We’ve provided a number of tips regarding what you should do following a car accident here in Georgia, from the importance of documentation, to being careful about speaking with insurance adjusters without first consulting with an attorney, and more, but what about what you should not do? Unfortunately, even if you are the safest driver on the road, you cannot necessarily avoid getting into an accident with someone who runs a red light because they were texting while driving, but there are a number of mistakes you need to avoid making after getting into an accident, especially when it comes to protecting yourself, both in terms of liability and your health, as we discuss below.
Leaving the Scene
Make sure that you never drive away from the scene of an accident, no matter how minor it may seem. Always stop, check to see if anyone is injured and if an ambulance needs to be called, exchange insurance information with the other driver, and report the incident to law enforcement (if law enforcement will not respond unless there are injuries, note that you can still get an accident report). However, on that same note, when you do pull over, do not leave your car in the road and do not step into the road in an attempt to clean up the debris.
In every state, including Georgia, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident. Also keep in mind that a significant number of drivers on the road do not have any car insurance whatsoever, which can really get you into trouble if you leave the scene assuming that the insurance companies will take care of everything.
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Also be careful not to unleash your anger on the other driver, even if it was their fault, or verbally admit fault even if you think it was your fault. Staying calm and checking to see if the other driver and any passengers are okay is the appropriate way to respond to any accident, and even accidentally, or while you are in a state of shock, implying to witnesses that the accident was your fault could expose you to a lawsuit. This includes avoiding even basic statements, such as saying you are “sorry” to the other driver.
Insurance Information from the Other Driver
In addition to documenting and taking a picture of everything, again, do not forget to get the insurance information from the other driver. This should include not only their insurance company and policy number, but their name, contact information, and the make, color, model, and license plate number of their car. However, do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company, or accept any kind of settlement from them, without first consulting an attorney.
Collecting Other Information
Do not leave the accident without also collecting additional information that you will need to provide to your insurance company, including:
- The address of the accident;
- Any notes regarding driving conditions;
- Witness information;
- The date and time of the accident;
- The direction each car was traveling in;
- Any relevant cross-streets;
- The details of what happened; and
- Contact and badge information for any police officers on the scene.
However, do not discuss fault—yours or theirs—on the scene.
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Take Care of Your Health
Regardless of how good or “normal” you might feel after the accident, you need to get checked out by a doctor or other healthcare professional right away, as there are a number of injuries that can take a while to show up, such as certain types of concussions.
This is especially important when it comes to back, neck, and shoulder pain, which can turn into serious, chronic conditions that haunt you for years and affect your ability to return to work and support yourself. Some chiropractors and other health professionals recommend taking the following steps in order to minimize any lasting effects from a car accident:
- Keep your cell phone out of sight when driving;
- Avoid driving when you are angry, tired, or upset;
- If you are driving in inclement weather, stay under the speed limit when possible;
- Keep your brakes and tires in good working order;
- Keep your body healthy and in good physical condition; and
- See a doctor sooner rather than later to avoid scar tissue building.
If it appears that you could be injured, speaking with an attorney is also an absolute must, as you may not only be facing massive medical bills, but the other driver may already be considering suing you in order to get ahead of any fault that they might face.
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Speaking with an attorney is also helpful before you speak with any insurance companies, even your own. Remember, it is arguably the priority of every insurance company to cut their losses, and even if you were not at fault, they may determine that finding you at fault, and raising your insurance rates, is the only way to save money for themselves. You also want to make sure that you do not delay in doing so, as some companies require claims to be filed within a certain time period after an accident.
Getting in a car accident can be beyond traumatic, but it’s likely that everyone will be in at least one during their lifetime, and if you are, working with the very best car accident attorney is really the only way to get through it. Contact our experienced Acworth car accident attorneys today to find out more about our car accident legal services.