What do you do in a hit and run accident?

The at-fault driver took off. You were not able to get their tag number. You looked for witnesses, but could not find any.  You have a damaged car and medical bills. Does that sound like the situation you are in?

As a personal injury lawyer, I know that hit and run accidents are the worst kind. Some stranger has changed your life and didn’t even stick around.  Is there a way to get your car repaired, get a rental car while your car is being fixed, pay for your medical bills, and provide pain and suffering?

So, let’s get back to the heart of the matter. The first thing you should do is call the police and make an accident report. If you are injured, go seek medical treatment. Even without health insurance, any emergency room is required under federal law,  to give medical treatment if you were in an accident.

OK, now about insurance settlements?

This is where things can get tricky.  The next thing to do after the accident report and emergency medical treatment is to contact an accident attorney immediately.  Why?  Because you are in a very precarious situation.  Most likely the driver that took off will not be found unless there are witnesses with valuable information.  

This may be more likely the case in a small town. I represented a client in the small town of Jackson last year that was involved in a hit and run accident. Luckily, a general description of what the guy looked like and what his car looked like helped track down the hit and run driver. This was a true benefit of being in a small town.  Everyone knows everyone and what they drive.

I was in a car accident in midtown Atlanta a few weeks ago.  We were hit from the passenger’s side.  I remember looking up and seeing a young girl ask me if we were alright.  I looked at the passenger in our car, and we were fine.  

I, then asked her if she was alright.  She looked confused and said that she was not in the accident.  I looked at her car, and there was no damage.  She said the other driver backed up and drove off down a one-way street.  We never saw her leave.  There were witnesses, but none got her tag information.  This raised an issue for my friend and his new car.

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Property Damage in a Hit and Run Accident: Gap Coverage

An experienced insurance attorney will go through your car insurance policy and detail each available policy provision to be utilized.  

It would benefit you well to have gap insurance in your car policy if you have a newer vehicle and owe money to a financing company or auto dealership.

Back to the issue at hand which is what to do when the other driver got away. I hope you are sitting down for this one. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will have no recovery at all. But, why?

The other driver fled the scene so he and his insurance company are unknown. That means that you can’t sue those you don’t know. Therefore, we must look to your uninsured motorist coverage for settlements.

Therefore, ALWAYS have uninsured motorist coverage is great advice.

So, can you even settle a case with your own insurance company?  Yes, you can.  You paid for the car insurance for this exact reason if you bought uninsured motorist coverage.

But will it be more difficult?  Yes, in my experience these cases are slightly more difficult.  These types of cases are nearly impossible, in my earnest opinion, to try to handle on your own.  

You will blow it and make it ten times more difficult for your Atlanta personal injury lawyer or Decatur accident lawyer or McDonough accident attorney or whoever you hire in whatever city you hire them in.  

But, why?  One reason is you probably have disclosed what you would settle for.  That makes it harder for your lawyer to say we won’t settle for less than X when you already said you would take Y.  

Also, you probably signed some paperwork and releases that you didn’t even know were important.  Now that skinned knee you got in the fourth grade is being thrown around as a preexisting injury.  That analogy is a joke, but the point is sincere.  You will open yourself up for a letdown. Contact your Georgia Consumer Law Firm.


Let the McClelland Law Firm help you in this situation. Save your time and energy for getting your life back together and let us spend our time and energy on getting you the best settlement for you.


We represent clients in personal injury and car accident cases in Atlanta, Marietta, Buckhead, Decatur, Stockbridge, McDonough, Griffin, Jackson, Forsyth, Monticello, and Macon as well as Fulton County, Dekalb County, Cobb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Lamar County, Spalding County, Butts County, Monroe County, and Bibb County.

Call if you have been in a hit and run accident in Georgia.

Joseph P. McClelland, LLC  (770) 775-0938

Car accidents can be devastating. Dealing with insurance companies, potential injury, damage to property and your vehicle. There is no such thing as a happy car accident.

But when it comes to hit and run accidents, things can get even worse. Where do you turn when the culprit gets away? Who do you call for answers? What are your rights?

In that stunned moment of disbelief immediately following hit and run accidents, you may not have time to get a license plate, or even have time to see the face of the culprit.

A million questions begin to swim in your head, and calming yourself enough to think properly can be more difficult than expected.

There are a variety of reasons that a hit and run perpetrator might flee the scene of the accident. Perhaps they don't have a valid drivers license, or insurance.

They might be intoxicated. Or there could already be a warrant out for their arrest. The fact remains that you now have to weigh YOUR options, when there is no one around but you.

First of all, you should always remain calm. Check to make sure you, and anyone who may be in the vehicle with you, are OK. Make sure your vehicle is safely moved out of the road, and if it cannot be moved, make sure you are out of harms way.

Normally you would now begin the insurance information exchange while you wait for emergency vehicles to arrive. However, in the case of a hit and run, you only have yourself.

While the police are on their way, try to collect any evidence or information you can find and think of. When it comes to finding the culprit, you will need to have as much information as possible for the police.

  • What color was the vehicle?
  • Did you get a look at the license plate?
  • Which direction did they flee towards?
  • Did you get a good look at the culprit?
  • Is there any debris left behind that may help identify the fleeing vehicle?

Any and all answers you can provide for police will help greatly in finding the hit and run culprit. Luckily, when it comes to compensation, most insurance companies offer contingencies for these scenarios.

They typically plan for situations in which there is an uninsured, or under insured party involved in the accident. In the case of a hit and run, when you are forced to turn to your own insurance, they will be able to help compensate you for injury and repairs.

In the case of seeking legal compensation, hit and run incidents are almost always handled with swift and strict legal response. Once the culprit is found, you will want to hire an attorney immediately. In most hit and run cases, the plaintiff will seek punitive damages compensation from the defendant.

This means that in addition to legal, medical, and damages compensation, the defendant can be stuck with even higher fines. This is due to the fact that the law sees hit and run accidents as morally reprehensible, and to be made an example of.

So in the case of a hit and run accident, make sure you know your rights, and contact a legal professional who specializes in these sorts of cases. You have options, and you should exercise them in order to get compensation for your damages.

About the author 

Joseph McClelland

Consumer Attorney that fights big businesses on your behalf.
Started his career in international human rights before eventually finding his true calling in consumer protection law. He is a husband and trial lawyer. Most of his work involves credit reporting errors, robocalls, and identity theft. His law practice is in the Atlanta/Decatur area.