A car accident can be a harrowing experience, especially if it results in serious injuries and damage to property. Therefore, it is critical to know what to do immediately following a car crash to avoid making rash decisions that could exacerbate the situation.
As a general rule, stay at the accident scene, avoid arguing or criticizing others and avoid taking the blame for the accident. If you do not follow these tips, you could weaken your case and possibly create a hostile environment among the parties involved.
What Steps Should I Take Immediately Following the Crash?
You can do a few things right after a car crash that can help police, insurers, and lawyers with incident facts.
Do Not Leave the Accident Site
Never leave the scene of the accident. Aside from the fact that doing so is unethical, law enforcement may consider this a hit-and-run crime. In Georgia, O.C.G.A. 40-6-270 states that the driver must stop at or return to the accident scene. Failure to do so could lead to severe fines and possible incarceration.
Assess the Damage
Aside from staying at the scene, you should make sure that everyone involved in the accident is safe. If no persons need medical attention and you can still drive your car, try to move it out of the way of traffic to prevent any further accidents. If possible, move the vehicle to the shoulder of the road or a nearby gas station. If someone is seriously hurt, call an ambulance immediately.
Call the Authorities
Regardless of the collision’s severity, someone must call the police. Once they arrive at the scene, the police will report who was involved in the accident, the road conditions, and witness testimony.
This information could be critical evidence for making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit later on. Also, be sure to get the names of the officers so that you can refer back to them when reviewing the accident details.
Even if you get a police report, it is still essential to gather evidence of your own if possible. You should not rely exclusively on the police report to tell your side of the story. In addition to jotting down officers’ names and badge numbers, get the phone numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from any other drivers involved.
You should also record the names and contact information of any witnesses at the location of the accident. Do not forget to take pictures of the accident scene with your phone for insurance claims or litigation later. Take pictures of the road, vehicles, license plates, and other things you see on the way.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance carrier and report any accident that resulted in injuries or property damage, no matter who was to blame. Many people may think you don’t need to call, but this is a common misconception. Your insurance policy might have several coverage options available to you.
Make sure to keep a record of all of your communications with your insurance provider in case there are issues with your policy or facts of the incident.
Keep Medical Records
If you need medical treatment, remember to record all medical procedures and medications you receive. These also serve as proof of injury if you take legal action against the liable parties. Consult a doctor to check your injuries and document any costs for your claim or lawsuit. The amount of compensation you receive depends on the severity of your injuries and other losses associated with the accident.
Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
You do not always need to get a lawyer following a car crash, particularly a minor fender-bender. However, a lawyer can be invaluable in many cases. Here are some circumstances that could merit the help of a lawyer:
- An accident resulting in serious injury to you or another person
- Any accident in which the cause is not immediately determined
- Any collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver
- A collision with a pedestrian or motorist
- Whenever you take issue with a police report
A lawyer can inform you of your legal right and help you gather evidence, submit a claim, or file a lawsuit.
We Can Offer Legal Help After Your Accident
Understandably, you may not know what to do immediately following a car crash, but we can help. An auto accident attorney from the office of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers can explain your legal rights and help you avoid mistakes after your accident. We can also help you get compensation for any injuries or damages you suffer.
For over 40 years we have helped victims of auto accidents, personal injury, and catastrophic injuries throughout Georgia and South Carolina with outstanding results. Call our office anytime at (888) 612-7001.