Atlanta area traffic is rated as among the worst in the nation, and the congestion motorists run into during their daily commutes can be very frustrating. So, when there is a break in traffic, it is not uncommon for area motorists to drive more aggressively and take unnecessary chances in order to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, these behaviors often result in auto accidents that should never have happened.
Being involved in a car crash in Atlanta can be a shocking and traumatic experience. Immediately, your heart rate accelerates, and your mind starts racing as you try to make sense of what has just happened and how you should deal with it.
The first thing to do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. What you do immediately after an auto accident will have a major impact on any subsequent legal claim you may need to file against the at fault driver.
Here are five important steps to take after a car accident in Atlanta:
- Make Sure Everyone Is Okay
The first priority is to ensure that anyone who has been injured in the accident (including yourself) gets immediate medical treatment. Even if you feel just a little shook up and don’t have any immediate pain, you should still call 911 and bring an ambulance to the scene. Some injuries are not felt right away because of the adrenaline rush you experience from the trauma of the accident. But these injuries can turn out to be more severe in some cases – for example, internal injuries that sometimes become life-threatening. For this reason, it is best for everyone to get checked out just to be safe.
- Call the Police to the Scene
When you call 911, they may contact the police for you. Otherwise, call the police directly and have them come to the scene. The police will help secure the area and regulate traffic while everything gets sorted out. They will also produce an official report that documents how the accident happened. The police report will be relied on heavily during the legal claim that follows in order to determine fault.
- Document the Accident
Although the police will produce a report, you should also document the events that caused the accident for your own protection. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible so you can show how the collision occurred and the damage done to the vehicles. And if you happen to have a dashboard video camera rolling, be sure to capture the footage.
Create a detailed report about what happened while the events are still fresh in your mind. If you are not able to write everything down, use the audio recorder on your smartphone. Finally, obtain statements from any individuals nearby who witnessed the accident. Oftentimes, witnesses will allow you to record a video or audio statement, and it is best to do it right away while everyone is there at the scene.
- Be Careful What You Say about the Accident
While interacting with the other driver(s), police, witnesses, and anyone else at the scene, be calm and courteous, but do NOT admit fault for the accident. For some people, it is in their nature to want to apologize even if they did not do anything wrong. But keep in mind that what you say about the accident can be used against you later on. It is best not to comment on who was at fault for the crash – leave that to the experts to sort out.
Along the same lines, it is also best not to comment about the accident on Facebook or any other social media platform. Insurance investigators spend a lot of time combing through social media profiles to find anything they can use against a claimant. This could be something that is said about the accident, something one of your friends says about the accident, a photo of you having fun on vacation when you are claiming to have suffered emotional distress, and a number of other things. To be safe, DO NOT POST ANYTHING ONLINE while your accident injury claim is ongoing, and ask your family and friends not to comment on your accident or tag you in any photos that they post.
- Contact an Experienced Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
Within a short time after getting hurt in an auto accident, it is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster or another insurance company representative to contact you to discuss what happened. They might seem real friendly and act like they are on your side, but it is very important to realize that their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your accident injury claim, so their interests are not aligned with yours.
As soon as possible after a car accident, get in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable Atlanta personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys provide free initial consultations, and it never hurts to at least speak with one so you can have your case thoroughly assessed and be informed of your legal rights and options.
If nothing else, you will come away from the consultation with a better understanding of how to deal with the responsible party’s insurance company. You will also be able to make a much more informed decision on whether or not it would be a good idea for you to retain legal counsel in your case.