An average of six million car accidents happen in the United States every year, car accident statistics show. While some of those accidents are minor, about one in three involve personal injuries—and sometimes, they’re serious. Regardless of how severe an accident is, learning what you do at the scene can make a huge difference.
If the other driver has caused the accident, you may be entitled to financial recovery for your damages. However, you will need to gather evidence to support your insurance claim. Besides consulting with a personal injury lawyer afterward, the best thing you can do to legally protect yourself is to be prepared at the scene of a car accident.
How to Prepare in Case of a Car Accident
You might google articles like this in the days after your accident (which can still be helpful, of course), but reading about how to prepare beforehand will ensure you already know what to do if a crash happens. Here are some ways you can do that:
Keep the Right Documents in Your Car
You will need certain documentation to present to the police and exchange with the other driver(s) in the event of a car accident. Those include:
- Driver’s license
- Car registration
- Acceptable proof of insurance for your vehicle
It’s also good to keep any vital medical information like your doctor’s name or medication allergies in your vehicle just in case.
Carry Recording Supplies
Having a way to prove the accident happened is always helpful in a car accident claim. It’s best to have your phone to report the accident, a camera to take pictures, and a pen and paper in your car to record any crucial details about the accident.
Equip Your Car with Emergency Tools
Although it’s not required, you can be extra prepared by carrying emergency supplies in case of an accident. Those might include:
- Orange cones
- Emergency signs
- And making sure your car’s hazard lights work
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Make Sure You Have Sufficient Auto Insurance Coverage
It’s against the law to carry less than the minimum amount of auto insurance coverage for your state. In Georgia, that is:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (optional): $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (optional): $25,000 with a $250, $500, or $1000 deductible
Having sufficient coverage is not only lawful, but it will also help legally protect you after an accident—especially if you were at fault or the other driver wasn’t carrying enough insurance.
What to Do at the Scene of the Car Accident
When a car accident actually happens, below are specific steps you should take at the scene.
Stop at the Scene
Right after the car accident happens, if possible, you should stop at the scene of the accident. If you can, pull over to a safe place out of the line of other traffic. Otherwise, turn on your hazard lights if your car is able.
You are legally required to stop when an accident happens, so this step is a must-do at the scene.
Render Assistance to the Injured (if Needed)
You are also legally required to render aid to anyone injured at the accident scene. Check yourself, your passengers, and others for injuries. Call for emergency medical attention if necessary.
If an ambulance is called to the scene of your accident, let them examine you for any injuries. For serious or life-threatening injuries, call (or have someone else call) 911 to get treatment as soon as possible.
Call the Police
You should also call the police to report an accident in most situations. In Georgia, reporting an auto accident is required if there are any injuries or property damage that may be $500 or more.
Sometimes, the other driver will try to settle things without getting the police involved. This is a huge red flag and means they are likely trying to hide something (such as an arrest warrant, suspended license, or lack of insurance coverage). Protect your own rights first by always reporting the accident.
If you are unable to call the police at the accident scene because you had to leave for treatment of your injuries, you will need to make the report as soon as possible afterward. Make a reasonable effort to find those who were involved in the car accident. They should have already reported the accident to the police, as well.
Although the police will gather this information too, it’s a good idea to exchange the following information with the other driver(s) at the scene:
- Full name
- Address and phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Auto insurance company name and policy number
You might also take note of the appearance of the other driver(s) and the make, model, and color of their vehicle. You can never truly anticipate the actions of a random driver in an accident. In case they decide to run, you will have a lot of information about them.
Give Facts, But Don’t Admit Blame
The investigating officer will ask you questions about the accident and your injuries. Answer honestly, but don’t guess or say anything you aren’t sure about. For example, if they ask if you have injuries and you aren’t sure yet, just say you’re “not sure” instead of a definite “no.”
Also, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely try reaching out to you soon after the accident. If you talk to them, be very careful. Never admit any fault, apologize, or even say you feel “fine” until you’ve spoken to a car accident lawyer. Don’t give any recorded statements or sign anything until you have a lawyer, either.
Picture evidence can go a long way in a car accident claim. Pictures preserve the accident scene exactly as it was right after the accident.
If you can, take pictures at the scene of:
- Your injuries
- Vehicle damages
- The entire accident scene
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
You don’t necessarily need to talk to a lawyer while you’re at the scene, but it’s an important step many injury victims need to make soon after. A car accident lawyer can examine your case and help you with a plan of action. They can assist with your insurance claim and will know what it takes to seek full compensation for your damages.
Talk to a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, our car accident lawyers have been helping injured drivers get the compensation they need for over 20 years. We don’t get paid unless we win you money—and the consultation is FREE—so there’s no risk in contacting us or working with us. To schedule your FREE consultation now, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.