Athens Hit-and-Run Attorney
In a hit-and-run accident, one driver crashes into another vehicle, but instead of stopping and exchanging insurance information like they’re supposed to do, they simply drive away. Unfortunately, Athens hit and run accidents are not uncommon.
Usually, people hit and run because they are hoping to avoid any responsibility and repercussions for the car crash. In some cases, a driver is so intoxicated or otherwise impaired that they don’t even realize they’ve hit someone and continue driving thinking everything is normal.
Don’t panic if someone hit your car and fled the scene – our Athens car accident lawyer can help remedy the situation and hold the driver accountable for their actions. Let’s look at a few reasons why hit and run accidents happen and what you can do if you’re in one.
When Drivers Are Required to Stop
Under Georgia Law §40-6-270, if you are in an accident as a driver in Georgia, you must stop if anyone was injured, if there was any vehicle damage, or if anyone died as a result of the accident.
If you’re in any of these situations, you’re required by law to stop and give your name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license.
Now, when you’re in a high-intensity situation such as a car accident, you might not be able to tell right away if someone was hurt. But even if it was just a fender bender and you’re pretty sure everyone is okay, you should stop anyway. You never know if someone is seriously injured.
Why Some Drivers Flee the Scene
Why do some drivers flee after an accident? The root of why people hit and run is usually based in fear. Someone did something wrong, and now they’re scared they’ll get in legal trouble.
This is especially true of drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they hit someone. They know that drunk and drugged driving is illegal, but instead of stopping their vehicle and owning up to the consequences, in an attempt to avoid culpability they just drive away.
Certain factors make a hit-and-run more likely. Below, you’ll see some common motivations among offenders for fleeing the scene of an accident.
The driver who hit you might not have auto insurance, which is illegal in the state of Georgia. They may have thought that the cost of having to pay for the damages out of pocket, or the repercussions of breaking the law would be too much for them to handle financially.
If a driver is caught driving without insurance, they could face steep fines and even jail time. If you add in an accident while driving uninsured, the driver will have to pay for all of the repairs to the other person’s vehicle out of pocket since they don’t have an insurance company to help them.
All of this can spook an uninsured driver and lead to them making the poor decision of leaving the scene of the accident.
Driving With a Suspended License (or None at All)
The driver that fled the scene might also have been driving with a suspended license or they may not have a license at all.
The penalty for being caught driving without a valid and current license in Georgia can be up to $1,000 in fines or even a year in jail. When a driver has already been breaking the law before they got into the accident, the stakes are high for them if they get caught.
The fear of owning up to this crime may cause a scared driver to flee the scene of the accident in an attempt to avoid repercussions.
The Vehicle Was Stolen
Depending on the value of the car, a person caught for driving a stolen car could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and can be sentenced to jail time ranging from one to 20 years.
If the other driver was operating a stolen vehicle, they may have fled the scene to avoid jail time and responsibility for their actions.
Driving Under the Influence
A recent study showed that over 40% of hit-and-run drivers were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they were under the influence, they may not have even known that they caused an accident. However, they also might have been aware but decided to flee the scene out of fear of being charged for driving under the influence.
Getting a DUI in Georgia is no small penalty. DUIs can be on your permanent record, keep you from getting jobs, skyrocket your insurance premiums, cause you to lose your license, and even send you to jail.
Some drivers under the influence may believe that they can get away with fleeing the scene of the accident and that doing so will save them from a DUI and all of the hardships that come along with it.
Proving Liability in a Hit-and-Run
If you were in an accident and the other driver fled the scene, you will need to prove that they left. Luckily, if you called the police, then you will have proof that the other driver was not there when the police arrived.
Additionally, you’ll need to prove that the other driver caused the accident. If you have a difficult time doing so, focus on proving their negligence for leaving the scene of the accident. An Athens hit and run accident lawyer can help. Be sure to gather as much evidence as possible regarding the accident to help with your case.
If the other driver is found to be criminally negligent for leaving the scene, they could be assumed to be negligent for the accident. This is known as negligence per se.
The other driver will face consequences for the hit-and-run which can include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of up to 12 months.
What if the driver can’t be found?
If the driver from the hit and run can’t be found, you’re not out of options.
First, you can file a MedPay claim if you were injured in the accident. This can cover your medical bills from the accident and will be more time-efficient than filing a claim with your insurance and waiting for compensation that way. Insurance companies move slower and your claim through regular insurance will still be subject to premiums and deductibles.
If MedPay fails, you can see if you have a policy on your insurance that protects you from uninsured drivers. This can help you get medical care or reimburse you for medical bills from the accident if you are unable to find the driver.
Victim of a hit-and-run? We can help.
If you were a victim of a hit and run in Athens, we can help you. Fleeing the scene after causing an accident is a cowardly and illegal thing to do. Worse is the fact that someone else’s actions could make your life more difficult when it comes to recovering and moving past the accident.
We’ll help you to prove the other driver’s liability and bring justice to your case. Accidents can result in injuries which can mean astronomically high medical bills. You should not be responsible for these medical bills.
Don’t wait until your bills have piled up; call an Athens car accident lawyer today at (706) 995-7547.
Your first consultation is always free, so there’s no risk for calling and getting a legal opinion. When you call, we’ll schedule a time for you to meet with an attorney and go over your case and your options. Don’t wait; call today!