What to Do If You’ve Been in a Car Accident

Getting into a car accident is a traumatic experience for anyone. But understanding what to do at the scene and shortly after can make or break a successful case.

The following are answers to questions you may have if you’ve been in an accident.

I was just involved in a motor vehicle collision. What now?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you’re probably wondering what to do next. First, contact 911 and report the collision immediately.

We also recommend that you do not post about your case or your injuries on social media or make statements that you are “fine” if you are really hurt. Keep in mind that anything you post on the internet can be used against you later in your accident case.

Which information or evidence should you gather at the scene?

If you can safely get to the scene of your accident, it’s best that someone who was involved in or witnessed this event collect any information about what happened. This includes not only their name and contact details but also anything related such as license plate numbers for both vehicles involved (if possible), insurance companies involved with each party’s coverage plans–even whether there were other people around when things went south!

Take pictures and videos with your cell phone’s camera to preserve crucial evidence. Be sure to capture images of the damage to all vehicles involved and where all cars are located at the scene. You should also record the roadway or intersection, debris on the road, skid marks, and any resulting injuries.

Should I seek medical care after a crash?

Yes. Even if you have not been seriously injured, you should still go to the emergency room or urgent care if you are in any pain. It’s possible that you may have internal organ, head, brain, or soft tissue injuries that are not immediately apparent or visible. Be sure to attend any follow-up visits recommended by your doctor, as well.

Medical records document your injuries and complaints and will play a crucial role in your accident case. Particularly, these records will help establish the injuries you suffered and the extent of your losses.

If you hire The Millar Law Firm, we will obtain your initial medical records to preserve the integrity of your case as soon as you hire us. We will also pay upfront for all costs of pulling these records. You can learn more about this subject here.

Can I receive medical care in the Atlanta area without health insurance?

If you do not have health coverage, the emergency room still must provide you medical care after a car accident. In this case, the hospital will bill you directly. However, you may be able to pay later after your case settles. Some doctors’ offices and clinics will also provide medical care, which you can pay once your case resolves.

Failing to get medical care because you think you cannot afford it can seriously harm your case and cost you even more money. Not to mention, not seeking necessary care could lead to recovery complications. If you do not have medical coverage and do not know what to do after a crash, consult an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide the help and guidance you need.

Learn about how  health insurance covers personal injury medical bills in our guides to Georgia law.

Should I contact an attorney about my car accident case?

Even if you are unsure if you need a lawyer, we recommend contacting our firm. We will offer help and assistance at no charge. If we then decide to work together, our law firm can usually open your file and begin to investigate within the first few hours.

Our lawyers can help protect your financial future after a car accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, we can help give you peace of mind. Chances are, no matter what you come up against, we have seen it before and can provide you immediate expert advice to protect you and your family while we prove your injury case.

Our most important responsibility is advising you on how to deal with the aftermath of an injury and how to get your claim and medical care started. We can make recommendations to ensure your case is successful and you recover the compensation you need. 

A Helpful Car Crash Checklist

Checklist infographic for after a Car Accident, what to do for yourself, for authorities, for your car and if you have a claim

Dealing With Automobile Insurance Companies or Adjusters

After any car, truck, or motorcycle wreck, you should notify your own insurance company as soon as possible. However, be careful about speaking with the other drivers’ insurance adjusters or company representatives.

While the claims adjusters may sound friendly, it’s their job to find any reason to pay you as little as possible. They may even try to find ways to blame you for causing the car wreck.

Saying the wrong thing or signing releases or papers without top-notch legal advice could seriously hurt your case. This is because the at-fault driver’s insurance company wants to pay as little as possible to settle your claim.

You may want to consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer before making any recorded statement. Mistakes made in describing the collision or even innocent statements you might make, such as “I don’t blame anyone,” can be used to reduce the amount the insurance company will have to pay or to deny your claim.

