Georgia law requires you to stop at the scene of an accident involving injury, death, or damage to a vehicle (O.C.G.A §40-6-270). It also requires you to report any accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage over $500 (O.C.G.A. §40-6-273).
Even if these actions weren’t required by law, you should always do both. After all, the most important evidence for an accident is almost always held at the accident scene. Leaving the scene or waiting to report causes some or all of that evidence to disappear forever.
The more evidence you have, the more likely you are to convince an insurance company that their policyholder (the other driver) was at fault and that your injuries were directly caused by the accident.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, evidence becomes even more important. You and your Atlanta car accident lawyer will use that evidence as the basis of a lawsuit, perhaps even presenting it in front of a jury.
For all of these reasons and many more, it’s always a smart idea to call the police as soon as possible after your auto accident.
Police May Refuse to Draw Conclusions If Too Much Time Has Passed
One of the biggest reasons to report your accident immediately is the preservation of evidence. Once items are moved out of place, police will have a more difficult time proving exactly what happened.
For instance, if an injured accident victim claims the other driver didn’t try braking until they had already run the red light, fresh tire marks at the scene of the accident can confirm this.
However, if many hours have passed since the accident and no one was there to monitor it, tire marks at the scene do not necessarily confirm the victim’s narrative. Those tire marks could have been from any number of events after the accident occurred. The police officer has to chalk the statement at least partially up to hearsay.
The police report captures critical information about an accident scene that may change after an accident has occurred. If driving conditions are clear, the officer will make a note of it. This can affect whether the insurance company believes that the allegedly at-fault driver was being untruthful when they said visibility was poor.
Police officers are already interpreting events the moment they arrive on the scene. They can be confident enough to issue citations at the scene of the accident for practices like running a red light or driving with a cell phone in hand.
However, they will never conclude fault unless a full investigation has been conducted. Even then, those conclusions have to be successfully argued in court to the point of a guilty verdict.
All of this is to say that car accident victims will get much more detailed and accurate information out of their police report if it is written in the moments immediately after an accident occurred.
Someone Could Credibly Accuse You of Being at Fault
A late police report makes it harder to accuse someone else of fault, but easier to accuse you of being at fault. If another driver wants to claim that you were the one who ran the red light, then you may no longer have eyewitnesses present to verify the truth.
Your version of events could be considered especially suspect if the other driver was the first one to report the accident.
Being accused of fault cannot be prevented simply by remaining at the scene, but at least you are preserving evidence that could verify your version of events.
You Want to Connect the Accident to Your Injuries and Other Damages
Another critical reason to remain at the accident scene and wait for police is that you want there to be no doubt that your injuries and vehicle damage were present immediately after an accident occurred.
Insurance companies expect all accident victims to receive prompt medical treatment. Waiting too long can mean it’s possible your injuries occurred after the accident rather than during it.
To disprove this allegation, you want a record of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the accident scene as a whole from a trusted source: the police.
Hire an Experienced Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
In every accident situation, it’s critical to use the best legal strategy available. Even if you made a mistake and left the accident scene, it’s still important to report your collision and get it on record as soon as possible.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, you can talk to an experienced car accident attorney in Atlanta about your available legal options. Your attorney can advise you on the best way to file a claim that can repay you for your medical bills, lost wages, and other accident losses.
Find out what your best options are and how you might be able to claim all of your accident losses during a free, no-obligation case evaluation with an experienced Atlanta car accident injury lawyer. Call 404-800-1156 or contact us online to schedule your free case review today.