In Georgia, it is your legal obligation to report a car accident in most situations. If you don’t, you may face judicial consequences or lose your chance at recovering compensation for your damages. We have outlined what happens when you don’t report a car accident in Georgia below.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
Georgia code states that anyone involved in a car accident must report the collision to police if:
- There were injuries
- There were fatalities
- There was property damage totaling more than $500
The majority of vehicle accidents fit these requirements. Even if no one was visibly hurt, property damage can easily exceed $500, and injuries may also show up later. Therefore, unless the crash was very minor, it’s best always to report a car accident in Georgia.
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What Happens If You Fail to Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
If your car accident meets the legal criteria above and you did not report the accident, you could face criminal charges.
A victim could claim the crash as a hit and run accident because you drove away and left the scene of an accident. That means fines between $300 and $1,000, driver’s license suspension, and up to 12 months in jail. When someone gets seriously hurt or dies from an accident, leaving the scene can mean a felony hit and run charge. A felony charge can result in 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. For example, if you caused the car accident and left without reporting it, the injured driver (or family, if the driver died) can file a claim or sue you for damages.
What If I Was in a Minor Vehicle Accident in Georgia?
If the damages are negligible and there are no injuries, should you file an accident report? The answer is yes. This bottom line is that it is always a good idea to report a car accident, and not doing so can have life-changing consequences.
Even if there was no legal requirement to report your accident, not documenting a collision is a risk to your rights. When an accident gets reported to the police, they come to the scene, create a car accident report, and take down the information of everyone involved. If that doesn’t happen and you try to claim damages later, it’s your word against everyone else. Therefore, you may face blame for what happened even if the collision was not your fault.
Another reason to always file an accident report is to secure coverage for all damages. In many cases, damages and injuries may not be immediately apparent, such as engine failures or delayed symptoms of medical injuries. For example, a traumatic brain injury can take hours or days to appear.
Do Insurance Providers Require Accident Reports When Processing Claims?
Yes, most insurance companies require a police report when assessing property damage and personal injury claims.
Even if your insurance company does not require a formal accident report, the documents can be helpful. They establish that another party caused the collision and help you negotiate a proper settlement. In addition, many car accident attorneys use police reports to ensure an insurance adjuster covers all of the victim’s losses.
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What If You Don’t Report a Car Accident to Your Auto Insurance?
Some drivers are hesitant to tell their insurance company about an accident because they are worried about increasing premiums. However, not reporting a collision is a bad idea. If you don’t notify your insurance about the accident, you may be denied certain protections if the other driver files a claim for damages.
In other words, not reporting a car accident to your auto insurance can result in further expenses and less protection down the road.
Can a Georgia Car Accident Report Be Used Against Me?
Some motorists worry that the accident report will be used against them if the case goes to court. But under Georgia law, an accident report is a legal requirement for most collisions and won’t show up as evidence of negligence.
What Else Should I Document at an Accident Scene?
In addition to contacting the authorities and filing a report, you should also:
- Take photos or videos of the accident scene and any visible property damage
- Get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the collision
- Speak with witnesses and collect their contact details
The more information you have regarding your vehicle collision, the easier it will be to file an insurance claim and collect recovery for your losses.
Get a Free Consultation with a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in a car accident and the other driver left the scene before reporting the incident, 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.