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Can You Sue Someone For a Hit And Run in Georgia?

May 31, 2024 - Car Accidents

Lawyer for Hit And Run in Georgia

Yes, you can sue someone for a hit-and-run in Georgia. If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident, you have the legal right to file a claim and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages. The process involves identifying the responsible party, gathering evidence, and filing a lawsuit.

It’s essential to act quickly and consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights and help you navigate your case’s complexities.

 

What is classed as a “hit-and-run” accident in Georgia?

A “hit-and-run” accident in Georgia is defined as an incident where a driver involved in a collision leaves the scene without fulfilling their legal obligations.

Georgia law requires that the involved drivers must:

  • Stop at the Scene: Drivers must stop their vehicles at or near the accident scene. Leaving the scene without stopping is illegal and constitutes a hit-and-run.
  • Provide Information: Drivers must provide the other party involved in the accident with their name, address, and license plate number. They should also show their driver’s license if requested.
  • Render Aid: If anyone is injured in the accident, drivers must provide reasonable assistance, such as calling emergency services or transporting the injured to a medical facility if necessary and safe.

Failing to fulfill these obligations can result in severe penalties, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.

If the driver that struck fled the scene, an Alpharetta personal injury lawyer can help. Contact us today for more information

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Steps to take after a hit-and-run

Experiencing a hit-and-run accident can be overwhelming. By taking these steps, you can protect your health, strengthen your legal position, and improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve after a hit-and-run accident:

  1. Ensure Safety: Prioritize safety for yourself and passengers by moving to a secure location away from traffic. Check for any injuries and administer first aid if necessary. Ensure that everyone involved is out of harm’s way before proceeding.
  2. Call the Police: Immediately report the hit-and-run to the authorities, providing detailed information such as the location, description of the fleeing vehicle, and any identifiable features of the driver. Co-operate fully with law enforcement officials and provide any requested assistance in their investigation.
  3. Gather Evidence: Collect information to support your case, including taking clear photos and videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to your vehicle.
  4. Witness Statements: Obtain contact information and statements from any witnesses present, and check nearby cameras for potential surveillance footage of the incident. Documenting as much evidence as possible can greatly strengthen your insurance claim and any potential legal proceedings.
  5. Consult an Attorney: An attorney can provide invaluable guidance throughout the claims process, help you gather additional evidence, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and, if necessary, pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to seek the compensation you deserve.
  6. Report to Insurance: Notify your insurance company promptly about the hit-and-run, providing them with all the gathered evidence and details of the accident. Be honest and thorough in your communication with your insurer, as this will help expedite the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available under your policy. Your attorney can help you with this!
  7. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention as soon as possible after a hit-and-run accident. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and getting checked by a medical professional can help identify any hidden injuries or underlying medical issues. Keep all medical records and bills, as they will be essential for your insurance claim and any potential legal action.

 

How to sue for a hit-and-run in Georgia

If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Georgia, you should seriously consider pursuing legal action against the at-fault driver.

These steps cross over with the above process, and can be instigated as soon as you’ve contacted a lawyer:

  • Identify the Driver: The police will investigate, but your assigned car accident lawyer can look for surveillance footage, interview witnesses, and track down the driver.
  • File an Insurance Claim: Depending on your policy, you may have coverage for hit-and-run accidents under uninsured motorist coverage. This can help cover medical expenses and property damage.
  • Filing a Civil Lawsuit: Once the at-fault driver is identified, your attorney can help you file a civil lawsuit. This involves drafting a complaint, serving the driver with legal papers, and presenting your case in court to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.
  • Pursue Compensation: Your lawsuit will aim to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or take the case to trial if necessary.

We have a Duluth personal injury lawyer on hand to help guide you through this legal process in more detail.

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Your rights as a victim

Through the right to litigation and access to uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage, you can pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and the emotional toll of their ordeal. 

Below are the most important rights victims have after an auto accident:

  1. Right to Privacy and Confidentiality, ensuring that your personal information and sensitive details of the case are protected from unauthorized disclosure.
  2. Right to Support Services to assist you in coping with the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the hit and run. These services may include counseling, victim advocacy, and assistance in navigating the criminal justice system.
  3. Right to Fair Treatment from all parties involved in the criminal justice system, including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and court personnel. This ensures that you are treated with dignity and sensitivity throughout the legal process.
  4. Right to Sue: As a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Georgia, you have the right to sue for damages in civil court. This legal action can help you recover various types of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering relating to the emotional distress caused by the accident.

