Victims of hit-and-run accidents can be left with devastating, even life-threatening injuries and serious property damage. In 2016, over 2,000 hit-and-run fatalities occurred in the United States--the highest one-year total ever. A study of hit-and-run fatalities across all 50 states placed Georgia at 14th overall.
Not only do hit-and-run accidents put the lives of injured parties at risk, they also create a complex web of financial issues and legal concerns.
If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident or simply want to be prepared in the event of one, here’s what you should know.
What Does Georgia Law Say About Hit-and-Run Accidents?
GA Code § 40-6-270 outlines the duty of Georgia drivers to stop at or return to the scene of an accident in which they were involved.
In the state of Georgia, any driver who is involved in a car accident has a legal duty to stop and return to the scene of the accident if:
- The accident resulted in injury or death to any other person
- The accident resulted in property damage to any vehicle
This code also outlines four distinct responsibilities of Georgia drivers involved in accidents that cause injuries or property damage:
1. Driver must provide his or her name and address and a registration number for the vehicle he or she was driving while involved in the accident.
2. Driver must provide his or her driver’s license to any person struck in the accident or to any of other vehicles involved in the accident or attending the accident, if requested.
3. Driver must provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident. This includes calling an ambulance for
4. injured persons or transporting injured persons to the hospital or doctor if it is necessary or requested by the injured persons
5. Driver must make every reasonable effort to contact and obtain emergency medical services for persons who are unconscious, unable to communicate or who appear to be deceased. Driver must also make every reasonable effort to contact local law enforcement to report the accident and receive assistance at the scene of the accident.
Drivers involved in accidents that cause injury, death or property damage are required to remain at the accident scene until fulfilling all of these legal duties.
It is against the law in all 50 states to flee the scene of an accident.
Additionally, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious injury or death is a felony. Individuals who are convicted of felony hit-and-run can be sentenced to one to five years in prison and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
How to Report a Hit-and-Run Accident in Georgia
If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident, the first thing you should do is call 911. This will ensure that both police and an ambulance are alerted to the accident and your condition. The police report on your accident is an essential piece of information for both finding the driver who hit you and in filing an insurance claim to recover financial damages.
While waiting on police and EMTs to arrive, you should record every possible detail about the car and driver who hit you.
Record the color, make and model of the car, as well as any license plate information you can remember. Even if you only have partial numbers from the license plate, these can be instrumental in helping find the person who hit you. Also note any distinguishing characteristics of the car, like dents, damage, or mismatched paint.
You should also record any physical characteristics of the driver, including the driver’s sex, race, age, and any distinguishing features.
If you’re able, obtain the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. If there aren’t any witnesses at the scene, consider contacting local businesses or homeowners to see if anyone saw the accident or has information about the car or driver that hit you.
How to Earn Financial Compensation for Hit-and-Run Injuries and Property Damage
For the injured victims of hit-and-run accidents, there are a few ways to gain compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and lost time at work.
Georgia is an at-fault state when it comes to accidents. This means the driver who caused the accident is considered at fault, and their insurance company is responsible for covering financial damages for the people they hit. For victims of hit-and-run accidents, however, it may be difficult to track down the driver who hit you.
In cases where the hit-and-run driver can’t be located, injured victims typically receive compensation for their injuries through their own insurance company. Motorists in at-fault states can purchase Uninsured Motorist (UMI) coverage as part of their insurance policy. This coverage can cover bodily injury, property damage or both. Unfortunately, most of these policies require the policyholder to pay a deductible to have their injuries or property damage covered.
Even when a hit-and-run driver is found, there's always a chance that he or she doesn’t have insurance, and thus cannot cover the cost of their victims’ injuries and property damage. In these cases, you can file a UIM claim with your own insurance company.
If the driver who hit you does have insurance, his or her insurance company will be responsible for covering financial damages related to the accident they caused. In the majority of cases, however, insurance companies offer the lowest possible financial settlement to injured victims. These settlements rarely offer fair or sufficient compensation to the injured party.
Because of this, it’s important for hit-and-run accident victims to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Your attorney can evaluate your case and help you determine whether or not the insurance company’s settlement is too low. If it is too low, your attorney will help assemble and organize necessary evidence for a personal injury claim against the other driver.
