Car accidents have complex and far reaching consequences for all the parties involved. For the injured party, it means expensive medical care bills, lost wages and the risk of being left with a permanent impairment. For the at-fault driver, it means having their premiums go up, or facing fines and jail time if they were speeding or driving under influence. This is why it is not unheard of for an at-fault driver to avoid reporting an accident, both to the police and to their insurance company. In this case, a Fayetteville car accident lawyer will investigate the case thoroughly and help you win your compensation.
This will be a difficult battle, either with the at-fault driver’s insurer or with yours. You should not enter it unprepared – that is, without experienced legal representation. Otherwise, the negligent and irresponsible driver may get away with the deed, while you are left to cope with injuries and crippling medical care costs.
Legal Requirements to Report Traffic Accidents in Georgia
First of all, you need to know that most traffic accidents on the roads of Georgia must be reported to the police. The Official Code of Georgia 40-6-273 states that the driver who was involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury and/or property damages estimated at $500 or more must report the accident “immediately, by the quickest means of communication”. In most of the cases, you can do this by calling 9-1-1 from your mobile phone.
You should not wait for the at-fault driver to do so. Any Fayetteville car accident lawyer can tell you that a driver who knows they will face steep financial and legal consequences is not keen to comply with their legal requirements.
Reasons You Should Report Any Kind of Accident to the Police
A Fayetteville car accident lawyer urges anyone to report any kind of traffic accident to the police. This includes:
- Minor accidents (the total damages you suffer may be greater than estimated)
- Accidents taking place on private property (the at-fault driver will not receive a traffic citation)
- Situations when the other driver tries to convince you to settle the matter privately.
Calling the Police May Be Your Only Chance to Identify the At-Fault Driver
Some drivers will not stop at all after an accident. Others will stop briefly, check to see the damage they caused and then drive away. In both of the cases, they are guilty of hit-and-run, a crime under Georgia law. Actually, it will end up being a bigger offense than DUI or speeding.
If this happen, you should never attempt to follow the at-fault driver. This is a job for the law enforcement. You may place yourself in a dangerous situation. Plus, you will also be guilty of leaving the accident scene before the police arrive to investigate the crash.
A Fayetteville car accident lawyer knows that the only things you can do is write down the license plate number and the description of the car – make, model and color.
Even if the at-fault driver does not leave the accident scene, they may refuse to give you their contact details. However, they cannot refuse to provide this information to the law enforcement officers. Thus, reporting the accident and getting a copy of the accident report remain your best chances of knowing who the driver and their insurer are.
Reasons Why an At-Fault Driver Would Not Report an Accident
In our experience as personal injury lawyers, we know that a driver who fails in the legal obligation to report a traffic accident have something to hide. In most of the cases, it is one of the following:
- They are driving under influence of alcohol or drugs
- They are uninsured
- They are driving with a suspended license
- They are not driving their own car (borrowed from a friend, company car, stolen, etc.).
Each of these situations makes your car accident claim more challenging. Thus, you will need an experienced Fayetteville car accident lawyer to represent you and help you make the best legal choices.
Special Precautions You Must Take in This Specific Case
Whenever you note that the at-fault driver is unwilling to report the accident, you must be extra careful and proceed with caution. Here are some of the things you must do:
1. Report the Accident to Both Insurance Companies
After reporting the car crash to the police, notify your own insurance company. And, once you obtained the other driver’s insurance details, notify their insurer as well. You should do so at first by phone, within the first 24 hours after the accident and later by certified letter.
Many at-fault drivers believe that, even if the police investigated their crash, they can somehow keep their insurer out of the process and, thus, avoid getting their premiums increased. Of course, it does not work like that. Yet, the more you delay informing the other driver’s insurance company, the more weapons you will give them to deny or reduce the value of your claim.
2. Do Not Accept Any Private Agreement with the At-Fault Driver
In many cases, a simple verbal agreement to settle the matter privately can hurt your future insurance claim. Any insurance company is willing to believe anything their client says if it saves them from paying your claim.
On a more serious note, do not accept any money from the at-fault driver – not even to cover your ambulance ride or the cost to tow your car. No matter how small the amount is, when the case gets to court, the jury may not be sympathetic to your cause. They will see you as someone who tries to collect as much as possible from everyone.
3. Document the Accident Scene with Great Care
Finally, pay attention to all the elements of the accident scene – the position of the vehicles, skid marks, and the license plate of the other car. These photographs will be extremely useful if the at-fault driver fails to report the accident or gives an untrue version of how it happened.
4. Bring Your Case to an Experienced Car Accident Law Firm
Wade Law is ready to take on the most complex car accident claims. We have a combined experience of over 70 years and the determination that truth and justice must prevail. We encourage you to schedule a free case review and let an experienced Fayetteville car accident lawyer help you win the fair settlement you deserve even in the most challenging situations: 770-282-1188!