On July 30, 2020, “Atlanta 311”—the City of Atlanta’s non-emergency information site—made an announcement informing citizens that the City of Atlanta Police Department will no longer respond to car accidents where no immediate injuries are reported. That’s a big problem, because after a car accident, your adrenaline is pumping and many times the symptoms of an injury do not appear until hours or even days after the accident.
Under the new rule, if you’re involved in a car accident and the symptoms appear later, you will be responsible for completing an “SR13 Form” in which you will fill in the information the investigating officer otherwise would. The City made the form available here.
There are some big problems inherent to this new process. First, this new process relies on an honor system that will surely be scrutinized (and doubted) by auto insurance companies. That’s because personal injury claimants will complete the “report” instead of a neutral police officer that is trained to determine fault. Second, many injured people will lose the chance to pursue a claim because they will likely miss the opportunity to get the at-fault driver’s contact and insurance information. During a routine accident investigation, the police officer collects the contact and insurance information from both drivers and includes that information in the accident report.
Without a police officer to complete an accident report, it’s extremely important for people involved in car accidents to know what to do. This new policy is supposedly temporary, but with no end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, this may be the new normal.
However, if you follow these ten steps immediately after a car accident, we will be better equipped to help you with your car accident case.
We recommend that you do the following in the seconds, minutes, and hours following the car accident:
- Step 1 – Determine if you or your passengers need medical attention. If anyone in the vehicle thinks they may be injured, call 911 to request assistance from the police and first responders.
- Step 2 – Even if there are no obvious injuries, if possible, you’ll want to take photographs of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and the accident scene. Photographs help document dangerous driving conditions, roadway obstacles, the condition and damage to the vehicles, and other factors that may have contributed to the crash.
- Step 3 – If possible, move your vehicle out of traffic. Turn on your hazard lights while doing so.
- Step 4 – Collect information from the other driver. You’ll need the driver’s name, address, telephone number, license plate number, insurance carrier, and insurance policy number.
- Step 5 – Gather contact information from any witnesses.
- In the days and months following the collision, your behavior can either help or hurt your case. We advise our clients to do the following:
- Step 6 – Listen to your body. If you were injured in the collision but didn’t go to the emergency room after the accident, make an appointment with your doctor. Injuries that look and feel minor can worsen within a day or two of the crash, causing increased pain and discomfort.
- Step 7 – Follow through with any treatments prescribed by your doctor. For example, if the doctor refers you to a physical therapist, you should follow those instructions.
- Step 8 – Take photographs of any visible injuries.
- Step 9 – If you do not immediately seek legal advice—and you probably should—then it will be up to you to report the collision to your insurance company. All you are obligated to do is report the accident and explain who was involved. Do not give a detailed explanation because your insurance company may use those words against you later. Do not give a recorded statement. Only say you are reporting the accident and you want to set up a UM claim.
- Step 10 – Avoid writing about the accident on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. This includes information about your doctor and the injuries you sustained. Defense lawyers often dig through social media profiles and other online information in attempt to find something to use against the person hurt in a car wreck.
We hope this list is helpful. If you have questions, feel free to contact us. The call is free.