Guidance from an experienced lawyer can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

When you work with us, we deal with the insurance companies’ adjusters for you

Get Expert Guidance from the Jonesboro Attorneys at The Millar Law Firm

The Injury Experts, Working for You. Our Jonesboro car accident lawyers are extremely familiar with how and why accidents happen across the South Atlanta area.

We also know how to get records and evidence from local law enforcement and deeply understand the local court system. Our knowledge of the area and the local courts can give you a serious edge in your case.

If you’ve been in a collision anywhere in South Atlanta, there is a good chance we have handled a case like yours in that same location. In fact, we have nearly 30 years’ worth of experience fighting for car accident victims like you.

Our experienced attorneys are here to take the burden of filing and managing a car accident claim off your hands so that you can focus on recovery.

How much does it cost to hire The Millar Law Firm for a car accident case?

Our consultations are free, and there’s no fee unless we win your case.

If you choose to hire our law firm for your auto accident case and you recover compensation, our fees are usually 1/3 (33%) of the injury recovery if no lawsuit is needed (most cases settle without a lawsuit) or 40% if suit must be filed.

These are the typical fees that personal injury law firms charge in the Atlanta area. If you encounter a law firm that charges significantly less than this, be careful.

Will The Millar Law Firm handle everything after my collision?

If you decide to work with our law firm for your car accident case, our lawyers will fully take over dealing and communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

We will investigate all the facts of your crash, collect police reports, request 911 and body cam recordings, and obtain your medical bills and records. When necessary, we will also hire top experts to prove how the collision happened and explain the full extent of your injuries.

Types of Car Accident Claims Our Jonesboro Lawyers Handle

The Millar Law Firm investigates and handles all types of car accident injury cases. Just a few examples include:

  • Distracted Drivers
  • Crashes caused by drunk, DUI, and drugged drivers
  • Head-on or rear-end collisions
  • Failure to maintain lane
  • Following too closely
  • Commercial truck and tractor trailer accidents
  • Wrongful death cases
  • Hit and run injuries
  • Reckless driving and road rage
  • Spinal injury and paralysis claims
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Motorcycle collisions with injuries
  • Speeding, chain-reaction, and too fast for conditions
  • Accidents caused by unknown or “John Doe” drivers
  • Interstate highway crashes
  • Intersection, T-bone, and failure to yield collisions
  • Off-road and ATV accidents
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Catastrophic paralysis and loss of limbs

We Can Answer Your Questions About Car Accident Injury Cases

We understand that after a collision, you will likely have many concerns. Here are a few of our commonly asked and answered questions and the services we can provide for you:

How much is my car accident injury case worth?

Every car accident case is different. How much your claim is worth depends on the severity of your injuries and the amount of insurance available.

Our attorneys can help you identify how much compensation you are entitled to for your accident. They will go over the various expenses that are factored into an injury settlement, including past and future medical bills and suffering from your injury. Cases involving permanent injury or an impairment rating from a doctor will generally have a higher projected value than those where complete recovery is expected. If you believe you are permanently injured, an American Medical Association (AMA) disability rating may be needed to receive the highest level of compensation. Our attorneys can help you with the AMA disability rating. We have also written a handy guide to value auto crash settlements  in the State of Georgia.

How long does it take to get paid for an injury after an accident?

The amount of time it will take to settle your car accident case depends on the type and extent of your injuries and how long it takes for you to recover. Settlements are binding agreements that commonly happen after you finish medical care. Our lawyers send a demand to the insurance company that includes the amounts of your medical bills and lost pay, as well as supporting documentation, such as reports from your doctors. The compensation we seek may also include additional items, such as past and future pain and suffering.

You can learn more about how long it takes to get an auto wreck case settled in our legal guides section.

What if you were not responsible for the crash?

Usually, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle and your bodily injuries. This is typically done through a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.

Georgia law requires all drivers to have car insurance. Minimum coverages of at least $25,000 for injury of one person and $50,000 total should be maintained by all drivers. The law also requires coverage of $25,000/$50,000 for property (typically automobile) damage. However, not everyone follows the rules and holds an insurance policy.

