With more than 280 million cars and trucks on the highways and roads of the United States, crashes are an unfortunate and nearly inevitable part of driving. It’s estimated that less than one-third of all American drivers have never been in a crash and that the average motorist will be involved in one accident every ten years.

When you’re involved in a vehicle accident, you have specific responsibilities regarding reporting the accident to the proper authorities. According to Georgia law, a vehicle accident must be reported if:

  • There is $500 or more in damage to any one vehicle or object involved in the accident
  • Any person involved in the accident was injured
  • Any person involved in the accident was killed

Your accident can be reported in two ways:

  • Following an accident, you can call law enforcement, and a responding officer will draft and file a report.
  • You can download and complete a Personal Report of Accident (Form DDS-190).

Law Enforcement Can File a Motor Vehicle Accident Report

In nearly every case, the best way to proceed following an accident is to call 911 and request a law enforcement officer to respond to the accident site. Failure to report the accident to law enforcement when it occurs could open you to criminal liability under Georgia’s hit-and-run laws, especially if there is an injury or any question about who is responsible for the crash.

When an officer responds to the scene of the accident, they will inspect the damage to the vehicles and other objects, talk to both drivers, and write up an accident report that will be filed with the city or county where the accident happened and with the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

When speaking to law enforcement:

  • The same rules apply as with any other interaction with law enforcement. You are not required to answer all of the officer’s questions, but you are required to provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance if requested. Failing to provide these documents could lead to arrest and criminal charges.
  • If you are clearly not at fault and were not violating any traffic laws at the time of the crash, there’s no reason not to provide an account to the responding officer. Be careful to make only factual statements, and avoid making speculative or inflammatory statements about the other driver(s).
  • If you’re not confident who was responsible for the accident or know you were speeding, driving recklessly, or breaking another traffic law when the accident happened, it is legal to politely decline to answer questions until you’ve spoken with your legal counsel.
  • Avoid making apologies or other statements that could be construed as an admission of guilt; these statements could later be used as evidence against you.
  • When the officer is speaking to the other driver, resist the urge to interrupt or correct any misstatements they may make. You will be given a chance to speak on your behalf and should use that time to point out any factual errors in the other driver’s statement.

Getting a Copy of Your Motor Vehicle Accident Report

If your accident led to an accident report being filed by law enforcement, you can request a copy of the report through a number of avenues:

  • Contact the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident. They can either provide you with the report or direct you to the appropriate office within their jurisdiction.
  • Use the Buycrash system to purchase a copy of your report online.

Self-Filing a Motor Vehicle Accident Report

If nobody was injured in the accident, the cause of the wreck is fairly evident, and all parties involved agree that contacting law enforcement is not necessary, it is possible to file an accident report yourself. It is also possible in the event of a minor accident, particularly in larger cities, that law enforcement will not be able to attend to the accident, and the responding agency will ask you to self-file.

The form you’ll use to report the accident is Georgia Form DDS-190. Download a copy of the form and fill it out as completely and accurately as possible. If possible, make sure to gather the other driver(s) details:

  • Year, make, model, and type of vehicle
  • Driver’s and owner’s (if different) information:
    • Name
    • Driver’s license number
    • Date of birth
    • Address

You’ll also need to describe damage to anything other than the vehicle(s) involved in the accident.

The last section of the form is your place to provide a narrative of what happened. As in speaking to law enforcement following an accident, stick with factual information in this form section, and avoid speculative or value statements about the incident.

Once you’ve completed the form, submit it to the address listed at the top.

If You Have Been Involved in an Accident and Need Legal Help, Contact the Trusted Attorneys at Walker, Hulbert, Gray, and Moore.

Our team can help you navigate the potential legal ramifications of a crash. Contact us to set up a consultation today: 478-987-1415.

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