Have an experienced attorney or law firm selected now so they are ready to go in the event of a wreck or emergency.
- Keep a First Aid kit in your car
- Keep car accident apps on your smartphone
- Put reflective triangles and emergency flares in your trunk
- Request our FREE Accident Guide and keep it in your glove box
- Have teen drivers learn to use the app as part of their ongoing drivers education
- Move your car to safety
- Call 911 if you are injured
- Contact the police
- Alert other motorists
- Exchange information
- Take accident scene photos
- Get witness statements
- Tell us what happened
- Call your insurance company
- Get medical attention
- DO NOT leave the scene
- NEVER place yourself in danger
- DO NOT admit fault to anyone
AT THE SCENE: In Georgia, if a traffic accident occurs with no apparent serious injury or death, the vehicle must be removed from the roadway if it is safe and possible to do so. You are still required to give information and/or make a report to the police, if otherwise required by the local law enforcement agency. Before removing the vehicles, take pictures first!
- Name, address, phone, and driver’s license number of other drivers and passengers.
- Insurance company, policy number, agents phone number, and vehicle registration info.
- Year, make, model, color, and license plate number of all cars involved.
- Photos of other drivers, passengers, all bystanders and witnesses and close-ups of all injuries.
- Close-up of other driver’s license, insurance card, and vehicle registration.
- Photos of cars, damage, and license plates.
- Photos of street, skid marks, stop signs, guard rails, and anything that was hit.
- Name, address, email address, where they work, and phone numbers (home, work & cell).
If you are seriously injured, ask medics or witnesses to take photos and get statements…
(MEDICS: Please check the MedInfo Tab for important medical alerts and emergency contacts.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT speak about the wreck with other drivers.
DO NOT tell the other driver, “sorry” or anything like that.
DO NOT admit fault to anyone at the scene or it could be used against you in court.
Move Your Car to Safety
- In Georgia, if a traffic accident occurs with no apparent serious injury or death, the vehicle must be removed from the roadway if it is safe and possible to do so. You are still required to give information and/or make a report to the police, if otherwise required by the local law enforcement agency. Before removing the vehicles, take pictures first!
- If you feel threatened or unsafe at the accident scene, remain in your vehicle with the doors locked until the police arrive.
Check For Injuries
- Call 911 if medical attention is needed for someone in the accident. State law requires that you not leave the scene of an auto wreck, even a minor one, without first stopping to see whether there are damages or injuries.
- Assist anyone who may be injured, but be careful not to move seriously injured persons unless necessary to remove them from further danger.
- If someone is unconscious, do not move them unless it is vital. Moving them may add to their injuries. If you have to move someone, make sure their neck and head are stable.
Contact the Police
- Call the police.
- Do not allow the other driver to talk you into not contacting the police. In some cities, police will not come to the scene of a minor collision. Let the police make this decision — and call them anyway!
- If a police officer comes to the scene, ask him or her to make a written accident report and give you the incident number of the report (CRN). Ask the officer where you can get a copy of the police report.
- Be sure to get the name and badge number of the investigating officer, and whether they are a city police officer, county sheriff’s deputy, or state trooper. Take a photograph if he / she will allow it. Alert Other Motorists.
- Turn on your hazard lights, and raise the hood and trunk of your vehicle.
- If it is safe to do so, warn oncoming automobiles by setting out road flares.
- Keep calm, don’t argue, don’t accuse anyone, and DO NOT admit fault. DO NOT discuss the accident with the other driver – DO NOT take the blame for it, and don’t accuse the other driver of causing the collision. Things you say immediately after the accident can be used against you later.
- Exchange information with the other parties. Write down as much as possible from the other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license.
- Write down the name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number of all other parties involved, including their passengers.
- Write down the year, make, model, color, and license plate number of all cars involved in the accident.
- If the driver’s name differs from the name on the insurance card or car registration, then ask about the driver’s relationship to the car owner.
Take Photos of Everything
(Use the LawCam built into this app to take photos and send them directly to our office for an attorney to review.)
- Photograph the other drivers, passengers, bystanders, EMT, Ambulance personnel and witnesses. Take close-up photos of the other parties driver’s license, insurance card, and vehicle registration.
- Take photos of anyone who is hurt. Take close-up photos of their injuries, bruising, or scrapes, if possible. Take photos of the medics and of the injured person being put into the ambulance.
- Take photos of all vehicles from various angles. If you can take photos underneath the car to show frame or other bent metal damage. Take a close-up photo of all license plates.
- Photograph the street scene, including traffic control devices such as stop signs, yield signs, and stop lights. Photograph skid marks, and any physical objects such as guard rails or light poles that were struck by a vehicle. A sign saying no trucks in this lane is valuable if a truck caused the accident while in that lane.
Get Witness Statements
(Use the voice recorder built into this app to record statements of witnesses, then send them directly to our office.)
