After a hit-and-run accident, you should notify the police. When the officers arrive at the scene, they prioritize checking on all vehicle occupants. They will render necessary first aid until other emergency responders arrive.
Once the scene is secure, the responding officers will begin to compile information to learn what happened. If you can, provide a good description of the vehicle that fled. They will radio the dispatcher to get other law enforcement personnel looking for the missing driver.
Staying on the Scene
Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270, any driver in an accident involving injury or death must stop and notify the police. If mobile, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. You should also render first aid until emergency response personnel arrive.
The American Automotive Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety has recorded a startling upward trend in the number of hit-and-run incidents. Over ten years, the number of hit-and-run accidents involving fatalities in Georgia has almost doubled.
An accident is a hit and run when a driver leaves the scene after:
- Damaging a vehicle in a parking lot while the car was unoccupied
- Hitting a car while it is in motion
- Hitting a pedestrian or bicycle rider
Even in cases where the damage is minor, leaving the scene is against the law.
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Your Duty to Exchange Information
Law enforcement officers are serious about hit-and-run accidents. The information you and on-scene witnesses can provide will help them get a dangerous individual off the streets. Officers will attempt to locate the driver quickly.
Another part of what they do while compiling their accident report is gather the contact information from everyone involved, either as a victim or a witness. They will ask you for:
- Your name
- Phone numbers for home, cell, and employer
- Insurance information, including policy number and phone number
This information will be included in the accident report. Your car accident attorney can use the accident report to support your claim when seeking compensation.
When the Damage Is Minor
When you have an accident with only minor damage, you could possibly collect adequate compensation on your own. You would need uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, though. Georgia requires liability insurance but has no requirement for UM/UIM motorist coverage, per O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11.
If you did not refuse the option for additional coverage, your insurance will cover your damages even if the other driver flees.
Uninsured motorist coverage will cover medical care and lost wages that fall under the coverage amount. Other options include regular health insurance and collision coverage from your auto policy.
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When the Damage Is Major
When there is significant damage and severe injuries from an accident, the minimum provisions for coverage under Georgia law do not meet the needs of injured persons. However, suppose your insurance policy includes personal injury protection, collision (or comprehensive) coverage, and additional provisions. In that case, you might be okay after a hit and run.
If you lack the extra coverage, you may find it necessary to seek the counsel of a car accident attorney specializing in obtaining compensation for hit-and-run victims. The minimum coverage in Georgia includes:
- $25,000 for property damage liability (PDL)
- $25,000 for bodily injury when one person is involved
- $50,000 for bodily injury when more than one person is involved
If the police investigation is successful, they will locate the driver and increase your ability to receive compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Penalties for Hit and Run in Georgia
Hit and run is typically a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. If police locate the driver, they may receive penalties in criminal court:
- A first conviction carries a fine from $300 to $1,000. Jail time up to 12 months may also be assigned. In some cases, a judge will award both penalties.
- For a second conviction, the fine may range from $600 to $1,000, up to 12 months in jail, or both.
- Convictions for a third offense and beyond carry a $1,000 fine, jail for up to 12 months, or both.
If the driver is caught and prosecuted, those proceedings are criminal. Any compensation you seek via a lawsuit is a civil court filing.
When the police respond to a hit-and-run accident, they prioritize making sure the people remaining on the scene receive medical attention. After that, they will interview people and check with nearby businesses to locate available surveillance videos. They will also review any traffic cameras in the area to identify the suspect.
While the police work to identify the suspect, you are still obligated to notify your insurance company about the accident. You could seek compensation for the following damages:
- Medical costs related to treatment following the accident
- Wages lost if you cannot work
- Property damage compensation to repair or replace your vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Consulting with a hit-and-run accident lawyer will help you determine what compensation you are eligible to receive. They will work to compile a case whether or not police locate the missing driver.
Fighting for Your Rights
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers will have your back when fighting for your rights. Their car accident team will work diligently on your hit-and-run case. They handle the details, from identifying the driver to getting you the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today to begin your free case evaluation. We can start our investigation and advise you regarding your next steps.