Following a car accident in the Atlanta area, you might not be sure about how to begin the process of seeking financial compensation, or what steps you should take to ensure that you are eligible to file an auto insurance claim or a car accident lawsuit later on. Given that many motor vehicle collisions are disorienting and upsetting, it can be difficult to focus on particular steps in the immediate aftermath of a collision. In addition, friends and family members often offer advice that may not be as helpful as they intend, and internet research can produce conflicting results.
Ultimately, it is essential to speak with an Atlanta car accident attorney who can provide you with detailed information about the process for your car accident claim based on the nature of the collision and your individual circumstances. In the meantime, the following information outlines the basic process for seeking compensation after a crash in the Atlanta area.
Gathering Information and Seeking Medical Attention
If you are physically able to do so, it is important to gather information at the scene of the accident that can be used later on in your car accident case. Photographs that document the scene and any injuries or damage are extremely important, and witness contact information is also critical. You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you believe your injuries might not require an immediate assessment from your doctor, it is essential to remember that many kinds of serious injuries might not have signs or symptoms right away. A doctor can identify these injuries and begin treating you quickly.
Report to Your Insurance Company
As soon as possible, but at least in the early hours or days after the car accident, it is essential to report the crash to your own auto insurance company. Your policy will likely require you to report the accident even if you will be filing a third-party claim with the negligent motorist’s auto insurance company. Failure to report the accident to your insurance company could affect your claim and even bar you from obtaining coverage later on.
File an Auto Insurance Claim
In the days and weeks after the accident, you should work with an attorney to determine whether you should file an auto insurance claim (most people do), and if so, whether you should file a third-party claim through the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy or a first-party claim through your own auto insurance policy.
Once you file an insurance claim, you should expect that the process will take time. The insurance company will send an adjuster to investigate, and the adjuster will then provide details of the investigation to the insurance company. The insurance company will then likely make a settlement offer to you. You should keep in mind that settlement offers are negotiable, and the insurance company is likely expecting you will negotiate. Accordingly, you should not accept the first offer. It is also important to know that Georgia law requires insurance companies to investigate and adjust in a timely manner. Indeed, the statute says:
“In the event of a loss because of injury to or destruction of property covered by a motor vehicle liability insurance policy, the insurer issuing such policy has an affirmative duty to adjust that loss fairly and promptly, to make a reasonable effort to investigate and evaluate the claim, and, where liability is reasonably clear, to make a good faith effort to settle with the claimant potentially entitled to recover against the insured under such policy.”
Consider a Lawsuit
If the insurance settlement is insufficient, the next step usually involves filing a lawsuit against one or more parties who may be responsible for your injuries.
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
One of the experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about the process for seeking compensation. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or give us a call at (404) 529-3476.