After an accident, most drivers will get out of the vehicle, share insurance information, and provide support to anyone who suffered an injury in the collision, if needed. However, in some cases, the driver that caused the accident may actually flee the scene of the accident instead of stopping to exchange information and render aid. A hit and run accident can prove much more complicated and draining to manage than an accident in which both parties behave responsibly and in accordance with the law. Working with an experienced Georgia hit and run attorney, however, may help make that process easier.
What is a Hit and Run Accident?
A “hit and run” accident occurs when one driver causes damage to another person or vehicle and then flees the scene of the accident. Normally, after an accident, both parties should exchange insurance information and wait for the police to arrive. Fleeing the scene of the accident can lead to substantial legal penalties.
The Penalty for a Hit and Run Conviction in Georgia
Fleeing the scene of an accident in Georgia can have significant consequences. Georgia law notes that drivers involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or vehicle damage must stop at the screen of the accident, or as close to the scene as possible. A driver that flees the scene of the accident is guilty of a hit and run and may face misdemeanor charges.
The First Offense
For a first offense, under Georgia law, a hit and run conviction may mean:
Between $300 and $1,000 in fines
Up to 12 months imprisonment
In some cases, both fines and imprisonment
The Second Offense
After a second hit and run, the penalty may be more severe.
Between $600 and $1,000 in fines
Imprisonment of up to 12 months
The Third Offense
After a third hit and run conviction within 5 years, the guilty party may face:
$1,000 in fines
Up to 12 months imprisonment
What to Do After a Hit and Run
If you have been the victim of a hit and run accident, you need to act quickly in order to protect yourself as much as possible and increase the odds that you can recover compensation for your injuries and any damages to your vehicle as a result of the collision.
1. Write down or record anything you remember about the vehicle as soon as possible.
Did you see part of the license plate of the vehicle that hit you? Do you remember the color, make, or model? Any information you can provide about the vehicle that caused your accident can prove beneficial later. Keep in mind that your memory of the hit and run may fade quickly, especially if you suffered significant injury or other trauma during the accident. The sooner you record that information, the greater the likelihood that you will have an accurate report that you can provide to the police as they try to find the person that caused your accident.
2. Contact the local police department.
Always call the police after a hit and run, whether your accident involved significant property damage or an injury. You need to notify the police about the accident and provide as much evidence as possible. In many cases, the police will find the driver that caused your accident, which can help you pursue compensation from that driver or through that driver’s insurance company.
3. Get medical care for any injuries or suspected injuries you sustained in the accident.
Never put off seeking medical care if you believe that you suffered injuries in a hit and run. If you carry Georgia’s optional MedPay insurance coverage, you can use that coverage to cover the immediate cost of medical bills associated with a hit and run. Even if you do not carry MedPay insurance, however, you should still pursue medical attention as soon as possible. Medical care both helps you identify the immediate injuries often associated with an accident and provides you with a record of when those injuries took place, which can prove essential as you move forward with an injury claim after an accident.
4. Take a look at your insurance policy.
If the police cannot find the driver that caused your accident, you may still have the right to compensation for your injuries. Your own insurance policy may provide coverage if you have full-coverage, comprehensive, or collision insurance on your vehicle: coverage that kicks in regardless of who caused an accident. Furthermore, most insurance policies will include uninsured motorist coverage, which will provide compensation for damages caused in an accident with an uninsured driver. When you cannot identify the driver that caused a hit and run, the accident may count as an accident with an uninsured motorist according to the terms of your policy.
5. Talk to a lawyer.
Whether the police identify the driver that caused your hit and run collision or you end up needing to go through your own insurance policy for compensation, you may want to talk to a lawyer about the terms of your accident and the compensation you should expect. A lawyer can go through your insurance policy to evaluate what coverage you may deserve or help you understand what compensation you may need to ask for when you work with the other driver’s insurance company. A lawyer can also help you clearly establish the damages you sustained because of the hit and run accident and the compensation you may deserve for those losses.
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Hit and Run?
If you suffered any type of injury in a hit and run accident, or if you find yourself fighting to get your uninsured motorist coverage to provide assistance after a hit and run, an attorney can help. Contact Cambre & Associates today to learn more about your rights after a hit and run and the steps you should take to protect your rights as much as possible.