Important Tips Crash Victims Need to Know about Georgia Auto Accident Reports


January 31, 2014

Although most people know that they may be subject to certain legal obligations when they are involved in a motor vehicle collision, they may be unclear on the specific requirements in terms of reporting the accident, exchanging information and remaining at the scene. Georgia law does not require that every motor vehicle crash be reported to law enforcement authorities, just those invovling personal injury, death, or property damages in excess of $500.  However, a decision to forgo a police crash investigation can have undesired consequences aside from getting a ticket for failing to do so. Georgia Auto Accident Reports can potentially provide the best record of physical evidence and eyewitness reports regarding the circumstance under which a motor vehicle accident occurs.

When a motorist determines that a personal injury claim for property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills and other forms of loss is appropriate, this can be a much more difficult task if there was no police investigation or law enforcement accident report. Our Georgia auto collision injury lawyers have provided some key facts that Atlanta traffic accident victims need to know about these official crash reports.

It is important to note that Georgia Auto Accident Reports that indicate the other driver was at fault do not eliminate the need for legal representation.  The officer's opinion on the report is not the final determining factor for civil liablity. 

While a car accident report amounts to an important record regarding the cause of an accident as well as the facts and witness observations that support such a conclusion, they are not the final word in terms of financial responsibility for a crash. Many reports will indicate that a particular driver received a traffic ticket for such offenses as speeding, running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, following too closely, driving under the influence or other form of noncompliance with the Georgia Rules of the Road. When the report indicates that such a traffic ticket was issued or expressly indicates other forms of hazardous driving behavior, this information might result in the insurance carrier for the other driver being more amenable to settling your injury claim.

However, many reports do not include such a clear indication that a particular driver was responsible for causing the crash. The Georgia Auto Accident Report may not include an opinion that one of the driver's caused the crash or may even indicate the both drivers engaged in hazardous driving behavior that played a role in causing the collision. Insurance companies rarely concede that their driver was at-fault so legal representation can be important even if the police report finds the other driver at-fault. When the insurance company does recognize that their insured is responsible based on the information in the report, they typically will fight aggressively to mitigate the amount they pay in compensation by disputing the severity of injuries.

We recommend that regardless of whether the law requires it in a particular situation, that drivers involved in accidents should error on the side of caution and contact the police.

People hate to see their auto insurance rates increase so it is not uncommon to have drivers consider exchanging insurance and driver's license information with an understanding that they will handle any payment without involving law enforcement or insurance companies. This can create enormous challenges in a variety of situations, such as:

• The driver reneges on the agreement to cooperate in paying for your vehicle damage.
• Vehicle occupants later discover that they have suffered a serious injury that was masked by shock or the delayed onset of symptoms.
• Witnesses and evidence cannot subsequently be tracked down.

Even if you think that the accident does not meet the legal requirements that mandate reporting, it may be worth contacting the authorities so that an investigation may be conducted and a report prepared. If you later need to pursue a personal injury claim, the process may be very difficult if you did not report the accident because critical evidence and witnesses may no longer be available.

Car crashes resulting in minor injuries should be reported to law enforcement so that the collision can be investigated.
Even if a vehicle occupant suffered what appears to be nothing more than minor cuts, bruises, abrasions or whiplash, the drivers are required to exchange information and render assistance at the scene. All Georgia auto accidents that result in injury, death or property damage of $500 or more must be reported. The decision to summon law enforcement so that Georgia Auto Accident Reports can be prepared is a prudent practice in terms of protecting a potential injury claim. Many serious car accident injuries manifest only minor symptoms initially.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years Experience to Work For You!

If you or someone close to you is involved in a car crash, our Georgia traffic accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.