5 Important Steps To Take If You Are Injured In An Accident Caused By A Hit And Run Driver
In Georgia, the law requires every driver involved in a car accident to stop at the scene of the accident, render aid if necessary to anyone who is injured, and exchange names, addresses, vehicle registration, and insurance information with the other parties involved. Unfortunately, there are times when people involved in car accidents in Georgia refuse to stop at the scene and instead engage in what has commonly become known as a “hit and run.” Drivers who are victims of a hit and run are often left wondering what they should do. Is there any way to be compensated for your injuries and damage to your vehicle when you don’t know who hit you or whether they have insurance?
Do Not Leave The Scene Of The Accident
Many people victimized by hit and run accidents whose cars can still be driven after the accident will often leave the scene themselves and not report it to the police, believing there is nothing they can do. That is a mistake. Police officers are trained in accident investigation and may be able to recover evidence at the scene of your accident that could help them identify the hit and run driver. If you leave the scene without reporting the accident, that evidence can be lost forever. This leads to next very critical step.
Always Report The Car Accident To Police
If you have been involved in an accident with a hit and run driver, the first thing you should do is call 911 and report the accident to the police and request emergency medical treatment if you are injured. This creates an immediate record of the incident. Provide the police with as much detail about the vehicle that struck you as possible. Even if you did not get a good look at the vehicle that hit you, it is always a good idea to report the accident to the police immediately. Also, when the police receive a report of a hit and run accident they can notify all officers in the area to be on the lookout for a vehicle with fresh damage that could be the hit and run driver. Hit and run is a serious crime in Georgia, and local police should take your report very seriously. If you notify the police right away they will at least have a chance to try to locate your hit and run driver, which could provide you with their vehicle’s insurance information and potentially save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headache.
You Can Still Recover Even If The Driver Is Not Located
If the police are unable to locate the hit and run driver and provide his insurance information to you, you still may be able to recover for the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you sustained in the accident through your own insurance. If you do not know the identity of the driver who struck your vehicle, then under Georgia law that driver is treated as an uninsured motorist.
All insurance policies in Georgia are required to provide at least a minimum amount of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage unless you specifically decline UM coverage to your insurance company in writing. Thus, you likely will have at least the legal minimum amount of UM coverage under your own auto insurance policy to apply toward your vehicle repairs and medical bills.
Always Report The Accident To Your Insurance Company As Soon As Possible
It is important if you fall into this category that you report the accident to your own insurance company right away as many policies require notification of an accident as soon as possible as a condition to providing you UM coverage. The insurance company will likely open an investigation into the accident to verify that your car was in fact struck by another unknown vehicle and that you are not seeking insurance benefits for damage you caused. This is another reason why it is a good idea to call the police to the scene of the hit and run because having their police report helps prove to your insurer that the accident actually happened the way you are reporting in your insurance claim. Without a police report, insurance could become suspicious of your story and either delay or deny your claim.
Even though it is your own insurance company, pursuing a UM claim successfully can be tricky particularly the more money there is at stake if you have more than minimum UM coverage under your auto policy (and adding more than the minimum UM coverage to your policy is a very good idea). Just because you do not know the identity of the driver who hit you does not mean you do not still have rights under your UM policy to receive full and fair compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage within the limits of your UM coverage. Even though you were the victim of a hit and run, if your UM insurer will not pay you fair compensation within the limits of the UM coverage available under your auto policy you still have a right to file a lawsuit to recover from your UM benefits just like you could if you knew the identity and insurer of the driver who hit you. The best way to ensure you are receiving full and fair compensation for your hit and run UM claim is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away to advise you and assist you through the process.
The Take Away
1. Stay at the scene of the accident;
2. Call the police immediately;
3. Get EMS treatment, if necessary;
4. Report the claim to your insurance company as soon as possible;
5. Pursue an uninsured motorist claim, if necessary.