Is it okay to leave my car where it was at the time of the car accident?
It depends. Generally, if you are not seriously injured and it is possible to move your car to the shoulder lane, emergency lane, median, or elsewhere safely, you are required to do so. See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-275 (“Duty to remove vehicle from public roads”). Before you move your car, make sure to take photographs of the position of all of the cars.
Should I agree to the at-fault driver’s suggestion that we should handle the accident on our own?
Oftentimes, especially if it appears that the car accident is minor, the driver who caused the accident might give you his number and suggest not calling the police. The at-fault driver will probably say something like “Just give me a call later when you take your car to the repair shop. I will pay for the damages.” Let’s say that you agree to this and do call him later to ask him to pay a specific amount for the car repair costs. Surprisingly, he responds by saying he will not pay because he is not responsible for the accident. To make matters worse, you start to feel a bit of pain in your neck and back. You felt fine at the time of the accident, but you start to feel the pain after a day or two. What are you going to do now?
To prevent this unfortunate situation, you should report the car accident to the police immediately. The police officer will investigate the accident and may issue a citation to the driver who is at fault. The officer will generally give you a case number. You will need the case number to obtain a copy of the wreck report, which generally becomes available in a week or so. Also, keep in mind that Georgia law requires the driver involved in an accident resulting in injury to any person or property damage of $500 or more shall immediately, by the quickest means of communication, notify the local police department. See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
Generally speaking, you should not. Once a claim is open with the insurance company, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your claim. The claims adjuster handles automobile accident claims daily; it is their job. Thus, the adjuster probably knows more about insurance claims than you do. Also, insurance companies are business entities. Like other businesses, the less they pay out, the more profit they make. One way the adjuster might decrease the amount of recovery you are entitled to is to take a recorded statement from you and you say something that hurts your case.
I had 2-month long vacation plans made before the accident. Can I start treatment after I return from this vacation?
Let’s say that you had already made plans to travel to Europe for about 2 months when the accident happened. You already bought the tickets and booked rooms at the hotel. Your primary care doctor made a diagnosis and recommended that you start treatment. But you want to delay the treatment until after you return from this vacation because you have already invested a lot in the vacation. Should you wait until you return from your vacation?
It is probably not a good idea to delay your treatment. In addition to possibly making your symptoms worse and preventing optimal recovery, you might hurt your case by delaying treatment or interrupting your treatment for a long period of time without a valid reason. The adjuster might argue that your injuries are not serious or that you were not injured at all because of the delay or substantial gap in treatment.
Should I do any investigations of my own at the scene of the accident?
Yes, you should. The police officer will investigate the car accident, including interviewing the involved drivers and any other witnesses. Nonetheless, it would be wise for you to do a little investigation of your own. Take photographs of the damaged vehicles and your injuries. Obtain contact information of any potential witnesses. Take notes of any circumstances that may be relevant information. This additional evidence may help bolster your claim down the road.
Should I post photographs or any information about the crash on Facebook or other social media?
No, you should not. Once a claim is filed with the insurance company, the claims adjuster will look for evidence to limit the amount of money they have to pay you. This includes your own statements on social media. If you post something on the Internet that may hurt your case, the adjuster might find it and use it against you.