In this case, you may have additional coverage under your own policy through underinsured or uninsured drivers motorist coverage. These policies would protect you if you were in a collision with someone who did not have car insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover enough of your property damage and bodily injury claim.

How long do you have to file a bodily injury claim after a car wreck?

The Georgia statute of limitations for bodily injury is two years from the date of the incident. It is four years for property damage. If the claim is against a city, you must file an ante-litem notice within six months of the collision. If you have a claim against the State or a Georgia County, you must file your ante-litem notice within 12 months.

A statute of limitations means you must file a lawsuit before those dates expire, or you lose the right to take legal action. The statute of limitations may be extended under certain rare conditions. Consult with a personal injury lawyer promptly to make sure you do not miss any important deadlines.

Can I recover money for lost pay due to car accident injuries?

Yes. If you can prove that you missed work due to injuries, you are allowed to recover your lost income from the at-fault driver and their insurance company. You will need documentation of lost pay and, most likely, a doctor’s report or work excuse. Future lost pay may also be recovered, if you can prove it is likely that you will work less in the future due to your injuries.

How do I get a police report in Jonesboro, GA or another city in Clayton County?

If a Clayton County Police Officer responded to your South Atlanta automobile wreck, you can get a copy of your accident or incident report at the Clayton County, Georgia Police Department Records customer service area located in the main precinct at 7911 N. McDonough Street, Jonesboro, Georgia 30236. There is a small fee to receive a copy of your report. The police department’s telephone number is: (770) 477-3913.

Records from the Jonesboro Georgia Police Department can be picked up from Police Headquarters at 170 South Main Street, Jonesboro, Georgia 30236. The non-emergency telephone number for the Jonesboro police is (770) 478-7407.

After my accident, the value of my vehicle dropped. Do I have a claim?

Under Georgia law, a vehicle owner may be able to pursue a “diminished value claim” if the value of the car decreased due to a motor vehicle accident.

Calculating the diminished value of your vehicle should be simple and straightforward. For instance, if your car was worth $10,000 before a crash, and now it’s worth only $7,500, you may be entitled to the difference of $2,500. However, insurance companies may try to complicate the matter by arguing that mileage, condition of the vehicle, or other factors have driven the value of your vehicle down. While an attorney may not be needed for every diminished value claim, they can help you negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement or represent you in court, if necessary.

In some cases, an insurance company may act unreasonably and even refuse to pay your property damage claim. It may be necessary for your attorney to file a bad faith claim on your behalf.

What types of compensation can I recover after a car crash?

When another driver is proven to be at fault for the accident, Georgia law allows you to recover, or be awarded, damages. These fall into three broad categories known as special, general, and punitive damages.

Special damages are intended to cover your financial losses (also known as “economic” harms). These damages cover past, present and – in some cases – future medical costs and bills, final expenses (in a wrongful death case), and past and future lost wages.

General damages are usually what most people think of as pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent injury and/or disability, disfigurement, and the loss of your quality of life. These damages can also include a loss of consortium, which means the harm to your relationship with your spouse. O.C.G.A. 51-12-4.

Punitive damages may be sought and/or recovered when there is evidence of willful, callous, wanton, or reckless conduct. These damages are given to punish or deter a defendant and others from doing the same thing again in the future. O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1.

My driver caused the accident, and I am an injured passenger. Do I have a case?

Yes. Under Georgia law, if your injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else – whether the driver of another car or even the driver of the car you were in – you could still receive compensation for your injuries and losses.

If the driver of the car you were in caused the crash, you should not hesitate to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses – even if that driver is a friend. Generally speaking, you do not have to seek damages from that driver’s personal assets, but rather you can elect to go through his or her insurance policy. The driver has been paying premiums for this exact reason.

The at-fault driver was distracted while driving. Are they responsible for my damages?

