You have an additional set of worries if you are injured in an automobile crash caused by a hit and run driver. The bottom line is that you must identify the negligent motorist in order to file a claim with his insurance company. This is not an issue when both drivers do what they are required to under Georgia law and stay at the scene of the wreck until the police arrive and complete an investigation. But what happens when the negligent driver doesn’t stop after a car wreck?
Why Drivers Flee After Causing an Automobile Accident
It is hard to imagine a driver being so uncaring and irresponsible that he would decide to leave the scene of an accident he caused, especially when it is likely that victims could be seriously injured. Yet, that is precisely what some negligent drivers do—even though they could face criminal and civil penalties if they are caught. The reasons drivers make this choice include:
- The driver was intoxicated from the consumption of alcohol or drugs and is afraid of being charged with a DUI.
- The driver did not have the automobile liability insurance required under Georgia law.
- The driver may have stolen the vehicle or not had permission to drive it.
- The driver has received multiple traffic tickets in the past and is worried about getting another one.
- The driver is worried that his insurance rates will increase.
- The driver has an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.
- The driver is in this country illegally.
- The driver is driving a vehicle owned by his employer and does not want his employer to find out about the accident.
- The driver is driving without a valid driver’s license or has a suspended license.
Why You Want to File a Police Report in a Hit and Run Accident
Even if the other driver flees the scene of the crash, you should contact the police and file a police report. This can help you obtain the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Here’s why you should always file a police report:
- The police may be able to locate the negligent driver, especially if a witness obtained the license plate number or the model and other details about the vehicle.
- The police report will help establish that a crash occurred, the cause of it, and that the negligent driver fled the scene.
- If you are able to locate the other driver, you will need the police report to file a claim with his insurance company.
- If you need to make a claim with your own automobile insurance company—even if it is only for your vehicle repair costs under collision coverage—the adjuster will want a copy of the police report.
Where Can You Obtain Compensation for Your Injuries in a Hit and Run Accident?
If you are the victim of a hit and run crash, you may feel hopeless about the possibility of obtaining the compensation you need to pay your mounting medical bills and reimburse you for the wages you lost while you were off work recovering. However, you do have legal options. Ways you may be able to obtain compensation include:
- The negligent driver’s insurance company. If the police are able to locate the negligent driver, you can file a claim with his automobile insurance company—if he has a valid policy.
- The negligent driver. When the negligent driver has no insurance, you can pursue your claim for compensation against him individually if you can identify him. You may obtain a civil judgment against the driver, but could find it difficult to collect what you are owed if he does not have sufficient assets or income to pay you.
- Restitution. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Georgia. If the driver is criminally charged, you can ask the judge to order him to pay your vehicle repair costs, medical bills, lost wages, and more as restitution to you as part of his criminal sentence.
- Your own insurance company. There are several options for obtaining compensation from your own insurance company. If you purchased collision insurance, you can make a claim for your vehicle repairs, car rental fees, and other property damage. MedPay optional insurance coverage could pay your medical bills regardless of who was at fault in causing your crash. Finally, if you purchased uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim for your personal injuries if you are unable to locate the hit and run driver or he had no insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage can pay some of your losses if his policy is not sufficient to fully compensate you.
You should contact an experienced car accident attorney after your accident if you were the victim of a hit and run crash. He may have ways to help you locate the other driver and can help negotiate your settlement with your own insurance company—often as difficult as with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Call Brauns Law today at (404) 998-5252 to schedule your free consultation to learn how we can assist you.