What to Do After a Car Accident in Georgia
Car accidents can be jarring experiences. Even mild collisions can leave you feeling rattled and unsure of what to do. Every Georgia driver should have some basic understanding of what to expect after a car accident and what steps to take to protect themselves from being stuck with the bill for the results of another driver’s recklessness.
Insurance and Accident Preparations
It’s illegal to drive without automobile insurance in the state of Georgia, so make sure you have an acceptable policy before driving. In Georgia, auto insurance must provide protection for up to $25,000 in damages, including injuries and property damage. It’s important to make your policy deductible payments on time. After 10 days without auto insurance, the Georgia department of revenue may suspend your vehicle registration, which could lead to a misdemeanor charge or even vehicle impoundment.
Even if you drive as safely as possible, you can never predict the actions of other drivers. Keep a few emergency items in your car in case of an accident. Although most people carry smartphones with built-in cameras, consider keeping a disposable camera in your car. If your cell phone is damaged or otherwise unusable after a crash, you can use the disposable camera to take pictures of the accident scene.
First Steps After an Accident
The very first thing you should do after being in a car crash is to assess your injuries. If you’re seriously injured, call 911 and wait for assistance. If you are able to move, make sure the other drivers are OK and then try to take pictures of the accident scene as quickly as possible. Once police and emergency personnel arrive, they will clear and clean the crash site right away, possibly destroying vital evidence. Take pictures of all the damage your vehicle sustained, the positions of the vehicles, damage to other cars, any skid marks on the road, and notable landmarks in the vicinity. These photos will help a jury form a more accurate picture of the accident.
Georgia law requires anyone in a car accident to report the crash to police immediately if anyone suffered an injury or died. Even if no one was hurt, you must call the police if there is any property damage that could reasonably total more than $500. After contacting the police, exchange information with the other driver. Be sure to get his or her name, driver’s license information, and insurance information before leaving.
Speaking to Police and Insurers
When the police arrive, they will take your statement about what happened. Be very careful of your choice of words during this conversation. Even seemingly harmless phrases, such as “I’m sorry,” or “I should have,” could constitute an admission of guilt in the eyes of the court. Be honest and concise when giving your statement, but do not admit fault for anything.
After you handle your immediate medical issues and deal with the police, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. If the other driver was at fault, you’ll need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Once an insurer receives your claim, they will investigate it and often interview you to obtain a clear picture of the incident. Again, be careful what words you use. Insurers will find any reason to deny a claim or reduce the amount of a claim.
Taking Legal Action
In some cases, you may need to file a personal injury claim against the other driver if his or her carelessness caused the accident. You may also encounter difficulties while dealing with insurance claims adjusters. A qualified Atlanta personal injury lawyer will be a tremendous asset for handling both of these possible issues. Every car accident is different and will entail various possible factors, and a reliable, experienced attorney can help navigate you to a successful result.