COVID-19 has caused many changes in how we interact with others on a day-to-day basis, and this includes police response to motor vehicle accidents. Some jurisdictions, such as the City of Atlanta and Athens-Clarke County, have put in practice that officers will not respond to an accident scene unless there is severe bodily injury or death. This means there will be no accident report, collection of insurance information, tickets issued (fault vs. no-fault party identification), body cam footage, etc. by a certified peace officer. This makes the accident a “he said, she said” scenario and can result in a lot of missing information needed for an insurance claim, to start a PI case, and to, if later needed, stand up in court.
Per normal standards, if you are in a wreck in a county with this procedure in place, then you would still need to call 9-1-1 and report the accident; however, instead of the police responding to work the scene, you will be directed to fill out a “Self-Report Accident Form”. For Athens-Clarke County, the following link takes you straight to theirs: https://dds.georgia.gov/sites/dds.georgia.gov/files/related_files/document/accidentreport_dds_190_rev0116.pdf
With that being said, below are some things you can do to make sure the needed information for all areas is readily available:
- Ask if all parties are okay (injury wise) and report to 9-1-1
- Take photographs of the accident scene; take photos from all angles, and if possible step further back to give a full view of how the cars are placed (provides Point of Impact identification.
- If able to do so safely, take a photo or make note of any road names in relation to the wreck (for example, You are waiting to make a left onto S Lumpkin Street from E Broad Street when you were rear-ended from behind). The more description and information provided the better.
- Take photos of all damage to your vehicle and all other involved vehicles to include a picture of the tag on each vehicle (make sure to keep them in order for later reference (for example, if the accident involves 3 vehicles and you are first in line- start with your vehicle (vehicle 1), then the vehicle directly behind you (vehicle 2), and so on).
- Take note of what time the accident took place. Was it low, medium, or heavy traffic? What the weather was like? Was there anything (a sign, bushes, a building) obstructing the view of any of the drivers?
- Request to take a photo of the other driver’s Insurance Card and Driver’s license (Try to keep these in the same order to associate who belongs to what vehicle). (for example, if the accident involves 3 vehicles and you are first in line- start with your vehicle (Driver 1), then the vehicle directly behind you (Driver 2), and so on).
- When collecting images of the Driver’s License and insurance cards, ask each driver if they were wearing a seatbelt and if they are the owner of the vehicle (if not, get the owner’s name, phone number, and address from them).
- Collect drivers’ home address (could be different from what is on license) and phone numbers.
- If they don’t allow you to take a photo of their Driver’s License: request the Name and address that is on the license, Date of Birth, the license number, License State, expiration date, and Class. If they refuse to provide this information, then call the police department to inform them that the driver is refusing to cooperate with the exchange of information.
- If they don’t allow you to take a photo of their Insurance Card: request the name, phone number, and address of the policyholder. Gather the Insurance Name and Policy Number from the card.
- Take note, did any of the other drivers admit fault or state what happened.
- Request Year, Make, Model, type of vehicle, and VIN Number (usually can be seen on a dash through the windshield)
- Did the airbags deploy in any vehicles?
- Was the vehicle of each driver towed or driven off-scene?
- If there was a trailer attached to any vehicles, collect the State of tag and the tag number (take a photo of it if able)
Witnesses and Passengers Information:
- If there is a passenger in any vehicle make sure you note which vehicle they belong to and gather their name, Phone number, and address. Take a photo of their driver’s license. See if they can provide a written statement of what happened or offer to record a statement with a cell phone.
- If there are any witnesses, gather their name, phone number, and address. Take a photo of their driver’s license. See if they can provide a written statement of what happened or offer to record the statement with a cell phone.
Narrative for Accident form:
- On the accident report form you will be required to provide a written statement to describe what happened and reference the vehicles and drivers as described above, Vehicle 1/Driver 1.
- Example: “D1 (you) was slowing down to stop at the stop sign at Bay Creek Road and Brand Road when V2 hit V1 from behind.
- Make sure to reference the drivers and vehicles in the same reference you have them for the info above.
- Be descriptive in regard to road names, how you were hit, etc. but keep it short and sweet.
We know trying to process all this information along with having an injury can be overwhelming. Thus, we here at The Larrison Law Firm want to extend a hand in guiding you through this process. My staff and I would be happy to set up a free consultation to discuss the details of your individual case and needs. Give us a call at 770-554-8100 or visit us at larrisonlawfirm.com. We have locations in both Loganville and Athens.