If you are in an automobile accident, the first and most important thing you can do is stay calm. Anger, though understandable, may have unexpected consequences. Panic can put you in danger. Take a deep breath and stay in the moment.
What are the “First Things” to consider?
- Are you or others injured?
Call 911 immediately and request assistance from emergency personnel. This is a legal requirement. Do not move individuals with serious injuries unless the vehicle is on fire or under water. You could cause more harm, and possibly liability, by moving them.
- Was this a hit and run?
In Georgia, it is a felony to fail to stop following an accident involving a death or serious injury. If this happens to you note as many detail as possible about the fleeing vehicle.
- Can the vehicles involved in the accident be moved out of traffic safely?
Georgia law requires you to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic unless:
- There has been a serious injury or death.
- There is no licensed driver available to move the vehicle.
- The vehicle is undrivable.
- It would be unsafe to move the vehicle or moving it would cause someone further injury.
If you cannot move your vehicle, it should be left as it came to rest after the impact. To the best of your ability, make it conspicuous. Raise the hood, turn on hazard lights or set out flares, cones, or reflectors.
- Are you safely away from the crash?
Move to a safe place away from the crashed vehicles. Secondary collisions are not uncommon and can often be more serious than the initial crash. Do not get caught near or between accident vehicles and risk being crushed by a secondary impact.
- Have you called the police?
Do not let anyone persuade you not to contact the police. Reporting traffic accidents is mandated by Georgia statute.
While you are waiting for emergency personnel and the police to arrive, keep your interaction with the at-fault driver to a minimum. Do not confront, argue, or make any admissions. Do not discuss fault. You are responsible for presenting only the following to other drivers (and obtaining these yourself).
- Name and address
- Registration number of the involved vehicle (note the year, make and model)
- Driver’s license which verifies personal information.
After you’ve taken care of the first things, what is next. Auto Accidents, Part Two will discuss Making Your Case, the steps you should take to ensure the best outcome possible.