Georgia law requires you to report an accident to a law enforcement agency right away if there are injuries or fatalities, or if there is more than $500 in property damage. Injuries and the cost of car repairs are hard to assess at the scene, and you may need a police report to file an insurance claim. For these reasons, it is a good idea to report all car accidents that cause any type of damage.
Should I report an accident even if no one is injured?
After a minor car accident, it is typical for people to walk away, thinking they weren’t injured. This is because our brains release hormones during traumatic events such as car accidents, and these hormones can cover up pain and other symptoms. We have talked to many accident victims who thought they were doing just fine, only to develop severe pain, stiffness, dizziness and other symptoms in the hours, days and weeks that followed.
This means that immediately after an accident, it is almost impossible to tell for sure that no one was injured. If you develop symptoms, you may be able to make a police report after the fact, but by then the accident scene will have been cleared, witnesses will be long gone, and you will have lost the opportunity to gather evidence that can help your injury claim. This is why it is best to call the police and report the accident immediately after it happens.
What if I am worried my insurance rates will go up?
One of the main reasons people hesitate to report minor accidents is the fear that their car insurance premiums will go up. If you have a relatively high deductible and believe you caused the accident, you may prefer to take care of the damage yourself, since you will end up paying out of pocket anyway. However, there are three risks in this approach.
- You may be paying for damage when the accident is not your fault at all. Many people wrongly blame themselves for accidents. When you report an accident to police and your insurance company, objective outsiders can look at the evidence and determine who is at fault.
- You do not know how much the damage to the other car will cost. Something that looks like a simple fender repair may actually have damaged the frame, quarter panels and internal mechanisms. A repair that looks like it will cost a couple of hundred dollars can easily end up costing several thousand.
- The most serious risk is the possibility that you or someone else really was injured in the accident. Without a police report, your insurance company may be unwilling to process the claim, and you may find yourself responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
The cost of a higher insurance premium may be much less than what you will end up paying if you don’t report your accident.
Do I need a lawyer if I was in a minor car accident?
If you only had damage to your car, you can probably handle negotiations with the insurance company yourself. But if you were injured, we recommend you schedule a free consultation with a well-respected Atlanta car accident lawyer. Car insurance companies don’t like to pay out money to injured people because it cuts into their profits. They’ll use any excuse they can find to deny your claim, including saying you aren’t entitled to recover any money because you waited to report the accident to the police, or claiming you couldn’t have been injured because the accident only caused minor vehicle damage.
A lawyer’s role is to be your advocate, building a case as though you were going to court and then taking that evidence to the insurance company. With a lawyer at your side, you stand to recover much more money than you might get if you were left to handle things on your own.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers know how to get car accident victims the money they need. You won’t have to pay us unless we win you money. Let us give you a FREE consultation to answer your questions and show you how you can get started with a claim. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.