Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | December 6, 2018
In Chatham County, home to Savannah, car accidents have almost tripled during a recent five year period, from more than 5,600 to more than 15,000, and fatalities more than doubled. A good number of them are almost certainly hit and run accidents—nationally, hit and run accidents are on the rise, and deaths from hit and run crashes recently hit an all-time high. In fact, a hit and run takes place every minute in the United States.
Here at Hasner Law, we have counseled clients who are victims of hit and run accidents and helped them seek compensation from the driver. Sometimes, clients aren’t sure if their accident constituted a hit and run. It can be important to figure that out because if a driver broke the law in leaving an accident scene, it can affect how we advise our clients to pursue recovering compensation. Here is an overview of what constitutes a hit and run accident in Georgia.
What Is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run occurs when a driver leaves the scene of a motor vehicle accident before fulfilling their legal obligations to exchange information, render aid, and, if necessary, call law enforcement to respond to the scene. Under Georgia law, all drivers involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or damage to a vehicle must stop at the scene and remain there until these obligations have been fulfilled. It is not considered a hit and run if you strike a fixed object—a mailbox or telephone pole, for example—and drive away.
Failing to stop at the accident scene is a crime. If the accident involved death or serious injury to someone, leaving the scene constitutes a felony. If the accident involved injury other than serious injury, or involved damage to property, leaving the scene constitutes a misdemeanor.
Leaving aside the requirements of Georgia law, whenever someone is involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is always a good idea to stop and:
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other parties;
- Call law enforcement and emergency medical personnel;
- Render first aid to the extent feasible without placing your own health and safety at risk.
Exceptions to the Rule
In some cases, it may be necessary for you to leave the scene of an accident without waiting for the police to arrive or exchanging information with the other party. Sometimes, this is not considered a hit and run. You may leave the scene of the accident if you:
- Are seeking medical attention. If you or someone in your vehicle has been seriously injured and you need to drive to the nearest medical care facility immediately, this takes priority over waiting at the accident scene.
- Are contacting the police. In some areas of Georgia, you may still find that your cell phone doesn’t get adequate reception—or you and the other driver may both be traveling without one. In this case, you are allowed to leave the scene of the accident to summon the police or call for medical help. After the call has been made, however, you should return to the scene of the accident as soon as possible.
- Need to leave for your own safety. If the driver of the other car is behaving in a way that indicates that you might be unsafe, for example, you may need to leave the scene of the accident for your own safety.