Being the victim of a hit and run accident is terrifying. In addition to physical pain, you likely feel confused and angry. You may also be worried about how you will pay your medical bills or afford to miss work. Without contact information for the person at fault, it can be difficult to determine how to receive compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle or other personal property.
Fortunately, you are not on your own. If you’ve been injured in a hit and run accident, here’s what you need to know.
Reporting to the Authorities and Finding the Driver
When you’ve been involved in any type of accident, your safety should be your first concern. Get yourself to a safe location, and never attempt to chase down the driver. Stay calm and try to gather as much information as possible. Make note of the vehicle that hit you. Having the make, model and license number greatly increases the chances that police will be able to track down the driver. At the very least, try to pay attention to the color and type of vehicle. If you get a glimpse of the driver, try to remember what they look like.
Try to find people who saw what happened. Even if you are unable to remember the details yourself, a witness may be able to help. Ask for names and contact information, and contact law enforcement as quickly as possible. File an accident report with all the details you can remember as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses. Provide as much information as you can to help the police track down the other driver. Keep in mind, though, that many drivers are never caught.
If you are able to do so, take pictures of the scene before leaving. If someone struck your car, take pictures of the damage. The more photographic evidence you have, the more likely you will be to receive compensation.
Suing for Damages
If the police are able to track down the other driver, you may be able to sue them for damages in court. Drivers have certain responsibilities when they are involved in an accident, and if someone fails to fulfill them, they face serious consequences. If found guilty, the at-fault driver in a hit and run accident can face civil and criminal penalties.
By filing a civil injury lawsuit, you will likely be able to recover damages to compensate you for things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. You may also be entitled to punitive damages. In Georgia, a driver that flees the scene of an accident is subject to an award of punitive damages against them because they failed to render aid to the other driver or pedestrian whom they may have injured and because they failed to assist law enforcement in investigating the cause of the incident. Punitive damages are intended to serve as punishment for such immoral behavior. In this instance, the wealth of the defendant is important as wealthy defendants are usually forced to pay more in punitive damages than other offenders with less money.
Filing an Insurance Claim
Even if the other driver is never caught, you may be entitled to compensation through your insurance company. In most states, your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage will cover your medical expenses while your uninsured motorist property damage will cover the cost of vehicle repairs when you file a hit and run insurance claim.
Hiring an Attorney
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident, working with an attorney is in your best interest. An experienced lawyer will help you navigate the complex process of recovering financial compensation and ensure that you receive the largest settlement possible.
At KSLG, we represent clients who have been injured during hit and run accidents. Our compassionate team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to whether you are filing a lawsuit against the driver or you need to file a claim with your insurance company. To speak with a personal injury lawyer, contact us today.