Personal injury lawyers are versed in the complexities of hit-and-run cases. They can help you navigate the tricky process of getting fair financial compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
Lonati Law Firm in Dallas, Georgia is dedicated to fighting for the interests of injured victims and winning them the financial compensation they deserve.
The Importance of Reporting Reckless Driving in Georgia
Reckless driving happens everywhere, including on Georgia's roads. We’ve all seen drivers swerving, tailgating, texting, or just plain not paying attention to the road. We know that they’re a risk, but all too often, we hesitate to report them.
Most of us know someone who drives unsafely all the time. Whether it's a friend who has a bad habit of multitasking behind the wheel or an elderly relative who can barely see the road, they can be a risk to themselves and others. You know that person most likely should not be driving, but you may not be sure what to do about it.
But there’s no reason to hesitate. Reporting a dangerous driver is quick, easy, and anonymous. Most importantly, it saves lives.
What Kind of Driving Is Dangerous Enough to Report?
The state of Georgia is highly concerned about the dangers of aggressive driving. The governor’s office has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to create a multi-jurisdictional task force called H.E.A.T. (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic). This task force has the goal of enforcing laws against aggressive driving all over Georgia.
Aggressive driving includes such behaviors as:
- Cutting off other drivers
- Weaving through traffic
- Driving while intoxicated/distracted
- Drag racing
- Reckless speeding
This type of driving puts other drivers’ lives at risk and is in violation of Georgia law. For this reason, you can and should report it to the proper authorities.
Emergency Reporting of Reckless Drivers
When you see any behavior that threatens people’s lives — including reckless driving — report it to emergency services by dialing 911. Don’t call 911 for the sort of driving that’s merely an inconvenience. However, if you’re seeing something that looks likely to cause a high-speed collision, then authorities need to know about it. When in doubt, it's better to contact the authorities and let them make the decision.
When reporting a reckless driver, be careful not to become one yourself. Continue to obey the rules of the road and wait until you can safely make a report. It’s best to pull over to the side of the road before making the call.
Be prepared to offer as much as possible of the following information:
- Your location
- Description of the dangerous driving behavior
- Description of the driver, the vehicle, and what direction they were headed
- License plate number
The more of this information you can provide, the more effective your report will be.
Mobile Apps for Dealing with Bad Drivers
If you find another driver annoying, but their behavior isn’t dangerous, then it’s not a matter for 911 emergency services. However, you may still feel the urge to warn others or simply vent. Thankfully, there are other ways to report bad motorists. Apps such as Drive Me Crazy and Fail Driver offer a means to get your complaints heard.
A dashcam can be extremely useful for recording video evidence in any case involving reckless driving. But if you don’t want to buy a new piece of hardware, Nexar is an app that turns your phone into a dashcam. This makes it easy to record unusual, or dangerous driving. Nexar even has a function that can automatically detect dangerous behavior from other drivers and prompt you to start recording.
If you’ve been injured by someone reckless driving, we have a convenient online solution to start your injury case from the comfort of your home. Lonati Law offers video consultations for personal injury cases; you can do the whole consultation directly through your smartphone.
Reporting a Driver for Evaluation
Unfortunately, some people keep driving long after they really should. Many drivers feel a need to preserve their independence or work position. Some senior drivers might not want to face that they might not be able to drive anymore. While this is understandably difficult, it’s better for people to adjust their lifestyles than risk endangering themselves or others on the road.
If you know someone who really shouldn’t be driving, the state provides another method of reporting them besides calling 911. The Georgia Department of Driver Services has a form for reporting unfit drivers. Typically, this form is used for drivers who are medically unfit, and it's filled out by physicians, caregivers, or law enforcement officials. However, it can be filled out by anyone with personal knowledge of why another person can’t drive safely. Again, when lives are at stake, it's generally better to report it and let the authorities decide.
Doing Your Part for Highway Safety in Georgia
As drivers, we all share a responsibility to keep Georgia’s roads safe. This means driving safely, but it also means reporting road hazards — including reckless drivers — when they pose a threat to you and others. While Georgia law enforcement works hard to protect us, they can’t be everywhere. They’re relying on citizen drivers to help them know where the dangers are and when they need to respond to a threat.
Our personal injury attorneys have over 25 years of experience in car accident law in Dallas, GA. If you have been injured due to a person’s reckless driving, you may be entitled to compensation. If you need a personal injury attorney, contact Lonati Law Firm now for your free initial consultation.