Car Accident in Georgia » What to Do Next
If you were in a car accident you may need information on what to do next. Here’s a list of steps we’ve compiled that will hopefully answer some of your questions.
Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
The amount of time to file a lawsuit
The legal deadline to file a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the accident to file suit for injuries and four years to file suit for damage to your car or property.
Contact your insurance company in writing
Call your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. You should also send a written notice that includes information like the names of people who were injured in the crash, the time of the accident, where it occurred, contact information for the other person involved, and other details. Failure to contact your insurance company within a reasonable amount of time could mean the insurance company refuses to cover the accident.
Whose insurance company should repair my car?
If the other driver is at fault for the accident, their insurance company should take responsibility. However, if the other driver’s insurance does not take responsibility or drags its feet, and you have collision coverage on your car insurance policy, you may want to have your insurance company repair the damage. Your insurance company will pursue the other driver’s insurance company for repayment and if they are successful you’ll even get your deductible back.
Georgia law requires that the insurance company repair the damage to your car or pay you for its fair market value, whichever is less. To get an idea of the fair market value of your car, search Kelley Blue Book, and similar websites to see what cars like yours sell for.
How do I get a rental car?
The other driver’s insurance company should provide you with a rental car while they repair your car. If they decide your car is totaled, they’ll usually provide you with a rental car until they’ve sent you a check for the car. If you have rental car coverage on your car insurance policy, you may want to use it for a rental car.
Who should pay my medical bills from a car accident?
The other driver’s insurance will not pay your medical bills as they come in. They will only pay your medical bills when the case settles, which could be months or even years. If you have health insurance, use it to pay for medical bills. Some medical providers may try to file a “lien” against your case rather than billing health insurance and it’s important that you follow up with them and ask them to bill your health insurance.
If you have medical payments coverage on your car insurance policy, you can use it to pay for medical bills from the accident including health insurance co-pays or deductibles. Ask your insurance company what they need to pay the bills and send them the information.
Should I give a statement to the insurance company?
It’s OK to give a statement to your insurance company. In fact, your insurance policy requires you to cooperate by giving them a statement and other evidence or documents they may need.
However, it’s usually not a good idea to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. They don’t represent you and may use your statement to deny your claim.
Document, document, document
Take pictures or video of the damage to the cars involved in the wreck, the placement of the cars at the crash site, any marks on the street or sidewalk, damage to trees, shrubbery or the surrounding area. If you have visible injuries or need surgery, take photos of your injuries so there’s evidence when you’ve recovered.
- What will I be compensated for?
The other driver’s insurance is required to compensate you for your medical bills, lost income from missing work, and for pain and suffering caused by your injuries. There’s no formula or calculator to determine an appropriate amount of compensation for pain and suffering. It’s ultimately up to a jury to decide. Factors juries consider include how bad your injuries are, how much they interfere with your life, and how long they last.
Do I need an attorney for my car accident case?
Not every car accident needs an attorney. If you’re only slightly injured or have a small amount of medical bills, you may not need to get an attorney involved.
However, if you’ve suffered serious injuries, a loved one has been killed, there’s a dispute over who’s at fault, the accident involves a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle, or you have a significant amount of medical bills and lost income from missing work, it’s time to speak with an attorney.
How do attorneys charge fees?
Personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee, which is a percentage of the financial recovery in the case. The attorney also advances any expenses necessary to prosecute the case. If there is no financial recovery, you don’t owe the attorney anything. If your case resolves without a lawsuit, our firm’s contingency fee is usually 1/3. If a lawsuit is necessary, our firm’s contingency fee is usually 40 percent.
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Contact an Experienced Georgia Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., today. We have offices in Athens, Atlanta, and Lake Oconee. Fill out the form below for a free case review or call us at (706) 354-4000.
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We have an established track record of bringing our clients results they expect and deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we know how to fight the insurance companies.