Thousands of car accidents occur in Augusta and Richmond County each year. They are often the result of negligence. If you live in Augusta, Georgia, you may be injured in a car accident — even if you are a cautious driver. After all, you can’t stop other motorists from being irresponsible.
Being injured in a car accident can be a frustrating experience, especially if the person who caused the accident flees the scene.
A hit and run accident can leave you facing a range of struggles. You may now be left with costly medical bills. You might have to take time off work, which may preclude you from earning an income. You will likely also face some challenges that don’t have an objective dollar value, such as pain and suffering.
Fortunately, you can seek financial compensation for each of these losses. Georgia is an at-fault state. In an at-fault state, the victim of a car accident can file a claim to collect from the negligent party’s insurance. They may also file a lawsuit if the negligent party is uninsured or if their insurance company is unwilling to compensate the victim properly.
Why it Helps to Hire a Lawyer When Submitting a Car Accident Claim
Insurance companies are not always eager to pay claimants what they ask for. Insurance companies are businesses. The goal of an insurer is often to minimize how much they pay claimants. Some will even look for reasons to deny claims entirely.
This is why it is typically smart to hire an attorney when filing a claim to recover compensation after a car accident. A lawyer’s expertise will maximize a claimant’s chances of recovering compensation.
However, you might assume that hiring a lawyer is unnecessary after a hit and run. If you don’t know the identity of the individual who caused your accident, why should you bother to seek compensation? You won’t know whose insurance you need to file a claim with.
These are understandable perspectives. That said, even if you don’t know who caused your accident, you should strongly consider at least reviewing your case with an attorney. Doing so may be more beneficial than you realize.
Why You Should Meet With an Attorney After Being Involved in a Hit and Run Accident in Augusta, GA
There are many reasons it is wise to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer after a hit and run — even when you’re unaware of the negligent party’s identity. They include the following:
Investigating Your Accident
Drivers who cause hit and run accidents don’t always get away with it. There are many ways to potentially identify someone who caused an accident, even if they fled the scene.
Sometimes, the perpetrators of hit and run accidents are identified by the police later after the accident. An attorney can coordinate with local law enforcement to find out if the person who caused your accident has been caught.
A lawyer can also conduct an independent investigation into the accident. This may involve taking such steps as:
- Investigating conditions at the scene of the accident itself
- Interviewing anyone who may have witnessed the accident
- Tracking down any photos or video footage (such as from a nearby security camera) that may help identify the negligent party
An attorney can also begin the process of documenting your losses. Even if the driver isn’t immediately identified, a lawyer can prepare your claim in case they are identified later.
Assessing Other Options
There may be other parties who contributed to the accident beyond the hit and run driver. For example, maybe the driver struck your vehicle because a traffic signal or sign was damaged or missing, causing them to drive through an intersection when they should not have. If this were the case, the agency responsible for maintaining the area’s traffic signals might be at least somewhat responsible for your accident.
The statute of limitations requires victims to take legal action within a certain period of time after their accidents occur. If you miss the deadline established under the statute of limitations, you will have waived your right to compensation. This is one reason lawyers sometimes don’t take on clients.
However, there are exceptions. The statute of limitations can sometimes be “tolled.” This means the ticking clock can essentially be paused, giving a victim more time to take action.
The statute of limitations may be tolled when a car accident victim doesn’t know the identity of the individual responsible for the accident. You may not have known this was an option. A lawyer can provide you with advice on these types of matters, helping you better understand your legal options.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
You can also help your attorney more easily track down the person who struck your vehicle by taking certain key steps in the immediate aftermath of your accident. They include the following:
- Writing down any details you may have noticed about the vehicle that struck you, such as color, approximate age, any fragments of the license plate that you can recall, etc.
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene and asking them if they noticed any details of the vehicle that you may not have
- Reporting the accident to the police and describing what the vehicle looked like and where it was headed
It’s also extremely important to seek medical treatment right away after your accident. You must see a doctor even if you don’t believe you have been injured. It’s possible to sustain an injury in a car accident without noticing symptoms until days or weeks later. You need to confirm you don’t require any medical treatment. Showing that a doctor evaluated you after your accident can also help improve your chances of recovering compensation later.
Once you have seen a doctor, strongly consider meeting with an attorney to discuss your case. The fact that you don’t know the identity of the negligent party now doesn’t mean you will never identify them. Thus, you need to prepare accordingly. Once more, finding out who caused your accident can also become much easier when you have professional assistance. Contact an attorney to learn more.