Car crashes and collisions happen to even the safest of drivers. Unfortunately, car accidents are all too common, and whether they occur while driving on one of the city’s busy interstates or navigating back roads on the outskirts of town, the damages suffered by both you and your passengers can be severe.
Even a seemingly minor Georgia car wreck can leave you facing heavy hospital bills and the need for ongoing medical care and treatment. Plus, your injuries may prevent you from working or even being able to participate in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed.
When this type of accident occurs, getting full and fair compensation for the damages you have suffered is essential to your recovery. Although it is important for all drivers to be prepared in the event of an accident, it makes good financial sense to also know what mistakes to avoid in order to protect yourself and your legal rights.
Not Stopping Immediately at the Accident Scene
When you are involved in any type of accident, it is important to stop at the scene, taking care to move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, if possible. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal violation under Georgia law, and it could result in you having your license suspended.
Not Exchanging Information with Other Drivers
Once you have stopped at the scene, you should exchange information with any other motorists involved. According to the Police Department, drivers should exchange the following:
- Personal contact information, such as name, address, and phone number
- Driver’s license and vehicle registration numbers
- Insurance company name and policy number
In addition to the above, make note of where and when the accident occurred and get the contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
Not Notifying Law Enforcement That an Accident Has Occurred
As outlined in the Georgia Driver’s Manual, local law enforcement or the Georgia State Highway Patrol should be notified immediately of any accidents resulting in injuries or vehicle damages of more than $500. Having law enforcement present at the scene can help clarify any details and will ensure a traffic accident report is submitted.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, avoid the temptation to speculate on the cause or to admit liability to other drivers. Although it may seem natural at the time to assume part of the blame yourself, doing so or sharing information regarding what you were doing immediately before the accident, such as changing a radio station or talking on your phone, could impact your ability to get compensation for your injuries.
Agreeing Not to Notify Your Insurer- Insurance Companies
In an effort to avoid having insurance premiums go up, the other driver may offer to pay for any damages on the condition that you do not file a claim. Although this may sound like a reasonable offer, failing to notify your insurer is a violation of your policy agreement. The other person could renege on the offer, and any amount the person does pay is unlikely to cover your total vehicle damages, medical costs, and lost wages.
Not Getting Medical Attention or Not Following Doctor’s Instructions
Even an otherwise minor fender bender can result in serious injuries, with symptoms that take days or even weeks to appear. Injuries to the head, neck, or back and sprained or strained muscles or tendons are common after car accidents. These types of injuries often require ongoing treatment and could result in permanent disabilities. Protect yourself by seeking medical attention immediately after an accident, and follow all doctor’s instructions in terms of testing and follow-up visits.
Signing Documents or Settling Your Claim Without Consulting a Georgia Car Accident Attorney
It is important to speak with an experienced lawyer before making any statements or accepting any settlements from the insurance company. Statements made to an insurance representative can and will be used against you, and the insurance company itself has a financial motive in denying or undervaluing your claim. In some cases, these companies may make an immediate settlement offer for far less than what you deserve, knowing that once you sign and accept the offer, you will be forfeiting your rights to future compensation.
Georgia Car Accident Statistics
According to the Department of Driver Safety (DDS), more than 110,000 drivers and passengers are injured in Georgia car accidents each year. For nearly 1,200 other victims, their injuries end up being fatal. Unfortunately, the DDS reports that the sheer number of motorists traveling in and out of the city and traffic conditions on the interstates and highways put drivers at an even greater risk. When an car wreck does occur, it is often the result of reckless and dangerous driving behaviors, such as:
- Speeding or going too fast for conditions
- Distracted driving, including using smartphones, cell phones or texting while driving
- Aggression, like tailgating or brake checking
- DUI from drugs or alcohol
In these situations, the at-fault driver may be held responsible for any damages you suffer. However, your actions before, during, and after the accident are likely to be called into question.