Frequently Asked Questions About
Automobile Accidents


 
  1. What should I do at the scene of an accident in which I am involved?
  2. Should I go to the doctor if I'm only "a little sore?"
  3. What compensation am I entitled to if the other driver is at fault?
  4. May I have my health insurance pay for my medical treatment? 
  5. What if the faulty driver had no insurance?  
  6. What if the faulty driver has inadequate insurance to cover all my damages? 
  7. When should I settle my case? 
  8. Should I give a statement to the faulty driver's insurance company? 
  9. Should I give the faulty driver's insurance company a medical authorization?
  10. Should I accept a check from the faulty driver or the faulty driver's insurance company? 
  11. What photographs and other documentation will be helpful to my attorney in pursuing my claim? 
  12. How long does one have to initiate an auto accident lawsuit?

 

 

1.  What should I do at the scene of an accident in which I am involved?
Answer:
Do not leave the scene.  If you leave the scene of an automobile accident, you may be criminally prosecuted.   

Help the injured.  If someone has been injured in the accident, you should call for paramedics and assist the injured to the extent you are qualified.  When calling for the ambulance, be prepared to give an accurate location of the accident and assessment of the number of individuals injured.

Avoid additional collisions.  Make sure your vehicle is not presenting a hazard to other motorists.  It should be moved so that it is not obstructing traffic, if possible.  You can further notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution by setting out flares, turning on your hazard lights, and raising the hood and trunk of your vehicle.

Notify the police.  Typically the police will prepare a report that contains various information concerning the accident and the parties involved.

Do not admit liability.  You should not admit responsibility for the accident to the other drivers, passengers, or to the police for that matter.  You of course may convey to the officer facts concerning how the incident occurred if requested; however, responsibility (or liability) for the accident is a legal matter that is not always readily and easily ascertainable.  Judgment as to who was at fault should be reserved for a later time.

Obtain information.  You should get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any individuals involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses to the accident.  You should also obtain the name of the insurance company and policy number of the other drivers involved.  If possible, you may take photographs to document the accident scene including skid marks, road obstructions, and damage to the vehicles.  Return to FAQ menu.

 



2.  Should I go to the doctor if I'm only "a little sore?"
Answer:
Certain injuries may not manifest themselves until sometime after an accident.  By not seeing a doctor, you risk delaying your treatment and further injury.  Even minor soreness can be an indication of a more significant injury.  If you believe that you may have been injured you should see a doctor.  It is not uncommon for insurance companies to argue that the failure of an individual to see a doctor right away indicates that an injury diagnosed later must have resulted from an unrelated event after the accident. Return to FAQ menu.

 
3.  What am I entitled to be compensated for if the other driver was at fault?
Answer:
Generally speaking, if you are involved in an automobile accident that was the fault of another, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your medical and pharmacy bills associated with treatment for injuries sustained during the accident, cost of future medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and reasonable automobile rental charges incurred as a result of the accident.  You may also recover other costs directly attributable to the accident such as towing, storage, etc.  If you have personal injury protection coverage ("aka PIP coverage") as part of your own automobile coverage, you may also be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy regardless of who was at fault.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
4.  May I have my health insurance pay for my medical treatment?
Answer:
Yes.  Your rights to recover damages incurred in an automobile accident that was the fault of another is not affected by any payments made by your health insurance.  Depending upon the terms of your health insurance plan, the payments made by your insurance company may, however, be subject to reimbursement in the event of a recovery by you against the party at fault .  If you have personal injury protection coverage ("aka PIP coverage") as part of your own automobile coverage, you may also be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
5.  What if the faulty driver had no insurance? 
Answer:
As a practical matter, you can only recover if the faulty party has available assets or insurance.  In some instances, a faulty driver who does not carry his or her own insurance may nonetheless be covered by another person's insurance policy.  Additionally, if the faulty driver was acting during the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, he or she may be covered by his or her employer's insurance. 

If your own insurance policy provides you with "uninsured motorist coverage," you may be entitled to compensation by your own insurance company if the faulty driver has no insurance.  Given the complexity and nuances of these various insurance coverage issues, it is often advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney to determine the existence of insurance or other assets that may be available to satisfy your claim. 


If you have personal injury protection coverage ("aka PIP coverage") as part of your own automobile coverage, you may also be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy. 
Return to FAQ menu.

