Every state has a law requiring drivers to stop when they are involved in a car crash. Georgia law explicitly makes it illegal to leave the scene of an accident and imposes penalties for drivers who violate the law.
Georgia drivers should stop at or near the scene of the collision. If you fail to do so, it is considered a “hit-and-run” accident. When you stop at the scene of an accident, you must exchange information with the other driver. You should provide your name, address, and registration number for the vehicle being driven. Drivers should also exchange their insurance information and their driver’s license number.
If you are in a car accident, you should render aid to any injured parties. This typically means calling 911 and requesting emergency services.
If a Georgia driver leaves the scene of an accident and nobody is seriously injured and there are no fatalities, the driver will be faced with a misdemeanor. The fines can range from $300 to $1,000 and his or her license can be suspended, put on probation or stayed. The driver can also face up to 12 months in prison.
If the driver leaves the scene of an accident where a serious injury or fatality occurred, he or she may be charged with a felony and one to five years of prison time. Additionally, the victim’s family could also choose to file a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver. In Georgia, leaving the scene of an accident can result in an award of punitive or exemplary damages to punish the wrongdoer, in addition to the compensatory damages for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. If the identity of the hit and run driver cannot be determined, you may be able to bring a “John Doe” claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage for your damages (although punitive or exemplary damages are not available).
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, obtain as much information as possible about the other vehicle and write it down. Obviously, the license plate number is most important, but even the make, model, color or other distinguishing features of the car is helpful.
If you saw the other driver, write down a description of him or her too. You should note the time and location of the wreck, details regarding the direction the driver fled, and the contact information for any witnesses. If possible, take photographs of the scene of the accident and the damage to your vehicle.
Finally, contact the police and ask for a copy of the police report. Even if there is minimal information on it, having the report can be helpful when you file an insurance claim.
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, or any other type of car wreck, we can help. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer at Murphy & Garner in Bremen, Georgia. We offer free consultations and dedicated representation based on over 32 years of service to car accident victims in West Georgia and East Alabama.