Being in a car accident can cause thousands of dollars in medical bills and vehicle damages, on top of losses such as lost income and pain and suffering. Georgia is a fault-based insurance state, meaning you should not have to pay these costs out of pocket if someone else negligently caused the collision. You have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Obtaining maximum compensation, however, takes some strategizing.
Steps to Take
Many first-time car accident victims fail to realize the significance of each step they take in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge could interfere with the victim’s ability to recover fair compensation. After a car accident, act right away to optimize your chances of obtaining the best possible results for your damages. Take the right steps to build a valid and strong claim.
- Stop and check on everyone. Never flee the scene of an auto accident. Stop at the scene and check yourself and others for personal injuries.
- Call the police. If anyone is injured or has died, or if you notice more than $500 in property damages, the law obligates you to report the accident to the police immediately
- Take photographs. Pictures of the crash site can serve as evidence during your injury claim. Take plenty of photos and videos while still at the scene.
- Notify your insurance company. Most insurance companies require crash reporting as soon as possible. Ensure you have a valid claim by calling your insurer without delay.
- Go to the hospital. Failing to visit a hospital the day of your accident could show an insurance company your injuries were not serious. Obtain medical care immediately.
Try to document your car accident, injuries and damages as thoroughly as possible, starting at the scene of the crash. Collecting ample information could help you or your lawyer build a case against the other driver. Obtain the driver’s name and insurance information, as well as a description of the vehicle. Request copies of all medical records and investigative documents. Describe the accident in writing while the memory is still fresh in your mind. Then, bring your case file to an Atlanta car accident attorney to assist you with the rest of your claim.
Mistakes to Avoid
Just as there are steps you should take to maximize your compensatory award after a car accident, there are also mistakes to avoid. Missing a step in the aftermath of a crash might not bar you from recovery, but making a critical mistake could. Failing to bring your claim before Georgia’s two-year statute of limitations, for example, could take away your right to file. Take care to avoid the costliest mistakes crash victims can make.
- Admitting fault. Taking the blame for the crash before an investigation could end your claim before it begins. Never tell the other driver, the police or an insurance agent you are at fault or that you are sorry for the accident.
- Giving a statement to a claims adjuster. When dealing with an insurance claim adjuster, never allow him or her to record a statement from you. This is a strategy a claims adjuster may use to hurt your claim.
- Being too eager to settle. An adjuster may also try to save the company money by offering a low initial settlement. Settling quickly may be tempting, but demanding a better value could end in greater compensation for your damages.
One of the greatest mistakes victims make is trying to handle a complicated or high-value car accident claim without an attorney. An attorney could teach you what to do and to avoid in relation to your specific case to improve your odds of receiving a fair award. A lawyer can also take over settlement negotiations with an adjuster for you, demanding maximum results. Finally, a lawyer could take your case to trial to hold a defendant responsible, if necessary. Do not make the mistake of failing to hire an Atlanta personal injury attorney.