If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Georgia, you might be wondering if you have to report it to the police or your insurance company. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of making a claim because you believe the harm is insignificant. Perhaps you’re concerned that your rates will increase or that your insurance won’t cover the necessary repairs. Probably all you want to do is forget about it all and go on.
But before you decide to skip reporting a car accident in Georgia, you should know that there are serious consequences for not doing so. In this article, we’ll explain what Georgia law says about reporting car accidents, what can happen if you don’t report them, and why you should always report them as soon as possible.
Georgia Car Accident Laws: When Do You Have to Report a Car Accident?
Georgia is a fault state for car accidents. This means that after any motor vehicle collision, you can pursue a claim for compensation for your losses if the other driver was at fault for the crash. If you can prove the other driver’s negligence or wrongdoing led to the collision, you can hold them accountable for damages.
But before you can file a claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you have to report the car accident to the authorities. Georgia law requires you to report a car accident to the police if the crash causes injury or death or appears to have caused $500 or more in property damage234. The property damage requirement includes damage to your vehicle, as well as any other cars involved.
You have to report the car accident immediately, or as soon as possible after the crash. You can call 911 or the local police department to report the accident. The police will come to the scene and investigate the crash and its cause. They will also prepare an accident report that contains important information about the accident, such as:
- The date, time, and location of the crash
- The names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information of all drivers involved
- The names and contact information of any witnesses
- The vehicle make, model, license plate number, and registration number of all vehicles involved
- The description of any injuries or property damage
- The weather and road conditions at the time of the crash
- The statements of the drivers and witnesses
- The officer’s opinion of who was at fault and why
- Any citations or charges issued
The accident report is an invaluable source of evidence for your car accident claim or lawsuit. It can help you prove how the accident happened, who was responsible, and what damages you suffered. You can request a copy of the accident report from the police department that handled your case.
What Happens If You Don’t Report a Car Accident in Georgia?
If you don’t report a car accident in Georgia that meets the reporting requirements, you could face serious consequences. Here are some of them:
You could lose your right to file a claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Georgia has a statute of limitations that sets a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident. According to Georgia Code section 9-3-33, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit and four years to file a property damage lawsuit. If you don’t file your lawsuit within this time frame, you will lose your right to sue and recover compensation. However, if you don’t report the car accident to the police within a reasonable time after the crash, the statute of limitations may start running from the date of the accident instead of from the date of discovery. This means that you may have less time to file your lawsuit than you think.
You could face criminal penalties for violating Georgia law.
Failing to report a car accident in Georgia that results in injury, death, or significant property damage is a misdemeanor offense. You could be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months. You could also have points added to your driving record and face a possible suspension of your driver’s license.
You could jeopardize your insurance coverage and benefits.
Most car insurance policies require you to report any car accident that involves your vehicle as soon as possible after it occurs. This is part of your duty to cooperate with your insurance company and act in good faith. If you don’t report a car accident to your insurance company, you could be violating your policy terms and conditions. This could result in your claim being denied, your policy being canceled, or your premiums being increased. You could also lose any discounts or benefits that you may have earned, such as accident forgiveness or safe driver rewards.
You could miss out on valuable compensation for your injuries and damages.
If you don’t report a car accident in Georgia, you may not be able to recover the full amount of compensation that you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. You may have to pay out of pocket for your own expenses or settle for a lowball offer from the other driver’s insurance company. You may also lose the opportunity to negotiate a fair settlement or take your case to court if necessary.
Why You Should Always Report a Car Accident in Georgia
As you can see, there are many reasons why you should always report a car accident in Georgia, even if it seems minor or insignificant. Reporting a car accident can help you:
- Protect your legal rights and interests. By reporting a car accident in Georgia, you can preserve the evidence of what happened and who was at fault. You can also document your injuries and damages and establish a record of the incident. This can help you prove your claim and get the compensation that you deserve.
- Comply with Georgia law and your insurance policy. By reporting a car accident in Georgia, you can avoid the legal and financial consequences of failing to do so. You can also fulfill your obligations to your insurance company and maintain your coverage and benefits.
- Get the help and support that you need. By reporting a car accident in Georgia, you can get immediate medical attention for yourself and anyone else who was injured in the crash. You can also get assistance from the police and other emergency responders who can secure the scene, direct traffic, and prevent further harm. You can also get in touch with a trusted car accident lawyer who can advise you on your next steps and represent you throughout the process.
How to Report a Car Accident in Georgia
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Georgia that meets the reporting requirements, here are some steps that you should take to report it:
Call 911 or the local police department as soon as possible after the crash.
Provide them with the details of the accident, such as where it happened, how many vehicles were involved, and whether anyone was injured or trapped.
Stay at the scene until the police arrive.
Do not leave unless you need urgent medical care or you are instructed to do so by the police. Leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury or death is a felony offense in Georgia1.
Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the crash.
Get their names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Do not admit fault or apologize for anything that happened.
Talk to any witnesses who saw the crash or stopped to help.
Get their names and contact information as well. Ask them what they saw and heard and if they are willing to give a statement to the police or your lawyer.
Take pictures and videos of the scene of the accident.
Capture the damage to all vehicles involved, any skid marks or debris on the road, any traffic signs or signals that may have been relevant, any injuries that you or anyone else suffered, and any other details that may be important.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the crash.
Even if you feel fine or think that your injuries are minor, it’s important to get checked by a doctor. Some injuries may not show symptoms right away but could worsen over time. Getting medical treatment can also help you document your injuries and link them to the accident.
Report the car accident to your insurance company within a reasonable time after the crash.
Follow their instructions on how to file a claim and provide them with any information or documents that they request. Be honest and cooperative but do not give any recorded statements or sign any releases without consulting with your lawyer first.
Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash.
A car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options and rights after a car accident in Georgia. They can also help you gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance companies, file a lawsuit if necessary, and pursue the maximum compensation that you deserve.
Reporting a car accident in Georgia is not only required by law but also beneficial for your own protection and recovery. By reporting a car accident in Georgia, you can avoid legal trouble, protect
your insurance coverage, and get the help and support that you need. You can also strengthen your car accident claim and increase your chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Georgia, don’t hesitate to report it to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible. And don’t forget to contact a car accident lawyer who can guide you through the process and fight for your rights.