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What To Do After A Car Accident
Auto accidents are a common occurrence on Georgia roadways. In fact, in 2022, 387,698 crashes were reported to law enforcement agencies across the state. Understandably, these numbers are alarming, and if you’re a frequent driver, you’ll probably encounter a crash at some point.
Experiencing a car wreck is obviously a devastating experience, even if no one sustains injuries. Because being involved in a collision in Atlanta is such an unexpected and shocking experience, it can be difficult for victims to think clearly, making it easy to make mistakes that can significantly harm their chances of recovering compensation for damages.
Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a catastrophic collision, it’s crucial to know the necessary steps to take when involved in an accident. Every car crash, no matter how minor it may seem, should be taken seriously. Understanding what to do after a car crash is vital to protecting your legal rights and ensuring a smoother process toward potential compensation.
What To Do Immediately After an Accident
The steps you take immediately following a car wreck in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia can affect your health, recovery, and legal case, too. At Fry | Goehring, we have seen our fair share of car accident cases. After all, our personal injury attorneys have dedicated their careers to fighting for the recovery and future of auto accident victims and their families.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Georgia, we recommend that you use the car accident checklist below in the minutes, hours, and days following the crash:
- Call 911, and don’t leave the accident scene.
- If anyone is hurt, render aid and call for an ambulance.
- Photograph the scene and your injuries.
- Get information from the other driver.
- Identify witnesses and get their contact information.
- Get to safety.
- Notify your insurance agent.
- Get medical attention.
- Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer.
No two car accidents are the same, which means the above car accident checklist is not a one-size-fits-all checklist. However, it is an excellent general overview of what to do following a collision in Atlanta. While no one ever plans to be in a car wreck, one of the best ways to keep your cool after a crash — and ultimately protect your rights — is to know ahead of time what to do after a car crash.
To better help you understand the steps you need to take after a car wreck, let’s break down the car accident checklist step by step:
Step 1: Stop and Report the Accident to the Authorities
Georgia Revised Statutes, specifically Section 40-6-270, requires any driver involved in a collision that results in significant property damage or injuries to stop at the scene or a safe location nearby and report the crash to the police. The police officers who arrive at the accident scene will write an official police report.
In Atlanta, you may contact the Atlanta Police Department by dialing 911. The 911 operator will ask you a few questions about the accident and send first responders to the scene.
No matter how minor the crash might seem or what the other driver demands or suggests, always report a collision to the proper law enforcement authorities. Don’t accept any offers from the other driver to keep the crash off the record, and never take a cash offer to let it go. It’s crucial to protect your legal rights for both personal and insurance reasons.
Step 2: Check for Accident Injuries
After a car wreck, check to see if you, your co-passengers, or anyone else at the accident scene is hurt. If anyone is injured, you have a duty to provide emergency aid to the best of your ability. Providing emergency assistance to injured victims at the accident scene is an essential humanitarian step that puts people’s health, well-being, and lives before anything else.
If someone is seriously injured, don’t hesitate to call for medical help at the accident spot by dialing 911 right away.
Also, it’s a good idea to pay attention to any changes in how you’re feeling afterward. Sometimes, injuries such as whiplash and internal bleeding might not show up immediately due to the shock and fear from the accident, so it’s important to be mindful of your well-being as time passes and seek proper care.
Step 3: Document the Accident Scene
Once immediate injuries have been assessed, if possible, take photographs of your vehicle, the accident scene, the other driver’s vehicle, tire or skid marks on the road, and pictures of stop signs or the traffic lights on the road from every possible angle.
If your injuries are visible, take photos of the injuries. Documenting the accident scene is vital to protecting your rights and building a strong personal injury case. The photos you take help document the condition and damage of vehicles, dangerous driving conditions, roadway obstacles, and other crucial factors that may have contributed to the accident. There is no true substitute for photographs and videos showing the time and conditions of the crash.
Step 4: Exchange Necessary Information
Again, in Georgia, it’s crucial for drivers involved in an accident to share their license, contact information, and insurance details. This information is crucial for filing an insurance claim and receiving compensation from the responsible party’s insurance company.
When a police officer is on the scene, they will typically gather this essential information for their report. However, collecting this data is also a good idea to ensure nothing is missed. Obtain contact information from the other driver, including:
- Phone numbers
- The license plate number and the state it’s registered in
- The vehicles’ make, model, and year involved, car registration number, and driver’s license number
- Auto insurance company information, insurance details, and policy numbers
Collecting this information will be vital as you navigate the post-accident claims process. Even though law enforcement officers at the scene will obtain this information, you lose nothing and have so much to gain if you ask for it yourself, just in case the officers miss something.
