Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | September 16, 2020
Being involved in a car accident is a frightening and disorienting experience. Knowing what to do beforehand will enable you to make good decisions in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Those decisions can have a huge impact on your ability to recover compensation.
One of the most important steps involves filing an accident report. Why? You’ll want to make sure there’s a record of the crash and a collection of relevant details.
Filing an Accident Report
Georgia 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. If an accident is anything more than a bump that seems to have resulted in no injuries or damage, you need to call the police and report it.
The Atlanta police will no longer respond to non-injury accidents during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, you will be directed to fill out an accident form. Even if there are no injuries, it is still a good idea to call 9-1-1 to report the accident. You should also take photos and videos of the scene and any damage to vehicles if you can do so safely.
You should still report all accidents immediately, fill out the Georgia SR-13 form, and keep a copy for your records. It is unclear if and when Atlanta police will resume responding to accidents.
Even if the damages appear to be negligible, and no one seems injured, a police report is still a good idea. There could be damage to the vehicles that are not apparent on site. Even more concerning, you or others involved in the accident could experience a delayed onset of symptoms of an injury sustained during the accident.
Some types of injuries are immediately evident after an accident, but whiplash and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can take hours, days, or even longer to manifest.
Whiplash is common in rear-end collisions though it can happen in any car accident. The injury is caused by the rapid front to back motion of the head, and it can take twenty-four hours for the first symptoms to appear. There are reported cases of whiplash not manifesting until several days after an accident.
Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Headaches, most likely to originate at the base of the skull
If you experience any of these symptoms after an accident, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by one or more of four primary mechanisms. A direct impact, a penetrating injury, a blast injury, or the sudden acceleration and deceleration of your brain inside your skull can result in a TBI.
Symptoms that are common, and may be delayed, in a TBI include:
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Loss of coordination
- Difficulty with concentration
- Mood changes
If experiencing any significant symptoms after a motor vehicle accident, it is essential that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. If there is a delay in seeking medical attention, try to keep notes of when your symptoms began, how they manifested, and how long they last. If you seek compensation for an injury sustained in a car accident, your notes and medical records can be crucial in proving your symptoms are a direct result of the accident.
What Information Will an Accident Report Contain?
Accident reports will vary depending on the municipality where the accident happens and the seriousness of the event. The information in the report will be crucial for getting an insurance company to pay for any property damage and compensating you for injuries sustained during the accident.
Most accident reports will include the identification, insurance information, and licensing of all drivers involved in the accident. The report will have statements made by the drivers and witnesses to the accident and a description of the scene and the road conditions. There should also be contact information for any witnesses in case they need to make formal statements at some point.
Citations that are issued or arrests that are made will be noted in the report. The reporting officer will usually include a sketch of the scene or photos to help establish the cause of the accident.
An Accident Report Will Be Critical If You Pursue Compensation
If you sustain an injury in an accident and have to contact an Atlanta personal injury attorney to pursue compensation, the accident report will be one of the first documents they will need to review your case. An accident report, even if there doesn’t appear to be any significant damage, will also serve to protect you in case the other party claims damages or injuries after the accident.
It is always a good idea to take the time to notify the police and file an accident report in the immediate aftermath of an accident. It protects your rights for compensation and protects you against false claims made by other parties.