You were in a car accident. So were a lot of other people. According to the state Department of Transportation, there were a whopping 402,380 crashes in 2018, the last year with reported data. In fact, a total of 142,649 people got hurt in these accidents, people like you. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do if you’ve been injured, your car was damaged or both.

First, let’s brush up on the law. Start with the “statute of limitation,” a state law that sets a time limit on when you have the right to bring a lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations that applies to car accidents also covers personal injuries. The bottom line: you need to file your case within TWO YEARS of the accident for personal injuries. (Note: for vehicular damage, you have four years to file a claim.)

Second, don’t wait. If you’re injured, get treated immediately. Make sure your doctor takes clear notes tying your injuries to the accident.

Third, contact your insurer. Do so in writing. And don’t leave any details out. You should include the names of all people involved, the names of anyone injured, the time of the accident, where it happened, contact info for all involved, and anything else you think relevant. If you wait, your insurer may reject your claim.

Fourth, understand how “fault” works. To get this one, you have to embrace the concept of comparative fault. In plain English, it means more than one driver might be responsible for the accident. So even if you made a mistake that contributed to the accident, you still might be able to make a recovery if the other driver is considered to have been more responsible.

Fifth, if you’ve been injured and / or your vehicle has been damaged, talk to a lawyer asap. Good lawyers provide a free consultation to get the facts, figure out the options, understand your goals and decide if you can work together. They only get paid if you win.

What are you waiting for? Get started on your checklist today.