Each year in Georgia, more than 40,000 arrests are made for impaired driving, many during grant-funded enforcement activities. However, in spite of law enforcement’s focus on the dangers of impaired driving in Atlanta and beyond, drunk drivers continue to cause around 10,000 deaths each year — which equates to around 30 deaths a day — in the U.S. and injuries to hundreds of thousands of people.
If you’re hit by a drunk driver in Atlanta, you can pursue recovery of damages relating to the expenses and impacts that the accident has placed in your life, but there are some things you need to do shortly after the accident to help preserve that right. Read on for more information.
Report the Accident and Collect Information from the Scene
In Atlanta, if you are involved in a car accident, you must report the accident to police if there are any injuries or if there is more than $500 in damage to either of the cars. The easiest way to do this is to call 911 after the accident. Be prepared to give at least a general location of where the accident is located and to answer the question as to whether you or anyone else involved in the accident was injured.
One of the things a person can do to help themselves in the process of recovering damages after a car accident is to gather information at the scene. There are specific pieces of information that you are required to exchange with the driver of the other vehicle before anyone involved in the accident is permitted to leave the scene. This information includes:
- The name and contact information of all other drivers involved
- The make, model, year, and color of all vehicles involved
- The name of the other driver’s insurance carrier and insurance policy number
It is important to note that there are times when it is best that you wait and let the police officer who arrives to investigate the accident obtain this information from a suspected drunk driver, particularly if the driver is acting belligerent and you fear for your safety. While you wait for the officer to arrive, you should also see what other types of evidence you can collect at the scene, including:
- Photos of all four sides of each vehicle involved in the accident
- Photos of any visible injuries to yourself or your passengers
- Names and contact information of anyone else who witnessed the accident
Remember that there is no such thing as too much evidence in an accident case. If you feel as though there is information that is important to your case, document it. Details such as witness statements and photos become crucial in situations where the drunk driver has fled the scene and you are relying on descriptions of his or her vehicle from your own memory and that of others in order to assist with the police investigation.
When the police officer arrives, you should answer his or her questions honestly, and be sure to find out when a copy of the police report will be available and how to obtain the report. If the drunk driver is being arrested, you should be prepared to participate in the criminal proceedings as you will likely be asked to testify.
Seek Medical Attention
It is important primarily for the sake of your safety that you always have a doctor check you out after you have been involved in a car accident, even if you don’t “feel” hurt. The reason for this is that, when you’re involved in a stressful event such as a car accident, your body produces a “fight or flight” hormone known as adrenaline. One of the impacts of adrenaline is that it can delay feelings of pain that would indicate that you have suffered an injury. Additionally, many serious injuries — including traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, and internal organ damage — can present delayed symptoms that can mask the extent of your injuries for a time. A thorough medical evaluation can help bring these injuries to light more quickly, improving your chances of making a full recovery in some cases.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Even if you don’t plan to file a claim against your own insurance for the accident, most policies require that you report any accidents involving your insured vehicle to your insurer. Failing to do so is likely a contract violation as this provision tends to be spelled out in the paperwork you signed when you purchased the policy. Contract violations can result in an increase in premiums or even a loss of coverage.
Avoid Quick and Easy Settlements
Insurance companies are in the business to make money. One of the ways they do that is by avoiding large payouts to individuals who have been harmed by their insured. There are many ways to accomplish this, including getting the injured person to agree to a quick settlement offer. This is almost always a mistake, as those quick settlements are rarely an actual representation of the damages that the person experienced, the expenses that the injury will continue to create in the future, and the impacts that being injured places on a person’s ability to return to work and live his or her life. Settlements are a one-shot deal: If you agree to the settlement and then later discover that the money was not enough to cover your expenses, you will not be able to go back and ask for more money.
One of the many services that an experienced car accident attorney can provide to you is a fair valuation of your case based on the out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred or will likely incur in the future and the non-economic impacts of your injuries.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you were hit by a drunk driver in Atlanta, the most important thing you can do to retain control of your right to recover damages through a car accident case is to seek the guidance of an experienced car accident attorney who can help you to understand your legal options and assist you in the process. For a free case review, contact Cambre & Associates.