When a car accident occurs, it’s standard practice for both parties to stop, exchange information, and report the accident to the local authorities. However, when one party fails to stop and instead runs away from the accident, the resulting hit-and-run case can be a nightmare to deal with.
It may seem hopeless to recover any sort of financial compensation from a hit-and-run driver, but there are ways you can get a proper settlement that will pay for your damages. Our Marietta hit-and-run accident attorneys are here to help you during this confusing and challenging time.
Duty to Report in Marietta
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 40-6-273, all parties involved in a car accident have a duty to report it. In other words, if a car accident causes death, injury, or property damages in apparent excess of $500 or more, it’s the law to inform the authorities. Failure to do so is illegal and can result in the hit-and-run driver facing additional legal penalties.
How Will a Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney in Marietta Help Me?
Our hit-and-run accident lawyers in Marietta can help you whether the at-fault driver gets located or not.
- If the Hit-and-Run Driver Gets Located. If the negligent driver responsible for your hit-and-run accident gets found by the police, we will help you hold them accountable for their actions. In addition to seeking economic and non-economic damages, we will seek an additional award for punitive damages caused by their behavior.
- If the Hit-and-Run Driver Does Not Get Located. You can use your uninsured motorist coverage to seek compensation from your own insurance company. Our lawyers will help you understand all the options you have under your policy and help you fight to get your settlement.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
After you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, the steps to take will be critical. When you have never been involved in a motor vehicle accident, let alone a hit-and-run collision, you may be unsure of what your next step should be. Here are the first things you should do in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident in Marietta:
1. Contact Police and Emergency Responders
The first thing you need to do after being struck by a vehicle is contact 911. Even if the other involved driver has left the accident seeing, you should contact emergency responders. Law enforcement officers can determine who caused the hit-and-run accident.
2. Document the Scene
If you are capable of doing so, you should begin to document the accident scene wherever possible. This means you should take photos of the collision, the damage to your vehicle, the surrounding scene, and your subsequent injuries.
You should also write down how the accident occurred, as there may be important details you do not remember as time goes on. You can also attempt to obtain the contact information of any witnesses and make a note of any nearby homes or businesses that may have captured the collision on video.
This information could prove invaluable not only in law-enforcement officials’ attempts to identify the person who caused your accident but in your civil lawsuit against the liable party.
3. Obtain a Medical Evaluation
Even if you feel fine in the aftermath of your accident, it is important that you obtain a medical evaluation. You might have suffered internal injuries that are not readily identifiable. You might have suffered traumatic brain damage that you do not notice in the initial moments after the collision.
As soon as emergency responders arrive at the accident scene, be sure to obtain your health exam. Alternatively, you can elect to be seen by your primary care provider or visit an urgent care center.
Failure to obtain a medical evaluation could have harsh consequences. Not only could you face the implications of an untreated car accident injury, but the defense may have an opportunity to argue that your injuries were not caused by the car accident but instead occurred in another way. This could reduce their financial liability in your case.
4. Contact a Marietta Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
Once you are medically stable, your next move should be to contact a hit-and-run accident lawyer for help. Your lawyer will be able to take over all of the legal details of your case so you can heal from your injuries.
Your lawyer can also give you a better idea of who could be responsible for causing your accident and how to ensure they are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Building a Case Against the Liable Party
If you hope to prove that someone else is responsible for causing a hit-and-run accident, the first step will be identifying the liable party. Your lawyer will open up an investigation and work with the police to figure out the identity of the individual who struck you and left the accident scene.
While we work to identify the hit-and-run offender, we can begin working on the other aspects of your case. We will need to begin to calculate the value of your damages, work on gathering evidence to prove liability in your case, and prepare to file insurance and civil claims as necessary.
Once the hit-and-run offender has been identified, we can move forward with your case. Generally, in a hit-and-run accident, the offender does not have auto insurance. This means there may not be an auto insurance company to file a claim with unless you previously purchased personal injury protection coverage (PIP) with your own auto insurer.
This means you should be prepared to file a civil lawsuit against the person who hit you if you hope to get the most out of your case. Your attorney will need to prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence, which means we will need to introduce evidence that shows the jury the defendant is more than likely responsible for your hit-and-run accident injuries.
Could Shared Fault Impact Your Injury Settlement?
Sharing liability in a hit-and-run accident is more common than you might think. However, you might be surprised at some of the ways you could be partially responsible.
For example, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, you could be partially at fault for the injuries you sustained, as the judge or defendant might argue that you knew wearing your seatbelt could protect you in the event of an accident.
Fortunately, unlike states that follow a pure contributory negligence system, Georgia does not. Here is more about what you can expect if you share fault in your hit-and-run accident:
Georgia Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
Georgia follows modified comparative negligence laws. Here, you can still recover compensation for your damages, but your portion of liability cannot exceed 49%. This is known as a 50% bar rule.
If your liability exceeds this limit, you will no longer have the right to pursue your case in court. However, if your portion of the liability is less than the limit, you may still have the right to recover compensation from the liable party.
How Shared Fault Might Influence Your Settlement
You will need to be held accountable for your portion of liability if you pursue your case. To do this, the courts will deduct your percentage of liability from your injury settlement. For instance, if you were awarded a sum of $3 million, but the judge found you 25% responsible for your injuries, your settlement would then be reduced by 25%. This would leave you with a final hit-and-run accident settlement of $2,250,000.
If you are concerned with how your case might be impacted by Georgia’s modified comparative negligence of rules, make sure to discuss your questions and concerns with your injury attorney during your free consultation.
What Kind of Damages Can I Collect?
Recent road safety facts state that roughly 4.4 million people in the U.S. get seriously injured each year due to car accidents. Many of these injuries and the resulting damages can get compensated through your settlement:
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- Vehicle repairs and replacements
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
- Disability and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, mental illness, and emotional trauma
- Various medical expenses
Our hit-and-run accident lawyers in Marietta will calculate all your damages accurately to ensure nothing gets left out.
How Much does a Marietta Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Cost?
Do not think about how much retaining a lawyer will cost you. Worrying about legal fees isn’t the right way to approach the idea of hiring legal representation. Instead, think about how much you can lose due to legal inexperience against an entity as powerful as an insurance company. They have zero incentive to play fair and will often manipulate you to accept a lowball settlement.
By hiring a lawyer, you ensure that the negotiations you have are on an even footing. Do not get pigeon-holed into settling for less than what you truly deserve. None of our lawyers take any fees upfront and will only accept payment if they can win compensation for you.
Do I Need an Attorney if I File a Claim with My Own Insurance?
Yes, we still recommend that you ask one of our lawyers for help, even if it’s with your own insurance. Remember, insurance companies are all businesses at the end of the day. Even if they hold your policy, there’s still no obligation on their end to be fair. Their concern is protecting themselves, not the people they insure.
If your insurance company is being unreasonable or arguing with you on the value of your settlement, you should consult with our attorneys today. In fact, we recommend that you speak with our Marietta hit-and-run accident attorneys first before anything so that insurance adjusters don’t have anything to use against you.
Statute of Limitations for Hit-and-Run Accidents
In Marietta, you have just two years from the date of your accident to begin filing your claim. The statute of limitations can pass very quickly, so it’s best to act fast in building your case. Before you make any rash decisions, contact one of our attorneys as soon as possible. We will ensure that you get a solid case built up before the deadline passes.
Let Our Attorneys Help You File Your Claim
We offer a free consultation to all our clients at zero obligation or risk. Please contact us online or over the phone to learn more about what we can do to assist you after a hit-and-run accident in Marietta. Our team is available 24/7 to set up an appointment.