Vehicle accidents are stressful situations, to say the least. Being prepared now can help you protect your safety and legal rights.
Pull your vehicle, if you can, to a safe and well-lit area and turn on the emergency flashers.
If the vehicle cannot be moved, you and your occupants should walk to a safe area. Do not leave the accident scene.
You may be distracted after an accident, even a minor crash. But never leave children, pets, adults with disabilities or non-ambulatory senior in a locked and hot car after an accident.
Do not remove any children from car seats after a crash because they may be injured. Allow first responders to assess their condition before they remove them from the seats.
If the car is properly ventilated or the air conditioner is running on hot days, make sure that children, incapacitated passengers, or non-ambulatory seniors stay in the vehicle for their safety even if they are scared or agitated.
After your vehicle is in a safe place, see if you or any of your passengers are injured. Call
911 if anyone, including the occupants of other vehicles, have an injury even if it is minor.
Obtain the accident location from someone before you call.
Provide your name, and other identification information. Be prepared to give other information that identifies the location such as the city, street name, mile markings or traffic signs. Do not hang up until the dispatcher says you can.
In Georgia, you need to contact police if any person is killed or injured in the accident, there is property damage over $500 or a police call is required by the city where the accident occurred or your insurance company.
If you are in an accident outside Georgia, you should call the police.
Copies of police reports may be vital in a lawsuit. If police do not come to the accident, file a report, and obtain a copy.
After you determine that the other driver is not exhibiting road rage, you may talk to them. Conceal any valuable in your car or place them in a safe place.
Asking whether anyone needs help or engaging in small talk is appropriate. But never make admissions, apologize, or accept blame for the crash from the other driver or witnesses. Do not express anger, the amount of your insurance or blame other drivers.
Do not discuss potential injuries or damage to your vehicle because this may not be apparent until later. Injuries in minor accidents may take days to appear.
If you are asked, state that you need a doctor to assess your condition.
At first, exchange insurance and contact information with other drivers. Never accept or pay cash instead of filing an insurance claim even if other drivers offer lots of money or claim they are uninsured. These handshake deals can be costly later.
Keep your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, contact information for your insurance agent and important medical information for you, your family, and your pets in your vehicle. Have information on any services provided by your insurance company such as towing services or rental car coverage.
Obtain the following from other drivers:
- Name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Vehicle type, color and model
- Accident location
Keep information and documents from after the accident. These usually include medical reports, damage estimates, and any bills.
Use your phone or camera to photograph the accident scene. Remember these tips:
- Take pictures of all vehicles in the accident from all angles and include all four corners.
- Give a sense of scale in photographs.
- Photograph other vehicles or objects in the crash from various distances.
- Take pictures of the street, intersection, street signs, traffic signals, skid marks, gouges or anything involved in the accident.
- Photograph deployed airbags, shattered glass, or other interior vehicle damage.
- Take pictures of any conditions that played a part in the accident such as potholes, road construction or road debris.
- Photograph license plates of other vehicles in the crash.
- Photograph other drivers’ insurance cards.
- Take a picture of the police report.
Attorneys can assist you with determining your options after a crash and help you deal with insurance companies. They can also help you with seeking compensation against negligent or reckless drivers.