From a legal standpoint, establishing liability is crucial in personal injury claims. On the other hand, a criminal hit-and-run suit aims to use evidence to prove culpability and get a conviction. This is especially complicated in a hit-and-run accident.
If a driver leaves the scene immediately after an accident without exchanging contact information, you must identify the driver to hold them accountable. Fortunately, professional assistance is available for victims of hit-and-run accidents. In some cases, an experienced car accident attorney from Chris Hudson Law Group can help you identify useful evidence and establish liability for a personal injury claim after your hit-and-run accident. If your attorney can locate the hit-and-run driver, we could help you file an injury claim to secure compensation.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident happens when a driver leaves a crash scene. They don’t stop or help. They also don’t share information. In Georgia, this is a criminal offense. Skipping these steps is a crime. This is true even if the fleeing driver didn’t cause the accident.
Criminal Liability in Georgia for a Hit-and-Run Accident
Georgia prosecutors can charge a driver involved in a hit-and-run accident with either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
If a hit-and-run accident causes death or serious injury, the State of Georgia charges it as a felony offense, punishable by a prison sentence of one to five years.
If a hit-and-run accident causes only minor injury or if the accident results in damage to a vehicle, Georgia charges the offense as a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of a misdemeanor hit-and-run offense, drivers are subject to fines of $300 to $1,000 and prison sentences of up to 12 months.
To secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that drivers violated Georgia’s hit-and-run statute. If successful, victims of the hit-and-run accident can use the fact of such a conviction to support civil injury claims against the at-fault driver.
Civil Liability in Georgia for a Hit-and-Run Accident
It is essential to discover the identity of a hit-and-run driver to recover money from them in a Georgia civil court case. To secure compensation for your injuries, you must prove that the driver violated a traffic law or otherwise behaved wrongfully, which ultimately caused you to suffer injuries or other losses in the hit-and-run accident.
What Types of Evidence Are Needed to Prove a Hit-and-Run Case?
In any hit-and-run accident claim, collecting evidence that establishes the sequence of events that led to the collision and identifies the vehicles and drivers involved is critical. Proving that a hit-and-run accident occurred requires proof of the following elements:
- An accident occurred
- The defendant was the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident
- The defendant knew or should have known that the accident occurred
- The defendant willfully failed to stop and remain at the accident scene
- The defendant caused personal injuries or other harm in the accident
Conducting an investigation immediately after the accident allows insurance adjusters, lawyers, and other investigators to preserve valuable evidence that might not be available later, such as proof of:
- The make, color, and model of the hit-and-run vehicle
- The hit-and-run vehicle’s license plate number
- The direction the hit-and-run vehicle was moving
- Any distinguishing marks on the hit-and-run vehicle
- The physical appearance of the hit-and-run driver or their passengers
An experienced personal injury lawyer can interview witnesses who might have observed the vehicle’s license plate number or other important details. For instance, the police officer who responded to the accident scene could testify to confirm that the driver accused of the hit-and-run was not present at the accident scene.
Experts can sometimes reconstruct a hit-and-run accident using physical evidence like tread marks or vehicle damage. The accident reconstruction process can yield key pieces of data like the hit-and-run vehicle’s size, speed, and direction. A reconstruction of the accident can also help investigators estimate the speed of impact. Some experts can also match tire tread marks from a defendant’s vehicle to those found at a hit-and-run accident scene.
Finally, surveillance or security camera footage can help identify the hit-and-run driver and their vehicle’s color, make, model, and license plate number.
Contact an Augusta Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney Today
An experienced personal injury attorney can provide investigative services beyond what law enforcement offers after a hit-and-run. Identifying a hit-and-run driver is not always possible, but an attorney can help you explore every possibility of getting compensation. Call the Augusta hit-and-run accident lawyers of Chris Hudson Law Group at (706) 863-6600 for a free consultation to learn more.