If you need to file a personal injury claim in Georgia, you first need to hire an attorney. Personal injury claims are much more complicated than property damage claims, which most people handle on their own. Property damage refers to damage to your vehicle, and it is usually very easy to work with an insurance company to get an estimate for those costs or to determine whether your vehicle has been totaled and negotiate an amount for those payments.
Personal injury claims are much more complicated because they involve several moving parts, including health insurance and different types of auto insurance, such as liability insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage. Understanding the ways in which these types of insurance will intersect and impact your case is complicated and will require the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
If possible, you need to take photographs at the scene of the accident. These cases are often a matter of “he said, she said,” and taking photographs of the damage to the vehicles or roads surrounding the vehicles is often the only opportunity to document what happened in the crash. Oftentimes, there are disputes about who was at fault or whether a light was red or green, and anything you can do to document those facts at the scene will help your attorney.
Make sure that the law enforcement officer hears both sides of the story. If you see an incident report that contains incorrect information, immediately notify the officer who signed that report and make sure that there is a record showing that you have notified the officer of the error. It is very common to see incorrect information on incident reports, which might be attributed to the fact that officers don’t have a lot of time to talk to people at the scene and they are often given conflicting information.
You need to make sure that you contact your own insurance company immediately. This is counterintuitive to a lot of people because they think, “Why should I call my insurance company when someone else is at fault?” However, there is a requirement in Georgia and many other states that you contact your own insurance company—sometimes within 24 hours of the accident. If the at-fault driver has no insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of your damages, your own insurance company might be able to help if they were notified of the accident very soon after it occurred.
It’s also important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible so that they can speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company on your behalf. Oftentimes, insurance companies will call you and record everything you say in an effort to use your own statements against you and ultimately deny or minimize your claim. For example, if you say, “I’m not hurt very badly but I’m still going to the doctor,” the insurance company could use that to claim that you were not hurt. If your attorney speaks with the insurance company on your behalf, then you will not need to worry about this. An attorney will also be able to sort through various issues that can arise in relation to statutes of limitations.
If you try to handle a case on your own, you might make the mistake of accepting an early offer from the insurance company. The problem is that early on in the case, you likely won’t know the full extent of your injuries, and therefore won’t know the full extent of your medical bills. As a result, you will have no idea what is a fair or unfair offer. For example, if you were to accept an offer of $3,000, but one month later were to learn that you have something much more serious going on, then you may end up with medical costs in the thousands of dollars and no way to pay for them. Oftentimes, accepting settlements that are less than the policy limits will preclude you from seeking other avenues of insurance as part of your case.
For more information on Filing Personal Injury Claims In Georgia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 401-8880 today.