The first party you will have to deal with after a car accident in Atlanta is probably the last person you want to speak to: the driver who caused the accident. You may be feeling angry if you’ve been hit by another driver who was flagrantly disobeying the rules of the road, whether it was by speeding, making an improper light change, or running a red light or stop sign. But you have to keep your cool. You will need to be in a good mindset in order to remember to gather the necessary details after a crash, which could include taking pictures of the damages and exchanging insurance information.
If you lose your temper, you could end up on the hook if the other driver decides to file a lawsuit. It may be challenging or scary to think about interacting with the other driver, no matter whose fault you suspect the collision was. But you must not leave the scene without talking to the other driver or drivers in a crash, as being responsible for a hit-and-run is a criminal charge that could be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the accident.
Here are some tips for dealing with another driver at the scene of a car accident in Atlanta:
- Never say you’re sorry: While it may seem like you’re going against the way your mama raised you, you should avoid the instincts drilled into you as a result of your upbringing when it comes to saying you’re sorry after a car accident. You may think you’re just being polite but, if the matter goes to court, this simple statement could be misinterpreted to mean that you admitted the accident was your fault. It could even lead the other driver to target you for a lawsuit by hiring a lawyer. Instead of apologizing or telling the other driver why you think the crash happened, simply make sure they are okay before sticking to the basics of exchanging insurance information.
- Don’t agree to bypass the police or the insurance company: The time to decide whether you want to pay for repairs yourself or file an insurance claim is after the car accident has been cleared and you’ve gotten an accurate estimate of the damages – not at the scene of the accident. The fact of the matter is: you don’t know how much your car repairs will cost. You also don’t know what type of medical services you will need, especially if your symptoms worsen as the days go by. That’s why you shouldn’t take the other driver’s word that they will pay for the costs if you agree not to report the car accident to authorities. This could work out badly for you in several ways. First, the other driver may go back on his or her word once they get the bill and decide it costs too much to pay for. Then, you could be looking at a driver who denies the car accident ever happened or decides to lie and say it was your fault. Without having notified the police or your insurance company, you could be hard pressed to prove that the accident even happened at all. You should always call the police so you can have a record of the important details of the accident, including time, location, speed and road conditions. You should also notify your insurance company, keeping in mind that there is a difference between filing a claim and filing a notification. A notification simply allows you to discuss your options with an insurance agent, rather than being forced to pay deductibles right away.
- Don’t sign anything and don’t speak with other driver’s insurance company or lawyer: In the aftermath of a car accident in Atlanta, representatives of the other driver may attempt to contact you. Insurance company agents and lawyers who know the law intimately might collect information from you that they plan to use against you. They may also try to get you to sign something when you don’t really know what it contains, such as a settlement offer or a statement. Don’t speak to the other driver’s insurance company or lawyer and don’t put your name on any document that hasn’t been reviewed by an Atlanta car accident attorney whom you trust. Telling these parties to speak to your lawyer shows that you mean business. Protect yourself from predatory practices by hiring a qualified car accident attorney in Atlanta, who can handle negotiations for you and review statements and settlements to ensure that you are treated fairly.