You have legal options if you were in an accident with someone who fled the scene. Our firm can help find the offender, bring them to justice, and get you the money you need to pay for medical treatment and other expenses. You can still recover compensation even if law enforcement cannot locate the offender. Perpetrators are cowardly to flee the scene, but victims should be brave in seeking justice for themselves and others involved.
If you were hurt or a loved one killed in an accident where the other driver fled the scene, call our office at (478) 310-2290 today.
What Is Considered a Hit and Run (And What Isn’t)
What’s Considered a Hit and Run
A driver is said to commit a “hit and run” (also known as “leaving the scene”) if they’re involved in an accident and flee. Hit and run is a serious crime in Georgia, and depending on the details of the case, an offender could be given a misdemeanor or felony charge.
For accidents involving property damage, injury, or death, Georgia’s Hit and Run Law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270) instructs motorists to stop their vehicle and perform the following duties:
- Provide your name, address, and vehicle registration number.
- Show your driver’s license to the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
- Help injured drivers (if necessary or if the other driver requests it). This may require you to call an ambulance or to take the injured person to the hospital yourself.
- If the driver is unconscious, appears to be deceased, or unable to communicate: Make every reasonable effort to contact emergency medical services and law enforcement.
When a driver fails to perform these duties and flees the scene instead, they can be held liable for damages you suffered in the accident. A hit and run lawyer in Macon will work to recover maximum compensation for your injuries, lost income, and more.
Because hit and runs are particularly reckless, Georgia courts often award victims additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault driver who fled the scene.
What’s Not Considered a Hit and Run
It’s just as important to understand what is not considered a hit and run accident in Georgia. In certain situations, a driver will not be charged for hit and run even if they leave the scene of an accident. Here are a few situations that do not amount to a hit and run:
- You hit a fixed object (telephone pole, mailbox, fence post) and drive away.
- No one is around, but you leave your information and file a police report before driving away.
- You leave the scene momentarily to get a better phone signal or to go to a nearby house for help.
Even if you were involved in one of the circumstances above, it’s best to remain at the scene. Someone whom you didn’t notice could have been injured, or there may have been more property damage than you’d thought.
In any case, it’s in your best interest to speak with a hit and run lawyer in Macon, GA. Call us today for more information and to learn how we’ll fight for you.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
If you were hit by someone who immediately fled the scene, you’re probably feeling worried, frustrated, and angry. That’s perfectly understandable, but keep a level head after the accident.
Being calm and collected will help you protect your legal interests and ensure you don’t say or do the wrong thing. After being in an accident in which the other driver fled the scene, follow these steps:
1. Check yourself and your passenger(s) for injuries.
If you or anyone in your vehicle is injured, call 911 immediately. Adrenaline and the fight or flight response often mask pain and discomfort, meaning you might have an injury that you didn’t notice at first.
If you or a passenger were injured, don’t try to hang back and collect evidence. Your health and safety are the priority.
2. Call the police.
Don’t think you’ll be doing anyone any favors by not reporting the accident. Hit and runs are serious and claim thousands of lives every year. The reporting police officer will create a report which can play an instrumental role in finding the perpetrator and bringing them to justice.
3. Collect evidence at the scene.
You can play an active role in the hit and run investigation. As you’re waiting for the police to arrive (or while they’re at the scene), collect a few pieces of evidence of your own. If there are people nearby who likely saw the crash, ask them what they remember about the other driver, their vehicle, and which direction they went when they left the scene.
If you or a witness saw and remembered it, write down the other driver’s license plate number, as well as a description of their vehicle. You should take photos of the damage to your car (this is important, as the other car’s paint could have scraped off on yours) and photos of the accident scene.
4. Notify your insurance company.
You should always contact your insurance company after being in any kind of accident, and hit and runs are no exception. If the at-fault driver who fled the scene cannot be found, or if they are found but don’t have insurance, you’ll probably have to file a claim with your own insurance carrier.
Because Georgia is an at-fault state, drivers can purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage as part of their insurance policy for an extra charge. UMI covers bodily injury and/or property damage, but this should really only be used as a last resort, such as if the other driver can’t be located or if they’re uninsured.
If the other driver does have insurance, their carrier is responsible for covering financial damages related to the accident. However, the insurance company wants to avoid paying you what you need; they’re notorious for “offering” settlement amounts far below what you deserve. That’s why it’s so important to have a hit and run attorney in Macon, GA by your side.
What Not to Do After a Hit and Run
Car accidents are intense, but you shouldn’t let your emotions rule how you respond. Here are a few things you should avoid doing after being involved in a hit and run collision in Georgia:
Don’t follow the driver.
This might seem obvious, but the heat of the moment is when most thoughtless actions take place. If you leave the scene to follow the other driver, you’re putting yourself in danger. You don’t know if the other driver is armed or is leading you somewhere dangerous.
By leaving the scene to follow the driver, you could also miss out on important eyewitness accounts. For these reasons, it’s best to hang tight and wait for the police to arrive.
Don’t avoid calling your insurance or the police.
Any car accident case is at least somewhat time-sensitive, but especially hit and run accidents. Putting off calling the police or your insurance company could slow down the investigation and reduce your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
With car accidents, it’s always best to be proactive.
Locating a Hit and Run Driver
Perpetrators of hit and run accidents are called “phantom drivers” for a reason; if you try to conduct an investigation on your own to locate the at-fault driver, they’ll almost certainly prove elusive.
But with the help of the police and an experienced Macon car accident lawyer, you’re much more likely to identify the driver and hold them accountable for their actions. Depending on your unique situation, you have several avenues to locate the hit and run driver:
If you were injured in a hit and run accident, the police will treat the case as a crime. The time and resources they spend can be instrumental in finding identifying information.
Witnesses are an incredible asset in hit and run investigations, and they can be anywhere: business owners or patrons in a nearby restaurant who saw the crash, other drivers, pedestrians crossing the street, or anyone else in the vicinity.
If you feel safe doing so, you can also go door-to-door, asking people who live near the accident scene if they saw the other driver’s car. Sometimes, a witness will have seen the accident occur and been outraged by the other driver’s actions of leaving the scene. These witnesses will likely write down helpful information such as the other driver’s license plate or make and model of their vehicle.
If you or a witness saw and wrote down the other driver’s license plate number, you could contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain the driver’s name and address. However, this method is fairly risky; it’s best to report license plate numbers to police officers instead of trying to apprehend the individual yourself.
Help for Your Hit and Run in Macon, GA
A car accident on its own is frustrating, but even more so when the person who caused the accident flees the scene. If you were involved in a hit and run, you’re understandably frustrated and upset.
Don’t forfeit your legal rights by doing nothing; a knowledgeable Macon hit and run lawyer can help you find the driver, hold them accountable, and get you the money you need to pay your medical bills, lost income, and other expenses.
Call (478) 310-2290 today to schedule your consultation.