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I’ve been in a car wreck. Now what?

Traffic in Atlanta is crazy.  Day and night, auto accidents happen all over the city.  I’ve been in a wreck, and I have practiced personal injury law for years.  I know that making mistakes after an accident and when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company can be very costly.  I’d like to share some tips on what to do if you’re in a wreck.

 

  1. Call 911.   

 

Don’t take any chances. Call 911 so that first responders will come. If you or any of your passengers are injured, have an ambulance come to the scene.  If you feel that you need immediate treatment, do not hesitate—have the ambulance bring you to the nearest hospital.  Do not worry about your vehicle: make taking care of yourself and your passengers is the top priority.

 

  1. Collect evidence.

 

Collecting evidence and information at the accident scene can help you with your claim. If you are able, take pictures of the vehicles and try to get information from any eyewitnesses. Document your injuries and take pictures. Don’t forget to get information from the officer about how to obtain a copy of the accident report.  The report will have important information about the other driver’s insurance and whether there were any witnesses.  You will need this information if you have to file a claim.

 

  1. If you are injured—get treatment.

 

If you do not get treatment right after the accident, get treatment as soon as you can, continue treating, and follow your medical provider’s instructions.  Don’t try just to “fight through the pain.”  This may prevent you from getting the necessary medical care you need, and it will be important if you intend on filing a claim.  Do not settle with the insurance company until you have completed treatment.    If you do not have health insurance, you still can get treatment and we can help walk you through this process.

 

  1. File a claim.

 

If the other driver is at fault, make a claim with his or her insurance company.  You might also want to file a claim under your own insurance policy.  A claims adjuster will contact you about your claim.  This is something we can help with.

 

  1. Property damage.

 

A claim for property damage, or a claim to get your car repaired, is different from your personal injury claim.  Most insurance companies will repair your car at one of their approved vendors.  Check the shop and make sure they are reputable and use original manufacture parts.  Ask if you can take it to your choice of mechanics.  You may also be entitled to a rental car, depending on the policy.  You will be able to get your car repaired long before you are paid out on your personal injury claim.

 

  1. Don’t say too much.

 

You may be contacted by a person from the other driver’s insurance company. This person is an “adjuster” and is investigating and handling your claim. Remember that this claims adjuster works for the other driver’s insurance company, so be cautious.  You should provide limited information—who was involved in the accident, if you or anyone was injured, if your vehicle is damaged, and that’s about it. At this point, you should not be too specific on the extent of your injuries—less is best.  Don’t give a recorded statement. You are not required to do this in Georgia. And no postings, tweets, etc. about the accident.

 

The claims adjuster might try and get you to sign a settlement agreement and claim release.  At this point, you might get an attorney.  If you sign something that you shouldn’t have, it might damage your personal injury claim later on.

 

  1. Two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit—that’s all you get in Georgia.

 

You will be able to sue the driver of the other vehicle so long as you file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident. It’s a smart idea to consult an attorney early on, shortly after your accident to ensure your personal injury claim is handled properly.  If you have any questions about this process, feel free to send me an email at info@hofferwebb.com.

 

  1. Be prepared…the process may take a while.

 

If you are injured, it might take some time to get back on your feet.  You only should consider resolving your claim after you are done treating.  First, you should make a settlement demand.   All you really want is to be made whole, but getting there is not always easy. You must support your demand with documentation—that’s what the claims adjuster will expect.  This could be the police report, medical bills and a statement from your employer of lost wages, etc.  And even valid documentation may not be enough to get an insurance company to settle.  There may be issues of disputed liability, and the insurance carrier may not feel that it has to pay.  Then you may have to file a lawsuit and it will take time to go to trial and get a judgment.

 

  1. Call Hoffer & Webb at (404)260-6330 for help.

All of these issues can be confusing. At Hoffer & Webb, we have handled hundreds of car accident cases and we can help you with your case. We have had years of experience working on the side of insurance companies, and now you can harness that experience to handle your claim. Call us at (404)26—6330 or email us at info@hofferwebb.com.

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