Extra! Extra! The Ins and Outs of Reporting Your Auto Accident to Law Enforcement

reporting a car accidentCar accidents, especially relatively minor fender-benders, are a part of life. Most of us see one (or at least the aftermath of one) on almost a daily basis on our commute to work or home. Usually, everyone is lucky enough to seem physically unhurt, and damage may be minor. Sometimes, police are at the scene; other times, the two drivers may be working it out between themselves.

Are there set guidelines on when you are required to involve law enforcement, or is it a sliding scale of accident severity? This week, we’re discussing your car accident reporting obligations under Georgia law.

When Are You Required to Report an Accident to Law Enforcement?

Most states determine your obligation to notify authorities about your accident on a few varying circumstances. One of the many factors that states use to determine if reporting is required is by the monetary amount of the damage done by the accident, which is usually around $1,000 or $2,000 dollars. Georgia, however, takes it even further—if your damage is estimated to be around $500, you need to report your accident to law enforcement. If you have had any work done to your vehicle lately, you know how far you can stretch $500…which isn’t far at all.

Other factors that determine if you must or should report your accident to authorities include:

  • Injury or death. If someone was injured or killed as a result of your accident, you are required to inform law enforcement officials of your accident.
  • The other driver is being difficult. If the other driver involved in your accident is less than cooperative as you try to sort out details of the accident, law enforcement can obtain official reports from each involved party as well as witnesses.
  • The other driver disagrees with how the accident happened. While the other driver is perfectly pleasant, he or she may believe that the accident was the result of something entirely different from what you think happened. Again, police reports can help sort the situation out for your insurer.
  • The other driver is uninsured. Accidents involving uninsured motorists can be tricky from your own insurer’s side, so police reports can help you have a record of what happened.

If you are not legally required to report (via damage totals, injury, or death), a good rule of thumb is to trust your gut. If something feels unusual about the scenario, report it. It is far better to have an official report confirming your instincts than to run into trouble down the road as you try to deal with insurers. If you do run into problems with your case, our firm is here to help—just call us or start a live chat to discuss your concerns and schedule a free consultation.

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