Let me start this post with a personal story of a car accident I was in several years ago. My wife and I had taken our dogs to the park and were heading home. We came upon a line of cars stopped for someone waiting to turn left. There was nothing sudden about our stop--it was normal, safe driving.
After being stopped for several seconds I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the other car immediately before impact. Screech!. Bang! The other driver was not paying attention and had his cell phone in hand when he collided into the back of our car. He was going pretty fast and did not brake until just before impact.
To make a long story short, my wife and I declined having the police officer call an ambulance. We were both full of adrenaline and very concerned about our dogs. Neither of us felt any injury when the police officer arrived and wrote her report.
My wife began to feel abdominal pain about an hour after the wreck where her seatbelt had been. Did I mention she was four months pregnant at the time?
My mother, a registered nurse, who had come to pick us up after the wreck because our car could not be driven, let us know my wife needed to be taken to the emergency room immediately. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to my wife or child.
How fast do insurance adjusters begin to handle auto accident cases?
Some companies have their adjusters respond to the scene and begin photographing and taking statements immediately. In our case, I received a call on the way to the hospital. It was the "friendly" adjuster from the other driver's insurance company.
The call was being recorded for "quality assurance" (I was not their customer, why would I care?). He wanted to "help" us get a claim started to "take care of" the damage to my car and "help" us get set up with a rental. But first, he wanted to let us know he was glad there were no injuries and to "make sure" everyone was okay (i.e., document in that recording that there were no injuries in the wreck). I politely told him to pound sand by informing him that my wife and I were being driven to the hospital and that I could not speak with him.
Is the other insurance company really trying to help you get a claim started, get a rental car, etc.?
No. They want to pay as little as possible for the damages their insured caused. Even little things you say after a car accident can have big impact if you are injured.
It is completely common to not feel hurt right after a wreck when the adrenaline is flowing.
It is completely normal to report to an EMT or nurse or doctor that, for example, your head hurts and that is why you need help when, in fact, on a pain scale of 1 to 10 your head is an 8, your shoulder is a 4, and your leg is a 4. The next morning your head is a down to a 4, but your shoulder is an 8, your leg is an 8, and your back and neck are 9s. The insurance company will say you only had a head injury when you reported your injuries.
In the fight to settle your case months or years later, the insurance company will use your statements against you as proof that you were not injured or that you have exaggerated your injuries because they were either minor or involved one area of the body.
What should you do after a car accident that was not your fault?
1. If you are hurt to the extent you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or ask someone to call on behalf.
2. Be completely truthful with the police and any medical providers such as EMTs, nurses, or doctors. Do not exaggerate injuries. You need proper medical care. But, if any part of your body was hurt you need to let the medical professionals know. Even if you have one injury that seems worse than others, let the doctor or nurse know of ALL of your injuries. Your medical charts are one of the first things an insurance company will look at in evaluating a case.
3. If able to, document the accident scene by taking photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved and any other evidence such as skid marks. Your health and safety come first and you should only do this if you are physically able to and if existing traffic conditions allow for it to be done safely.
4. If any witnesses stopped and are on scene, if physically able and existing traffic conditions are safe to do so, ask for their names and phone numbers and/or jot down their license plate numbers. Many times this information does not make it into police reports and crucial witnesses cannot be found later.
5. Politely decline to speak with the insurance adjuster. Again, they are trying to document their file to demonstrate a claim that minimizes the amount for which they are liable.
6. Follow all advice of treating medical professionals including following through on their treatment plans. You have a requirement to mitigate your damages. If a doctor recommends you do physical therapy or any other follow up treatment and you do not do it, the insurance company and, potentially, a jury may discount your actual damages. If a medical professional says you need treatment, get treatment. They are the medical experts. You should follow their advice and never follow the advice of an adjuster or lawyer on how to care for your injuries.
7. Promptly call personal injury attorney Richard Armond at 678-661-9585 for a free consultation. This is listed after the part about calling 911 if hurt and getting treatment because your health and well-being come first. However, the earlier I get a case the more value I can often add. Evidence has a way of disappearing if it is not retained quickly. If you need help finding a doctor to treatment your injuries and do not have insurance I can help. If your injuries exceed the other driver's policy limit or the other driver was uninsured, you may have a uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself, but these policies typically have strict time deadlines and requirements. I can help. But the earlier, the better.
Q: The answer to what to tell the other driver's insurance company after a car accident in Georgia?
A: Nothing (or, I just met with Richard Armond and he is my attorney, speak to him).
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.