Dealing with a car accident is hard enough in any situation. It’s even worse when you know the crash wasn’t your fault. You might be wondering what to do and how to handle the new unexpected costs.
If you were not at fault for a car accident in a fault state like Georgia, you should not have to pay for your damages. Here’s what you need to know to increase your chances of obtaining full compensation.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault?
In almost every situation, you should take the following steps after a car accident. Even when the law is on your side, you’ll need to protect your rights. This is true whether you were at fault or not. However, it’s especially important when making a third-party insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer.
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Right After the Accident: Check for Injuries and Stay Safe
A car accident is stressful, so remember to breathe. Then, check on those involved—including yourself. If you have injuries that are severe or life-threatening, get immediate medical attention. The same goes for all other drivers and passengers.
Also, make sure everyone is out of the way to prevent further damage. If the vehicles are in the middle of the roadway, move them out of traffic if you can. Otherwise, don’t mess with the location of the vehicles. Preserving the accident scene is important, too.
As Soon As Possible: Call the Police
The laws on reporting an accident vary slightly by state, but fleeing an accident scene is a crime everywhere. In Georgia, you must call the police department immediately if there is:
- A car accident in a city that requires a crash report
- An injury or death
- Property damage worth more than $500
You will also need to report the accident if your insurance company requires it. This leaves very little instances where you would not need to report an accident. So, call 911 and tell the police what happened. If the other driver flees the scene, they have committed a hit and run and you will still need to report the accident.
While Waiting for Police: Gather Information
If police come to the scene, they will get information from both you and the other driver(s). However, it’s a good idea to do this yourself, as well.
Gather the following information:
- Name, phone number, and address of all drivers
- Insurance company name and policy number for all drivers
- Pictures of the accident scene, injuries, and vehicle damage
- Contact information from any witnesses
The at-fault driver is responsible for reporting a car accident to their insurance company. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law. Gathering information yourself helps prove the accident happened and documents the resulting damage. Plus, you will need it to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance.
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Tell Your Insurance Company
If you had no fault at all in the car accident, the other driver’s insurance company should be liable for your damages. You should be compensated for all of the costs of the accident. But the situation is rarely that cut and dry.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses looking to reduce their bottom line. You may get pushback from the at-fault driver’s insurer. They may:
- Offer you a much lower settlement amount
- Try to blame you for the accident in whole or in part
- Deny your claim altogether
To protect yourself, tell your insurance company about the accident. At the very least, it will establish good faith with them and alert them in case the other driver’s insurer denies all responsibility for your accident. If you are worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, a car accident lawyer can help you do this.
Get Medical Treatment
Once you leave the scene, see a doctor as soon as you can—even if you feel okay. Some car accident injuries, such as whiplash, take time to develop. You might not feel them right away, but a checkup by a doctor can ensure proactive treatment.
Seeing a doctor will also show the insurance company that your injuries are serious enough to need attention. They are more likely to compensate you for damages that have clear evidence.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
In a best-case scenario, the other driver’s insurance company covers all your damages. Sadly, it’s far more likely to receive a lowball counteroffer and have to fight for your rights to full compensation. This is where a car accident lawyer is invaluable.
An experienced lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement amount. Most car accident cases are resolved at this stage. In some cases, the insurance company may continue to deny coverage or a higher settlement. You may choose to sue the company for the recovery you deserve.
In either situation, your lawyer can help improve the outcome of your case. They will know how to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and fight for full compensation.
Be Wary of the Insurance Company
Be careful what you say and do after the accident. As soon as the accident is reported, the other driver’s insurance company will begin investigating. They may come to the accident scene or try to contact you.
It’s very important that you not admit any blame or give any written or recorded statements to the insurance company. They may use anything you say against you later. It’s best to already have a car accident lawyer so you can direct all communication to them.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Car Accident Claim for Free
If you were in a car accident you didn’t cause, you probably have questions and concerns. At John Foy & Associates, we understand this. It’s why we always offer a FREE consultation call to discuss your case. We have been representing car accident victims for more than 20 years and we know what it takes to win cases.
To start the process today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online. We can help you decide on the best course of action based on your situation. Plus, if you decide to work with us, it’s risk-free. We don’t get paid unless we win you money! Call (404) 400-4000 to get started now.