Yes. A driver that causes a collision because he or she is distracted is responsible for any injuries to you. Some examples of negligent or distracted driving are putting on makeup, talking on the phone, or fumbling with a radio. Some conduct may be considered not only negligent but also reckless, such as using a mobile phone, driving while texting, and drowsy or drunk driving.

If you were hurt in a car wreck caused by a distracted driver, contact our firm today. Our car wreck attorneys work closely with investigators and experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, medical doctors, and mechanical professionals, to prove any form of distracted driving in your injury case.

I was not injured in the car wreck, but my vehicle was damaged. What should I do?

When your car is damaged in an accident, you should report it to the police and your car insurance company, even if you are not hurt. Failure to report such an accident to your insurer may result in the loss of liability coverage.

The at-fault driver’s insurance policy should cover the damage to your vehicle, but if that driver is not insured, you may be entitled to repairs or diminished value coverage under your own policy. You’ll want to review your insurance policy to see if you have collision coverage.

My car was totaled, but no one was injured. What should I do?

If your car was significantly damaged or totaled in a collision, you should immediately contact the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver. You should also notify your insurance company out of an abundance of caution.

The process for repairing or totaling out your vehicle can be lengthy. The insurer will likely want to examine police reports and interview witnesses before accepting liability. During this time, however, the at-fault party’s insurance company should provide you with a rental car or reimburse you for one while they determine if your vehicle is repairable or deemed a total loss.

Alternatively, if you have rental car insurance coverage on your own policy, this may prove to be quicker, and your insurance carrier will often subrogate against the at-fault party’s insurance company thereafter. However, you may need to pay a deductible for the repair or replacement of your car.

Unfortunately, if you do not have rental coverage under your own policy, you could face some out-of-pocket expenses and may be limited to a certain number of days for the rental car.
To learn more about property damage issues, please see The Millar Law Firm’s free Georgia Property Damage Guide.

How do I get my car repaired after a collision?

If your car was damaged in the wreck, contact your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. An adjuster will be sent to examine the car. If the collision was not your fault and is not in dispute, it is most common for the at-fault insurer to pay for the damage or repair the vehicle. However, if there is an ongoing battle over who should pay or a problem with coverage, you may have the option of going through your own insurance company.

If I was negligent and contributed to the crash, can I recover?

That depends. Under Georgia law, if a motor vehicle accident victim’s own negligence contributed to the collision and he or she was injured as a result, the recovery amount could potentially be reduced.

The State of Georgia uses a modified form of comparative fault. O.C.G.A. 51-12-33. Under this law, if you were responsible to some degree for your injury, a trier of fact will determine the percentage of each person’s fault and reduce the recovery proportionally. However, if it is determined that your fault exceeds that of the other driver or you could have avoided the consequences caused by the other driver’s negligence, recovery may be barred.

Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to shift blame for a collision. This is one of the many reasons why an attorney can be helpful to your case.

In Georgia, will my insurance premiums increase after a collision?

Your insurance premiums or payments should not increase if the crash was not your fault. Georgia law prohibits insurance companies from raising your rates if you did not cause the collision.

The at-fault driver is uninsured. What should I do?

This is a complicated situation – and one that, unfortunately, is common in Georgia. You can generally seek damages for any medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages through the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. However, if the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may be entitled to recover through your own insurance policy if you have uninsured motorist coverage.

The driver who caused the collision was killed. Do I still have a case?

Most likely, you do still have a case. Our lawyers can answer this question fully, but in most crashes where the negligent driver was killed, you may still bring a claim against the driver through his or her insurance company or Estate.

Does your law firm sue drunk drivers?

Yes, we have handled many cases against drunk drivers. We take DUI injury cases very seriously and seek to recover punitive damages to punish the at-fault intoxicated driver. Our lawyers also investigate to see if the driver had been sold or over-served alcohol by a business or negligent homeowner. If so, there may be additional claims under Georgia’s dram shop laws.