Step 1: MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS OK !
Step 2: CALL 911 AND DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT
If anyone is injured, this ensures that they receive proper care as quickly as possible. The ambulance team will take care of your injuries and recommend the correct course of action. Any injuries sustained to yourself or others are important to note Take pictures, get all contact information, license plate, police report, etc.
Notify The Police
The police will examine the scene thoroughly and file a report. Be polite and cooperate with the police officers and other emergency personnel at the accident scene. Note the names of the officers and ask them for the accident report number.
Get contact information from the other driver or drivers. Jot down their name, address and phone number. Make a note of the color, make and model of the other vehicles, and the license plates if you can. The police officer can help you get all this information, and will often have a form for you to exchange with the other driver(s) involved. Do not be afraid to ask such information, or for the form. If you can, and it is safe, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. If you do not have a camera available, the camera on your cell phone will do the job.
Get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. If you can, do this quickly. Often, people who saw the collision will stop for a short time, but leave before the police arrive. Other motorists, passengers or pedestrians can be critical witnesses. Get their name and phone number.
Do Not Discuss Fault
Do not blame the other driver even if they were clearly at fault. It may just start an argument. But, if the other driver admits it was their fault, make a mental note of it. When you get home, jot down precisely what you remember them saying. Even if you feel you may have been partially at fault, do not say anything that admits your feeling.
Do Not Sign Anything
Step 3: CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Your relationship with your insurance company is established by your policy because it’s a “contract” between you and your insurer. You may be obligated by the rules of the policy to provide your company with more information than you would provide to someone else’s insurance company.
If you give notice of the accident to your insurance agent, rather than your insurance company, it should not be more than a week before you receive a letter of confirmation. If you don’t, call your insurance company directly and give them the information.
Right of Subrogation
Your insurance company may send you a form entitled Right of Subrogation. This form means if your insurance company pays you, you give them the right to recover the money, or be subrogated, from whoever else may be liable for the accident. For example, an uninsured motorist who obviously has money of his own, whom your insurance company decides to “go after” in an attempt to recover whatever they may have paid you. This right of subrogation does not affect your prerogative to collect compensation from your company, but if you file a claim under your own policy then you must agree to give subrogation to your insurer.
Most policies state that to collect on a claim under your own policy, you must cooperate with your insurance company in its investigation of the accident. If asked, you must provide the names of witnesses, the medical providers you’re being treated by and a statement about how the accident happened.
Step 4: GET MEDICAL TREATMENT
At Accident Centers of America, we will work with you to get medical treatment now, BEFORE your claim is settled, because of how confident we are in our proven legal system.
Step 5: GET AN ATTORNEY
Unfortunately, auto accidents are extremely common, resulting in property damage, injuries, and fatalities. In the United States, we’ve developed an insurance system for making sure that people are taken care of when they are involved in an auto accident. States like Georgia require drivers to have liability insurance because the cost of compensating a victim can easily be more than a typical person can afford.
However, insurance companies, like any other company, seek to limit the amounts they have to pay out to injured parties. They will often seek a settlement with an injured party well before the full cost of an injury is known. For example, they may offer to pay for the initial emergency room visit. If an injured party accepts such an offer, they cannot go back to the insurance company when they subsequently need physical therapy. Avoiding such traps and maximizing the amount of money an insurance company is responsible for paying an injured party is the main reason for hiring a lawyer, and we work with the best attorneys in the state to get you the compensation you are entitled to.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
You only have a certain amount of time in which to collect for your loss. The law of the state where the accident occurred is the one that controls the statute, regardless of the state in which you live. Watch the time! It will begin to run on the date of the accident. Especially if you are getting close to one year from the date of your accident, you must double check the Statute of Limitations in the state where your accident took place, to determine its latest version.