What To Do After a Car Accident
Five Critical Steps After an Atlanta Car Accident
Most of us don’t want to deal with hiring a lawyer even where there has been an injury. It is OK to go it alone so long as you don’t screw these things up..
1. Stop Your Vehicle and Take Pictures of Where You Came to a Rest before moving the car. When the officer arrives, your vehicle position is critical. Stay at the Scene and Report the Accident
After an accident in Georgia, you must stop your vehicle and remain at the scene of the crash until authorities arrive. Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-273, this applies to any auto accidents that result in either an injury or at least $500 of property damage. These accidents must be reported to the appropriate state or local highway authorities. Beyond being the law, it is also in your best interest to ensure that a police officer comes to the scene of your accident. This is because you will want an officer to write an official accident report. One tip: Do not admit fault for the accident. Put simply, while you are at the scene of the crash you will be under stressful conditions. You are in no position to properly assess whether or not you were actually to blame for the crash. Here, our auto accident attorneys in Atlanta discuss the steps you should take after a crash to ensure that you are protecting both your legal rights and your well-being.
2. If You Have Health Insurance, Insist that the Hospital Bill Them!
Hospitals in Georgia have a nasty habit of trying to talk you into billing the other driver’s insurance. DON’T. You are giving away your pricing discount and there is no guarantee the other driver’s insurance will ever actually pay so you are taking a huge risk.
3. Contact Your Own Insurance Company so You Don’t Risk Violating Your Own Policy
All insurance companies have a notice provision in their insurance policies requiring notice of a crash within as little as 30 days after the crash. If you don’t comply, they can deny any Uninsured or Underinsured Claim you make. “But I Don’t want my rates to go up!” They will find out about the crash anyway when they pull your driving record every year. Failing to put them on notice means that if your medical care keeps going and the claim is worth more than the at-fault driver has on their insurance policy, you have given away your ability to seek help under the underinsured motorist insurance provision of your policy THAT YOU PAY FOR!
4. Take Photographs and Gather Evidence at the Scene
You should also take proactive steps to document your accident. Documentation comes in many different forms, including photographs. Photographs are a highly compelling form of evidence. You need to act quickly after your crash to obtain pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the accident scene, the weather, the damage of the other cars, and your injuries. It is always better to take more photos as you will never know ahead of time which ones will be useful for your claim. Come back to the area where the crash happened later and look around for private surveillance cameras. You cannot get government-run ones, but private ones are pretty easy.
5. Take Advantage of the Free Consult with an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
Finally, if you were seriously injured in a car accident, you should be represented by an experienced attorney. Of course, not all accident claims require legal assistance. As a general rule, if you sustained less than $4,000 in damages, you can probably handle your accident claim on your own. However, if you sustained more damages, you need an attorney by your side throughout the entirety of the claims process. Victims without legal representation often make avoidable mistakes that result in them recovering less compensation. Remember these consultations are free, so why not take advantage of them. Make sure you will get to talk to an actual lawyer and not some flunky investigator whose only job is to get you to sign up.
Car accidents remain a major problem in Georgia and throughout our country. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) reports that more than 350,000 accidents take place in the state each year. While some of these accidents are relatively minor, many are extremely serious. In the year 2016 alone, more than 130,000 people sustained injuries on Georgia roadways. Tragically, there were also 1,541 fatalities. As car accidents remain a real threat, it is imperative that all drivers know exactly what to do after a crash.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: After a car accident, the hospital asked for the police report. Should I give it to them?
Answer: Normally, no. Here are the rules:
- If you have health insurance, make sure you give the information to the hospital. The hospital has the right to ask if you are covered by medical payments insurance attached to car insurance. If you do not have it, then the hospital MUST bill your health insurance. they will often tell you they cannot after a car accident; that is a lie. They must under the contract.
- The reason they want the police report is to send a Notice of Medical Lien to the insurance company for the at-fault driver. Once this notice is in place, the hospital is in the driver’s seat and can insist on full payment of the bill even though there can be as much as 600% markup on the bill.
Question: Hi. My son was in a car accident. He was charged with following too closely. Two other cars were involved. We had full coverage on his vehicle but the insurance co. had him listed as an excluded driver so they are not paying any of the claims. Now we are getting letters from the other person’s insurance attorneys. Can you help?
Answer: Unfortunately when you have a named excluded driver, you have specifically eliminated that person from the insurance coverage, usually because of their young age and the effect on rates or because of a bad driving history. If you allow them to drive, you can pay a steep price. You cannot have it both ways.
Question: Hi. I have a question. I live in Georgia and my attorney is submitting my settlement package to the opposing side this week. He is telling me we can only go for $25k because that is the liability limit on the opposing side’s insurance policy. Is this correct? Can I not ask for more?
Answer: First of all, when I see a question from a family like this, I know they hired the wrong lawyer. A good attorney-client relationship is founded on communication. As a client, you should expect complete explanations from your attorney about the options. Getting to the heart of the question, in Georgia, the minimum car insurance limits are indeed $25,000 and most people carry that coverage. The only protection against people with insurance limits that may be too low for a serious injury is to go after your own Atlanta underinsured motorist insurance. This is insurance you paid for to protect you if you are badly hurt by someone with small limits. It is essential that you put your own insurance company on notice of ANY crash you are involved in, no matter whose car it is, within 60 days or you risk the insurance company trying to get out of coverage.
In this scenario, if the chatter has underinsured coverage and it is of the “added on” variety, they should be able to pursue more than the $25,000 in coverage.
Question: I was in an accident and the insurance company blamed me. I was not at fault and want my insurance company to “take it off my record” because it wasn’t my fault.
Answer: Unfortunately, the internal evaluation run by an insurance company is a private business decision and you cannot reverse their internal decision on who caused the car accident. They run complicated algorithms based on the probability of you getting into other crashes, often without regard for who may have caused a past crash. This is just a statistical fact of life.
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