After a car accident, things can feel chaotic. You’ll probably wonder how exactly you should handle the situation. This can be hard if you’re dealing with painful injuries, vehicle damage, and communicating with the other driver about what happened.
The truth is, what you do after a car accident is actually very important. If you were not fully at fault, you might be able to file an insurance claim for damages—but you will need to gather information to support it.
This article will cover what you should do in the day following a car accident, including the actual day of the crash.
6 Things to Do the Day of the Car Accident
According to the Insurance Information Institute, knowing what to do at the scene of an accident can help make the insurance claim process easier. Being prepared will also help protect your rights and allow you to begin gathering evidence for your claim.
Here are some things you should do in the first moments following a car accident.
1. Stay at the Scene (and Avoid Further Accidents)
Even if the car accident was minor, never just drive away from the scene without reporting the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense with penalties ranging from license suspension and fines to jail time. In Georgia, you must stop after any accident resulting in injury (or death) or vehicle damage (Georgia Code section 40-6-270).
Besides stopping after the accident, you should also make sure you’re in a safe location that protects everyone from further collisions. This could mean:
- Moving to the side of the road
- Putting your hazard lights on
- Using a flashlight or your phone light (if it’s dark) when exiting your vehicle
- If your car isn’t working at all, leaving it where it is and getting yourself to a safe place off the road
2. Exchange Information
After a car accident, it’s also best to exchange the following with the other driver(s) and any passengers involved in the accident:
- Phone numbers
- Driver’s license information
- Make, model, and vehicle colors
- License plate number
- Auto insurance information
Responding officers will also obtain this information, but it’s not a bad idea to ask for it yourself, just in case.
Also, if anyone involved in the crash was injured or seems unconscious, make every effort to get them medical treatment as soon as possible.
3. Report the Accident to Police
Reporting an accident is required in most states. In Georgia, it’s mandatory if there are any injuries and/or property damage of $500 or more (Georgia Code section 40-6-273).
Call 911 to report the accident, even if it is minor. Police will create an accident report that is vital to your insurance claim. Be sure to tell the responding officer(s), to the best of your ability, exactly what happened.
Don’t make up or guess about any details. If you’re unsure about the answer to a question—such as whether or not you have injuries—say you’re “not sure” rather than yes or no.
4. Take Pictures
Most of us have smartphones with cameras now. If you have access to a camera of any kind, use it to photograph:
- Any injuries you and/or your passengers have
- Your vehicle damage
- The entire accident scene
Picture evidence can be very powerful in demonstrating damages from a car accident, which is great for your injury claim. If you can’t take pictures right away, do so as soon as you can after leaving the scene.
5. Talk to Any Witnesses
If anyone saw your accident happened, talk to them and ask for their contact information. Witness testimony can really help support your case.
6. Limit Your Conversation with the Other Driver
There’s nothing at all wrong with being polite after an accident. Emotions can be high after a collision, so staying calm is key. But be wary of what you say to the other driver. Don’t apologize or admit any blame—even if you feel like some of it might be your fault.
Anything you say to the other driver or their insurance company could be used against you later, even if it’s said out of politeness or concern.
What to Do in the Days Following a Car Accident
You can obtain a lot of key evidence at the scene of the accident, but it doesn’t stop there. In the days following a car accident, you will need to be diligent about documenting your injuries and all other damages. Many injury victims choose to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can help with this.
See a Doctor
Many common car accident injuries do not show up full-force the day of the accident. Sometimes, it can take a day or two (or longer, in some cases) to feel the full extent of your injuries. So, you should see a doctor as soon as you can after the crash—and if you do notice more pain after seeing your doctor, go back for a follow-up.
There are two reasons for this:
- A doctor can examine you for all injuries and help you treat them before they worsen. It might save you some pain and lower your overall costs of treatment.
- Seeing a doctor soon after the accident will help confirm to the insurance company that your injuries are directly related to the accident. It will also create a record of all doctor visits and treatment to include in your claim.
Keep Detailed Records
Have a folder where you keep all your accident-related documents, such as doctor’s notes and medical bills that demonstrate your costs. It should also contain:
- Your insurance claim number
- The name of the insurance adjuster on your claim
- Receipts of all expenses from the accident
- Names and contact information for all relevant contacts
Get Legal Advice—ASAP
Consulting with a lawyer may be the most helpful step you can take in the days following a car accident. Car accident insurance claims can become stressful and complicated quickly. Plus, the other driver’s insurance company will likely try to contact you for statements immediately.
Having an experienced lawyer on your side will ensure each step you take is carefully planned with your best interests in mind. Even just scheduling a consultation can help you understand the details of your case and what your best options are.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Most of the time, you will need to contact your own auto insurance company to report the accident. You don’t need to tell them everything—just the facts of the accident. They may also be able to help if the other driver is uninsured, underinsured, or left the scene of the accident without providing their information.
Prepare to File Your Personal Injury Claim
Of course, if the other driver was at fault, you will also need to actually file your insurance claim for compensation of your damages. You have two years from the date of your accident to do this—and that time goes by quickly.
It’s best to get started now by doing the above steps and reaching out to a car accident lawyer who can help.
Talk to a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
John Foy & Associates can help you with your car accident claim—starting from the days following the accident. To schedule a FREE consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys today, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.