After sustaining a seemingly minor car accident with no obvious damage to yourself or your car, you might be tempted to count yourself lucky and move on with your day. Once your nerves calm down, however, you may start experiencing pain or notice your car is not operating as smoothly as it should be.
Take steps to protect yourself after even minor car accidents and contact a car accident lawyer from Barrios Virgüez for help with filing your claim, dealing with insurance, and pursuing a settlement.
What Information Should I Collect from the Other Driver?
In the State of Georgia, drivers involved in an accident are required to exchange contact and insurance information. Keep this exchange brief, only providing essential information. Anything else you say, even with the best intentions, can be used against you if you decide to file a claim. Do not offer apologies or say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
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Do I Need to Collect Any Other Information?
Take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to get clear images of all sides of each vehicle. Then, take pictures and/or video of the overall environment, specifically catching any elements that could have contributed to the accident, such as weather conditions, broken traffic signals, debris, or unsafe travel surfaces.
These images will serve as evidence if you need to build a case. They also protect you from being falsely accused should the other driver claim you caused more damage to their vehicle than the photo evidence shows.
You should also collect contact information from any accident witnesses.
Should I Call the Authorities?
In most Georgia cities, drivers are legally required to call 911 following a car accident, even ones that seem minor. Even if your city does not mandate calling the authorities, your insurance company most likely does. To ensure you fulfill your legal obligation and/or uphold the standards of your insurance policy, you should call the police.
Plus, if you experience pain or notice damage to your vehicle later, filing that official report will protect any claims you submit later. Without a police report, it is harder to take a claim to court.
Once on the scene, the police will fulfill all legal reporting requirements. The Georgia Department of Driver’s Services strongly encourages involved drivers to complete an SR-13 “Personal Report of Accident” to create a record of important accident-related information. This report will also help your attorney should you need to file a claim for compensation.
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Does My Insurance Company Need to Know About the Accident?
By reporting the accident to your insurance, you once again protect yourself should you need to file a claim. Just as when exchanging information with the other driver, limit your remarks to what is essential.
Should you need to file a claim and have further communication with the insurance company, have your lawyer handle those discussions. If the other party’s insurance company contacts you, even to offer you a settlement, refer them to your attorney. Insurance companies do not always play fair with victims, and your lawyer will protect you from unfair treatment.
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Do I Need to Seek Medical Attention?
It is always a good idea to see a doctor following an accident. For one, you want to protect your health. Some injuries have a delayed onset. Also, even minor car accidents produce surges of adrenaline that can cover up symptoms until your body has calmed down or until you put stress on the injured body part. Injuries not identified and treated promptly can worsen.
Second, if you did ultimately sustain an injury but do not see a doctor right away, it is more difficult to prove the accident caused that injury. The at-fault party can argue that your choice to delay treatment made your condition worse or that an incident occurring later or even general wear-and-tear is responsible for your injured situation.
What Kinds of Injuries do Minor Car Accidents Cause?
In high-speed car accidents, injuries can be catastrophic. Though minor or low-speed car accidents are less likely to produce such frightening outcomes, they can cause injuries serious enough to require rest and recovery periods during which victims miss work or other responsibilities.
Common injuries sustained in low-speed or minor car accidents include:
- Whiplash: an injury to the neck caused by an abrupt back-and-forth motion. Whiplash can resolve within weeks but can also lead to chronic pain or other complications.
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: often a mild concussion, a mild TGI is caused by a jolt or blow that causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. The damage incurred can affect how a person feels, eats, sleeps, learns, thinks, and behaves.
- Back Pain or Damage: the jolting, twisting, or tensing up upon being hit can lead to muscular damage, disc damage such as herniations, and even spinal cord nerve damage.
What Damages Can I Recover through a Settlement?
The damages you seek and the amount you recover depend on the severity of your injuries and their consequences. Your attorney will review your case, consult with medical experts and any other relevant parties, and calculate your economic losses.
Most likely, you will see coverage for medical costs and future care, lost wages if you miss work while recovering, lost future earnings if you cannot return to work, property damage, and emotional distress.
Even minor accidents can produce emotional trauma. Some victims find themselves too afraid to drive again and must find new ways of getting around or getting those who depend on them for transportation where they need to be.
Do Not Take Any Chances
You may not see or feel immediate damage from your car accident. Unfortunately, that does not mean you have not sustained an injury or your car has escaped unscathed. Do not take any chances with your potential settlement.
After your accident, contact an experienced car accident lawyer from Barrios Virgüez. Your attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your losses and pain and suffering,