A hit-and-run accident can happen to anyone, unexpectedly. Traffic accidents remain one of the leading causes of non-natural deaths in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes send people between the ages of 1 and 54 to their graves. So, with all the consequences of road accidents, one would expect drivers to exercise more care.
One would also expect that should an accident happen, the fault party would remain at the scene and make a report, but this is not always so. For example, some drivers in Winder, Georgia, flee the accident scene without stopping to examine the harm they caused. When they do this, they turn the collision into a hit-and-run accident.
In this article, our hit-and-run accident lawyers examine what amounts to a hit-and-run accident under Georgia law. We also provide civil remedies available to the victim of a hit-and-run crash. Contact The Weinstein Firm if you or a loved one get into an accident and the fault driver flees the scene.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Under Georgia Law?
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) section 40-6-270 defines what amounts to a hit-and-run accident in the state. The law states that the “driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person or in damage of any vehicle must immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident.”
In addition to the above, the person shall do the following:
- Give their name, address, and vehicle registration number
- Upon request and, if available, show their operator’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or a person attending to any vehicle collided with.
- Render “reasonable assistance,” including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person injured in the accident to a physician, surgeon, or hospital if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or the injured person requested it.
- Make every necessary effort to ensure that they contact emergency service responders where the injured person appears deceased or is otherwise unable to communicate to request assistance or report the accident.
- Remain at the accident scene until they have fulfilled all of the above.
Every stop made at the crash site must be carried out without obstructing traffic flow. Anyone who violates this law would face a criminal charge when apprehended by the police. The punishment for the violation is quite stringent, especially when charged as a felony.
In addition, it’s a hit-and-run to strike a parked car without notifying the owner. A person who does this would face a misdemeanor charge. Under Georgia law, the punishment is $1,000, up to 12 months in jail, or both. Furthermore, the sentence for a hit-and-run accident depends on how many times a person has been convicted for the offense.
Are There Civil Remedies Available to the Victim of a Hit-and-Run Accident?
The answer to this all-important question is yes. The presence of a criminal charge in a hit-and-run accident case does not take away your rights to pursue a civil action. Usually, in car accident cases, the first point of the claims process is filing an insurance claim.
However, due to the nature of a hit-and-run, you can choose to file a personal injury lawsuit immediately. A suit is also the best option for survivors of a deceased hit-and-run accident victim. Note that just because a driver fled the scene after the crash doesn’t mean you cannot pursue a claim.
More often than not, law enforcement agencies track down hit-and-run drivers and take them into custody. Once they do, you can commence the civil suit for compensation. You should be able to recover economic and non-economic damages. In addition to these two, the court may award punitive damages.
Courts award punitive damages because the fault driver in a hit-and-run accident could be said to have exhibited egregious behavior. But you still need to prove it. Therefore, working with a Winder auto accident lawyer is best when dealing with a hit-and-run case.
Contact Experienced Winder Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyers!
At The Weinstein Firm, our Winder hit-and-run accident attorneys understand how difficult it is to deal with a hit-and-run accident. That is why we work closely with the investigating authority to locate the fault driver. Once we do, we will commence the claim process and ensure you get the compensation and justice you deserve. Your interest is our priority, so call today to schedule a free case review.