When a driver hits someone and flees the accident scene, they leave injury victims in a terrible position. Fortunately, those injured in a hit and run do have a few options for recovering financial damages to pay for their medical treatment and other losses. Their options dramatically expand if they had the foresight to get an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy (UM/UIM).
The fact is, when you go anywhere near public roadways, there is a bigger risk of being involved in a hit and run than most people would ever care to recognize. Research from AAA shows that in 2015, 11.7% of all accidents, 5.9% of all accident injuries, and 5.1% of all accident fatalities involved hit and run drivers. When it comes to fatal accidents involving pedestrians, 1 out of 5 were hit and run crashes. In fact, nearly 65% of those killed in hit and runs were pedestrians and bicyclists.
Anyone who has been injured or who has had a loved one tragically die in a hit and run accident should know that they have options. They can cooperate with a police investigation to hopefully find the driver responsible for the accident, and they can work with an Atlanta car accident lawyer to explore their legal options for pursuing a personal injury claim with relevant insurance providers.
Hit and Runs Are Difficult to Investigate, and Locating the Responsible Driver Doesn’t Always Mean Compensation
Once a driver has fled the scene, it’s fairly difficult to be able to track down who was responsible for the accident. A fair portion of the cases are never solved. Finding a single vehicle in a large area, especially one that is heavily populated like Atlanta, can be nearly impossible without any sort of leads.
Even when there is physical evidence or eyewitnesses who can point police towards the likely culprit, the suspected driver may be able to make a case for their innocence. They can clean off their vehicle and repair some of the damage. They can also report an alibi that puts eyewitness evidence into question.
In the event that someone is charged with a hit and run, prosecutors must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was responsible. Anyone pursuing a civil personal injury claim must similarly put forth a “preponderance of evidence” that makes it more likely than not that the defendant was responsible for the incident.
If someone is found guilty or at fault for an accident, they still may not ever be held responsible for the damages their crime caused. The same reasons that compelled them to flee the scene can make recovering damages unlikely. They may lack liability insurance, for example, and they may have little in the way of assets that can be used to compensate injury victims.
Despite these complications, hit and run victims should still do everything they can to assist police with tracking down their assailant. Report the vehicle’s size, type, color, make, and model along with any distinguishing features. Try to remember the direction the vehicle was traveling and where it came from. Document your injuries and any property damage, which can help connect impact damage between the suspect’s vehicle. Gather statements and contact information from eyewitnesses.
Do not feel discouraged if none of these leads seem to go anywhere at first; some hit and run cases are solved weeks or months after they occurred, and injury victims may have options for recovering damages from suspects once they are located.
Your Best Options for Recovering Financial Damages from a Hit and Run Come from Your Own Insurance
In the event that no at-fault driver can be located after your hit and run accident, you may still have options for filing an injury claim if you have the appropriate insurance policy.
Unlike some other states, Georgia does not offer “no fault” personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. You can, however, obtain a medical payment (“MedPay”) policy that pays for the costs of injury treatment for you after your accident. This policy kicks in before your personal health insurance, helping you reduce the impact on your health insurance premiums and policy limits.
An even better option for Georgia drivers is to procure an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. UM/UIM coverage was specifically made for situations where an at-fault driver does not have the insurance needed to cover the damages they cause in an accident —including situations where the at-fault driver cannot be located at all. These policy add-ons typically do not cost much but provide financial relief in situations where you most desperately need it.
Some insurers allow for drivers to file under their collision policy after a hit and run, but this coverage may applies only to property damage, not medical bills.
Finally, you may be eligible to receive some financial relief using Georgia victims funds in certain situations.
Working with an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer after Your Hit and Run
When a driver flees the scene of an accident after hitting you or a loved one, it can be easy to feel hopeless. But you always have options worth exploring, so don’t assume that you cannot obtain financial compensation just because the at-fault driver cannot be located.
If you want to give your hit and run accident injury claim the highest chances at bringing you the maximum compensation available to pay for your medical bills and other damages, work with an Atlanta car accident attorney. They will be able to help you explore your options and navigate the sometimes-tough insurance claims process.
You can schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable and helpful auto accident attorney in Atlanta with no obligation today. Simply contact us online now or call 404-948-3311.