Many drivers have, at one point or another, accidentally cut someone off while driving. But sometimes, the consequences can be serious. For example, if a driver pulls out in front of another and the second driver swerves to avoid a collision, they may crash. If this happens, what can the driver expect from a legal perspective?
Even when cutting someone off is completely unintentional, car accident damages are handled depending on who was at fault and whether or not the first driver stops. Let’s look at what typically happens if one driver cuts off another and leads to a crash.
Do I Have to Report a Car Crash?
Suppose you cut someone off and cause a crash. In that case, it’s both your legal and humanitarian duty to report any injury, death, or property damages exceeding $500 to the local authorities according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 40-6-273. Not doing so can have serious consequences on your driving record and make you look even more at fault for the accident. One important thing to remember is that simply reporting a car accident doesn’t mean you’re admitting to any fault.
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Fault in a No-Contact Crash
If the first driver doesn’t come into contact with the car that crashes, it’s known as a “no-contact” accident. But even though the first driver didn’t hit the second driver, they can still be found partially at fault for the accident. And if the driver who crashes suffered injuries or vehicle damage, they may be able to pursue a claim for financial recovery with the first driver’s insurance company. This would get won through a personal injury claim.
To demonstrate the other driver was at fault, the driver who crashed usually needs evidence. This could be:
- Statements from witnesses who saw the crash
- Picture or video evidence, such as traffic footage that caught the incident
- The own driver’s admission of fault in the crash
Filing a personal injury claim for a no-contact car accident can be difficult, especially if the driver who cut off the crashed car is unknown or fails to stop. But if a driver is determined to be at fault for the accident, they are legally liable for damages.
What If the First Driver Doesn’t Pull Over?
Sometimes the first driver doesn’t even realize a crash resulted from cutting someone off. Other times, they see the accident but don’t stop. Either way, this situation is often called a “phantom driver” accident.
If you are the driver who cut off another person and saw them crash, you should always pull over. Not stopping after you see a crash happen that you’re involved in, even if your car didn’t touch the vehicle, is never a good idea. Failing to pull over in this situation can have the same legal consequences as a hit-and-run accident.
If you are the person who crashed and the other car doesn’t stop, get their license plate if you can and note any additional identifying information. You should also call a car accident lawyer, as they may use different tactics to find out who the driver was. If not, you may be looking at a phantom driver accident case. When the driver can’t be found or identified, you may be able to use Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage or no-fault insurance through your policy to cover at least some of your damages.
Steps to Take After a No-Contact Crash
Drivers cut each other off every day, but the situation is more severe if a crash or accident results from it. Even if the two vehicles never touch, the driver who crashed could suffer injuries or vehicle damage. To make sure fault is determined accurately, there are some actions you should take after this type of crash.
Pull Over and Exchange Information
Both drivers should pull over when a no-contact car accident happens. You’ll want to exchange information, including insurance information. Then, stay at the scene of the accident until authorities arrive.
Call 911 to report the accident and tell officers exactly what happened, giving as many details as possible. If the other driver did not stop after you crashed, tell them any information you remember about their vehicle’s appearance, their appearance, license plate numbers, or more.
Keep Track of Damages
The driver who crashes will want to closely document all damages, taking pictures of injuries, vehicle damage, and the accident scene. That includes medical bills and other expenses the driver now faces because of the accident. If the driver who cut them off is found or pulls over, the crashed driver may submit a claim for compensation with the insurance company.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Reach out to an Atlanta car accident lawyer immediately and tell them about your situation. Even if the other driver claims the accident was completely your fault, there might be more to the story. So don’t admit fault or discount what happened until you’ve spoken to a lawyer who can help.
Do I Really Need a Car Accident Lawyer to Help Me?
While you can fight for your claim on your own, it’s best to get the help of an experienced attorney as soon as you can. The longer you wait to build a defense for yourself, the easier it’ll be for the other driver to blame the accident entirely on you. There’s a chance where you may not have been at fault for anything. Don’t risk paying exorbitant fees if you felt like you’ve done nothing wrong.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Just because two cars don’t come into contact doesn’t mean someone isn’t to blame. If you were involved in a no-contact accident or are dealing with a phantom driver, you need a good car accident lawyer right away. At John Foy & Associates, we can help. For a FREE consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form on this page.