When you are hurt in an accident, you are likely shaken up and stressed out. However, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure that the negligent party responsible for the accident will pay for your damages.
If it’s only a minor fender bender, it’s best for everyone on the road if you pull over to the shoulder and put on your hazard lights. That way, you’re not blocking traffic, and you won’t risk being hit by a driver who’s unaware that you’ve stopped your car.
However, if it’s a severe car accident, or your car can’t be moved for whatever reason (it won’t start, or it has significant damage), put on your hazard lights, and get yourself and your passengers out of the car. Move over to the side, away from oncoming traffic.
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Call the Police
A police report is critical when you need to prove your case. Georgia law requires you to file a police report whenever you are in a crash where there is more than $500 property damage or when there are injuries or fatalities. While you can file a report later at the station, it is in your best interest to call police to the scene of the accident. Provide a statement to the police but do not take responsibility for the accident. The police report will provide proof of the date and time of the crash as well as an account of the way the accident happened.
You may feel like a fender bender doesn’t warrant a call to the emergency line, but that’s where you’d be wrong. It’s highly beneficial and even required by the law in some states for you to report every car accident, no matter how small it is. In Georgia, you’re only required to report the car accident if there are personal injuries, death, or damages that exceed $500.
When you call 911, you’ll have records of your car accident; these can be useful for your car accident attorney should you need to file a lawsuit. It’s also good to have when you’re filing an insurance claim, especially if you develop whiplash in the following days.
If you somehow manage to forget to call 911, don’t stress out. In many cases, you have up to 72 hours to file a car accident after the fact.
However, the longer you wait, the more likely your police report will have incorrect or missing details. This is why it’s ideal that you call 911 right when the accident happens.
Check That You and Your Passengers Are OK
Once you’ve safely pulled over or had walked out to a safe place, check yourself and your passengers thoroughly for any injuries. If you can, take pictures to document your injuries.
Of course, if any of you have severe injuries and can’t move, stay put in the car, so you don’t worsen them. Wait for the ambulance to arrive so they can assess the situation and give proper treatment.
Exchange Information with the Other Party
If you have minor injuries or haven’t suffered any at all, then it’s fine to get out of the car to exchange information with the other driver.
Information/documents you’ll want to get from each other include:
- Your driver’s licenses
- Insurance cards (get their policy number)
- Makes and models of the cars involved (don’t forget about the license plate numbers)
- The location of the accident (e.g., a particular highway marker)
You might also want to get their phone number just in case you need to get in touch with them about insurance issues. It may be a good idea to take pictures of these things you lose the paper or file you’ve written this information down on.
Since a car accident can happen at any time, it’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment as well as a disposable camera. That way, you won’t have to scramble for alternatives, especially if your phone died.
Don’t Admit Fault
You may be tempted to start apologizing, whether or not the accident was your fault. Resist this temptation since it can be used against you.
Instead, choose your words very carefully and keep conversation to a minimum. This will decrease your chances of saying something that can be taken as you admitting fault for the crash.
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Take Pictures of Both Vehicles
There’s bound to be damage on both cars after the crash, so make sure you document these straight away. These pictures are crucial in making insurance claims because if you don’t have them to back up your claim, the other party can refute it, saying those scratches or dents weren’t there at the time of the accident.
Get as many pictures of the scene as you can. This can help professionals get a more accurate idea of what happened. For instance, if there are skid marks on the ground, they can maybe determine which car was at fault just from that.
Visit the Doctor
When you are involved in an accident, it is often your first instinct to say that you feel fine and go on your way. However, you should be aware that this can have a negative impact on your ability to collect if you do find that you have injuries. Always visit the hospital or doctor immediately after an accident, even if you aren’t sure how seriously you are injured. If you wait too long to see a physician, it could show that your injuries were not severe or that your injuries were not a result of the accident.
File a Claim
Don’t wait to file a claim. The law requires you to file a personal injury claim generally within two years of the injury. The longer you wait to file, the more difficult it can be to prove your case. You will need to prove that the other driver was negligent and that you had injuries that occurred as a result. You will need to gather documentation such as the police report, medical reports and bills, treatment plans, proof of lost wages, witness statements, and more. If you wait too long, some of this information will be lost and you will have a challenging time with the claim.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
The doctor will provide you with details of how to care for your injury once you are released from the hospital. If you fail to follow through on the orders or don’t go back for a required follow-up visit, the information might be used against you to show that your injury was not severe or that your injury did not happen as a result of the accident. If you have a previous injury, be sure to tell the doctor and it will generally not be a problem.
Call a Knowledgeable Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
Personal injury cases can be complicated and it is often best not to try to handle the claim on your own. A reputable Atlanta injury attorney will review the details of your case and assist you with every aspect of your claim. Your Atlanta Car Accident lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a settlement that meets your needs. Contact Bader Scott injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.