- Click here for a video lesson on Recording Witness Statements
- Ask witnesses to tell you everything they heard and saw, with as much detail as they can recall.
- Get as much contact information as you can from witnesses, including name, address, email address, where they work, and their phone numbers (home, work, and cell phone).
- If you are injured at a place of business, insist that the manager talk with you and make a written incident report. If they won’t give you a copy, then you should photograph the report. You can also read what the report says into your recorder.
It is a good idea to record the interview with the manager. If there is any chance your injury may have been captured by a security camera, ask the manager to preserve that evidence.
Your attorney needs to immediately send the company a “spoilation of evidence” letter. This is a letter directing them not to destroy any evidence. This could be absolutely essential to proving your case later.
Tell Us What Happened
(Use the voice recorder built into this app to record your version of the accident, then send it directly to our office.)
- Note the date, time, and location.
- Take a good look around the accident scene and tell us everything that you see… everything that happened… and everything that led up to the accident while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Include as much significant detail as you can recall, including time of day, lighting, weather, road conditions, actions of other drivers, and any other factors that might have contributed to the accident.
- When you get home, sit down and write out everything you can remember about the accident. You’ll remember things after you get home that you forgot or didn’t have a chance to write down at the scene.
- Hold onto any potential evidence that could help your case, such as torn or blood-stained clothing. Do not clean nor wash the clothes you were wearing. If it is a slip and fall keep your shes bagged up to give to your attorney.
Call Your Insurance Company
- After everything has calmed down, contact your insurance company and let them know about the wreck.
- If your vehicle cannot be driven, ask your insurance agent to explain your coverage and find out if your policy pays for towing your vehicle and the cost of a rental car or “loaner” vehicle while yours is being repaired.
- Do not give recorded or written statements to your own insurance company until you are sure you completely understand your coverage, especially if the other driver does not have insurance. Tell them you will give a recording with your attorney present. If you have doubts, please consult an attorney.
- If you are making an Uninsured or Underinsured motorist claim, or you are making a claim for Personal Injury Protection benefits or medical payments, your own insurance company may try to deny coverage or limit the amount of your recovery. Understand with UM coverage, your insurance company becomes the defendant’s insurance coverage! Yes, this is shocking and unfair, but it happens every day!
Get Medical Attention
- If you are hurt from the accident, go see a doctor as soon as you can. Your best course of action may be an ambulance ride to the Hospital emergency room.
- Many times, people will not feel the effects of an accident until the next day. Get to a doctor if you feel any kind of pain or your body feels uncomfortable from the accident.
- There is no good reason for not getting yourself checked out to make sure you are okay. If you try and “tough it out” and delay medical treatment, the insurance company will allege you weren’t hurt. When you see the doctor, make sure you mention to them any kind of pain or discomfort you are feeling. A doctor will not be able to do his or her job effectively without the whole story of the injury.
- If you do not have health insurance, contact an attorney who can discuss options for medical treatment.
Documentation is Critical
When your claim is presented to an insurance adjuster for settlement, or to a jury for verdict, here’s a fact of life: It’s not what actually happened, but only what you can prove happened. In other words, neither the insurance company nor the jury has any obligation to believe what you say.
You are going to have to prove your facts and prove your damages by documenting everything you possibly can. The need for documentation begins at the scene of the wreck – but it doesn’t end until your case is completed.
Keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives, and get names, phone numbers, and job titles of everyone you talk with. If you have a problem with someone from an insurance company, ask to speak with that person’s supervisor.
Keep a file for receipts and records
- If you want to get reimbursed for an expense, you will first have to show proof of the expense. For example, if you have to hire someone to cut your grass or clean your house because of your injuries, you need receipts to prove you spent the money. It is amazing how many of these reimbursable expenses slip through the cracks, unless you make notes, keep receipts, and bring them to the adjuster’s attention.
- Document your doctor visits. I promise that you will not remember every date and time you saw a doctor or therapist. Keep a calendar, and mark each medical visit or other significant event. Keep your mileage to and from medical providers. Also keep track of any expenses like parking fee.
If you forget to measure the trip, use Map Quest or Google Maps to measure your route of travel (round trip).
Keep a record of when you got crutches, when you got off crutches, when you stopped wearing a neck brace, etc. Get the correct addresses and phone numbers of all doctors or clinics you visit. Pick up business cards when you are in their offices. Save all your pill bottles, casts, braces, and any other similar items you receive from your doctors.
- Document your lost wages. The insurance company is not going to take your word for anything. If you want to recover any earnings you lost because of this accident, you’re going to have to prove to the insurance company every penny you lost. The normal way to do this is with a statement from your employer, but the insurance company may want to also see a copy of one of your pay checks.
