This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of 'Do I Need a Lawyer?' hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
Now let's go to the next question from one of our viewers.
I have a question for you. I was driving on I-20 about 8:00 in the evening. My two kids were in the back in their booster seats. A car that was in the lane to my left swerved over into
my lane. He clipped the rear of my car and caused me to spin out of control and hit the retaining wall. When my car finally stopped, I was just sitting there in shock. My kids were
crying hysterically. The guy that hit me kept going. An elderly man that was behind me stopped to help me. He saw the whole thing happen but he wasn't able to get any tag information
to give to the police.
We were all taken by ambulance to the hospital. I know we will need follow up care.
But I am honestly at a loss. I don't know what to do about my car, my medical bills, and our future medical treatment.
Can you help me???
-Amber in Hiram
Amber, thanks for the question.
I'm very sorry to hear about your accident and your injuries. You were involved in a very serious collision and I'm thankful you are able to even ask me questions about the wreck. I've
handled a lot of claims just like yours where the people in the car did not survive. Just imagine the force on impact when a car traveling at high speeds on the interstate collides
with a concrete retaining wall.
I know from your question that the man that caused this wreck fled the scene and I assume the police were never able to locate him or his vehicle. This situation is referred to as a
"hit and run" wreck. Sadly, this happens more than one would think. In the situations where the hit and run drivers were identified and caught, we found some factors that played a role
in the Defendants fleeing the scene of the wreck:
* The driver was intoxicated;
* They did not have a valid driver's license;
* The driver was illegally in the country;
* Their car was not insured;
* There were active warrants for the driver's arrest.
Let's dig a little deeper into these factors.
According to a study by AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety, 21% of all traffic fatalities between 1993 and 1999 involved drivers who did not have a valid driver's license.
A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that the 7 states with the highest hit and run fatalities directly corresponded to the states with the
largest population of illegal immigrants.
Crash data from NHTSA show that the number of fatal hit and run accidents is increasing.
2009 - 1,274 crashes
2010 - 1,393 crashes
2011 - 1,449 crashes.
2011 was the last year from which we have the data but that is a 13.7% increase in wrecks with hit and run drivers over that 3 year period.
Well let's talk about your legal options.
If we can't locate the at fault driver, then there is no way you can know whether or not that person had liability insurance.
So Amber - the next thing we would do is take a look at your own insurance coverage.
We want to find out if you have uninsured motorist's coverage.
Uninsured motorist's coverage or UM applies in a situation where the defendant does not have insurance, or in your case, when the identity of the at fault driver is unknown because
they fled the scene and are never apprehended.
Georgia law does not require you to have UM coverage as it is optional.
However, I encourage EVERYONE to make sure you have this coverage on your policy because of the number of people that are driving without insurance on Georgia's highways - and our
Now let me talk about uninsured motorist's coverage in a little more detail.
If we receive word from your insurance company that you did not have UM coverage on your policy, we take it a step further.
Georgia law holds that for policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, insurance companies "must provide insureds the option of selecting either 'added-on' underinsured
motorist coverage or 'reduced' underinsured motorist coverage."
I want to see the actual application showing that you were given the option to select or reject UM coverage. If the insurance company cannot produce the application showing you
specifically rejected UM coverage, then coverage is in force and effect.
If you have uninsured motorist's coverage on your policy, we immediately put your insurance company on notice about the wreck, as well as your injuries.
The failure to do this in a timely fashion could result in your insurance company denying coverage for your claim because you did not comply with the notice requirements in the
Amber, I know this is a lot of information.
The easiest thing to do is just pick up the phone and give me a call to discuss your claim.