What To Do (And What Not To Do) After A Car Accident
Your drivers’ education class probably taught you how to be a defensive driver and take steps to avoid being in a car accident. But did it teach you what to do if you are in a car crash? And what if that car crash was caused by another driver’s negligence and you need to file a claim?
This isn’t an everyday occurrence, so it’s understandable if you do not know what to do. Car accident victims are often in shock, or filled with adrenaline, in the aftermath. For this reason, we at Glenda Mitchell Law Firm have created this list for injured drivers, passengers and their family members about what to do (and what not to do) after a car accident in Georgia.
Your Post-Accident To-Do List
Driving is such a common activity, few ever really stop to think they could be involved in a minor car accident, let alone, suffer life-changing injuries in a severe crash. Even if you are not severely injured, it isn’t always easy to know exactly what to do after a car accident. Here’s your to-do list:
Contact the police. All you need to do is call 911. This is actually required by law in many situations, so even if you consider the car accident minor you may want to call the police just to ere on the side of caution. If you end up filing a personal injury claim, having an official police report will be important.
Get contact info. Get the other driver’s name and contact information, as well as their insurance information. You may want to take a photo of their insurance documents and you could also take a photo of their license plate number. Gather the names and phone numbers of witnesses as well.
Document what happened. Take pictures with your phone of the vehicles involved, your injuries and any other property damage. When you have time, write down what happened in as much detail as you can remember. Memories fade, so this can prove valuable.
Get medical attention. In the most serious car wrecks, EMTs may arrive on the scene. Let them check you or take you to the hospital if appropriate. Even if you are not sure you have been hurt, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Injuries such as whiplash might not show until days after a motor vehicle collision. If you have follow-up appointments, do not skip them.
Contact a lawyer for free. A lawyer can explain your rights, your options and help you understand if you have a claim and how much that claim may be worth.
5 Mistakes To Avoid After A Car Wreck
Mistakes after a car crash can delay recovery from injuries or cause legal troubles. They could also make it more difficult to pursue a personal injury claim if you were hurt by a negligent driver.
Leaving the scene of the car accident: Georgia code § 40-6-273 requires that people involved in a car crash contact the police if there are injuries or property damage of $500 or more. If you leave the scene without reporting, you could open yourself up to criminal charges and you will not get a police report, which can play an important role if you file a personal injury claim.
Not getting medical care: We get it, healthcare is expensive. Nobody wants to pay for an ambulance ride if they do not have to. Nonetheless, your wellbeing is most important, and not getting the proper care can prevent timely diagnosis, treatment and healing if you are injured. Further, if you skip doctor appointments and file a personal injury claim, the severity of your injury will be questioned.
Taking the blame: After a car accident, there may be a flurry of apologies. Do not let an “I’m sorry” turn into an “It was my fault” if you are not absolutely certain that you were 100% to blame. Similarly, if the insurance company calls, you should take care not to say anything that implies you were at fault if you do not believe or do not know that you actually were at fault. Car crashes can happen fast and victims often do not know exactly what happened and why.
Accepting the first settlement offer: Insurance companies often start low with their settlement offers, hoping that the injured party will accept the offer just to get it over with or to relieve the immediate financial burden. But will the settlement cover all of your medical expenses, including future ones? Does it cover lost wages? What about pain and suffering? If you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot ask for more if the money runs out before your bills are paid.
Not calling an attorney: Most personal injury attorneys, including us, will talk to you about your car wreck for free to help you determine if you have a claim, to review a settlement offer and determine if it’s fair or not, or explore your options. There is no risk to you, and you get the peace of mind knowing that you covered all the bases before simply saying yes to a settlement.
Call Us As Soon As Possible After An Auto Collision
At Glenda Mitchell Law Firm, we work with clients throughout Georgia and South Carolina who have been in traffic accidents. We have seen firsthand how easy it is for that feeling of unreality and confusion to lead to unintended consequences. You may inadvertently say something that could later come back to damage your case or enable an insurance company to deny your claim.
Call us as soon as you can after an auto collision and before evidence is lost and witnesses disperse. In Georgia, call our Cartersville office at 864-326-3073. In South Carolina, call our Greenville office at 706-408-8448 for a free initial consultation, or use our convenient form.