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1) What to do after a hit and run accident?
Immediately after being involved in a hit and run accident, there are a few things you should do, including:
Preserve any video footage (dashcam video, on-board vehicle cameras, etc.)
Record vehicle information (i.e. color, make, model, year of vehicle, direction of travel, license tag number);
Record driver information (gender, race, approximate age)
Identify witnesses (name, address, and telephone number of anyone who witnessed the collision)
Document damage and injuries; (photographs of vehicle damage, leftover paint marks, etc.)
Seek medical treatment
2) How to identify a hit and run driver?
Hit and run drivers can be difficult to identify, but no impossible.
Often, hit and run drivers are involved in other criminal activity. So, law enforcement can often identify a hit and run driver when they are arresting the perpetrator for other, unrelated criminal charges.
There are other ways to identify the at-fault driver including through video footage of the collision. Newer cars often come equipped with on-board cameras. Some drivers have their own dashcam video recorders installed. Or, nearby traffic cameras and/or security cameras can capture a collision and the at-fault driver.
Otherwise, it’s important to identify witnesses who may be able to provide additional identifying information. They can also corroborate your experience.
3) What if the driver can’t be found?
If the at-fault driver can’t be found, you are eligible to receive compensation through any vehicle insurance that provides you uninsured motorist coverage.
This is not limited solely to your insurance. You may also qualify if you have resident relatives that own their own vehicles that have uninsured motorist coverage.
4) When will my uninsured motorist coverage be available in a hit and run collision?
Uninsured motorist coverage is only available after a hit and run in one of two scenarios:
There is actual physical contact with your vehicle or person; or
A witness can corroborate your experience and verify that it occurred.
These statutory conditions are meant to protect insurance carriers from fraudulent claims.
5) Who can I sue in a hit and run accident?
After a hit and run accident, you can sue the at-fault driver if they are ever identified.
If the at-fault driver is not identified and unknown, you would bring suit under a fictitious name for the defendant, usually “John Doe.” If the driver is later identified, you can simply substitute the real name for the fictitious name.
When suing and unidentified driver as a “John Doe,” this is usually done to pursue uninsured motorist coverage benefits. Your insurance carrier will defend the case for all practical purposes.
6) Are punitive damages allowed in a hit and run accident?
7) Will my UM/UIM policy cover punitive damages?
Unfortunately, punitive damages are not available when your seeking compensation through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
You can only claim compensatory damages in those scenarios.
8) Why do people leave the scene of an accident?
People leave the scene of collisions for a multitude of reasons, but there are patterns to this action.
Most often, people leave the scene of a collision for one of the following reasons:
Inebriation or impaired driving and judgment;
Suspended or revoked license;
Underappreciate the gravity of the situation;
Vehicle is uninsured;
Unregistered or stolen vehicle;
Outstanding warrants or parole violations;
Carrying illegal drugs and/or weapons
Regardless of the reasons, drivers who flee the scene are more likely to male, under the age of 25, with damage done to unoccupied, parked vehicles.
9) What are common types of hit and run collisions?
Hit and run collisions are more often seen and experienced in certain scenarios, including:
Collisions with parked vehicles;
Collisions with occupied, moving vehicles on the roadway;
Collisions with pedestrians; and
Collision with bicyclists.
10) Who is required to report a motor vehicle collision?
Any driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle collision is responsible for immediately notify the local police department.
This includes the at-fault driver as well as any other innocent driver involved in the collision.
11) What information are drivers supposed to provide after a vehicle collision?
After being involved in a collision that results in injury or death, all drivers involved must remain at the scene and provide their name, address, and registration number of the vehicle;
In addition, every driver of a vehicle involved must present their license, if requested.
12) Is an at-fault driver required to render aid to someone injured in a motor vehicle collision?
Any person involved in a motor vehicle collision is required to provide “reasonable assistance” to anyone injured in the collision.
This can include transporting the injured person to a medical facility or calling 911 to send an EMS.
If the person injured is unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate, every reasonable effort must be made to obtain emergency medical services as well as contacting law enforcement.
13) Is it a felony to leave the scene of an accident?
It can be a felony to leave the scene of an accident if the accident results in serious injury or death.
In that case, the person who left the scene can be punished by imprisonment for 1-5 years.
14) What statutes may apply to my hit and run collision accident?
Some Georgia statutes that may apply to your hit and run accident case include:
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 (Duty in Accidents Involving Injury or Death)
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-271 (Duty Upon Striking Unattended Vehicle)
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273 (Duty to Report Accidents)
O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11 (Insurance when Driver is Unknown)
If the at-fault driver is identified and found to have violated other traffic laws in the process, those statutes may apply as well (i.e. drunk driving).