You've Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident, Now What?
Unfortunately, automobile accidents occur more often than one would care for; involvement in an accident can be scary, confusing, and leave you with many questions about what to do next. Before you hire a reputable attorney, there are a few things you should remember to do immediately following a collision.
First and foremost, call 911 to report the accident and advise the operator if you have sustained injuries that prevent you from exiting your vehicle. After reporting the accident, and if your injuries do not prevent you from exiting the vehicle - only exit once you’ve assessed your surroundings. Sometimes accidents occur in the middle of busy highways, or intersections; this can be a very dangerous situation with other vehicles attempting to pass. Do not exit the vehicle until it is completely safe to do so; sometimes this may not be until police arrive to secure the scene.
Once you have determined you can exit your vehicle, do so carefully to assess any damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. In doing so, take pictures of all damage. When you take these pictures ensure you get a broad photo that shows the “big picture” of the accident which would show the position of all cars involved (if possible), along with close-up photos of the damage. In Georgia, if vehicles are drivable, and blocking the roadway – they should be moved to a safe location once the damage has been assessed and photographs taken. If it is not safe to move the vehicles – or the vehicles are not drivable, they can be left where they are until they can be towed.
After assessing the damage and taking photographs, you will want to speak with the other individual or individuals involved in the accident. Take pictures of their auto insurance cards and driver’s licenses while also sharing the same with them. This helps the process with insurance claims as sometimes it takes a while for the accident report to be completed and ready for you to obtain. In addition, it is also important to talk to witnesses who may have stopped. You will want to obtain their name and phone number – even if they cannot stay to speak with the police for a statement. These witnesses can be critical if the police officer cannot determine who was at fault based on the position of the cars and the statements made by the parties involved.
Be sure to speak with the police officer and give your statement as to what occurred and anything that happened immediately after the accident; for example: did the driver of the other vehicle say anything incriminating, or did the other driver seem intoxicated or overly tired? Once the police officer is done with their investigation – they will give you information to obtain the accident report. Be sure to keep this information so that you can obtain a copy of the accident report when it is completed. This report will contain all pertinent information needed and will also assist your legal team in beginning your claim with the insurance company.
Seek medical treatment if you are injured. Regardless of the injury, ensure to visit an Emergency Room, Urgent Care, or your Primary Care Provider so that physicians may evaluate your injuries and recommend follow-up care. If you have health insurance, be sure to provide this information to your medical providers. Though the accident occurred due to the fault of another – their auto insurance will not pay your medical bills as they become due and you will be responsible for any payments. Using your health insurance will help in elevating some of this burden. If you receive a bill to which your health insurance was not applied, it is in your best interest to contact the medical provider to ensure they use your health insurance – and if need be, submit the bill to your health insurance yourself.
Finally, make sure to document your injuries – big or small. You can do this with photographs and by writing down how you feel in the days following the accident. Sometimes it can take months, and sometimes years before you are completely healed, and it can be difficult to remember how you felt on day one. Writing down how you felt physically and emotionally will help your attorney when it comes time to draft and send a demand to the insurance company.
Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and we hope that you never experience this pain and uncertainty. But, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that is due to no fault of your own – I am available to take your call for a free consultation. You can reach me at 912-428-5599 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.