What to Do When Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Important Steps to Follow After an Accident to Get the Outcome You Deserve

If you have ever found yourself in a motor vehicle accident, you might be unsure of what to do next. This is completely normal, but you are not alone. This situation is certainly stressful, but it is quite common. In fact, the average number of car accidents that happen in the U.S. every year is 6 million. The team at The Law Office of Brad S. McLelland, PC is dedicated to supporting individuals who are in this situation and making sure they get the compensation they deserve. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Check for injuries

First and foremost, your safety and the safety of your passengers are of the utmost importance. Some symptoms of injuries might be obvious, but others might be more subtle. Some common motor vehicle-related injuries include facial injuries, cuts and scrapes, and burns. When it comes to facial injuries, they can be painful and traumatizing. In motor vehicle accidents, this often happens when the driver hits the steering wheel, airbag, car door, or another loose object. In this case, you might notice the facial skin, teeth, bone, and other sensitive organs.

Cuts and scrapes that happen in everyday life might not be a sign of harm, but some of them can be more serious, especially ones that occur during a crash. Deep cuts might need medical attention and stitches down the line. More serious impact injuries, like loose teeth and broken bones, will require even more advanced treatments.

Burn injuries can happen as a result of hot oils or gases dripping onto someone. Severe burns can lead to pain, scarring, and disfigurement. As you might assume, this can require extensive treatments and even psychological counseling if the burn develops, so you will want to check for this issue right away.

It is possible for you to feel fine after the crash or to not notice any symptoms, but some symptoms might not pop up until hours or even days after the crash. For example, concussion symptoms can appear hours or even days after an injury. Some of the first concussion symptoms you will likely notice include a headache, nausea or vomiting, and balance problems. If you notice these symptoms in the hours following your crash, it is important to pay attention to them. Even a mild concussion can turn into a condition that affects you for the rest of your life if you leave it untreated. Recovery times for concussions range between several days and several months depending on severity.

Another health problem that might not appear right away is internal organ damage. Sings of internal organ damage include swelling or pain in the abdomen that worsens over time, fatigue, blood in the urine or stools, and feelings of cold. If you are worried about internal damage to your kidneys, liver, lungs, or other organs, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

  • Move to a safe area

A car wreck can be dangerous enough as it is. The last thing you need is to put yourself in more danger by staying in an unsafe situation on the road. If you are able to move your vehicle, you should veer to the side of the road. However, this should only be done after you are able to thoroughly document the crash, which we will discuss later. You should also turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights, and use the road flares in your emergency car kit so that other vehicles slow down. If you are able to, move to the sidewalk to communicate with the other driver in the crash.

  • Call the police

Not only will it be helpful to call the police after a car crash, but it is actually required by Georgia law. The law requires that the driver of an automobile involved in an accident that results in an injury, death, or damage over $500 must file a police report immediately. This will ensure a fair and balanced report of the cause of the accident that your attorneys can reference later. You should also keep a copy of this police report for your insurance plan.

It can be confusing to understand the ins and outs of the paperwork that is used to resolve legal matters. Luckily, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center has developed an instruction manual to serve as the primary guidance for completing the most recent approved crash report. For example, when submitting a crash report, it is recommended to follow these guidelines:

  1. The overlay does not need to be submitted to the Department of Transportation.
  2. Submit the original crash report within three business days to the Department of Transportation.
  3. The report can be typed, computer-generated, or hand-written in ink. Print if you use an ink pen.
  4. Any time a code is used for another, it must be explained in the Narrative section.
  5. Keep in mind that the department is scanning all paper reports for accuracy, completeness, and legibility. You and the department will have a record that can be used in civil or criminal proceedings weeks, months, or even years later. Lastly, images of paper reports are retained by the GDOT for ten years as per the Retention Policy.

If you need help navigating this paperwork and other steps of this process, and want to work with a team that will advocate for your needs, The Law Office of Brad S. McLelland, PC will be a trusted asset. Our help will allow you to spend less time worrying and more time moving forward with your life.

  • Exchange information with the other driver

After you have followed the steps above, be sure to exchange information with the other driver. This should include their full name, contact information, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license, and license play number, type, color, and model of their vehicle, and the location of the accident. When you are doing this, we do not recommend discussing the fault or facts of the accident with the other driver. Although it can feel rude to not apologize for an incident if you feel that it was your fault, it will be better in the long run if you say as little as possible. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing the claim will determine who is at fault based on an inspection of the vehicle or properties damaged.

  • Document the accident

Another step you can take to protect yourself is to document the accident. This will give the insurance company the information they need to make important decisions regarding compensation. In documenting the accident, you will want to identify the officers involved. This means that when the police arrive, you should get the name and badge number of all responding officers. You can also ask the police officers where you can get a copy of the report to give to your insurance company.

The next part of your documentation process should be to take pictures of the accident. This includes taking pictures from different angles and showing the damage that has been done to both cars. It is also a good idea to take a picture of the other car’s license plate. Later on, we might be able to share these photos with your insurer to help make your case. You will want to write down the names and addresses of all parties involved. This includes the passengers in the other vehicle. If there were any witnesses to the accident, you can talk to them and get their contact information, which can prove to be another piece of useful information that helps you down the line.

  • Get in touch with your insurer and begin the claims process

We understand that this step in the process can be intimidating because it is essentially the moment of truth. If you feel that you need assistance when it comes to talking to your insurer, and you want to make sure the process goes smoothly, our team can help you with that. The insurers involved will be the ones who inspect the vehicle damage and other damages. They will estimate the costs of repairing your car and will make an offer to settle the claim. Most importantly, the adjuster from the company will investigate the case and review the facts to provide an opinion on who was at fault. The adjuster will examine the police report, statements from drivers and witnesses, investigation of the accident scene, weather conditions at the time of the crash, and the physical conditions of both cars involved when forming this opinion.

If you disagree with this opinion, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party’s insurance company or against the other party in civil court. There is no reason you should have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for property damage and injuries that someone else caused. We believe that those involved in an accident are entitled to certain rights, and we will represent yours.

If you were wrongfully blamed for an accident, or you simply need help navigating the post-accident process, call The Law Office of Brad S. McLelland, PC at (912) 400-0039 or contact us online to get the help you deserve.