FAQ: Automobile Accident
Q. How soon should I get a lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident. Your lawyer will want to investigate the scene, take photographs, document any physical evidence and talk to any witnesses. Once the accident is reported an insurance company, an adjuster will immediately begin to work on the claim. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the longer your rights will go unprotected. Also, the longer you wait makes it more difficult to locate witnesses, get accurate recollections of events, and locate valuable evidence.
Q. If the other party got a ticket and was charged with the accident, why can’t I just talk to the insurance company?
Even if the other party got a traffic citation, that does not always mean the other party will be legally liable for the collision or that you will receive a fair settlement for your property damages and personal injuries. No matter how nice the insurance adjuster is on the phone, he/she is not there to help you and make sure you get all the money damages you are entitled to under the law. Your attorney is the only person who is actually representing you and your interests.
Q. How do I find out how much insurance the other driver has?
Georgia requires all drivers to have certain minimum insurance limits. Georgia law also requires that applicable insurance limits must be disclosed when a proper request is made. Your attorney will know how to send a proper request to obtain the other party(ies) insurance limits. Also, in addition to the driver who caused the collision, there may be other insurance policies available to provide coverage for your injuries. Your attorney is the best person to know how to obtain all available insurance coverage.
Q. Is it okay to give a statement to the insurance company?
Never give a statement to any insurance company before speaking with your attorney. Even if the other party was issued a traffic citation, you can jeopardize your case if you give a statement to the insurance company without the guidance of an attorney.
Q. Is it okay to sign a medical authorization?
You should not sign a medical authorization for any insurance company, or other party without first speaking to your attorney. When you sign a medical authorization, you are giving a party, oftentimes an adverse party, the right to access your protected health information. Your attorney is the only person who should be allowed to access this information.
Q. What if the other driver did not get a traffic citation?
You still have a claim for personal injuries and property damage. Just because the other driver did not get a traffic citation does not mean the other driver is not at fault.
Q. What if I got a traffic citation?
Just because you got a traffic citation does not mean that you are legally liable for the collision. There are many factors that go into determining whether a party is legally liable. Your attorney is the best person to assist you with ascertaining the at fault parties and for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
Q. Should I get medical treatment?
Anytime you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is best to get medical treatment. When the body is subjected to an unexpected force, it does not have time to prepare or brace itself. Also, soft tissue injuries, like whiplash, may not present themselves until 24 hours later. If you seek medical attention within the first 24 hours, you will be in a better position to document that your injuries have been caused by the collision.
Q. I didn’t think I needed medical treatment until a day after the collision, should I still go to a doctor?
Yes. Many times, soft tissue injuries, like whiplash, may not present themselves until 24 hours later. It is not uncommon for someone to feel okay after a collision and then to experience bone and joint pain even several days later. Although it is always best to seek medical attention right after the collision, you should get medical treatment as soon as you first experience pain or other symptoms.
Q. What types of damages am I entitled to?
Generally, you are entitled to recover your medical treatment expenses caused by the collision, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You are also entitled to your property damages. Every case is unique, and your attorney is the best person to make sure you are compensated for all areas of recovery.
Q. What if I already had back pain, and the collision made it worse?
Georgia law allows a person to recover for aggravation or exacerbation of a previous injury. If you had an injury that has been made worse by a collision, you are entitled to recover damages for that aggravation of the pre-existing injury.
Q. What if the other driver doesn’t have any insurance?
You may still be able to recover even if the other driver does not have insurance. You can seek compensation from your own insurance policy through uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Q. What documents should I bring to an attorney?
Bring your accident report, a copy of any medical records, a copy of any bills, addresses and phone numbers of all passengers and witnesses, and any photographs of the cars, the accident scene and your injuries. Basically, any document that relates in any way to the collision.
Q. Should I take pictures?
It is always a good idea to document any damage to your vehicle. It is also good to take photographs of the accident scene, especially if you have to move the cars from the original crash position. It is also good to document any injuries, such as bruises or cuts, which will heal over time.
Q. Should I post about the collision on Facebook or Instagram?
Unless you want to jeopardize your claim, it is best not to post anything about the collision on any social media sites. This includes any photographs of the cars, the scenes, or any narratives.