What To Do If You’ve Been In An Auto Accident.
Being in an accident is never a good thing, however there are things that you can do to lessen the damages and impact on your life.
Here are some helpful steps:
- REPORT THE ACCIDENT
- SHOULD I MOVE MY VEHICLE?
- SHOW INSURANCE TO POLICE
- NOTIFY INSURANCE COMPANY
- TAKE PICTURES
- WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
- KEEP A JOURNAL OR NOTES
- SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
- GET THE ACCIDENT REPORT
- WHAT ABOUT TICKETS?
- RECORDED STATEMENTS?
- KEEP IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
- BE CAREFUL ON SOCIAL MEDIA
- CONTACT INJURY LADIES
Report The Accident
First, if you’ve been injured in an accident, Georgia law requires that you report the accident to the police if there are resulting injuries or death of any person, or property damage apparent in excess of $500.
In addition to reporting the accident, Georgia law also requires that you stay at the scene of an accident resulting in injury, death or property damage. The driver of any vehicle in an accident must give his/her name, address, and registration number of the vehicle that he/she is driving. The driver must also show his/her driver’s license upon request to the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Finally, the driver is required to render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident or make arrangements for transportation or assistance of an injured person. Until these things are done, any driver in an accident is required to remain at the scene of the accident.
Should I Move The Vehicle?
If the accident does not involve serious injury or death, Georgia law requires that motor vehicles be moved from the roadway to a safe refuge on the shoulder, emergency lane, median, or other area removed from the roadway when moving the vehicles can be done safely, and the vehicle is able to be safely driven under its own power without further damage or hazard to itself, traffic or the roadway.
If the vehicle is incapacitated as a result of the accident, or if there is serious personal injury or death, the vehicle must not be moved until the police have made necessary measurements and diagrams of the accident site for the initial investigation.
Provide Insurance Information To The Police.
Make sure that you have your insurance information available for law enforcement officers who arrive at the accident site. Police will request from the drivers in any accident the name and address of the owner and/or driver of the vehicle, the license number of the vehicle, and the name and number of the insurance carrier for the vehicles involved in the accident.
In addition to the above requirements of Georgia law, there are other things that you can do when you have been in an accident which can help in making a claim for personal injury or in defending yourself in the event that a claim is filed against you by the the driver or passengers.
Notify Your Insurance Company Right Away.
Notify your insurance company immediately. Insurance policies are contracts and they require that you report the claim as soon as possible and cooperate with them in the investigation and processing of your claim. It is a good idea to know your policy before you are involved in an accident. Call your insurance agent and notify them immediately of the accident and follow their specific requirements. Make sure that you keep copies of all correspondence between you and the insurance company and keep notes as well for yourself of whom you speak to and when. Failure to do these things could mean that the insurance company could deny coverage of your claim.
These days, most people have cell phones with cameras in them. It is a good idea to take pictures at the scene of the damage to any vehicles involved in the accident, as well as to document any visible injuries at the time. This is especially important to do prior to moving the vehicles. If pictures cannot be taken at the scene, it is important to at least take pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved before they have been repaired or sold for salvage. Taking pictures at the time will make it much easier to convince a judge or jury of your personal injuries if they can view the damage done to the vehicles involved.
Make sure that you also photograph any visible injuries as soon as possible after the accident. Bruises, cuts, swelling and other injuries heal over time and taking photographs of the injuries at the time will make it easier to convince an insurance company, judge, or jury at a later date of the pain that you suffered as a result of the accident. The longer the time from an accident, the harder it is to show those injuries or adequately describe them when it is necessary to do so.
Watch What You Say.
Be very careful what you say after the accident or to any insurance company. You have a duty to cooperate with the insurance company and authorities; however, you are not required to say anything that could be used against you later and against your self-interest. Usually, it is best to say nothing at all until you have spoken with an attorney first.
Keep A Journal Or Notes.
