In Georgia, every driver has a legal responsibility to pull over at the scene of a car accident – big or small. Fleeing the scene of a collision is the crime of hit-and-run. If you get involved in a hit-and-run accident, the reporting and recovery processes will look a little different than a standard car accident. Take the following steps after a hit-and-run to make sure that your rights as a victim are protected.
Stay where you are after a hit-and-run accident. Even if the other driver flees, do not chase them down or flee the scene with them. Chasing a hit-and-run driver on a public road could lead to another car accident. It could also be viewed by the police as an attempt to avoid liability for the first crash. Come to a stop in a safe location close to the crash site and check yourself for severe injuries. Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights to warn other drivers of the accident.
Call the Police
Always involve law enforcement after a hit-and-run accident in Georgia. Even if you aren’t injured and your property damage is only minor, call the police if the other driver flees the scene without stopping or rendering aid. Use your cell phone to call 911 while still at the scene of the accident, if possible. If you don’t have a phone or yours was damaged in the accident, flag someone down to use their phone or walk to the nearest public place to report the crash.
Unlike many other states, it is not legally required to report a car accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Georgia. While you must report an accident to the police if there is property damage in excess of $500, or if anyone is injured or killed, you do not have to file a report with the DMV or the Department of Public Safety.
Tell Your Side of the Story
When the police arrive at the scene of the hit-and-run, tell the officer everything that you remember. No detail is too small, as it may help law enforcement identify and catch the at-fault driver. Tell the police the make, model and color of the vehicle, if you remember, as well as any partial license plate numbers. The police will create an official accident report documenting all available information about the crash to use for an investigation. The police will also talk to any eyewitnesses for statements on your behalf.
Again, if you have a working smartphone, use it to take pictures while you are still at the scene of the accident. Pictures of the damage to your vehicle, any pieces of the other driver’s vehicle, skid marks, and the scene of the crash as a whole can help investigators piece together what happened, as well as prove your accident-related losses to an insurance company. The police can also take official photographs of the scene for you.
Report it to Your Insurance Company
Georgia is a fault state, meaning the driver at fault for the accident should be responsible for paying for related medical bills and property repairs. In a hit-and-run accident, however, you may not know the identity of the at-fault driver or be able to file a claim with his or her insurance company. Instead, you will call your own car insurance company to report the crash. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, this will pay for your losses even without knowing the identity of the other driver.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Atlanta
For further assistance with a hit-and-run accident case in Georgia, contact a car accident lawyer in Atlanta for a free consultation. A lawyer can help you explore your options for financial compensation, such as holding a third party responsible. These parties may include an employer, a vehicle manufacturer, or the government for an unsafe roadway. Contacting a hit-and-run car accident attorney can help you understand what to do after this type of collision.