Determining who pays for damages in a hit-and-run accident in or near Atlanta depends on whether the driver can be found. In some cases, the police or an accident investigator working for your lawyer or insurance company can uncover a clue that points toward the identity of the driver who caused your accident. When this occurs, that driver will be legally responsible for the accident and injuries they caused.
In many cases, though, the identity of the driver is never known. When this occurs, you may be able to file a claim based on your uninsured motorist insurance policy, if you have one. This type of policy will cover your medical care and other expenses up to the policy limits.
Drivers May Be Held Responsible for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
In many cases, the police or someone else investigating your accident will uncover evidence that helps to identify the driver who left the scene after causing your accident. This discovery may occur because:
- An eyewitness wrote down the tag number
- The accident was caught on camera
- Another nearby vehicle had a dashcam
- A body shop recognizes a damaged vehicle as one police are looking for
- Other evidence leads to the identification of the car or driver
If your attorney, your insurance company, or the police can identify the hit and run driver who caused your accident, you may be able to file an insurance claim or pursue a lawsuit to seek damages just as you would in any other car accident case. This is impossible unless the driver is identified, though.
It may also be impossible if the driver who caused your accident left the scene because they did not have the required auto liability insurance. This circumstance is more common than you might think. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12 percent of Georgia drivers were uninsured in 2015.
So, who pays for damages in a hit-and-run accident when the driver cannot be identified? The answer depends on the insurance coverage you carry.
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Uninsured Motorist Coverage May Pay for Your Hit-and-Run Accident Damages
While Georgia law requires liability auto insurance, the state does not require drivers to carry an uninsured motorist (UM) policy under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 33-7-11. This type of policy is very important, however. It pays for your damages if the driver who caused your accident is uninsured, underinsured, or leaves the scene of the accident.
As the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner notes, uninsured motorist coverage is optional, but you must opt out of it instead of opting in to purchase it. To opt out, you must reject the policy in writing. Because of this rule, many people have UM coverage without realizing they do.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it should cover your medical care, lost wages, and some other damages up to the policy limits. You can also repair your vehicle under this type of coverage. Your limits should match the limits of your auto liability coverage. Your UM policy will also provide coverage for:
- Anyone driving your vehicle with your permission
- Anyone in your vehicle at the time of the accident
If you do not have UM coverage, you may be able to recover some of your losses through a claim with your health insurance company, a collision coverage claim, or other insurance policies.
Uninsured Motorist Claims Are Not Always Easy To Navigate
Many people assume that an uninsured motorist claim should be easy to handle. After all, your insurance company is on your side, right? Unfortunately, recovering a payout through this type of claim can quickly become more complicated than it should be. Even if you are filing a claim based on your policy, you need to provide strong evidence to show fault and liability, or the insurer could try to push blame on you.
Per O.C.G.A. § 51-11-7, Georgia’s comparative negligence law, you can only recover a percentage of your losses and damages if you contributed to causing an accident. The insurance company may be able to reduce the money they have to pay by building a case to show that your actions caused or contributed to the collision.
When you work with an attorney on your hit-and-run accident case, they will calculate a fair value for your damages and present evidence to the insurance company—your own or the carrier representing a negligent driver—to show how much your case is worth.
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Financial Recovery Is a Key Part of Getting Back to Normal
While accountability is extremely important to many accident victims following an injury accident, it is sometimes impossible to hold the liable party responsible. If they left the scene and are not identified or if they did not have the required insurance coverage, there is little that can be done to hold them accountable.
However, financial recovery is still possible for many accident victims. You should not have to pay thousands of dollars out of your pocket for medical care as a result of an accident you played no role in causing.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, we can help you file a claim and recover a payout. This claim may be the key to ensuring you do not go into debt because of your accident, to prevent you from worrying about rushing back to work, and to help you get your life back to as normal as is possible following your accident.
Speak to a Member of Our Atlanta Traffic Accident Team
At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we handle hit-and-run traffic accidents in and around Atlanta and other areas of Georgia regularly. We know the options for accident victims following this type of collision and can help you understand what to expect.
If this happened to you, reach out to a member of our team today by calling (404) 888-8888. We can review your case for free and explain how we may be able to help at no upfront cost to you.