It is a crime in Georgia to flee the scene after being involved in a car accident. Due to the criminal element, juries tend to award more in damages to injured victims. In addition to the forms of compensation normally available in car crash cases, hit-and-runs may also lead to punitive damages meant to punish the defendant.
However, many hit-and-run accidents involve drivers who are never found, making it challenging for injured victims to pursue compensation in civil court or from the unidentified party’s insurance company. In any scenario, it is recommended that you contact a hardworking car accident attorney for advice. The legal team at Smith Hulsey is well-practiced in recovering damages for Gainesville hit-and-runs and could assist you with your particular case.
The recoverable types of compensation for hit-and-runs are similar to most other injury cases, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
In Georgia, economic damages are meant to reimburse hard costs associated with a car wreck, whether they were paid for by one’s health insurance policy or out of pocket. These typically include medical bills and lost wages among other calculatable expenses.
Non-economic damages are losses that cannot be exactly calculated. This compensation is meant to cover subjective forms of harm such as the value of pain and suffering. A skilled attorney is often crucial in estimating non-economic damages and arguing for a fair settlement after a hit-and-run.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for reckless or wanton conduct. In Georgia, punitive damages are capped at $250,000, which can be significant add-on value to a hit-and-run claim. The legal standard that applies to this form of compensation is similar to the standard for criminal conduct. A local attorney must demonstrate that the fleeing motorist had the intent to cause harm or a reckless indifference to the safety of others on the road.
Even if an injured victim works with local law enforcement, hires a private investigator, or retains a skilled lawyer, it may not be possible to locate the hit-and-run driver. In these cases, legal counsel could help the person seek recovery through the uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under their own insurance policy.
Gainesville drivers typically have UM coverage unless they specifically tell their insurance agent that they want to reject it in their application. This form of coverage tends to be equal to or less than the liability coverage for situations where the insured driver causes an accident. At Smith Hulsey, our knowledgeable attorneys are well-versed in UM policies and could advise a hit-and-run accident victim in Gainesville on pursuing this avenue for compensation.
Some people may be nervous about going against their own insurance policy, but this is a common action to take in these situations. In Georgia, if you go against your own insurance company for an accident that you did not cause or contribute to, it is illegal for them to cancel your coverage or increase your premium. If the driver responsible for your injuries is never found, this may be the only way for you to recover appropriate compensation for your losses.
Working with legal counsel could help you better understand your options for pursuing recovery after such a traumatic incident. If you were injured by a fleeing motorist, speak to a lawyer with experience recovering damages for Gainesville hit-and-runs. Call the legal team at Smith Hulsey to learn how we could help.
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