A hit and run occurs any time there is a collision between vehicles or between a vehicle and a pedestrian, and the people involved leave the scene before proper steps have been taken to address the situation. Being a victim in a hit and run can be really disorienting and distressing, so we want to give you some simple action steps to follow if you find yourself in this situation. Georgia law takes hit and run offenses seriously, and we want you to be encouraged to know that there is usually a way forward in circumstances like this.
If you are involved in a hit and run…
- Take care of injuries. If you have severe injuries, make sure you are out of harm’s way, and stay put until EMS arrives. This should always be your primary concern.
- Call 911 and get assistance on the way.
- Notice and write down as much as you can about the vehicle that hit you. Getting the whole or even partial license plate information (including state or county) is always helpful, but even if you can’t get that, record as much as you can about the make, color, condition of the vehicle, description of the driver, and so forth.
- If you are able to get out of your vehicle and take pictures to document the surroundings and damage, take time to do so.
- Try to talk to any witnesses and procure their contact information, if at all possible. Witnesses are helpful for documenting and defending a hit and run case (especially if you end up having to file a repair claim with your own insurance).
- Complete a Personal Report of Accident as soon as possible after the accident.
- Reach out to an attorney to discuss your case with them and get legal counsel on how to proceed.
Even given basic identification information, law enforcement is often successful in finding the perpetrator. In the days and weeks after the incident, keep a journal of medical and repair expenses as a means of documenting and getting as much compensation as possible for the injuries and headache you’ve suffered.
As attorneys, we have one more thing to recommend to you: Carry uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance on your auto insurance policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage is protection related to injuries received as a result of an uninsured, negligent driver. An uninsured driver is someone who did not have any insurance, had insurance that did not meet state-mandated minimum liability requirements, or whose insurance company denied their claim or was not financially able to pay it. A hit and run driver also counts as uninsured as it relates to bodily injury, though, not normally for property damage.
As a responsible driver, you have auto insurance to protect yourself in the event of an accident. But not everyone is so conscientious. If you lack uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) auto insurance, you can be at financial risk if you are hit by an uninsured motorist or by someone without adequate coverage. This is a much more common occurrence than you might think. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 13% of drivers–that’s one in eight–are uninsured.
“Let’s say you’re driving to the store today and some 19-year old [without insurance] plows into the side of your car,” says Dave Emmette, a risk manager with AIC Insurance in Ada, Michigan. That’s the type of scenario that plays out across the country every day, and in many cases, those who are hit by an uninsured driver may find they are stuck with expensive medical bills and other costs unless they have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Emmette says UM/UIM is affordable insurance that should be a part of everyone’s policy. “I never, ever do a policy without it,” he says. “Why would I want to? I want to have some recourse.”
That said, being proactive about protecting yourself in a hit and run accident includes carrying UM/UIM coverage on your insurance policy. Keep your bases covered.