Step 5: Collect Witness Information
Neutral witnesses play a pivotal role in establishing the facts of an Atlanta car accident. In the aftermath of a collision, victims frequently find themselves unable to recall the events due to the sudden and unexpected nature of the accident.
In other cases, victims may be compelled to present a narrative that absolves them of responsibility. This presents a challenge, as juries and insurance companies often view the statements of those involved in the crash with skepticism, given the potential biases and self-interests involved. When multiple unbiased eyewitness accounts support your version of the events, it significantly increases its credibility.
So, if possible, get statements and contact information from impartial bystanders, as their testimony can prove instrumental during legal proceedings.
Step 6: Move Vehicles off the Road When Possible
If your vehicle is still operational, move it off the roadway so as not to block traffic and to prevent further injuries to yourself and other involved parties from passing vehicles. But make sure to remain at the scene until the police arrive. When moving your vehicle after a collision, be aware of the possibility of fire from the accident.
If you cannot move your vehicle, switch on the hazard lights to alert other drivers of the accident when you are stationary.
Step 7: Notify Your Auto Insurance Company
Once initial steps have been taken, immediately call your insurance agent and report the accident. Provide them with the accident details, policy number, and contact details for all people involved without admitting or assigning fault. Regardless of who you believe to be at fault for the crash, you need to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to protect yourself and any claims made against your auto insurance provider.
While it’s important that you cooperate with your insurance agent to process your claim, consult our car accident attorneys in Atlanta before signing any statements or documents or accepting offers from the other driver’s insurance company.
Step 8: Seek Medical Treatment for Your Auto Accident Injuries
If you or anyone else involved in the car wreck sustained injuries from the crash, seek immediate medical attention. But what if your injuries are minor and do not require emergency medical help?
Some people involved in car accidents who sustain minor injuries understandably decline emergency medical help at the scene. However, if you intend to file an auto insurance claim, the sooner you begin treatment, the better. If taking an ambulance ride to the emergency room seems unnecessary, ask a friend or family member to pick you up and take you to the nearest urgent care facility or your primary care doctor.
Document all your injuries and pains, whether minor or severe. Be honest with your doctor about your pain and symptoms, no matter how minor they may seem. Often, internal bleeding and injuries to the discs on your back and neck may not manifest immediately after the crash.
If any of your car accident injuries turn out to be more severe than just soreness or bruising, the insurance company will review your medical records to check when you first sought treatment to try and argue that the crash did not cause the injuries and deny your claim. If you delay seeking medical help after a collision, the other driver’s insurance company will have a better reason to deny or devalue your injury claim.
Step 9: Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Contact a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car wreck for legal advice and representation, especially if you or your passengers suffered significant car accident injuries or have questions about how to proceed next. At Fry | Goehring, our motor vehicle accident lawyers will provide early guidance and informed suggestions for potential future moves.
If you’re a victim of a car wreck, it’s crucial that you recover the appropriate compensation. After a collision that results in injuries, it quickly becomes apparent to injured victims just how expensive it is to be hurt in a crash. Auto accident victims often face significant expenses brought about by medical bills and vehicle repairs, to name a few injustices.
Being hurt in a collision is a stressful thing to go through for many reasons. Our personal injury legal team is skilled and experienced in representing injured clients against insurance companies. We have successfully recovered substantial settlements for clients in the past, and we will not give up until we have done the same for you. Working with our Atlanta car accident attorneys at Fry | Goehring gives you the best possible chance of success.
Mistakes To Avoid After a Car Accident
The moments after a collision are incredibly scary and disconcerting, especially if you sustain severe injuries or lose a loved one in the accident.
In the confusion and shock at the crash scene, it’s natural for people not to know what to do next. Because of this, instead of taking the necessary steps after a car wreck, it’s common for car accident victims to find themselves making mistakes that may prevent them from recovering compensation.
Below are mistakes you want to avoid after a car accident:
- Don’t leave the accident scene.
- Don’t discuss fault, accept blame, or argue.
- Don’t delay reporting the crash.
- Don’t forget to take pictures of the scene.
- Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company or record a statement without your attorney.
- Don’t wait to see your doctor.
- Don’t settle without legal advice.
Get Legal Advice and Powerful Representation After a Car Accident Today
At Fry | Goehring, we understand the stress and strain auto accident victims experience after a crash. Our legal team is here to alleviate some of that load. We fight tooth and nail, even if it means going to trial, for the rights and recovery of car accident victims and their loved ones. Let us handle the legal matters after your crash and guide you through every step of your claim so you can focus on your recovery.
Contact our legal team today for a free case review at 404-969-1284. Whether you have questions or are ready to file an insurance claim, our car accident lawyers are here to help. And, remember, you pay nothing unless we win.
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