Hit & Run Automobile Accidents in Georgia
In Georgia, there are laws that require a person who is involved in a motor vehicle collision to stop when s/he is involved in a wreck. O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-270 states:
- (a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident and shall:
- (1) Give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving;
- (2) Upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with;
- (3) Render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transporting is requested by the injured person; and
- (4) Where a person injured in such an accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance. The driver shall in every event remain at the scene of the accident until fulfilling the requirements of this subsection. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
- (b) If such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
- (c) (1) If such accident is the proximate cause of an injury other than a serious injury or if such accident resulted in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person, any person knowingly failing to stop or comply with the requirements of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and:
- (A) Upon conviction shall be fined not less than $300.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both;
- (B) Upon the second conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined not less than $600.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions; and
- (C) Upon the third or subsequent conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions.
- (2) For the purpose of imposing a sentence under this subsection, a plea of nolo contendere shall constitute a conviction.
- (3) If the payment of the fine required under this subsection will impose an economic hardship on the defendant, the judge, at his sole discretion, may order the defendant to pay such fine in installments and such order may be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a revocation of any probation otherwise authorized by this Code section.
Where a driver “hit & run,” he or she could be held liable in a civil lawsuit for personal injuries arising from the car wreck and for punitive damages for leaving the scene of an accident. Georgia’s punitive damages law is a law that allows a victim of an accident to seek monetary compensation meant to punish or deter the wrongdoer. When a driver in a hit & run accident leaves the scene without checking on an injured victim and calling the police, such actions can be viewed as willful misconduct, malice, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care that would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. If a jury decided that the hit & run driver’s actions were so bad that it showed he or she did not care about what happened, then a jury could award “punitive damages” in addition to any award for pain & suffering, medical bills, and other losses.
Of course, that is where the hit & run driver can be found. One of the issues that can arise in a hit & run accident is that the hit & run driver is never found. Where the hit & run driver cannot be found, the injured victim of the car accident must look to his or her uninsured motorist policy in order to obtain compensation. Uninsured motorist protection is a type of insurance under automobile policies that protect you when the at-fault party is uninsured or cannot be found, like in a hit & run case. Although Georgia law allows drivers to reject this type of insurance, it is highly advisable to have uninsured motorist coverage under your auto policy so that you can be protected even if the other driver is not insured. Although the minimum amount of uninsured motorist protection you can purchase is $25,000.00 for bodily injury coverage, the more you have, the more protected you will be in the case of a catastrophic event or where you are forced to incur significant medical bills from an accident.
Like with many cases, hit & run cases can be fairly complicated and require sophisticated investigative and legal work from an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a hit & run driver, call the Davis Injury Firm at (404) 647-0722 to speak with an attorney today.