In 2017, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported that motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death, secondary to an injury sustained in that wreck. Accidents are also the second leading cause of visits to the emergency room and subsequent hospitalizations in Georgia.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident in Georgia, you will likely need a police report. This is particularly true if you are attempting to build an automobile accident case with a personal injury attorney. An accident report is a vital piece of information in proving you right to compensation for your injuries and property losses resulting from the wreck. Here is some information you will need to understand accident reports and how to obtain them.
When do I Need an Accident Report?
In some cases, Georgia law requires that you call the police after an accident. If, for example, someone is hurt or killed in that accident, you must call 911 and you must file an accident report. You will also have to call the police and file a report if the damage is estimated to be more than $500.
Additionally, some cities and counties in Georgia have local ordinances requiring any individual involved in a crash to contact the police. Check your city and county to be sure of the ordinances for your area.
Why do I Need a Georgia Personal Report of Accident Form?
A Georgia Personal Report of Accident Form is a document that contains your first-hand account of the details of the crash as you remember them. The sooner this document can be completed following the crash, the more valuable it is. It is not required by law. Your personal injury attorney can assist you in obtaining one of these forms.
Retain a lawyer to assist you with this documentation as soon as you are able.
What’s in a Police Report and How Can This Information Help My Claim?
Information that could prove crucial to your accident claim may be contained in the police report of the wreck. A police report generally contains:
- The date, time, and place of the accident
- A description of the road and weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Details and a diagram of the incident
- Notes on property damage
- Contact information of parties involved
- Eyewitness accounts
Some of the information contained in this report are difficult to track down in the months following the crash. In a police report, this information is included. This information, provided by an objective third party, is often heavily considered in rulings. It may also contain information and statements from the other party, to which you would not have otherwise had access.
The report might also contain information about additional investigations completed after the wreck. This report may mean success for your case. It is vital to work with an attorney to help you obtain this document.
How do I Get an Accident Report in Georgia?
There are three main ways to get a police report for your car accident in Georgia:
- You can purchase the report online.
- You can pick it up in person from the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident.
- You can have your personal injury lawyer obtain the report for you.
Whenever law enforcement authorities are called to the scene of an accident, they talk to drivers and witnesses, observe the damage, and prepare an accident report. It usually takes about three to five business days before the report is available.
The report serves as an objective account of what happened. It includes insurance information for both parties, and it will be an essential part of any insurance claim for injuries or vehicle damage. If the police did not come to the scene of your wreck, there would not be an accident report.
How Can You Get a Police Report Online?
Police reports are available for download at buycrash.com, which sells accident reports for many states, including Georgia. You can order a report without knowing the name of the law enforcement agency that investigated the accident, but you will need the following:
- The last name of one of the drivers involved in the accident
- The date of the accident
- Either the VIN of one of the vehicles, the report number, or the driver’s license number of one of the drivers
If the report is available, you can download it for a fee of typically under $20. If it is not yet available, you can ask to be emailed when the report is ready.
How Can You Get a Police Report from Local Law Enforcement?
You can get your accident report directly from the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident: either the local police, the sheriff, or the Georgia State Patrol. Usually, the officer who responded will give you a business card showing the law enforcement agency’s name and the accident report number.
If you are unsure which law enforcement agency prepared the report, you can find out by asking the various law enforcement agencies in the locality where your accident occurred.
- If the Georgia State Patrol investigated your accident, reports are available from the Patrol post that responded and prepared the report or by faxing or mailing a written request to the Open Records Unit at the Department of Public Safety.
- If a city police department investigated your accident, you could usually pick up a copy of the report in person from the department’s records division. There is often a charge of approximately $5. Contact the police department directly for information specific to the city where your accident occurred.
- If a county sheriff’s office investigated your accident, you could obtain a report from the sheriff’s department, but the procedure for requesting and picking up a report can vary by county. Contact the sheriff’s office or visit their website to find out the proper procedure in the locality that investigated your accident.
How Can You Get Your Lawyer to Obtain Your Police Report?
A third alternative is to let a car accident attorney take care of getting the accident report for you. This saves you time and lets you focus on recovering from your injuries while your lawyer handles the legal details of your insurance claim.
Atlanta car accident lawyers can go through the proper channels to get a copy of your police report without you having to do anything other than provide the necessary information. Of course, that’s not the only reason you should get help from an attorney.
Other Ways Georgia Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You Seek Compensation
A personal injury claim after a car accident can be difficult and frustrating, especially when you’re already dealing with the recovery process associated with your injury. Skilled attorneys in Georgia can help you fight for the compensation you deserve by collecting the police report, eyewitness testimony, medical records, traffic camera footage of the crash, and more.
However, attorneys also help you through all aspects of your case, from the initial filing of a lawsuit to settlement negotiation and even a trial in court if necessary.
Filing Your Claim
For most cases in Georgia, Ga. Code §9-3-33 gives victims two years to file a personal injury claim after a serious wreck. That’s not a lot of time when your family is dealing with all the fallout from the accident. Attorneys with experience handling car accident claims can ensure that your claim is filed and that you preserve your ability to seek compensation.
Our firm can also do a thorough investigation of your car accident and its causes to ensure that you are suing all responsible parties. Depending on the details of your wreck, you could be owed money from:
- The opposing driver
- A trucking company
- Truck or car part manufacturers
- Government entities
Negotiating Your Settlement
Once your claim is filed, the next step is to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company of the at-fault party or parties. Depending on whom you are suing, this process can involve companies with deep resources and skilled attorneys for the opposing side. Negotiating your settlement on your own could lead to failure to obtain the compensation you deserve. Retaining a lawyer is important to make sure your rights are protected.
Taking Your Claim to Court
If no settlement is reached, we will need to take your claim to court and argue before a judge. While most lawsuits end in a settlement, it’s crucial to have experienced attorneys on your side who are unafraid to take the claim to court. That way, the other side knows you mean business about your compensation.
Remember: insurance companies’ mission is to pay as little as they can get away with. Without a lawyer on your side, you likely will not get all the compensation you are entitled to.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for FREE
Our law firm has just one mission: to help injured people get the money they need to put their lives back together. If we don’t win money for you, we won’t charge you a cent. Let us give you a FREE consultation to help you understand the right next steps for your case – with no obligation.