I HAVE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT, NOW WHAT?
Getting into a motor vehicle accident is an extremely terrifying and unsettling experience. After an accident, you are often in a state of shock or confusion over what has happened and what you should be doing next. It is important that during this time you take steps to preserve your rights. The following will provide you with some suggestions to follow so that you may preserve your rights against the insurance companies for your bodily injuries:
1. DO NOT LEAVE THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT.
If you have been hit or if you are the person that caused the accident it is important that you stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Fleeing the scene of the accident is a criminal violation in Georgia. See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270. It may also provide grounds for your insurance company to cancel your policy.
2. CALL THE POLICE.
After you have had an opportunity to confirm that you and everyone else involved in the accident is okay it is important to call the police. The police will come to the scene of the accident and will make a written report of the accident, which will in many cases determine the fault of the parties. It is extremely important that you get an accident report. Insurance companies are notorious for denying your claim if there is not an accident report because it becomes your word versus their insured’s word.
3. WHEN THE POLICE ARRIVE.
When the police arrive at the scene of the accident make sure that you get the responding officer’s contact information, including, (a) name, (b) phone number, (c) department and (d) badge number. You will be asked to give the officer a narrative of what happened to cause the accident. Make sure you are as descriptive as you can be. Additionally, be sure to tell the officer of any injuries or soreness that you are experiencing. This is your first opportunity to report injuries and they will be listed in your police report. Once the officer is finished with obtaining information he will give you a little card that has a case number on it. You or your attorney will need this number to obtain your police report from buycrash.com in approximately 3 – 5 days after the accident.
4. TAKE PICTURES.
While you are waiting on the police to arrive it is a good idea to take pictures of the scene and both vehicles if you can do so safely. If the other driver becomes hostile or upset by you taking pictures, then just wait for the police to arrive. You have just been in an accident so you do not want further altercation from the other driver. Having pictures is important for both your property damage and bodily injury claims. For your property damage claim, it will show the actual damage to the car. For your bodily injuries, it will help to show the impact of the collision which can substantiate the basis for your injuries. It can also help to establish fault in certain situations, i.e., a rear-end collision.
If there are any witnesses at the scene of the accident you may attempt and get their contact information. In many cases, the responding officer will include this information in their motor vehicle accident report. However, in some cases this will be excluded. It is recommended that you get each witness’ name, phone number, email address and physical address. Similar to taking pictures, if the witnesses become hostile or uneasy about giving you this information just wait for the police to arrive. Witnesses can be important when dealing with the insurance companies and your attorney can contact the witnesses on your behalf to get statements, photos and other information that may be available to support your claim.
6. FOLLOWING UP WITH DOCTOR.
After the accident it is important that you promptly follow up with your doctor. If you are seriously injured then it would be recommended that you immediately visit the emergency room to be examined. You can go by ambulance or by car (if drivable) after the accident. From there you should follow up with your chiropractor, orthopedic or other professionals that may be recommended by the treating physician at the hospital. Insurance companies will use any reason for denying or reducing your claim, so it is imperative that you promptly seek treatment following your accident.
7. NOTIFYING YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
It is ok to notify your insurance company that you have been in accident. However, any conversations with the insurance company should be limited to having your car repaired and the diminished value or total loss value of your vehicle. Any statements regarding your bodily injuries should not be made until you have first had the opportunity to speak with an attorney. While your insurance company may be entitled to a recorded statement of what happened during the accident, this can be accomplished with the help of an experienced attorney.
8. SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY.
It is important that you speak with an experienced attorney following your accident. The insurance companies, including your own, are not your friends and will look for any avenue to deny your claim or reduce their obligation to you. The Stidham Law Firm, LLC knows the tricks and tactics that the insurance companies use and is ready to help you recover what you deserve.
If you follow these suggested actions, then you will put yourself and your attorney in the best position to maximize your recovery. If you have recently been in an accident, please contact The Stidham Law Firm, LLC so we can help you get the care, justice and compensation you are entitled to.