How to Handle a Hit-and-Run

What is a hit-and-run in Georgia?

An accident is a hit-and-run when one party flees the scene of the crash, even if it’s only a fender bender.  According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 is Georgia’s Hit and Run Law.  It requires a driver involved in an wreck to stop at the scene.  The driver must also give his or her name, address, and registration number of the vehicle.

Although the penalties are steep, a driver may choose to flee for several reasons:

  • They lack auto insurance coverage.
  • They’re already breaking the law in some way.
  • They’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • They don’t own the vehicle they’re driving.

 

What Should I Do if I’m The Victim of a Hit and Run Georgia Driver?

In the event of a hit and run in Georgia, remain calm, and do the following:

  • Stay calm.  Any collision can evoke intense emotions including anger, fear, and anxiety. Try to remain collected so you can think and act with a clear head.
  • DON’T follow the fleeing driver.  Leaving the scene of the accident could put you in a compromising position.  You’ll miss getting eyewitness accounts — and police could question who’s really at fault.  Not only that, you run the risk of getting into another accident.
  • Park or stop the vehicle in a safe place;
  • Then to the best of your ability record any information you can of the car that struck you.  The license plate number is best.  But, even partial license plate information and an accurate description of the vehicle can provide the authorities with a good place to begin their search;
  • Call 911 immediately.  Request that law enforcement officials meet you at the scene of the wreck.  Note the date, time, and conditions of the collision;
  • If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately when contacting 911.  Remain in your vehicle until help arrives;
  • If you’re not injured and are able to get out of the vehicle, look around for any witnesses.
  • Take photos.  While you’re getting the story straight, pictures will help provide evidence of the damage.  Take photos from different angles, including a full view of the vehicle and close-ups of any dings and scratches.  Don’t forget to take pictures of the paint left by the other car, too.

Witnesses are crucial in hit-and-run cases.  This is especially true if the hit-and-run driver gets away.  Otherwise, you must make a claim on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance policy.

What if the driver cannot be found?

In the worst-case scenario, the driver who hit your car may not be found.  In those cases, you can obtain a policy known as MedPay which pays for the costs of treatment after your collision. This policy works faster than your personal health insurance, which in turn reduces the policy limits and premiums.

It’s also beneficial if you have an uninsured/underinsured driver policy on your insurance. This coverage is for situations when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to cover an wreck’s damages.  But it also includes situations where the driver can’t be found.

It’s best if the policy is already in place before the hit and run happens, but some insurers allow you to file a claim after the fact.  In that case, coverage may only apply to property damage instead of medical bills.

 

What happens when someone hits a parked car?

Under Georgia’s hit-and-run law, a driver is obligated to stop at the scene of an crash even if the crash was with an unoccupied parked car.  In the case of a hit-and-run with a parked car, the driver must notify authorities and leave a note for the owner describing what happened.

A parked car hit-and-run wreck typically won’t involve an injured victim, so the penalties won’t be as severe as they would be for a moving vehicle crash. However, the driver may still be charged with a misdemeanor if they did not leave a note or notify the police.

 

Does insurance cover a hit and run?

If you’re involved in a hit and run, your auto policy may cover some expenses.  It’s important to note that coverages will vary by state.  In addition, any deductible or policy limit you have chosen will apply.

Let’s look at specific coverages.

  • Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s been damaged in a collision with another object, or if it rolls over in an accident. So if you’re a victim of a hit and run accident, you may be able to make a claim on your policy even if the other driver isn’t found. Remember you still have to pay your deductible even if the accident isn’t your fault. If the other driver is found, you might be able to recover your deductible from their insurance company.
  • Uninsured motor vehicle coverage helps pay medical expenses, lost wages or damages to your car (if applicable in your state) if the driver at fault for the accident doesn’t have insurance or if the driver at fault for the accident remains unknown.

Who is held liable for hit-and-run crashes in Georgia?

As if getting hit by a car wasn’t bad enough, some injured victims are left at the scene of the accident to fend for themselves. A hit-and-run victim may have trouble getting immediate medical care and end up sustaining severe injuries as a result. The victim could face further difficulty when they try to pursue financial compensation from the driver who fled the scene.

Georgia law requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident that they caused. When they don’t, the crime can have serious penalties. If a hit-and-run driver causes injury or death, the driver could be charged with a felony and go to prison for 1 to 5 years. The driver is also likely to face a lawsuit from the victim wanting to claim financial compensation for their injuries.

 

 

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