In Georgia, drivers are required to stop their vehicles and take certain steps if they are involved in a crash with another driver. Failing to fulfill these requirements can have serious consequences for the driver, but also life-threatening repercussions for any injured parties, so if you were recently involved in a hit and run, it is crucial to contact an experienced car accident attorney who can ensure that the responsible party is held accountable.
Types of Hit and Run Cases
There are a number of different hit and run scenarios, including situations where:
- A driver hits a parked car and leave without notifying its owner of the accident;
- A driver collides with another vehicle, causing property damage and injury and fails to stop and exchange contact information; and
- A driver hits a pedestrian or bicyclist and fails to stay and contact emergency responders.
Unfortunately, the number of hit and runs in Georgia is on the rise. This is largely linked to the desire of drivers who are driving under the influence, driving a stolen vehicle, or driving without insurance to escape criminal charges for those offenses.
A driver involved in a car crash is required to take certain steps, including:
- Stopping at the scene and contacting law enforcement if someone was injured or a vehicle was damaged as a result of the accident;
- Providing his or her name, address, vehicle registration information, and driver’s license number;
- Providing reasonable assistance to injured parties, which could include transporting or arranging for the transportation of an injured person to a doctor, surgeon, or hospital if that person requests transport or it is apparent that it is necessary; and
- Staying at the scene of the crash until emergency responders arrive if someone was severely injured and unable to communicate or killed.
Failing to fulfill these requirements is a criminal offense. For example, a person who left the scene of an accident where another party sustained minor injuries or a vehicle was damaged can be charged with committing a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by a fine ranging between $600 and $1,000 and a one year prison sentence. Additionally, his or her driver’s license could be suspended for a period of time. A person who fled the scene of an accident, in which someone else was killed or seriously injured could be charged with a felony which carries the threat of a prison sentence of between one and five years and a permanent driver’s license revocation.
There are also specific instructions for situations where a driver hits an unattended vehicle. In these cases, the driver must immediately stop the car and either locate or notify the car’s owner of his or her name and address. In these situations, it is also permissible to leave a written notice for the driver in a conspicuous place, such as the windshield.
Finally, if a driver was indeed under the influence or attempting to avoid arrest for another crime, these penalties could be enhanced.
Civil Consequences and Collecting Compensation
Aside from criminal penalties, a hit and run driver can also be held legally responsible for the costs incurred by the injured party if he or she was at fault in causing the crash. This could include the following damages:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future income;
- Property damage; and
- Pain and suffering.
Collecting compensation can make all the difference in an injured party’s ability to begin the process of recovery as serious injuries could result in a substantial financial burden for victims, especially if they are unable to work for an extended period of time. Additionally, in Georgia hit and run cases, juries can award punitive damages to the victim, which is meant to punish the defendant, but also to prevent similar behavior by others in the future.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Hit and Run Accident
It can be tempting for some drivers who are involved in hit and run accidents to attempt to follow the other car. However, this isn’t usually a good idea. Instead, victims should attempt to write down as many details as they can about the car who hit them, including the color, make, model, and license plate number of the car as well as any observable distinguishing marks. They should also call law enforcement officers or an ambulance if another driver or passenger requires medical attention. If a victim wasn’t present at the time of the hit and run, it’s important to take careful photographs of the scene of the accident, the damage to the vehicle, and debris from the crash. It’s also important to record the date and exact location of the crash as well as any information about which direction the other driver may have traveled. If there were any witnesses to the crash, be sure to obtain their contact information so that they can be questioned in the event of a trial. Once the police report has been filed, it’s also a good idea to request a copy for insurance purposes.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the driver in a hit and run case cannot be found. In these situations, the injured driver will need to collect compensation from his or her own insurance company through an uninsured motorist policy. For this reason, it is important that all drivers go over their insurance policies regularly to ensure that they are covered in the event of a hit and run accident.
How an Experienced Augusta Car Crash Attorney Can Help
Hit and run accidents can leave injured parties feeling powerless. However, it is possible to hold responsible parties accountable. Even if you do not know the identity of the person who collided with you, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing and submitting one of our standard contact forms and a member of our legal team will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced Augusta, GA car accident attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.