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Hit & Run Accidents: What Does Georgia State Law Require?

Posted in Car Accidents on February 11, 2020

Hit and run accidents are often devastating for victims. Unfortunately, these incidents are far too common in Georgia and throughout the United States. According to data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an estimated 737,100 hit and run crashes in the country during the latest reporting year of data available. These incidents typically cause thousands of severe injuries and fatalities each year. It is important to understand what Georgia laws say about hit and run accidents.

Georgia hit & run

Hit and run accidents are usually crimes

Anyone involved in an accident in Georgia has a responsibility to stay at the scene until police arrive or the matter is otherwise officially resolved. Nearly every accident that happens in Georgia must be reported according to the law, so there is no excuse for someone leaving the scene because they think an incident is “minor.” Under Georgia law, a person must stop at and report a crash they are involved in if:

  • The incident caused an injury to another person
  • The incident caused the death of another person
  • There was $500 or more in property damage caused by the accident
  • The accident occurs in a required reporting jurisdiction

Leaving the scene of an accident can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. In cases where there was only property damage and no physical injuries, a hit and run incident will be classified as a misdemeanor. In these cases, a person found guilty of misdemeanor hit and run can face a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

In instances where a serious bodily injury or death has occurred due to the hit and run, the driver who flees the scene will be charged with a felony. If a person is found guilty of felony hit and run, they face a minimum of one year and up to five years in prison as well as additional fines.

Why would a driver leave the scene of an accident?

Laws that require drivers to stay at the scene of an accident are important, particularly if another person involved has sustained a serious injury. Someone needs to call 911 and ensure that police in EMS are on the way. If a driver flees the scene, it is entirely possible that nobody will know that an injured has occurred.

There are various reasons that hit and run accidents occur. In rare instances, a driver may strike somebody and legitimately not know they have done so. However, It is more likely that a hit and run driver:

  • panics and leaves the scene because they are scared of the consequences
  • is operating on a suspended license
  • is impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident
  • does not have insurance
  • has a warrant out for their arrest
  • has illegal substances in their vehicle

While this is certainly not a complete list of reasons why a driver would flee the scene, these scenarios are not uncommon. Even if a driver has broken a law or is sure to face legal consequences due to their actions, the repercussions will always be less than they would otherwise be without an additional hit and run misdemeanor or felony charge attached.

Recovering compensation in a hit and run

If you are struck by a hit and run driver, you need to report the incident to your insurance carrier even if you do not have the other driver’s insurance information. If the police catch the at-fault driver, you can file a claim against that person’s insurance carrier. However, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or if the driver is not caught, you may need to file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage. However, Georgia does not require this coverage, so check your insurance policy today to see if you will be covered in the event you are struck by a hit and run driver.

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