What to Do after a Car Accident
Explained by Our Atlanta Team
Nobody expects to be in a car accident, but they happen every single day. According to Forbes, studies how that the average person will be involved in a car accident once every 18 years. It is important, therefore, to be prepared and know what to do should this situation happen to you. Studies have shown that planning for emergencies helps you respond better if they do occur. This is certainly true of car accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. Here are some things you should do, and avoid doing, in the minutes, days, weeks, and months following a car accident.
1. Remain at the Scene of the Accident.
Especially if the accident appears to be minor, and you think you're okay, you may just want to put it behind you and get moving to your original destination. Avoid this temptation. You may be in shock and injured worse than you know. Pull over in a safe place, and turn your hazard lights on. Stay and make a police report, even if it seems unnecessary to you.
2. Check on Other Passengers & Drivers.
First thing’s first: Make sure everyone's okay or that you have a sense of the seriousness of injuries when you call 911. Do not move an injured person unless they are in imminent danger; by doing so, you could injure them more seriously. Don't apologize for the accident—your statement could be taken as an admission of responsibility, even if you weren't at fault. This could reduce any damages you would be entitled to receive.
3. Call 911.
As noted above, it's important to create an official record of what happened in the accident by making a police report, but it's even more important to get immediate medical help for anyone who has been injured.
4. Take Pictures.
While you've got your phone out, take as many pictures as you can of the vehicles, of your visible injuries, of the accident scene, and of the other driver's license plate. Pictures provide visual documentation that could provide crucial evidence later—evidence that can't be reconstructed or that will be difficult to reconstruct.
5. Identify Witnesses.
If you are physically able, determine if there are any other drivers or passersby who witnessed the accident. Ask what they saw. If they are local (e.g. shopkeepers near the location of the accident), ask if there have been other accidents in the location. Tell witnesses that the police have been called and ask if they would be willing to stay and contribute to the police report. If they are unable or unwilling to, ask if you can get their name, address, and phone number to give to the police. If they are driving, document their license plate numbers so the police can track them down if necessary.
6. Exchange Information with the Other Driver(s).
If it was a multi-car accident, exchange insurance information with the other driver(s). Other than this, minimize conversation. Angry exchanges could escalate, resulting in danger, or your sincere expression of concern could be taken and later used as an admission of responsibility.
The information you should be exchanging from the driver and the owner of each vehicle involved includes:
- Phone number
- Insurance company
- Policy number
- Driver's license number
- License plate number
7. Accept Medical Help.
You may not feel badly injured, but you should always consent to be checked out medically at the scene and at a hospital emergency room. Some injuries are serious but may not be immediately obvious, especially if you're in shock. Prompt medical attention can identify injuries and keep them from getting worse. Also, if it later turns out you were seriously injured, the other driver will have more trouble suggesting that your injury is exaggerated if you received a prompt medical examination.
8. Get a Lawyer.
You may not think you want to sue anybody, but you should consult an experienced attorney anyhow. If the other driver was at fault in any way, their insurance company may offer you a settlement. This might sound good, but it comes with strings attached: You won't be able to come back later for more money if you need it—and you might. Never accept a settlement without consulting your own attorney first.
A attorney can help on a number of levels. First, just the fact that you've retained the services an attorney means an insurance company is less likely to offer you a "lowball" settlement offer.
Second, an attorney's presence signifies that you are willing to litigate the matter. This may encourage the insurance company to settle, actually saving you a lawsuit.
Last but not least, an experienced attorney can help you assess what your needs and expenses might be following the accident, so that you will be better informed as to whether a settlement offer is reasonable. Although there isn't a clear "average" settlement for a car accident case, your attorney can determine what you should be offered based on a thorough evaluation of the specifics of your case. This will include an assessment of the following:
- The damages you have suffered
- What insurance policies will go into effect from the accident
- What evidence is available from the scene
Your attorney will help you know what to settle for—or to fight for—and guide you through every step of the process.
Serving Clients in Atlanta and Across Georgia
Buddoo and Associates, P.C. offers free consultations to car accident injury victims throughout Georgia. Contact us at (404) 800-3755 as soon as possible to discuss the particulars of your case so that we can help to protect your interests. You can rely on our lawyers for the strong representation you deserve.
“I've dealt with them twice and both times they've successfully got me the money I needed for my accident.”- Darrien B.
“The staff is very friendly and understanding. Mr. Buddoo himself is easy to talk with, very understanding and knowledgeable in what he does.”- Constance T.
“From the very beginning, when I contacted them about my accident, they were very communicative, they always contacted me with updates and check-ups.”- Neka B.
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