 

6.  What if the faulty driver has inadequate insurance to cover all my damages?
Answer:
 If the faulty driver does not have insurance coverage to the extent of your damages, you may be able to recover under your own insurance policy if it provides you with "under-insured motorist coverage."  It is often advisable to have an attorney review your insurance policy to determine whether or not this coverage is available to you.  If you have personal injury protection coverage ("aka PIP coverage") as part of your own automobile coverage, you may also be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy. Settling with the faulty driver's insurance company may affect your insurance company's responsibility; therefore, one should consider consulting an attorney before any settlement.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
7.  When should I settle my case? 
Answer:
One generally should not settle your claim until after one has concluded medical treatment and has been released by one's doctor.  Otherwise, one may settle his or her case without knowing the full extent of his or her injuries and the treatment that will be required as to such injuries.  At the same time, one must be mindful of the applicable statute of limitations period.  One should consider seeking the assistance of an attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations period and other deadlines which may affect your claims, as these issues are fact-sensitive and can vary from case to case. 
Return to FAQ menu.


8.  Should I give a statement to the faulty driver's insurance company?
Answer:
You should be cautious in giving any statement to anyone concerning the accident.  Statements taken on behalf of the other driver by his or her insurance company are taken to protect the legal rights of the other driver.  These statements may be misconstrued or used against you later.  Accordingly, you should consult an attorney prior to giving any statement to the faulty driver's insurance company.   Return to FAQ menu.


9.  Should I give the faulty driver's insurance company a medical authorization?
Answer:
If you provide the other driver's insurance company with a blanket medical authorization, you may provide them with the ability to obtain any and all of your medical records whether related to the accident or not.  Information gathered from these unrelated medical records may be used against you in negotiating a settlement of your case.  Because medical information is privileged and confidential, you should consult an attorney prior to providing the other driver's insurance company with a medical authorization.  Return to FAQ menu.


 
10.  Should I accept a check from the faulty driver or the faulty driver's insurance company?
Answer:
The acceptance of a check may be construed as a settlement barring any further recovery against the faulty driver or his or her insurance company.  You should not accept a check or sign a release from the faulty driver or his or her insurance company until after you have completed medical treatment and have been released by a doctor.  Otherwise, you risk settling your case for an amount which is insufficient to cover your medical bills and other damages.  Insurance adjusters are trained professionals well versed in the art of settling claims for the lowest possible value.  They employ a variety of techniques to convince claimants that they are better off settling their case themselves than by hiring a lawyer.  You should consult an attorney prior to accepting any payment, signing any release, or otherwise settling your claim to insure that you are receiving fair compensation and to insure that you are not jeopardizing your right to a full and fair recovery.  Return to FAQ menu.



11.  What photographs and other documentation will be helpful to my attorney in pursuing my claim? 
Answer:
Photographs of injuries, bruises, etc. can help substantiate damages related to medical treatment and pain and suffering.  Photographs of vehicle damage and other property damage can help demonstrate the force of the impact and the extent of the property damage.  Finally, photographs of the accident scene, including skid marks, can help establish who was at fault.  Obviously, the timing of these photographs is critical.  As wounds heal, they do not appear as serious.  Therefore, photographs should be taken early on and at each stage of the healing process.  Other helpful documentation includes: medical records, medical bills, prescription records, and lost wage information.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
12.  How long does one have to initiate an auto accident lawsuit?
Answer:
"Statutes of limitation" govern the length of time one has to file a lawsuit or be forever barred from pursuing such claim.  Under Georgia law, different statute of limitations periods apply as to personal injury cases under various circumstances.  In some cases, the statute of limitations may be as short as one year, while under different circumstances, it may be eight years or more.  Many factors bear upon when the applicable statute of limitations period expires including the age of the plaintiff, the type of personal injury claim, the particular facts giving rise to the injury, and others.  One must make absolute certain that they are aware of when their statute of limitations period expires, or risk jeopardizing their legal rights.  An experienced personal injury lawyer can be of assistance in this regard.     

A potential claimant seeking the advice of an attorney should do so without delay. 
  In certain cases, there may also be other deadlines that may also impact the case.  For example, claims against government entities may require that the entity or entities be put on "notice" much earlier than the the statute of limitations period.  Furthermore, given that expert and legal analysis must be done prior to filing a lawsuit, you should not wait until the statute of limitations period is nearing its end because the attorney may not have enough time to complete his or her review prior to its expiration.  

There are other benefits to securing obtaining counsel early on as well.  Memories of the event or events in question tend to fade in witnesses, potential witnesses may later be unavailable because they have moved, become incapacitated, etc.  Return to FAQ menu.

 
OTHER RELATED TOPICS:  
 

 

Free Case Review Home Directory Become a Participating Attorney

2000  Counsel Direct, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions of Use.