How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Atlanta?
Most people who are involved in an Atlanta car accident report the matter immediately because they want to get compensation for injuries or damage. However, if the accident doesn’t seem serious, some drivers leave the scene. They only think about making a report later if medical issues arise or they discover damage to their vehicle. At that point, they wonder if it is too late to pursue the driver.
All accidents should be reported as soon as possible. You will need a police report when you file an insurance claim or take the matter to court. That report will be most thorough if the police arrive when the accident scene is fresh, and eyewitnesses are around.
To ensure the best possible outcome, you should call the police and report the accident immediately. If the accident is so serious that you can’t make the call, someone else will likely report it. If you are alert and not seriously hurt, never leave the scene without making a report. You should also go to the doctor for a check-up as soon as possible.
Under Georgia’s modified comparative fault law, you can sue the other driver if they were more than 50 percent at fault. If there is no accident report, you can see how it would be difficult to prove who was at fault. There’s a legal deadline within which you must file your claim, but it isn’t wise to wait that long. We’ll discuss this below.
Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers on the Legal Deadline to File Your Claim
The law which sets out how long you have to bring legal action is called the statute of limitations. In Georgia, you usually have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim for injuries. The deadline is usually four years from the date of the accident for claims for property damage. You may have noticed the use of the word usually. That’s because the courts will allow different deadlines in specific cases.
For example, if you were under 18 when the accident happened, the deadlines don’t kick in until you turn 18. You would, therefore, have a much longer period of time to file a claim. Another variation occurs if the accident involved a government-owned vehicle. In this case, the timelines are shorter. If the vehicle was owned by the city or county, you may only have six months to file. For the state vehicle, you likely have only one year. With federal government vehicles, you have two years to file an administrative claim with the relevant department. If the claim is rejected, you only have six months to file a suit in court.
Why An Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Will Tell You to Not Wait That Long
Despite what the law says about how long you can legally wait, it is not advisable to wait. Instead, you should contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. They will listen to the facts and give you professional advice on the next steps. They will likely urge you to let them get started on the case right away. There are several reasons for this including:
- Details of the accident become less clear and more difficult to investigate as time passes
- Eyewitnesses may move away or forget what happened
- Insurers may argue that you would have taken action earlier if you were really injured
- Attorneys need to time to prepare a strong legal case
If you really want to improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome, you need to move quickly. If you’ve already gone months without taking action, don’t wait anymore. Once you are within the statute of limitations, you can still win your case. Some of the evidence may no longer available but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. You should still reach out to an attorney for a consultation.
Contact The Bethune Law Firm Today for Advice
Whether your Atlanta car accident occurred this morning, last month, or last year, we can help you. While we prefer if you contact us immediately after your accident, we will still hear your case now. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers are skilled and experienced. We have encountered a wide range of cases and we know how to work with insurance companies and the courts. If you’ve been injured or your vehicle was damaged extensively, we can get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to benefit from more than two decades of experience.