Involved in a Georgia auto accident? Now what?

In order to protect themselves and their rights, it is important for drivers to know what steps to take following a Georgia auto accident.

Almost any driver may be affected by an auto accident at any time, even if they are being cautious. In fact, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia reports there were more than 116,000 motor vehicle collision injuries across the state in 2013 alone. Due to their belief that they will not be involved, the shock of the situation and the potential for injuries, many people are unprepared when they are in a car crash. However, it is important that drivers know what to do following a wreck in order to protect themselves and their rights.

Status check

Immediately after a motor vehicle accident, it is advisable for drivers to check if they or anyone else in their automobile has been harmed. If they are able, they should also check on the occupants of the other vehicles that were involved. In the event anyone was injured, someone should call for emergency services.

Move vehicles

If people are able, it is recommended that they move their vehicles to a nearby location following a collision. By moving their automobiles out of traffic, they may reduce the likelihood of a subsequent accident. Drivers should keep in mind, however, that they cannot leave the scene entirely. Doing so may carry serious consequences. For instance, the Georgia Department of Driver Services points out that leaving the scene of an accident will result in a mandatory driver's license suspension.

Notify the authorities

Once drivers have checked the status of those involved and moved out of harm's way, they should call the authorities. Often, a law enforcement officer will be sent out to assess the situation and write an accident report. To this end, they will document the scene and take statements from those involved, as well as from witnesses. Motorists should obtain and keep a copy of the accident report in case they need it for insurance purposes or to assist in a legal action for compensation.

Exchange information

Most people know they should obtain the contact and insurance information from the other drivers involved after a crash. It may also be helpful for them to get the contact details for any passengers or witnesses. This includes their names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and physical addresses. Such information may prove helpful when they are dealing with the insurance companies or if they decide to file a personal injury lawsuit down the line.

Do not admit guilt

When talking to others who were involved in a motor vehicle accident, witnesses to the collision or the authorities, people should be careful of what they say. Something as innocent as apologizing may be viewed as an admission of guilt. This may affect their ability to seek compensation for damages, or result in criminal or civil liability.

Consult with an attorney

As a result of auto collisions, people may suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment. This may lead to unexpected medical expenses and lost wages while they are off work recovering. In some circumstances, the driver responsible for causing the accident may be liable for the resulting damages. Thus, it may be of benefit for those who have been involved in a car crash to discuss their situation with an attorney. A legal representative may help them understand their rights, as well as determine the best course of action given the circumstances of their case.