An Informed Guide For What To Do After a Car Accident in Florida or Georgia
Auto accidents happen so frequently in Florida and Georgia that the two states have government programs that focus exclusively on the reduction of unsafe driving to bring the numbers down annually. Florida recorded 400,788 traffic accidents including 3,217 fatalities and 254,342 injuries in 2019. Georgia had 390,158 accidents with 1,504 fatalities in 2017 (pdf download), the latest year of data available. Some of the high statistics are attributable to driver behavior issues. Others are due to inadequate public transportation and/or the considerable amount of distance many residents in both states travel daily. Residents of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, especially those in places like Jacksonville, Kingsland, St. Mary’s, Brunswick and Savannah, often drive in both areas.
Interestingly, the vehicle laws of Florida and Georgia treat the parties involved in auto accidents very differently. But there’s one thing accident victims in both states have in common—they need to get legal representation as soon as possible because the insurance coverage clock starts ticking right away for eligible protections. For example, in Georgia, any and all insurance coverage can be denied if the insurance provider isn’t notified in writing of the accident within 30 days. In Florida, on the other hand, folks can be denied medical insurance coverage if the injured party isn’t seen and treated by a licensed doctor or medical professional within two weeks (14 days) from the injury event. So again, time and response really matters, especially when an auto accident can cost thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket vehicle repair and medical costs, otherwise.
What You Should Do After Any Auto Accident in Florida, Georgia or Elsewhere:
A Post Auto Accident Checklist
- Call the police so they can file a report of what happened at the accident. This is especially important if there was any damage to your car or possibility of the other driver being drunk, on drugs or otherwise intoxicated. This documentation becomes essential later on and rarely gets disputed on a police report as fact. And if your car was damaged, the police report becomes an objective evaluation of what occurred, regardless of what the other party tries to assert after the fact.
- Get the other party’s contact, license and insurance coverage information. Don’t talk much beyond exchanging contact info, and don’t discuss the accident with them. This helps avoid arguments that turn ugly and your statements don’t get used against you, especially in Florida.
- Try to find any witnesses who saw the accident and get their contact information, as well.
- Take a photograph of everything at the accident scene with your smartphone. Photograph your vehicle, the other party’s vehicle, and the surrounding area where the accident happened. If you see large skid marks, photograph those too, especially with nearby landmarks like stop signs, etc.
- Contact your insurance provider and give them all the details you have. Do not talk with or provide any information to the other party’s insurance company if they try to reach out (which they will, in an attempt to secure a low settlement, right away). And for both insurance companies, don’t sign anything until you own attorney has reviewed the paperwork for your interests. Anything you accept ahead of time will block any subsequent legal filing after the fact, and that may mean lost coverage for additional injuries and losses you may not have been aware of at the time.
- Get examined by a physician as soon you are able to following the accident. Don’t wait a few days to do this or brush it off. Frequently, soft tissue injuries like neck muscles (think whiplash) don’t manifest until a day or two later. Concussions can also leave long-lasting impacts and sleeping on a concussion injury can be life-threatening the night after such an event. A doctor can run all the necessary tests to identify the full extent of your potential injuries and give you a clear picture within hours of the accident of what you are facing.
Key Factors to Know About Car Accident Settlements in Florida
State laws for Florida apply a no-fault status on most minor level accidents. This generally limits court cases to only those with serious injuries. All other accident victims are expected to work directly with the insurance companies using a private settlement process. This is advantageous for insurance providers because it puts them in control of the discussions but not so good for the covered driver, who needs protection the most. As a result, an auto accident attorney in Florida becomes critical to show a case is in serious status, so that it can be litigated, and the full amount of damages can be recovered.
Key Factors to Know About Car Accident Settlements in Georgia
Unlike Florida, Georgia uses what is known as a modified comparative fault model. This means a responsible party for an accident could still actually win recovery for damages suffered, even if the accident was his or her fault; at least as long as it is determined by the court that you are less than 50% to blame for an accident that resulted in injury.
This confusing, frustrating aspect of Georgia vehicle law surprises hundreds of folks every year who think a driver who caused an accident is responsible for everything that occurred. Again, a car accident attorney in Georgia becomes essential before this kind of situation starts to spin out of control for an injured party who suffers from someone else’s mistake. Not using an auto accident attorney in Georgia could be an expensive mistake.
Filing a Claim for Damages After a Car Accident in Florida or Georgia
Anyone in an auto accident in Florida or Georgia can file a claim for damages, personal injuries or negligence, depending on where the accident occurred and the details surrounding it. The basis can be due to someone doing something as the cause, failing to do what was expected, or both. But in both situations, a qualified and experienced auto accident attorney is critical for any claim.
Even if you’re unsure, consult with an attorney. There’s a lot of information that can emerge from an accident that you may not be fully aware of, but which really has an impact on your personal situation. Barnes & Cohen provides both personal injury and auto accident representation in Florida and Georgia. We handle hundreds of accidents every year throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia including Jacksonville, Kingsland, St. Marys, Brunswick and Savannah. Don’t be another statistic; take control of your recovery rights with proactive auto accident representation from Barnes & Cohen. Contact us for a free consultation, today.