In Georgia, a driver of an automobile is required to have bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. The minimum amount of coverage required by Georgia law is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury. The minimum property damage coverage is $25,000. The purpose of requiring liability insurance coverage is to make sure a driver who causes a collision has sufficient money and assets to pay for damages.
If you get into a hit and run crash, the driver who caused your accident obviously does not stop to provide you with contact details and insurance information. You can and should contact a law enforcement officer to report the hit and run, which is a crime. However, even in cases where the police are able to find the driver, there is no guarantee you will be able to get compensation him.
Handling Your Car Accident Claim
You should tell police as much information as you can about the driver in order to aid in their investigation. Witnesses to the accident may also be interviewed by police. Having a license plate for the driver who fled the scene is going to be the best and easiest way for police to track down a hit and run driver. If you are in an accident and the driver leaves, try to get the license number and information about the vehicle like the make and model.
When police find the driver who left the crash scene, a prosecutor may press criminal charges. You can use information from the police report and the arrest. You can file a civil lawsuit against the driver. If the driver has automobile insurance as required by Georgia law, the motorist's insurer may agree that the policyholder was at fault. If so, the insurance company may offer a settlement to you. If you sign the settlement, you won't be able to move forward with a lawsuit but will receive the money the insurer offered to you. If the insurer fails to accept fault or does not make a reasonable settlement offer, you can contact an auto accident attorney to file a lawsuit.
If the driver does not have insurance, this is a bigger problem. There is not going to be an insurer with financial responsibility, so you will need to decide if it is worth it to try to pursue a claim against the driver. Sometimes, a driver who causes a hit and run has money, assets, and income. If this is the case, you can file a lawsuit against the driver to seek compensation for damages. If the court finds the defendant driver liable and awards you compensation, you can recover the money from the defendant driver personally. The court will help you to enforce the judgment. You could get a lien on property, or have the defendant driver's wages garnished to make sure you get paid.
If the driver has no money, you could still sue him -- but he may be judgment proof because he does not have the funds to pay you. Under these circumstances, your best option may be to check if you can make a claim from your insurer if you have purchased optional uninsured motorist coverage.
Speaking with an experienced Atlanta injury law firm can be the best course of action for protecting your rights and financial well-being in the wake of a serious or fatal traffic accident. Even your own insurance company will be looking to minimize payout, not determine what is in the best interest of the policy holder.