and accommodating as possible over the phone. They want you to open up about the crash. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are simply looking for things that they can use against you to reduce the value of your claim.
How do you protect yourself and fight back?
- Avoid giving a recorded statement to the insurance company.
- Do not sign any documents or make any statements without first speaking to a top-rated Georgia auto accident lawyer.
The best thing that you can do after an accident is to handle all correspondence with the insurance company through an attorney.
6. Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help with your claim.
A lawyer will be able to investigate your case, secure relevant evidence, handle settlements discussions with the insurance company, and take the appropriate steps to get you the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve.
Among other things, a car accident lawyer will:
- Get you money for vehicle repairs and a rental car;
- Make sure that your medical bills are covered;
- Seek financial support for lost wages and other economic losses; and
- Fight for financial compensation for pain and suffering and other damages.
At Georgia Auto Law, we are aggressive advocates for injured victims. We know how insurance companies try to cheat you out of a fair settlement, so we can protect your legal interests and secure compensation.