Researchers estimate that a hit-and-run accident occurs every 43 seconds in the U.S. Despite strict penalties and fines, hit-and-run accidents remain common. The driver responsible for causing the accident has the legal and moral duty to ensure that the victims of the accident receive medical assistance for their injuries. The least a driver can do is call the authorities.
A driver involved in a collision should not leave the scene of the accident unless they provide their complete contact details to the police making a report of the accident or to the victim. You can continue reading to learn about hit-and-run accidents and how a Jonesboro personal injury lawyer from T. Madden & Associates can help victims get justice.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Any accident where the driver responsible for the collision leaves the scene to escape the legal repercussions is a hit-and-run accident. Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating for the victims as they can feel cheated and may not get compensated for the total damages because they don’t know the identity of the driver who fled the scene.
Penalties for Hit-and-Run in Georgia
Fleeing the accident scene before the police arrive is illegal in all states, including Georgia. If you cause an accident that results in another person sustaining injuries, death, or any property or vehicle damage, you are legally bound to stop and wait for the authorities to arrive; otherwise, you can face misdemeanor or felony charges.
If a hit-and-run conviction is someone’s first offense, under Georgia law, they can be required to pay a fine between $300-$1,000. They can also be imprisoned for up to 12 months or face probation based on the accident’s severity.
After the first hit-and-run conviction, their license can be suspended for one year. The driver can apply for license reinstatement after four months if they pay a reinstatement fee and complete a defensive driving or risk reduction program.
For second offenses, the penalty is a fine between $600-$1,000, probation, or imprisonment. For a third conviction within five consecutive years of a second offense, the penalty can be $1,000 or more with a subsequent year of incarceration. People convicted of hit-and-run felonies can be imprisoned for five years and must pay heavy fines.
Why Do People Hit-and-Run?
There are many reasons why a driver would commit a hit-and-run. For example, an intoxicated driver might flee from the scene after causing an accident to avoid DUI charges. In addition, some people would wait until the alcohol has been cleared from their system to turn themselves in for causing the accident. In contrast, others flee to avoid a conviction because they have previous convictions on their record.
Uninsured drivers that do not carry state-mandated insurance are more likely to flee the scene of accidents because some states require all motorists to have minimum insurance, and there can be hefty fines for violating state laws.
Sometimes drivers panic and leave the scene because they dread interacting with law enforcement agencies and facing the consequences. People with illegal drugs or weapons in their vehicles or those with warrants out for arrest are usually suspects in a hit-and-run.
Determining Liability in Hit-and-Run Accidents
Determining liability in a hit-and-run accident can be a complex process. You can start by gathering evidence from the accident site and noting all you can remember about the car and its driver. Your information can help authorities find the driver who fled. Other things, such as surveillance footage and witnesses, can also help your case.
Identifying the driver is crucial to recovering full compensation for your damages. However, in some cases, the driver cannot be identified, which means you would have to recover damages by filing a claim with your insurance company. However, it is possible there were third parties involved in the accident that can compensate for your damages.
Insurance companies are notorious for being reluctant to pay full compensation. That’s why you should hire an attorney to handle all communications with the insurance adjuster and take care of all legal proceedings to get justice.
What Damages are Recoverable in Hit-and-Run Accidents?
Hit-and-run accidents can result in serious injuries, which can reduce your quality of life, making you entitled to compensation for all economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include all current and future medical expenses such as medical fees, rehabilitation costs, house or vehicle modifications, lost wages, and vehicle repair or replacement costs. Non-economic damages are your pain and suffering and the mental distress and trauma you suffered due to your severe injuries. The judge or jury can also award punitive damages to the accident victim if the driver was particularly reckless or egregiously negligent.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Whether the driver’s identity is known or unknown, establishing fault in a hit-and-run accident is vital. Experienced hit-and-run attorneys know how the system works, and they have the resources to help you get full and fair compensation for your damages. They can also handle communication with your insurance company and ensure you don’t fall victim to any unfair tactics used by them. You are welcome to contact our Jonesboro car accident lawyer at T. Madden & Associates for guidance on getting fair and full compensation for your hit-and-run accident.