 

Information on underinsured and uninsured policies

In Georgia, the law regarding underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is outlined under O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11. Here are the key points:

  • Required Minimum Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Georgia law mandates all automobile drivers to purchase and maintain a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in vehicle liability coverage. This requirement is designed to protect other drivers in case of an accident caused by the insured driver.
  • Situations Covered by UM/UIM: The at-fault driver has no insurance, has insufficient insurance to cover the full extent of your damages, and/or is unidentified in a hit-and-run accident
  • Collecting damages: In the event of an accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, UM/UIM coverage provides compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident.

Additional reading: common car accident injuries

a young woman with a smartphone next to a car after a hit and run

Criminal and civil ramifications for the at-fault party

Let’s take a look at what happens to people responsible for hit-and-runs in Georgia. This involves both criminal charges and compensation in civil court.

Criminal Charges: A hit-and-run driver in Georgia can face severe criminal charges, which vary based on the accident’s circumstances and the severity of the injuries involved:

  • Misdemeanor: If the hit-and-run only caused property damage, the driver could be charged with a misdemeanor. Penalties may include fines and up to one year in jail.
  • Felony: If the accident resulted in serious injury or death, the driver might be charged with a felony, carrying more severe penalties, including substantial fines and imprisonment for several years.

Civil Compensation: In addition to facing criminal charges, the at-fault driver may also be liable for civil compensation. Civil cases focus on compensating the victim for their losses, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Covering costs for immediate and ongoing medical treatment.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to the victim’s inability to work.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced by the victim.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace damaged property.

 

Differences between criminal penalties and civil compensation

  • Purpose: Criminal penalties aim to punish the offender and deter future illegal behavior, while civil compensation seeks to financially compensate the victim for their losses.
  • Proceedings: Criminal cases are prosecuted by the state, resulting in fines or imprisonment. Civil cases are initiated by the victim seeking monetary damages.
  • Outcome: A criminal conviction may lead to fines, imprisonment, or both, but it does not directly compensate the victim. A civil lawsuit aims to obtain financial restitution for the victim’s expenses with the help of an accident lawyer.

 

Statistics on hit-and-run accidents in GA

Georgia is believed to rank 4th across the US for the most hit-and-run accidents.

These incidents resulted in numerous injuries and fatalities, highlighting the severity of the problem:

  • Fatalities: In 2022, there were 1,797 fatalities resulting from car accidents in Georgia. Some of these deaths occurred from accidents such as hit-and-runs, drunk driving, aggressive driving, and speeding.
  • Injuries: Out of the reported hit-and-run crashes, thousands resulted in injuries. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported that hit-and-run accidents are a leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations in the state.

 

How we can help

Managing the following days or weeks of a hit-and-run incident may feel like an uphill climb, but rest assured, we’re by your side through it all. Allow us to outline how we can offer our assistance:

  • Expert Legal Guidance: The legal aspects of a hit-and-run case can be complex. Michael and his team of experienced accident attorneys will guide you through the entire process, ensuring you understand your rights and the steps in pursuing justice.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts. We’ll handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance companies, fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.
  • Maximizing Your Compensation: Our goal is to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. We meticulously build your case to cover all potential damages and secure the best possible outcome for you.

Don’t think you need to work through this difficult time alone. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

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FAQs

Does insurance cover hit-and-run in Georgia?

Yes, uninsured motorist coverage in Georgia typically covers hit-and-run accidents when the at-fault driver can’t be identified or is uninsured. This coverage steps in to provide financial protection for victims, helping to cover expenses resulting from the accident, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs, ensuring they’re not left financially burdened.

What if the negligent party doesn’t have insurance?

Uninsured motorist coverage steps in to provide financial protection for damages incurred by the victim if the negligent party lacks insurance, ensuring that the victim is not left uncompensated for their losses in such situations.

What happens if you can’t reach a settlement?

If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation between the involved parties, pursuing legal action, such as filing a lawsuit in court, may be necessary to seek compensation for damages incurred as a result of the hit-and-run incident.

Are there any specific laws if the vehicle struck was a parked car?

Georgia law mandates that drivers must stop and either locate the owner of a parked car they hit or leave contact information, ensuring that victims of such incidents have recourse to hold accountable those responsible for damages to their property.

What is the statute of limitations on a hit-and-run in Georgia?

The Georgia car accident statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit related to a hit-and-run in Georgia is typically two years from the date of the incident, providing a window of time within which victims can seek legal recourse for their damages.

What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in Georgia?

Leaving the scene of an accident in Georgia can result in serious consequences, including criminal charges, fines, and potential jail time, underscoring the importance of drivers fulfilling their legal obligations to stop and provide assistance after an accident occurs.