When you are involved in a traffic collision in Georgia, in most cases, you will need to report the accident at once to the local police and to your auto insurance company. You’ll also face deadlines for filing an insurance claim and a personal injury lawsuit. Knowing your rights and responsibilities after an accident is imperative. Precisely what are you required to do after a traffic accident in Georgia, and when are you required to do it?
In 2015, more than 385,000 traffic collisions were reported in Georgia, so it is not difficult to get into a collision in this state. Also in 2015, those accidents resulted in more than 19,000 reported serious injuries. Obviously – and without regard to which driver was at fault – your top priority after a traffic accident is to summon medical attention for yourself and for anyone else who has been injured.
Next, call the police. The law in Georgia requires you to report a traffic accident to the local police if anyone is killed, injured, or if the property damage appears to be in excess of $500. Drivers should ask the officers how to obtain a copy of the accident report and how to retrieve the car if it is towed. For accidents handled by the Atlanta Police Department, accident reports are made available through the website www.BuyCrash.com.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU DO AT THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT?
After any traffic collision, exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver, and do not fail to get that driver’s name, address, license number, license plate number, insurance company name, contact information, and the policy number. If the other driver can’t or won’t cooperate because he or she is injured, intoxicated, or hostile, ask the police to help you get the details you need.
Then, if you can, take photographs of the accident site, the vehicular damage, and your own injuries. Also at the scene of the crash, try to obtain the names of any eyewitnesses and a way to contact those eyewitnesses. Photographic evidence and the testimony of eyewitnesses can often lead to the quick settlement of a personal injury claim or persuade a jury to find in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury trial.
Every accident is different, so after you’ve received a medical exam, there is no single way to proceed. If a negligent driver injures you in a crash, it is best to discuss your legal rights and options first – and at once – with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney. Follow your attorney’s suggestions and let your attorney do the talking with the insurance company.
CAN YOU NEGOTIATE DIRECTLY WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY?
But if you’ve only sustained damage to your vehicle – or perhaps just some trivial scrapes or light bruises – there is no reason why you can’t negotiate directly with the insurance company, if you want to. Most insurance professionals in Georgia are helpful and want to expedite your claim. Some insurance companies, however, will deny your claim or delay your payment. You’ll want an attorney’s help if an insurance company is not meeting its obligation to you.
You should notify your auto insurance company about an accident within the first 24 hours. But how soon do you have after an accident to file an insurance claim? In most cases, that deadline is spelled out by your individual auto insurance policy. If you drive in Georgia, it’s imperative to know your policy; know what is covered, what’s excluded and what the deductibles are. If you have any questions about a policy, ask your agent.
When you file an auto insurance claim after a traffic accident, provide the insurance company with complete, accurate information. Anything else will only delay the processing of your claim. Keep copies of all correspondence and notes regarding all conversations with the insurance company. If your claim is denied, ask the company for a written denial that spells out why. And do not hesitate to seek legal help.
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS IN GEORGIA?
If you’ve sustained a physical injury or injuries in a traffic crash, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and related losses. In the state of Georgia, in most cases arising from traffic accidents, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident.
But do not wait two years and then try to file a lawsuit at the last minute. If you are injured by a negligent driver in Georgia, work from the beginning with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and fight aggressively on your behalf for the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
Your attorney will investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your claim; negotiate with the insurance company for a just, fair, and adequate settlement of your claim; and take your case to trial if no such settlement is offered during negotiations. Putting a personal injury attorney on the case at once – while the evidence and the memories are still fresh – is the wisest choice to make if you’ve been injured.
WHAT DEADLINES DO YOU FACE AFTER A TRAFFIC COLLISION?
Let’s quickly review the various deadlines you’ll be dealing with after a traffic collision in the state of Georgia. You need to seek medical attention and call the police immediately after a traffic accident. You should also notify your auto insurance company about the accident within the first 24 hours.
The deadline for filing an auto insurance claim may be different for different drivers – it’s specified by your individual automobile insurance policy. And your deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia is two years, but you must not wait that long to speak with a personal injury attorney. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, do it right away.
Prevailing with a personal injury lawsuit is not always easy in this state. Nevertheless, if you seek medical attention immediately after an accident, call the police, and you have photographs, eyewitnesses, and the help of an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney, you’ll be well-positioned to win compensation for your medical costs, your lost wages, and all of your other injury-related damages and losses.