Why It’s Important to ALWAYS Call the Police After an Accident
In Georgia, the severity of an accident determines whether reporting it to local law enforcement is a legal requirement. Often, people don’t report minor fender benders. However, you must call the police if a car crash leads to injuries, death, or property damage over a specific dollar amount.
Even if you don’t get hurt or the collision doesn’t otherwise meet the requirements for notifying the police, calling 911 immediately and waiting for an officer to arrive can help. Without physical documentation, it’s easier for another driver to blame you for causing the accident or accuse you of fleeing the scene.
Here you will learn everything you need to know about reporting an accident and other steps you must take after a car wreck.
When You Must Report an Accident in Georgia
State law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to immediately notify the local police department of an accident occurring in a municipality. The driver must inform the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the state patrol of a crash occurring outside a municipality if it results in:
- Death; or
- At least $500 in property damage.
Leaving the scene of an accident meeting any of these criteria is a crime. It can lead to a hit-and-run charge. A conviction can land you in jail, especially if someone dies or sustains a serious injury in the crash.
Apart from the legal consequences, you can also face other complications during an injury claim. The other driver might beat you to filing a claim and inform the insurance adjuster that you are at fault. That means you must fight to defend yourself and obtain substantial evidence to disprove their allegations.
Why Calling the Police Is Beneficial
Calling 911 after an accident is always a good idea, even if it’s a low-speed collision or minor fender bender. That’s because some injuries don’t cause immediate symptoms. You might not realize you got hurt until days or weeks later when you start getting headaches or feel tightness and pain in your back.
A law enforcement official should create a crash report while investigating the accident. They will talk to you, the other driver, and witnesses to determine who is at fault. They might also take pictures and issue traffic citations if someone ran a red light or violated a traffic law.
Although the crash report contains an officer’s observations and opinions, it can help you prove what happened during an injury claim. The insurance adjuster might disagree with the officer’s interpretations of liability, but having the document makes it more challenging for them to argue. Providing the adjuster with traffic camera footage, witness statements, and other evidence can strengthen your claim.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
Although state law doesn’t explicitly impose a deadline on reporting a car accident, it does mention the word immediately. To avoid negatively affecting your injury claim, calling the police at the scene to notify them of what happened is the most beneficial option.
Other Steps to Take After an Accident
After you inform law enforcement of the collision, there are other things you can do to build a case against the negligent driver, including:
- Document the scene – If your injury isn’t too severe, preserve evidence at the scene. Take photos of vehicle damage, get witnesses’ names and phone numbers, and document anything that might help your claim.
- Exchange insurance information – Ask the other driver for their name, contact information, and insurance details. It’ll save you time tracking down the necessary insurance information to file a claim.
- Go to the hospital – After law enforcement says you can leave, go to the hospital. A doctor can diagnose your injury and might recommend a treatment plan. You must follow their recommendations and continue treating your injury until you heal.
- Hire a lawyer – You don’t have to hire a lawyer, but you should. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to maximize the value of a claim and aggressively negotiate for a full and fair settlement. If you pursue your case alone, the insurance company might take advantage of you and use various tactics to reduce your claim’s value or justify a denial.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Chris Hudson Law Group fights for injured clients harmed by others’ misconduct. We will protect your rights and work hard to achieve a favorable result.
If you sustained injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, call us at (706) 690-4613 for a free consultation in Augusta. We’re available 24/7 to speak with you.