Recently, the Atlanta Police Department announced that, due to COVID-19, its officers would no longer respond to accidents without injuries when all cars are drivable, whether the accidents occurred on public or private property. That raises the question, what should a driver do when they are involved in an accident caused by another driver and the police do not respond?
Following an accident in which there appear to be no injuries and all vehicles are drivable:
Call 911. Whether the police are going to respond or not, it is important to call 911 and make a record of what happened in the accident. The audio record of the call will establish your version of events and provide a statement taken at the time of the accident.
Be sure to provide the dispatch officer with the following information:
- The location of the accident;
- The type of vehicle you were driving;
- The type of vehicle driven by the at fault driver;
- Any other vehicles involved in the accident;
- A description of the at fault driver; and
- A description of how the accident occurred.
Take Pictures / Video. If it is safe to do so prior to moving the vehicles, take a picture of the accident scene and each vehicle. Video can also be helpful. Once the vehicles have been moved, it may be difficult to prove how an accident occurred. Especially when the accident is not a rear-end collision, it is possible that the at-fault driver may attempt to falsely claim the accident happened in a different way more favorable to them. After vehicles have been moved off the roadway, take a picture of the license plate of each vehicle, the driver’s license of each driver (and witnesses if possible), and the insurance card of each driver. NOTE: Only take pictures if it does not put anyone at risk. It can be extremely dangerous to stand in the roadway and, if it is unsafe to do so, that risk certainly outweighs the benefit of taking pictures of the accident scene.
Move Vehicles to the Side of the Road. According to Georgia law, “[w]hen a motor vehicle traffic accident occurs with no apparent serious personal injury or death, it shall be the duty of the drivers of the motor vehicles involved in such traffic accident, or any other occupant of any such motor vehicle who possesses a valid driver’s license, to remove said vehicles from the immediate confines of the roadway into a safe refuge on the shoulder, emergency lane, or median or to a place otherwise removed from the roadway whenever such moving of a vehicle can be done safely and the vehicle is capable of being normally and safely driven, does not require towing, and can be operated under its own power in its customary manner without further damage or hazard to itself, to the traffic elements, or to the roadway.” O.C.G.A. § 40-6-275. If safe to do so, vehicles should be moved off the roadway for safety reasons and traffic control.
Exchange and Obtain Information. Be sure to get the license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) of all vehicles involved in the accident, as well as the name, address, phone number, insurance information and driver’s license information for each driver involved. The VIN can often be found on a plate attached near the bottom of a vehicle’s windshield on the driver’s side. Also, be sure to get the name and number of any witness to the accident. Complete a SR-13 form which can be found at https://sr13-form-georgia.com/. The SR-13 form is a personal report of an accident that includes fields for important information needed in connection with an insurance claim.