After a Georgia car accident, there are certain actions you should take right away to legally protect yourself. Those include pulling over, reporting the accident to police, and exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. And part of that information must include insurance information—especially if you are not at fault. Here’s why.
No Insurance Information, No Car Accident Claim
Let’s say you got into a car accident and didn’t ask for the other driver’s insurance information. Maybe they convince you they will pay for damage to your vehicle themselves. You get their contact information and everyone drives away.
The situation goes like this:
- You take your car to the repair shop and find out the damages are serious. The repair estimate is much higher than you expected (which is quite common).
- But you know the other driver said they would pay, so you contact them with the estimate. When you call, they don’t pick up their phone—and they don’t call back enough after you leave several voicemails.
- While this is happening, you develop some neck pain in the hours following the accident. You go see your doctor and he says you have whiplash. You get treated and now have medical costs on top of repairs to your vehicle.
Since the other driver is ignoring your calls about repair damage, it’s pretty likely they won’t agree to pay for the costs of your injuries now too. Now, you’re left with hundreds or thousands of dollars from a car accident you didn’t cause.
This isn’t even the worst case scenario. Many car accidents result in significant vehicle damage, even a totaled car, and serious injuries that take months or years to fully treat. If you weren’t at fault for your accident, you have a legal right in Georgia to file an insurance claim for damages. But you need the other driver’s insurance information to do so.
You might be able to obtain the information eventually, but it’s better to get it right away. Otherwise, you risk not getting compensated for your damage at all.
Always Call the Police
Another problem with the above scenario is that the accident wasn’t reported to the police. In Georgia, you are required to report an accident if there are physical injuries and/or property damage is more than $500. Some insurance companies also require you to report the accident anyway.
Since some accident injuries don’t show up until later on and vehicle damage can easily total $500 or more, it’s best to always call 911 and report the accident to local police. If the at-fault driver tries to convince you to handle the details without getting the police involved, this is a risk to you.
Plus, there are other insurance-related advantages of calling the police:
- When you report the accident to authorities, they will obtain insurance information from all drivers.
- Police will create an accident report with drivers’ contact information and details about the accident.
Both points can be crucial to your insurance claim because it provides a record of the accident (meaning, the other driver can’t flat-out deny it happened later).
Options if You Didn’t Exchange Insurance Information
If you didn’t get the other driver’s insurance information and have no way to find out, there may still be options—but they’re more complicated.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You may be able to file a claim with your own auto insurance company. In this case, the other driver is usually treated as an uninsured motorist and your uninsured motorist coverage would apply, if you purchased it with your policy. Unless you specifically opted out of this coverage, you probably have it. Contact your insurance provider if you aren’t sure.
Filing a Lawsuit
Situations where police aren’t called usually involve accidents that are fairly minor, which is why it’s easy for another driver to convince you it doesn’t warrant reporting. In this case, you may be able to file a lawsuit in small claims court. However, this can be pricey and may end up involving the other driver’s insurance company if the driver reports it. That means their insurer may hire their own attorney to defend their policy holder, and they won’t hold back from fighting you.
If either option isn’t possible, you might be left paying for your damages. However, we recommend always consulting with a car accident lawyer—whether you exchanged insurance information or not. A good attorney can look at the details and determine your best course of action. They should have your best interests in mind.
Need a Car Accident Lawyer in Georgia?
At John Foy & Associates, we’ve been helping car accident victims win the compensation they deserve for more than 20 years. We’re always on the side of accident victims, and we never work for insurance companies. To schedule a FREE consultation and go over the details of your accident, whether you exchanged insurance information or not, call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page. We’re here to help you seek the best outcome possible.