Georgia Auto Accident Law Frequently Asked Questions
Auto accidents are a very real and unfortunate reality; they can impact any of us. More than 6 million automobiles are involved in car accidents each year. These accidents result in the tragic death of 40,000 people and injuries to another 3 million people. Of those injured, many unfortunately suffer permanent injuries. If you or someone you love is involved in a Georgia auto accident, the emotional, physical and financial consequences can be overwhelming.
Understandably, many of us are unprepared and in shock when we are involved in a car accident. We know that accidents happen but are never prepared for them to happen to us. Trying to determine what to do in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident can be daunting. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we understand that the best way to preserve your rights and obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries is for you to know what to do before you are involved in a serious traffic accident. We have provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning Georgia auto accidents below. If you have questions regarding a Georgia motor vehicle accident, do not hesitate to contact Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, for a free initial consultation.
What should I do immediately after being involved in an auto accident?
The first order of business is to attend to your injuries or the injuries of others at the scene. If you suffer serious injuries, you should agree to let an ambulance transport you to the hospital. Even if medical personnel do not plan to transport you in an ambulance, you should seek immediate medical attention. The police need to be called to the scene so that they can do an immediate investigation, obtain witness statements and make certain evidence at the scene is recorded and preserved in the form of an accident report. In most situations, the police report will document citations issued and determine who caused the accident according to the officer's investigation.
Once all of the people at the accident scene have received medical attention and the police have been summoned, you should have someone gather evidence. Evidence that you should gather and preserve includes the following:
- Names, driver's license numbers, and addresses of all drivers, vehicle owners, passengers or witnesses
- Notify police of any driver you believe may be under the influence of drugs/alcohol
- Take notes regarding any admissions of fault, the time of day, weather conditions and position/direction of vehicles prior to the accident
- Note any problems that you observed with any of the vehicles prior to the accident
- Take pictures of the scene from multiple angles including skid marks and the condition of the vehicles
Even if you were not taken to the hospital, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are injured. Many serious injuries have symptoms that do not manifest themselves for days or even weeks. If you do not seek immediate medical treatment, your condition may get worse. Further, a lack of treatment for your injuries may make it difficult to prove that you were actually injured in the car accident at all.
If I feel fine do I really need to see a doctor?
You should always see a doctor if you are involved in a car accident at the first sign of pain or other abnormal condition. Your symptoms may not manifest themselves immediately. If you delay obtaining medical treatment when you need it most, your injuries could get worse. Most of us have experienced instances when we were ill or injured and delayed seeing a doctor until our condition got a lot worse than it needed to get. The longer you delay medical treatment, the longer it will take to get better and the harder it will be to convince an insurance company that you were actually injured at the time of the automobile collision.
What should I tell my doctor?
You should report ALL symptoms no matter how trivial they seem at the time. Minor, insignificant symptoms may later turn out to be linked to a serious condition. If you provide your doctor with all of the information at the time of treatment, your doctor can provide better medical care and make sure your medical records are accurate if your condition gets worse. You should never ignore or minimize any symptoms no matter how minor they seem, especially if you hit your head during the collision.
Do I need to call the police or can I just get the other driver's insurance and driver's license information?
Yes, you should contact the police after an accident. The police can do an immediate investigation and preserve evidence that later may be used to establish your claim for compensation for your injuries. Even if there was little damage, a police investigation can protect you from a claim for liability by the other driver based on injuries the driver later indicates were suffered in the car accident. Georgia law requires that the police be contacted following an automobile accident.
Should I notify my insurance company?
Most insurance policies require that you provide notice of a car accident to your insurance company. You should provide basic information such as the name, driver's license number, vehicle plate number and insurance company for the other driver. If you are asked to provide information about the details of the accident, issues of fault, or to give a recorded statement, you should politely decline and immediately call an experienced Georgia auto accident lawyer. IMPORTANT: We advise that you never speak to anyone from the other driver's insurance company or with anyone else involved in the accident before seeking the advice of a qualified Georgia auto accident attorney. However, you should always render aid to injured people by calling 911.
What if they want to tow my car?
When a vehicle is towed, it can destroy critical evidence that may be relevant to establishing what happened. Scratches, dings and dents can occur that make it more difficult to analyze how the accident or specific injuries occurred. Especially in a serious accident, it is preferable that the vehicle not be towed before it is carefully photographed. The vehicle should also be stored where its condition can best be preserved. In some situations we notify all of the insurance companies that will be handling the vehicle by letter that the vehicle is involved in a claim and that they must take care not to alter the vehicle in any way.
What if the other driver does not have insurance?
Even if the other driver has no insurance, that fact alone does not mean that you cannot be compensated for your injuries. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, compensation can be sought from your own insurance company. This can apply if the other driver has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your damages. Sometimes you can also obtain protection from the uninsured motorist policies of other drivers living in the same household- in addition to any coverage that you may have. (That is why when you purchase insurance, we recommend that you elect to have uninsured motorist coverage). There may also be third parties that are responsible and have coverage, such as the owner of the vehicle who negligently entrusted the vehicle to the driver, a governmental entity that defectively designed or maintained the roadway, the employer of the other driver if the driver was working at the time, etc.
How long will it take to settle my case?
There is no way to know for sure as each case is unique. However, we will work hard on your case, collect evidence, research and present applicable law to the appropriate insurance company and their lawyers. We will submit a comprehensive demand to the insurance company once you have completed your medical treatment or reached "maximum medical improvment." We want to know the amount of your medical expenses as well as lost wages. Once the claim has been submitted, there will be a period of negotiation that may last weeks or months. If the insurance company is not prepared to treat you fairly, we may have to file a lawsuit or go to trial to obtain the compensation you are entitled to receive. A trial can mean the process may take much longer but many auto accident cases settle prior to a lawsuit being filed or short of an actual trial in a court of law.
If the accident is my fault, does that mean I cannot recover for my injuries?
You should never assume that you are at fault in a car accident even if there is a police report indicating you were at fault or you received a traffic ticket. Sometimes the police investigators may be mistaken about how a traffic accident happened and who is at fault. Even if you share fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation under Georgia auto accident law if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. Your fault may be relevant in terms of the amount of compensation you receive but may not completely bar a claim for compensation. It is very important that you contact an experienced Georgia auto accident lawyer who can independently investigate the circumstances of your auto accident to determine if you are entitled to legal compensation.
For a free Auto Accident Checklist to keep in each of your cars, click here.
If you are involved in a Georgia car accident, you will often be stressed and anxious which may make it difficult to decide what to do. We hope these answers will help you if you are involved in a serious car accident. At Montlick and Associates, our Georgia auto accident law attorneys have been representing Georgia auto accident victims for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away!