Whether you’re a victim or the at-fault driver in a car accident, it is normal to feel under pressure immediately after. The rush of emotions, especially fear, can make anyone react badly after the occurrence.
Whatever you may be feeling, it is unwise to leave the collision site. It would be best to remain on the accident scene because going away is a severe offense in Georgia that carries stiff punishments.
However, it is not unusual to find people leaving the site after a car accident in Georgia. If you’re ever involved in a crash in Georgia, it will help to engage a Georgia car accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can give you sound advice on what to do after you’ve been in a vehicular collision.
What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident
If you’re ever in a car collision, do not drive away from the scene. Georgia law makes it an offense to leave the location of your accident without doing certain things. Even if you weren’t the cause of the crash, you still can’t go.
The law sometimes refers to absconding from the accident scene as a “Hit-and-run.” This offense requires two conditions. They are:
- You must have suffered a car accident, and
- You must have left the scene of the crash before fulfilling your obligations under the law.
Georgia’s hit-and-run law provides that any driver involved in an accident that causes property damage, injury, or death to any person shall immediately stop. They must return to the scene of the accident to carry out some responsibilities. These obligations include:
- Sharing your personal information, including your name, address, and the registration number of your vehicle.
- Showing your driver’s license to the other parties upon request.
- Rendering reasonable assistance to any injured person, including transporting the person(s) for medical treatment, upon request or where it is necessary.
- Contacting medical and law enforcement services to report the accident and request assistance where an injured person is unconscious or appears dead.
You must stay on the scene of the accident until you fulfill all these obligations. Furthermore, the law expects you to do all these without obstructing road traffic more than necessary.
In summary, if you’re in a car accident, STOP! Contact the authorities, help the wounded, and give your information. If you stay at the scene until you fulfill all these, you won’t run afoul of the law.
What Happens if You Don’t Stay on the Scene?
If you drive away from the scene of a car accident you were involved in, you may face criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, the local District Attorney may charge you for a felony or a misdemeanor.
Georgia’s law prescribes punishments for drivers who leave accident scenes. Hit-and-runs are severe offenses in Georgia. The state’s law treats leaving an accident scene more seriously than a DUI.
If the crash causes death or a severe injury, and you intentionally leave the scene, you may be guilty of a felony. If the court convicts you, you face up to five years imprisonment. However, if you leave the site of a car accident that didn’t cause a severe injury or merely resulted in vehicular damage, it’s a misdemeanor.
If the DA secures a misdemeanor conviction, you may pay up to a thousand dollars in fines. Conversely, you may have to stay in jail for 12 months or serve both punishments. If the courts convict you a second and third time, you may pay fines ranging from $600-$1000 or serve a 12-month prison term, or face both consequences.
You may want to know defenses available for you if the DA charges you to court after leaving an accident scene. Defending yourself against this charge may not be easy. But it’s possible.
The law provides defenses for this offense if you weren’t the driver of the car that fled, or you didn’t know that someone got injured or any property was damaged. Finally, you may escape punishment if, when you left the accident scene, you went to seek help.
Calvin Smith Law Can Get You Compensation for Your Accident Injuries
If you get involved in a car accident in Georgia, we advise that you stay on the scene and carry out your legal obligations. You can also recover damages from the at-fault driver if you didn’t cause the crash. To receive any compensation, you will need an experienced car accident attorney in Georgia. Calvin Smith Law has the best attorneys for this. We can help you recover any expenses you make because of your vehicle collision. Call us today to schedule a FREE consultation.