Did somebody just rear-end your car in Atlanta traffic?
Don’t expect the police department to respond.
The Atlanta Police Department (“APD”) has announced that they will no longer send an officer to the scene of an auto collision if no person is injured. There are a number of serious problems with this policy change. I have listed a few of those problems below.
It Encourages People to Lie to the Police
As an initial note: never lie to the police. There are a number of bad outcomes if you lie to the police – it is simply not worth the high risk involved.
While it’s difficult to imagine that the APD is trying to encourage drivers to lie to the police, this policy change does just that. Any driver that is not at fault for a collision needs a police report in order to make a successful claim for property damage or personal injury (discussed more below). Under the new policy, the driver who was not at-fault must decide between lying to the police by falsely stating that they are injured or going home without a police accident report.
It Forces Drivers to Self-Investigate
If you are not injured in your collision, put on your detective’s hat. The insurance companies of each driver rely almost entirely on the investigation and findings of the police report (including who the at-fault driver was) in determining whether they will pay your property damage claim. Under this new APD policy, because there’s will be no officer on the scene to prepare a police report, the driver needs to take photos, audio/video recordings, and collect any other evidence at the scene in order to prove that they were not at fault.
It Opens the Door for More Uninsured Drivers
There are approximately 30 million drivers without any liability insurance driving American roadways every day. In Georgia, you have approximately a 1 in 8 chance that any given driver that hits you will not have insurance to pay for the damage to your car. For perspective, those odds are only slight better than a one-bullet game of Russian roulette – which is a 1 in 6 chance of a bad outcome. As you can see, if you get in a collision, there’s a decent chance the other driver will not have any insurance.
We see clients every day that have been hit by uninsured drivers. One of the most common scenarios we see is that Driver A hits Driver B and when they pull over to investigate, Driver A convinces Driver B that they “don’t need to call the police” and often produces a printed card from an auto insurer that appears to show that Driver A is insured. All too often, the other driver gives in and decides not to call the police thinking that they can simply report the claim to the insurance that the other driver has produced a card proving they have. However, that card from the insurer is sent out upon payment of the first month’s premium and all too often claimants are shocked when they call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to find that coverage has lapsed (because the driver didn’t pay is premium).
When APD was responding to collisions with only property damage, they had onboard computers that could check the statewide insurance registry to tell if any given driver had valid insurance at the time of the wreck. They entire point of that database was to inform officers and drivers at scene in real time whether they were dealing with an uninsured driver so that the driver could be immediately cited or criminally charged. That database is essentially useless for property damage-only collisions now and will no longer act as a deterrent for those that choose to drive without insurance.
It Was Implemented With Almost No Notice
You may not have heard about this abrupt policy change by APD. If you haven’t, you are not alone. I have spent my entire legal career handling road wreck cases in Metro Atlanta and closely follow news affecting drivers, but even I did not hear about this until after it had occurred. In fact, unless you follow the APD’s Facebook page, you had no idea that this policy change was going into effect. A change in policy with this many consequences should not have been publicized only to the approximately 70,000 people that follow the APD’s Facebook page. These followers make up just 1% of the population of Metro Atlanta – all of whom need this information.
I hope the APD reconsiders this policy change. If they do not, then they must do a better job of publicizing this information. Non-injured drivers are on their own when it comes to investigating, documenting, and proving their property damage claims to insurance companies.
Contact a Marietta Car Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in a line of sight accident, you should get in touch with a Marietta car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Contact The Strickland Firm for more information about filing a claim and to speak with an attorney at our firm.