When the inevitable happens and you find yourself involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you probably know what to do—exchange insurance information with the at-fault motorist, call law enforcement to the scene to file an accident report, and snap some photos of the damage before heading on your way. While not the most fun way to spend an afternoon, it’s generally a straightforward process that everyone involved goes along with.
Yet, what if the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident before you can collect identifying information from them? How are you supposed to make an insurance claim if you don’t even know who hit your car? Our Woodstock attorneys explain what to do if you’ve been the victim of a hit and run.
What Is a Hit & Run?
According to Georgia Code § 40-6-270, “the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident.”
Fleeing the scene of an accident, also known as a “hit and run,” is therefore a crime, meaning that if the driver is eventually identified they can be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony (depending on how much property damage and bodily injury was caused). They may also be required to pay punitive damages to anyone injured by their actions.
What Should I Do After A Hit & Run Accident?
If you find yourself in a hit and run accident, it can be an immensely frustrating experience. However, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of locating the at-fault driver and holding them accountable for any damages they caused.
If you have been in a hit and run, do the following as soon as possible:
- If you are in your vehicle at the time of the accident, the first thing you should do is check yourself for injuries and call 911 immediately if you have been hurt (skip this step if your car was parked when the collision occurred).
- Next, remain at the scene of the accident. Do not try to follow the hit and run driver under any circumstances. This could easily lead to another and potentially worse crash.
- Take as many pictures of the crash scene as you can, from multiple angles. Concentrate your camera on any property damage, bodily injuries, and anything else related to the crash (such as tire skid marks).
- Write down as many details as you can remember about the car that struck you if you saw it.Helpful information includes the car’s make and/or model, it’s color, the license plate number (even a portion of it),and any distinguishing marks or bumper stickers. If you saw the driver, write down what you can remember about their appearance as well.
- Call the police and cooperate with them while they file the accident report. Be as detailed as possible about how the crash happened, ideally using the information you wrote down.
Using the identifying information you collected, the police and your attorney will be able to better investigate the crash to determine who caused it. If you didn’t see the culprit, you may still have a chance to find them—other witnesses on the scene may have seen the offending vehicle and surveillance cameras in the area may have caught the crash on video as well.
If you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto insurance policy, then you should be able to file a claim for damages with your own insurance company and receive a settlement even if the liable driver is never found. If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, then it is unlikely you will receive insurance money unless you track down the at-fault motorist and hold them accountable.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a hit and run driver, The Dickinson Law Firm, LLC can help. Our Woodstock hit and run accident attorneys have decades of legal experience and understand how to investigate such accidents to locate the responsible party. We will do everything can to obtain the just compensation you deserve. Contact us now to learn more.