If you are self-employed, or paid on commission, it can be a real challenge to convince the insurance company of your lost income. The insurance company may want to see copies of your tax returns for before and after the injury.
- When it comes to injuries, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures can be the difference between an average settlement and a great settlement. The right photograph can be a very powerful tool in motivating the insurance company to make a fair settlement offer.
- Videotaping is also a very effective tool. Video not only can show the “loss of range of motion” caused by an injury. It can dramatically show the important aspects of your case.
The point is that in an accident claim you are trying to recreate the past. The more effectively you can do that, the better you can prove your case. So take pictures of your injuries, and any cuts, bruises, or scars you have suffered. Then make a photo record of your stay in the hospital.
If your injuries created a serious scar, it is vital to get clear, close-up pictures to show the details of the scarring. Also ask your doctor, nurse, friends, relatives, co-workers, minister, and neighbors, anyone who you encounter for a brief interview on how they have seen the injury effect you.
DO NOT tell the medical provider it is for your lawyer. Tell them it is for your spouse or maybe the insurance adjuster.
Later we will interview these “before and after” witnesses for your settlement presentation to show the insurance company or the jury how the injury has changed your life.
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How do insurance companies and adjusters operate? Dos and Don’ts
Please remember: an insurance company increases profits by reducing the amount of money it pays out in claims.
Every insurance company employs experienced defense attorneys, who operate behind the scenes, and whose sole responsibility is to protect the financial interests of the big insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and the less they pay out on claims, the greater their profit margins.
Insurance company adjusters are trained to take advantage of the fact that claimants have little knowledge or experience in determining the fair value of their claim. The adjuster from the other side’s insurance company may be very pleasant, appear to be concerned, and even try to be your friend. He or she may be a wonderful person, coach the local soccer team, and belong to your own church or civic group.
But always remember that his or her job is to protect the insurance company – to find a reason NOT to pay you. Or if they must pay, to make sure you receive as little money as the insurance company can possibly get away with in order to “make the matter go away.”
The adjuster will often try to get you to minimize the nature and extent of the pain or impact of any injury, get you to accept full or partial responsibility for the accident when it was really not your fault, or tell you how difficult it would be for you to win your case in court. These are insurance adjuster tricks that an attorney can help you avoid!
Do not exaggerate your injuries.
If you haven’t worked on one side or the other of injury claims, you have no idea how much information the insurance company has about you. They may find information that you forgot to mention to your lawyer, so make sure you try your best to tell your lawyer everything that could impact your case. One discrepancy could seriously harm your credibility. From the instant you are injured until you have the final check in your hand, ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH. Remember, “explain don’t complain”.
Your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company have access to any past injury claims you have made – auto, job, and other. They have access to any past criminal record you may have. They have databases that will tell them all about your marriages, divorces, past addresses, and many past employments.
They may hire investigators to park outside your house and video your comings and goings. The insurance company may try to get surveillance videos of you doing things like taking out the trash, mowing the yard, washing the car, etc. to prove that your injuries aren’t that bad since you can perform these simple activities.
The insurance company investigator may follow you around town to see if you are working when you say you’re too injured to work.
Once more – ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH.
Be forthcoming with your own insurance company. Even if it may seem embarrassing, it is better if your insurer knows all the facts. Failing to be candid with your insurer might invalidate your policy or cause a denial of coverage. This can ruin any potential claim you may have under your own insurance policy, and can give your own insurance company an excuse not to defend you against any claim the other party might try to make against you.
- Do not give any statements, written or verbal, to anyone concerning your accident or injuries without first getting your lawyer’s approval.
- Do not forget that you have a contract with your insurer. Your insurer has a legal obligation to provide the coverage it promised to you. Be insistent about enforcing that obligation.
- You DO NOT have a contract with the other driver’s insurance company, and there is NO requirement that they treat you fairly. You must be extremely cautious in accepting any statements from the other driver’s insurance company.
The adjuster may or may not be telling you the truth. Understand that the insurance adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company and its own insured driver or property owner.
The adjuster has NO duty to protect you. The adjuster’s job is to pay as little as possible in order to get your signature on a release that forever prohibits any additional claims you may have.
- Therefore, DO NOT accept a check or sign a release from the at fault driver or his or her insurance company until after you have conferred with an attorney.
Typically, an attorney will encourage you to wait to accept a check until you have completed your medical treatment and have been released by your doctor, so you will know that you have received an amount that adequately covers your past and future medical bills and other damages. An insurance adjuster may push you to settle the claim for the lowest possible amount, and may discourage you from contacting an attorney.
If so, you should ignore the adjuster’s advice, and consult an attorney immediately, before accepting any payment, signing any release, or otherwise settling your claim. You have to make sure you are receiving fair compensation, and not jeopardizing your right to a full and fair recovery.
