Steps to Take After an Automobile Accident in Georgia for a Strong Legal Case

An automobile accident can be a traumatic experience physically, emotionally and financially. What you do in the moments and days following a crash can make all the difference in how you recover and how quickly and thoroughly you’re fairly compensated for your injuries as well as property and monetary damages. From ensuring everyone’s safety to collecting evidence, each step plays a crucial role in protecting your rights and maximizing the chances of a successful legal outcome.

Prioritize Safety:

The first and foremost concern after an automobile accident is the safety of everyone involved. Immediately check for injuries and call for emergency medical assistance if necessary. Move to a safe location if possible, away from oncoming traffic, to prevent further harm. It’s crucial to prioritize the well-being of all parties before addressing any other aspects of the situation.

Contact Law Enforcement:

In Georgia, it’s a legal requirement to report accidents that result in injury, death or property damage exceeding $500. Even if the damage seems minor, it’s recommended to contact local law enforcement and file a police report, as the full monetary damages to a vehicle may not be immediately visible or calculable. For instance, paint scratches, dents in doors and body panels or a bent frame can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace. An official police report can serve as a valuable piece of evidence in building a strong legal case.

Exchange Information:

Exchange essential information with the other party involved in the accident. Collect names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information and vehicle details. If there are any witnesses, be sure to get their contact information as well. Having accurate and comprehensive details will prove invaluable during the claims process and potential legal proceedings.

Document the Scene:

Use your smartphone or camera to capture photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, road conditions, weather conditions, traffic signs and any potentially relevant details. Does your vehicle have a dash cam? If so, and if it’s a wireless model, double check to make sure all footage transfers and is saved to a secondary device, like your phone or laptop computer. If it records to an SD card, take the card out, put it in a safe place and replace it with a new one in your dash cam. Otherwise, if your SD card is nearly full, the looping feature in your dash cam may overwrite the file with new ones, destroying your video evidence.

Seek Medical Attention:

Even if injuries seem minor initially, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, and a medical professional can document any injuries sustained during the accident. Particularly troublesome are closed brain injuries and deep tissue injuries. These two common types of auto accident-related inquiries may not produce symptoms for several days or even weeks following a collision. Whiplash victims often feel no neck pain until 12 to 72 hours after a rear-end car accident. Such scenarios are exactly why most insurers expect injury victims to see a doctor within 72 hours of the accident and why some states require a documented doctor’s visit within a certain amount of time. For instance, Florida law requires a medical evaluation within 14 days of an accident and documentation on that initial visit to qualify for PIP insurance coverage. Georgia does not have a time specification for seeing a physician after a collision. That’s why it’s crucial to understand that insurance companies will look for any reason to deny a claim, and the longer you wait to see a doctor, the more opportunity they’ll have to raise doubt that an injury is solely connected to the accident. Quick and thorough medical documentation can significantly strengthen your legal case and help establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries.

Notify Your Insurance Company:

Promptly notify your insurance company about the accident, providing them with accurate and detailed information. Be honest and cooperative with your insurer, as any discrepancies or delays in reporting may negatively impact your claim. Follow up with your insurance company to ensure that your claim is being processed in a timely manner and that you are continually informed about the status of your case.

Preserve Evidence:

Preserving evidence is crucial to building a strong legal case. Keep copies of all documents related to the accident, including the police report, medical records and correspondence with insurance companies. Save any communication, such as emails or text messages, that may be relevant to your case. This meticulous documentation can serve as a powerful asset during negotiations or court proceedings.

Consult an Attorney:

Considering the complexity of automobile accident cases, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is a must. Auto accident cases are rarely cut-and-dry, particularly if multiple parties legitimately carry some of the blame. Georgia operates under a modified comparative fault system, meaning the compensation awarded can be reduced based on the percentage of fault attributed to each party.

Consider this scenario: Driver A, distracted by his cell phone, rear-ends the car in front of him (Driver B). Then, a third car (Driver C), traveling too closely, collides into Driver B’s car.  In such a case, Driver A may be responsible for most or all of Driver B’s injuries and damages, but Driver C may also be liable for rear-end damage to Driver A’s car and potentially a portion of Driver B’s damages.

An experienced attorney will help you navigate the legal process, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing your interests in court if necessary to make sure you secure fair compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Be patient during this process, as negotiations may take time, and settling for less than you deserve could have long-term consequences.

If you or a loved one are injured or suffered property damage in an auto accident in Georgia, contact Douglas GA’s Farrar Hennesy Tanner at (912) 384-2287 or request a free case review and virtual legal consultation online. You pay nothing unless we win your case.