As time goes by, most people do not remember the details of an accident and it is therefore very important to keep notes or a journal of the event and any recovery of injuries. For example, did the driver make any statements right after the accident that could be used to show fault in the accident? Or was there a smell of alcohol on the other driver’s breath? Did people come forward at the time of the accident with information? It is important to get the names, numbers and addresses of these people and what was said as they will not always be listed on the police report. Memories can fade and keeping these notes and journals could be very important should they be needed later.
Keep a journal as well about your treatment and how it has affected your day to day life, your relationships and your job. It takes time to heal and again, writing things down will make it easier if you can use these writings as a reminder of the pain and inconvenience you had to endure as a result of the accident. Keep in mind however that a journal could be subpoenaed by the other side to introduce as evidence in a jury. So keep it simple and factual and make sure that you don’t put anything in the journal that you would not want everyone to see if it is admitted in court.
Seek Medical Treatment Right Away.
If you have injuries, get to a doctor as soon as possible. A lot of the time, people do not want to go to the hospital or delay treatment after an accident thinking that they will get better. However, insurance companies and judges and juries will also assume that you would have gotten medical care earlier if you were really hurt. This attitude can affect your recovery from the insurance company or in court so it is important to get help sooner rather than later. Make sure that you tell the doctor what happened and give a detailed description of your injuries so that he or she can note them in the medical record. Follow your doctor’s advice and keep your appointments both for your health and for any potential financial recovery. Keep copies of all of your medical bills and records as well.
Get The Accident Report.
Usually at the scene of the accident, the police will give you a card with the accident report number so that you can get a copy of the report a few days later. Get a copy of this report as soon as your can and review it to make sure that it is accurate. If not, contact the investigating officer immediately and explain the inaccuracies to him/her. Doing this immediately will make sure that the details are fresh in both your mind, and in the mind of the officer.
Sometimes the officer will issue a ticket to one of the drivers in the accident. If you receive a citation, make sure that you know when and where you should appear for your scheduled court date. Failing to appear at this hearing could have serious consequences. If you’re not guilty, do not plead guilty in an attempt to “get things over with”. Doing so will be an admission that can be used against you in civil court. If you cannot afford counsel, you may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser charge. This may also save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in future insurance costs.
What About Tickets?
If the other driver gets a ticket, you should receive a subpoena or notice of court date to attend as well. Make sure that you attend and listen to the opposing driver in court. You may learn necessary information for your civil case against him or her.
The other driver may or may not receive a ticket. Not receiving a ticket does not mean that the driver is not at fault for the accident and does not affect your claim for damages from them. The ticket will only come into play if the driver denies being at fault for the accident and will only benefit you if the driver states in court that they are guilty to the charges, something they rarely do.
What About Recorded Statements?
Sometimes, the adverse driver’s insurance company will contact you in order to do a recorded statement on the telephone. Again, while you are required to cooperate with your own insurance company, you have no obligation to give a statement to the opposing insurance company or make any statement against your interest. Instead, make sure you contact an attorney prior to giving any statement to the opposing insurance company.
Keep All Important Documents.
Make sure that you keep all paperwork regarding your accident including the police report, medical bills and records, names and addresses of witnesses, estimates for repair and photographs of the car, scene, or injuries. If you have a question of whether to keep something, it is better to keep it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Be Careful On Social Media.
Be careful when posting on social media. If you make an admission against your own interest on the internet, it can be used against you later. It is better not to overshare on the internet regarding your accident or the injuries you sustained as a result.
Why Do You Need An Attorney?
You can settle your case without an attorney; however, it makes better sense to contact an attorney in order to handle the claim because of the complicated legal issues which usually arise from them. Call STONEY & LEVER today and we can assist you with everything from your property damage to hospital liens and liability issues Its best to have legal advice and guidance when having to deal with these issues and at The Injury Ladies, we can help you protect yourself and give you peace of mind. The consultation is FREE so you have nothing to lose by contacting us.
DISCLAIMER: Every automobile accident involves unique circumstances. The preceding information is general in nature and may not apply to your particular case. These suggestions are not intended as legal advice in your case and should not be relied upon as such.