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Georgia’s Hit and Run LawsAmanda
Georgia ranks 4th in the U.S. with the number of fatal hit and run accidents. Because of this, it is important to learn about the state laws regarding what constitutes a hit and run, the legal consequences for a hit and run offense, and what to do if you are involved in a hit and run accident.
Defining Hit and Run Accidents
A hit and run accident refers to a collision between one or more vehicles or pedestrians, where the driver responsible for causing the crash flees the scene and fails to provide necessary information to the other parties involved. In most hit and run accidents, the driver may collide with another vehicle, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or even property, and instead of fulfilling their legal obligation to stop at the accident scene, they choose to quickly leave.
The legal obligations of a driver after a car accident typically includes stopping at or near the scene, exchanging contact information with the other parties involved, and seeking assistance for anyone who may be injured, such as calling 911 for medical help. Failing to follow through with these responsibilities is against the law and constitutes a hit and run offense, which can have severe legal consequences for the driver. Depending on the severity of the accident, a hit and run driver may face criminal charges, fines, and possible imprisonment.
Georgia Hit and Run Accident Laws
Georgia’s hit and run accident laws require drivers involved in a collision to stop immediately at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible. The law mandates that drivers exchange information with the other parties involved, which includes providing their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information. If the accident results in an injury, death, or property damage, drivers must also help provide assistance to anyone injured, such as calling 911 for emergency medical services.
Under Georgia law, in cases where law enforcement is not present at the scene, drivers must report the car accident to the local police department or the Georgia State Patrol within 24 hours of the crash occurring. Failing to fulfill this legal obligation as a driver involved in a collision constitutes a hit and run offense.
The legal penalties for hit and run offenses vary based on the severity of the accident. If the car accident involves only minor property damage, it is typically classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, if the car crash results in injury or death to a person, the offense becomes a felony. Penalties for hit and run offenses can also include fines, license suspension, and potential jail time.
Legal Consequences After a Hit and Run Accident
In Georgia, a hit and run is a criminal offense and the legal consequences vary depending on the severity of the accident and whether serious injuries or fatalities were caused. Some of the potential legal consequences after a hit and run accident include:
- Misdemeanor Charges: If a hit and run accident resulted in only minor property damage, the driver who fled the scene may face misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanors in Georgia can lead to fines, possible probation, and up to one year in county jail.
- Felony Charges: Hit and run accidents resulting in injuries or death are considered felonies in Georgia. If a hit and run driver is identified and found guilty of the offense, they may face significant fines, probation, and imprisonment for several years, depending on the severity of the injuries or the number of fatalities.
- Civil Liabilities: The driver responsible in a hit and run accident may face civil liabilities, meaning they can be sued by the victims or their families for compensation for medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and other losses caused by the accident.
- License Suspension: Drivers charged with a hit and run in Georgia may have their driver’s license suspended as part of their sentence or as an administrative action by the Department of Driver Services.
- Criminal Record: A hit and run charge will result in a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences on various aspects of the offender’s life, including employment opportunities and future legal matters.
- Civil and Criminal Court Proceedings: A hit and run driver may have to face both civil court proceedings to address any claims for compensation from the victims involved in the accident and criminal court proceedings for the hit and run offense.
Steps to Take If You’re Involved in a Hit and Run Accident
While being involved in a hit and run accident can be shocking and overwhelming, there are several important steps to remember to follow.
- Stay Calm and Ensure Safety: Take a deep breath and try to remain calm. Check yourself and others for injuries and call 911 right away if anyone needs medical attention. Move to a safe location if possible, away from moving traffic or potential hazards.
- Document the Scene: Take note of the time, date, and location of the incident, as well as photos or videos of damages at the accident scene. If possible, try to collect contact information from any witnesses who may have seen the accident occur.
- Report the Incident to Law Enforcement: Contact the local police or the Georgia State Patrol immediately to report the hit and run accident. Provide them with all the details you have collected, including a description of the fleeing vehicle or driver, if available.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t have any visible injuries, it is essential to get evaluated by a medical professional. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and prompt medical attention can help address any potential injuries.
- Notify Your Insurance Company: Contact your auto insurance company as soon as possible and provide them with all the details of the accident.
- Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer: Consider seeking legal advice from an experienced car accident lawyer. A skilled lawyer can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, help you handle insurance claims and seek financial compensation for any damages.