In Georgia, you are legally required to report a car accident in most situations. If you don’t report a car accident, you may have legal consequences or at least lose your chance at compensation for your damages. It depends on the severity and details of the accident.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
Anyone involved in a Georgia car accident must report the collision to police if:
- Anybody involved in the accident was injured
- Anyone died in the accident and/or
- There was property damage totaling more than $500
This includes almost all car accidents. Even if no one was visibly hurt, property damage can easily exceed $500 and there may be injuries that show up later. Unless the crash was very minor, it’s best to report any car accident.
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What Happens if You Fail to Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
If your car accident met the legal criteria above and you did not call the police to report the accident, you could be facing criminal charges. Someone could claim the crash as a hit and run accident because you drove away and left the scene of an accident.
The type of charge for leaving the scene of an accident depends on the situation:
- If there were no serious injuries or deaths from the accident, you could be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run. That means fines between $300 and $1,000, driver’s license suspension, and possibly up to 12 months in jail.
- In situations where someone was seriously hurt or died from the accident, leaving the scene can mean a felony hit and run charge. This could mean between one to five years of imprisonment.
In addition to the above charges, not reporting an accident can also lead to legal action from an injured victim in the crash. If you caused the car accident and left without reporting it, the other injured driver (or their family, if the driver was killed) could try to file a claim or sue you for damages.
What if I Was in a Minor a Minor Accident?
Even if there was no legal requirement to report your accident, such as if there was very minor vehicle damage and nothing else, not reporting can be a risk to your rights. When an accident is reported to the police, they come to the scene, create an accident report, and take down the information of everyone involved in the accident. If that doesn’t happen and you try to make a claim for damages later, it’s your word against everyone else about what occurred. You may get blamed for what happened even if you had no fault in it.
Since some car accident injuries (like whiplash) worsen with time and property damage is often more expensive than you think, not reporting an accident can mean you are left covering costs that you might have had covered otherwise. Plus, the insurance company may require a police report if you come to them with a personal injury victim.
Bottom line: It’s always a good idea to report a car accident, and not doing so can leave you with serious, life-changing consequences.
What if You Don’t Report a Car Accident to Your Auto Insurance?
Besides reporting an applicable car accident to the police, you will also need to report it to your auto insurance company.
Some drivers are hesitant to tell their insurance company about an accident because they are worried about increasing premiums—but this is a bad idea. If you don’t notify your insurance about the accident, you may be denied certain protections if the other drivers tries to make a claim for damages.
In other words, not reporting a car accident to your auto insurance can just result in further expenses and less protection down the road.
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Can a Georgia Car Accident Report Be Used Against Me?
Some motorists worry that reporting an accident will be used against them if the case goes on to court. But under Georgia law, no accident report police have filed with the Department of Transportation can be used to prove fault in court. So, the accident report is a legal requirement for most accidents and won’t show up as evidence of negligence.
Get a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in a car accident and the other driver left the scene or didn’t stop to report the accident, we at John Foy & Associates can help you seek the compensation you deserve. We’ve been helping car accident victims recover what they need for more than 20 years, and our Atlanta car accident lawyers are always on the side of injury victims. Plus, we don’t take a fee unless we win you money. For a FREE consultation to discuss the details, call us today at 404-400-4000, or fill out our contact form.