What Should I Do After an Atlanta Car Accident?
Every year, more than six million car accidents occur in the United States alone. Many crashes involve only vehicle damage, but one out of every three accidents causes injuries.
If you are one of the many people involved in an Atlanta auto accident, there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your interests safe after a collision.
The Roth Firm in Atlanta recommends taking these 7 steps immediately.
#1 Stay On-Scene
By law, if you are involved in a collision, you must stop. If you drive away, this can be considered fleeing the scene or a hit and run, and you risk facing criminal prosecution.
If you are able, you may consider moving your damaged vehicle to the berm along the side of the road or to a parking space that is close to the scene. However, only do this if your vehicle is causing a major issue with oncoming traffic.
#2 Secure the Area of the Wreck
After an accident, nothing is more important than the safety of the people involved. If it is safe to do so, check to see if the other driver and passengers are okay.
If anyone is unconscious or in severe pain, do not try to move them. Wait until an emergency medical team arrives to prevent further injury.
Turn on your flashers and set up flares, or a flashlight if you have one, to prevent additional accidents. You can choose to wait in your damaged vehicle or out of your vehicle by the side of the road.
#3 Contact the Authorities
Whether or not the crash caused severe injuries, it is always a good rule of thumb to contact the authorities.
A police report can be essential to your insurance claim or a potential lawsuit later on.
Sometimes the guilty party in an accident will try to convince the car accident victim not to call the police or will try to shift blame onto the innocent driver.
Whether or not you believe you were at fault for the accident, resist the urge to apologize or accept blame.
Admitting fault prematurely or accidentally can eliminate your chance to receive compensation from an insurance company.
It is often best not to discuss the accident at all before you talk with an attorney.
#4 Collect Driver Information
Thorough documentation might seem excessive, but it can be a great help later on. For best results, gather the following information:
- Driver and Passenger Names and Addresses
- Witness Names and Addresses
- Insurance Information
- Photographs of the Accident and Vehicles*
*Taking photos is one of the best ways to protect your vehicle damage from being minimized by the at-fault driver or insurance company. Take pictures from different angles and remember to document damaged road signs, guard rails, or skid marks if applicable.
#5 File an Insurance Claim
Notify your insurance company right away after your accident. If possible, call them from the scene to make sure the details you provide are as accurate as possible.
Many insurance companies require policyholders to report accidents immediately, so this is a crucial step.
#6 See a Medical Professional
Many car accident injuries are not apparent in the hours following a crash. Whiplash, spinal cord damage and head injuries can take several days for symptoms to appear.
Unless you are 100% certain you are not injured in any way, it is best to visit the emergency room or your family doctor to make sure you have medical documentation if your injuries should require a legal case.
#7 Retain an Auto Accident Attorney
When you hire a lawyer, you give yourself your best chance at receiving a fair settlement amount. A car accident attorney will:
- Protect your rights
- Use evidence to benefit your case
- Challenge an insurance company that avoids paying
- Ensure you receive high-quality medical treatment
- Calculate accident damages
- Offer legal advice
Car accident attorneys receive payment on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay if your lawyer recovers compensation for your case.
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