On July 31, the Atlanta Police Department announced that it will not be responding to accidents with no injuries at the scene. This new policy was put in place to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Atlanta Police Department.
When I read the article reporting on the Department’s new policy, I immediately thought this might have a negative impact on auto accident victims whose injuries do not manifest at the scene. It is not unusual for someone to be involved in an automobile accident and feel fine at the scene. Often times, a person’s injuries don’t manifest until several days or even weeks later.
When police arrive on the scene of an accident, the first thing they do is speak with the parties involved in any witnesses. They make a report and will normally issue a citation or citations to the at-fault driver. It is important to have an incident report, because it makes the issue of liability clear in a majority of cases.
Even when there is a police report and a citation issued to the at-fault driver, insurance companies will often deny liability. A major concern with this policy is that insurance companies may deny claims if the at-fault driver does not admit liability and there are no witnesses. In that case, without a police report, the issue will come down to the parties involved and how well they communicate. If the party that is not at-fault has injuries that manifest days after, it may be difficult to recover for those injuries.
What Should You Do If You Are In An Accident Under This Policy?
It is important for Atlanta drivers, or anyone driving in a jurisdiction with a similar policy, to make sure to speak with the other driver at the scene. Try to get information of any witnesses so that these people can be contacted at a later date. Make sure you take pictures of the vehicles, the scene, and any evidence left on the roadway, such as tire marks.
I highly recommend equipping your vehicle with a dash cam so that you can preserve evidence of the cause of the accident. The presence of dash cam video of an accident is often indispensable when proving fault.
Most importantly, if you feel you may have suffered an injury, the best thing you can do is call the police and request EMS. You could be injured, but your excitement from the accident could be masking the symptoms of the injury. We have represented many plaintiffs who did not know they were injured at the scene of the accident only to find out they suffered spinal injuries.