Georgia law requires you to report any car accident to the police if it involves more than $500 in property damage or anyone is injured or killed. If you don’t report an accident, you risk being unable to recover money for your injuries, and your insurance company may not cover you if someone else sues you for the accident.
Drivers sometimes don’t want to report an accident to the police because they worry there will be points added to their driver’s license, or they don’t want their insurance premiums to go up. But if there is any possibility anyone is injured, or if there is damage to a vehicle, it is important to summon the police to the scene. Some insurance companies will not even process your claim if you have not made a police report. And a police report makes it easier to gather evidence and make a strong claim.
Although you don’t have to report an accident with property damage less than $500, you should be careful not to underestimate the cost of the damage to the other vehicle. Body shop work is expensive, and anything more than a very minor ding is likely to cost more than $500. And you can never be sure that the other driver wasn’t injured.
How should I report the accident?
The best way to report an accident is to call the police while you are still at the scene. It is illegal to flee the scene of an accident, and waiting for the police to arrive will show that you have complied with your legal responsibilities. The police officer will examine the damage, take statements from you and the other driver, and write an incident report that provides an objective view of what happened.
While you are waiting for the police, make sure everyone is okay and call for emergency medical help if anyone needs it. The Georgia Driver’s Manual recommends that you exchange contact information, license plate numbers and driver’s license numbers with all motorists involved in the crash. You can also exchange insurance information. You can record this information by taking photos with your cell phone camera. It’s a good idea to also photograph the accident scene and any vehicle damage.
When talking with other drivers, avoid discussing the details of how the accident happened. And never take the blame or apologize for an accident that might not have been your fault.
After the accident, contact your insurance company as soon as possible and make an accident report. This allows your insurance company to begin its own investigation and increases the chance that your claim will be covered.
How does a police report help my claim?
A police report can’t be used as evidence in court, but it can help to settle your claim outside of court—which is how most car accident claims are resolved. When you file an accident claim, your lawyer will prepare a letter of complaint that describes how the accident happened, and the source for that information is often the police report.
The other party’s insurance company will also rely on the police report to give a basic description of how the accident happened. The police report will serve as the foundation for an investigation by both your legal team and the insurance company. For example, it will identify witnesses and discuss other factors that might have caused or contributed to the accident. A police report makes it easier for you to present a strong claim that will help you get the financial recovery you need.
If you had an accident but didn’t report it, you may still be able to make a successful claim, but it will be harder. Your best option is talk to a personal injury lawyer.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys are ready to help you get started with your claim. We won’t charge you money unless we win money for you. Let us give you a FREE consultation to help you understand the right next steps for your case—with no obligation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.