Changes in Atlanta (ATL): What Happens When You Call 911 After a Car Accident

car accident damage

car accident damageDealing With Non-Injury Car Accidents in Atlanta

Unfortunately, many of us have dealt with the annoyance and inconvenience of non-injury car accidents. Even more unfortunate, we’ve also dealt with the annoyance and inconvenience of those who are directly involved with the car accident (most often, the party who is in the wrong).

You know how it all goes down, right?

You’re driving along in rush hour traffic, doing your best to bide your time and get home at a reasonable hour despite the craziness on the highway. You’re minding your business and suddenly—wham—somebody’s vehicle smashes into your vehicle. That sound of crunching metal on metal fills your ears. Thankfully, you’re not hurt. The person who hit you? They’re not hurt either, thank goodness.

But your car is looking bleak. There’s damage, there’s fault, and there needs to be someone to mediate this situation. So, you reach for your phone, you dial the police department, and you call for assistance.

The cops come in a prompt manner and assist. They help you get off the road, out of the way, and do their best to mediate and help you and the other party find a solution.

You’ve probably been in this situation before.

Now, however, part of that equation has changed dramatically

That sequence we described a minute ago? That’s no longer the case.

Now, Atlanta Police will not respond to car crashes within the Atlanta city limits in which no injuries have occurred.

The announcement of this new, temporary police came in a post from the Atlanta 311 Facebook page on July 30, 2020.

In other words, if you’re in a wreck and no one is hurt, the Atlanta Police Department will not be dispatched to help you.

But what exactly does this policy state, and further, where did it come from and what does it mean for the people of Atlanta (like you) who now face the responsibility of dealing with non-injury car accidents without the assistance of police?

Butler Kahn is taking a good, hard look at this temporary police spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and laying out what you need to know and how you can respond should you or a loved one regrettably end up in a non-injury auto accident.

What Exactly Is This Policy? What Does it Mean?

The new policy instated by the Atlanta Police Department on July 30 claims to be a temporary response to help limit the impact of COVID-19.

As it stands, the policy states:

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the Atlanta Police Department will not be dispatched to the scene of non-injury automobile accidents.” 

Later, the post goes on to mention the appropriate response to these accidents by stating:

If you are involved in an automobile accident with no injuries, please complete the SR-13 form.” 

The policy, straightforward as it might be, didn’t come in the form of a formal announcement—instead, it was announced as a post from the Atlanta 311 Facebook page, a customer-based information portal for city services that has just under 2,000 followers.

The SR-13 form the policy mentions have been used in the past for accidents that have happened on private property. Now, they are to be the main procedure for all non-injury accidents that occur within city limits.

Understanding the New, Temporary Policy

Ultimately, what this policy means is that, should drivers end up in a car accident without injuries, the responsibility is up to both parties to fill out the appropriate forms, assigning fault, and determining liability.

In the past, police officers have served multiple, necessary purposes when called to the scene of car accidents even when an injury has not occurred. Often, they help both parties remove their cars safely from blocking traffic. They also act as mediators should tempers flare or conflict arises.

And of course, police officers, in theory, are there to help determine liability and root out fraud. They act as a litmus test for honesty and an unbiased third-party to help distinguish what went wrong and who’s at fault.

Now, however, all of those responsibilities fall squarely on the shoulders of the parties involved in the accident.

Should someone call the police and insist that an officer come to the scene of a non-injury car accident, it’s likely they’ll respond with an SR-13 form, but there have been no current statements made that indicate whether a police officer will stay at the scene of the accident to help determine fault or mitigate the risk of confrontation.

Now, drivers are responsible for getting insurance information from the other party, separating themselves to avoid conflict, safely removing their vehicles from the road, determining their own role in the accident, and essentially act as their own investigators as they’re not able to be 100% sure if the insurance information a driver is giving them is correct or valid.

Drivers are responsible for being their own investigators now. With little-to-no help from police officers in non-injury car accidents, the entire responsibility of doing the right thing under the correct procedure is directly placed on the drivers.

Further, there have been no public education courses or programs enacted or put in place before this change went into effect. With just a simple Facebook post, Atlanta citizens are expected to understand how this new procedure works, know where to access the necessary forms, and honestly and thoroughly conduct their own investigation of their fault in a car accident.

Unfortunately, the entirety of the circumstances surrounding this policy—temporary or not—are rife with confusion and laden with backlash from citizens.

Sifting through what’s right and wrong in the midst of a pandemic can be complicated—and without police involvement in pivotal moments like traffic accidents, that line can become even more blurred and difficult to navigate.

This new policy—though created with the coronavirus pandemic in mind—places the onus squarely on the shoulders of the drivers of the vehicles, AKA, the parties in the accident. Asking drivers to handle these issues without any police involvement or instruction can be complex—and often, this could leave the injured party at risk of never receiving reparations.

At Butler Kahn, we’ll do everything we can to assist you.

If you or someone you know was involved in a non-injury auto accident within the city limits of Atlanta and you’re unsure what happens next, contact Butler Kahn.

We’ll help you sort through insurance paperwork, answer questions about the forms you need to file, and try to sift through the incident with you to ensure the reparations you deserve are fulfilled.

Our highly trained and skilled professionals are here to work with you and provide you with the knowledge, advice, insight, and support you need during this time.

At Butler Kahn, we’re committed to preserving your rights and protecting you—don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice, insight, or legal muscle. We’re proud to serve Atlanta and even prouder to stand with its citizens every step of the way as we all learn to navigate the new normal this pandemic has brought.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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