A new wrinkle has developed in the lives of metro Atlanta residents due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to maintain social distancing, the Atlanta Police Department has suspended their response to motor vehicle accidents when no one is hurt.
While this policy has been in effect since March of this year, many Georgia citizens were unaware of this new protocol until July 30th, when a statement was sent out by the Atlanta Police Department through their official Twitter account.
.@Atlanta_Police will not be dispatched to the scene of non-injury automobile accidents. If you are in an accident with no injuries, complete the SR-13 form found here: https://t.co/FS8X1rpXAd pic.twitter.com/oGvIsCwL9F
— Atlanta 311 (@ATL311) July 30, 2020
However, the APD did clarify that they will continue to respond to any incidents that involve criminal activity, such as drunk driving crashes, when safety is a concern, and to any hit and run accidents.
So, what do you do if you’re involved in an auto accident in Atlanta?
How accident reporting has changed due to COVID-19
While you can still call 911 and report that a crash has occurred, there is no guarantee that an officer will arrive at the scene to fill out an accident report unless injuries are reported. Thankfully, the Atlanta Police Department released an online form for motorists to complete when they are involved in an accident.
The Georgia SR13 Form is a personal report of the accident that residents should fill out if they’re involved in an auto accident with no injuries. This form can be found online at: https://sr13-form-georgia.com/
In the form, you will need to include information about where the accident occurred, the vehicles and drivers involved, and what happened to lead to the crash, including what each driver was intending to do.
Car crash liability even more difficult to determine
Even though officials are asking motorists to complete the SR-13 form in lieu of meeting with police, this paperwork will by no means make liability easily determined. Typically, when law enforcement responds to an accident scene, they perform an investigation that is documented in their police report.
Once liability has been determined, the at-fault driver is listed as Driver 1 and usually given a citation or warning that is reflected in the report. This enables insurance companies to easily place blame on the at-fault driver and get the innocent parties reimbursed for their property damage, injuries and pain and suffering.
However, with police investigations no longer taking place in Atlanta, it will be even more difficult for innocent parties to prove fault and be compensated following an auto accident.
What to do after an Atlanta auto accident
In light of this potential problem, it’s important to take measured steps to ensure the reimbursement of your property and injuries.
- Get to safety. First, assess the situation. Move your vehicle from the roadway, if possible, and make sure that no one involved in the incident needs medical assistance.
- Take photographs of the scene and any damage to the vehicles. Make sure that if there are any marks on the roadway, you also snap photos of those. Skid marks can prove to be very beneficial later if there ends up being contradictory stories from the involved parties regarding fault.
- Obtain driver information. Instead of trying to write all the information down, take a quick photo of the license plate and VIN number of the vehicles involved so that there’s no confusion from accidentally misrecording it.
- Exchange insurance information with the other drivers, including the insurance company name and policy number.
- Get witness information. If there are any witnesses, request their contact information as they may later become the deciding factor on who is found to be at-fault for the collision.
- Seek professional advice. Finally, the Atlanta police department says that if you’re involved in an accident and have a question about insurance claims or legal procedures, you should ultimately reach out to your insurance agent or an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney for professional legal advice.