- It is common practice for insurance adjusters to call injury claimants and attempt to record a statement before the victim has an opportunity to talk to an attorney. The adjuster might seem friendly and sympathetic.
But remember the adjuster actually wants you to make damaging statements, so the insurance company can pay you less money. Often, the injury victim is still in shock, or even under the influence of medication, and may not be thinking clearly at that time. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE INSURANCE COMPANY WANTS! So if you want to fully protect all of your legal rights, under NO circumstances should you talk to the other side’s insurance company without having an attorney with you, or at least on the phone with you.
- Never give a Medical Authorization form to the other side’s insurance company! This is the ONE PAPER that could hurt you the most.
Why? Armed with a Medical Authorization, the insurance company will have access to every medical treatment you have ever had – related to this injury or not. This can harm your claim in many ways. Your lawyer can explain this further.
- Do not automatically accept the property damage estimate or appraisal of your losses given to you by the insurer. Insurance companies will often try to get you to accept their own estimator’s or contractor’s repair or replacement estimates, which might be a bit low.
DO NOT sign any releases or waivers of any kind until you obtain legal advice. A bad financial situation after a major loss may make it seem necessary for you to accept a premature and inadequate settlement from your insurer. But you may remember destroyed items after you have signed a release for payment for your personal property inventory or other claims.
For these reasons, it is advisable to consult an attorney before signing a release or waiver. Be sure to read the fine print on any payment or release from the insurance company.
- Do not accept any check from any insurance company that says “final payment” unless you are ready to settle your entire claim.
Be careful not to accept an insurance check for property damage if there is anything on the front or back of the check that indicates it is a final payment or a release of all claims.
Sometimes it may be a deliberate attempt by the insurance company to trick you into releasing all your rights. Sometimes it is just a clerical error, but even that can complicate your claim for injuries later in the legal process.
Always double check with your lawyer before cashing any check from the insurance company.
- Do not ignore time limits set by your own insurance policy or the state where the accident occurred. Most policies require a signed proof of loss or the filing of a law suit within a certain time limit. Be sure you comply with this requirement unless you obtain a written waiver from your insurance company.
All policies allow you only a certain amount of time from the date of loss in which you can a legal action. If you are making a claim against a governmental entity such as a city, county or even the federal government, the deadline can be very short – in some cases, as little as thirty days after the accident.
So, it is important to consult with a lawyer early on, so you know what deadline may apply in your matter. Additionally, each state has a statue of limitations which defines how long a person has after an incident to file a lawsuit. By waiting too long, you may lose your right to make a recovery for your damages.
- Some injuries take time to develop. Many accident victims accept a fast settlement, only to find out later their injuries are worse than they thought. Then later, when they try to get more money, they can’t, because they already agreed to a settlement.
DO NOT make the mistake of settling your claim before knowing the full extent of your injuries.
If you need an attorney please call for a free case evaluation. www.SpivaLaw.com
SPECIAL NOTE: Please ask us about our Google tablets that we supply to our clients.
Read more here: https://www.spivalaw.com/spiva/blog/free-ipad-or-google-tablet-from-the-s…
My closing message.
My name is Howard Spiva, I am the founder of the SPIVA LAW GROUP in Savannah Georgia.
I find that potential clients want to know what make my law firm different or better than other firms.
Here are 5 important things:
- At the Spiva Law Group, our practice is limited to helping people and their family recover the harms and losses caused by serious injuries and death. That means I specialize in injury cases.
- I have track record of success in injury and death cases with many years of experience, practicing law since 1984.
- I am a speaker and author on injury law subjects. I am often asked to speak at trial lawyer conferences. I have published many articles and papers on injury law.
- I limit the number of cases I accept each year so that I can dedicate the needed attention to every client that your case deserves.
- If you hire me as your lawyer, you get me and my whole team on your case. Our attorneys, your assigned legal assistant, paralegal and on staff investigator all work as a team on your case from start to finish.
If you need to speak to an experienced lawyer about an injury or death case give me a call. I would be honored to speak with you.
I am Thankful to my clients
We are fortunate to have the trust and confidence of many people; most of our clients are referred to us from former clients, friends, family, physicians, medical providers, churches, attorneys and other professionals.
For the last 29 years, I have had the honor and privilege of helping people and families who have suffered catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
While I cannot remove the sorrow or fix all the harms and losses, I can insure that your rights are fully protected under the law.
We are proud of our community involvement and helping others. Often our work makes a difference in a person’s future, especially children.
Our practice is limited to catastrophic cases. Please take time to visit our web site at www.spivalaw.com to learn more about us and how we can help you or your friends and family.
While no attorney should guarantee a result, our proven record of success and professional recognition will insure your family is treated fairly…always!
Over the years, we have recovered over $150 million for our clients…we never settle for less nor should you!
If you know of someone who could use our help, I and the rest of the Spiva Law Group would be honored to assist them.