Addressing a car accident can be confusing, especially if you’ve never been in one yourself before. Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start and what to expect. After a collision, you should take several key actions to ensure the speedy processing of your accident claim. Hiring a Gwinnett County car accident attorney can be very helpful in the event of an accident that caused injury. But while you’re still at the scene of the crash, follow these important steps.
Here’s a quick reference to help summarize the steps (continue reading below):
File a Police Report
Call the police immediately if the collision injured either you or the other driver. This is mandatory in the state of Georgia in all accidents resulting in injury or death. After the police officer writes their report, ask how you can obtain a copy for your own records. The police report acts as the first piece of evidence gathered in your case. Reports typically take three to five days to process. Don’t forget this detail among all the other aspects of your accident claim.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Exchange your insurance and registration information with the other driver. You will need their insurance company’s information for a later step in the claims process. Exchanging information also alerts you as to whether the other driver is uninsured.
Take pictures of two key pieces of evidence.
- The accident scene
- The damage done to both cars
Take pictures of the accident scene from different angles. This can help recreate the incident to a certain extent, which is especially helpful if the other driver is at fault. Do the same when capturing photos of car damage. Take pictures that clearly show the extent of the damage – quality photos are quality evidence.
Shortly after the accident, find time to record your account of the incident while it is still recent in your memory. This helps not only the insurance company and your attorney understand the context of the accident, but it will also help you stick to a solid explanation about the accident in the future.
Find witnesses and ask for their contact information. Witness testimony could prove to be a crucial aspect of supporting your claim and account of the incident. Even if you fear witnesses might not feel comfortable giving out their contact information, or becoming involved in your case, it is always best to ask.
Treat Your Injuries
Address your injuries by going to the doctor. Let them examine and treat you for the injuries you sustained from the accident. Many family doctors don’t like to become involved in car accident cases. If your doctor turns you away, find another general practitioner, or urgent care clinic, that will assess and record your damage. You can use your medical records as evidence when proving that the collision caused injury. Obtain your medical records and release them to your attorney.
If you go to the hospital, be sure to bill your health insurance. Hospitals in Georgia currently delay billing health insurance because personal injury settlements pay more than health insurance does. If you do file a personal injury claim, your hospital bills will come out of your total compensation at a much higher rate than if you were to simply use health insurance. Have foresight and utilize your health insurance – even if you don’t plan on filing an additional claim.
Do not send your medical bills to the insurance adjustor assigned to your case. This is crucial because it is one way that the other driver’s insurance company can leverage power against you. As a rule a thumb, most insurance companies in Georgia don’t pay medical bills as they come. They only pay out bills after settling the case, which can take up to a few months.
File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident as soon as you can. It is wise to call the company directly to ensure smooth communication. Your insurance company will also give you directions on what documentation you need to provide. If you followed the previous steps, this means gathering your evidence and filling out any additional forms. Make copies of all evidence and forms you fill out for your own records.
Some insurance companies will ask for a recorded statement of the accident. In many cases, an attorney will advise you to tell your insurance company that you will get back to them. This gives you time to concisely form your words in a way that does not allow the insurance company to twist what you say. However, if you recorded your account of the incident, simply read your account word for word. Don’t deviate from your account. This prevents you from accidentally adding or omitting a detail that could reflect negatively on your case.
Remain patient and wait for correspondence after completing these steps. Your insurance company and a skilled attorney will give you insight into the next steps of the claims process –until then, relax knowing you’ve completed all you can in initiating your claim.