Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident Attorneys in Georgia
An unknown motorist struck and killed Lun Thang in a Georgia hit and run pedestrian accident as she crossed the street on her way to school with her aunt and sister. Ms. Thang’s father said his daughter flew about a hundred feet through the air when a dark-colored sedan slammed into her as she navigated through the crosswalk. The girl hit a PT cruiser and then bounced to the ground. According to witnesses, the sedan driver slowed momentarily after the impact but never stopped and never got out of the car. Prior to the accident, Lun Thang was a pre-kindergarten student at Indian Creek Elementary School who enjoyed singing and wanted to be a doctor. Investigators said they were reviewing evidence in the case. The victim’s aunt and sister were not injured.
Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident Injuries in Georgia
Because they have no crash helmets, restraint systems, or steel/plastic/glass barriers to protect them, pedestrians are almost always seriously injured in these kinds of hit and run car wrecks, especially if the person who commits the crime is traveling more than about 20 mph. The serious injury rate is only 10 percent if the impact speed is 16 mph or slower, and 75 percent if it is at least 39 mph. Some common pedestrian accident injuries include:
- Broken Bones: The force of the impact throws most victims, like the one in the above story, into the air. When the victim lands, their bones are often crushed. This kind of injury means aggressive surgery using pins and other metal objects to stabilize the bone, and weeks or months of physical therapy after the metal comes out.
- Head Injuries: Victims of a Georgia pedestrian accident are at risk for both head trauma injuries and motion-related injuries because the brain hitting the skull is like shaking an egg and the yoke banging against the shell.
- Internal Injuries: Emergency responders spend so much time treating external trauma wounds that they often fail to detect internal injuries, which may bleed copiously for quite some time until they are discovered.
The pedestrian accident death rate is very high as well--90 percent at impact speeds of 55mph or greater--a statistic which attests to the serious nature of these wounds.
Liability for Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accident in Georgia
Statistics vary by jurisdiction, but police apprehend up to 90 percent of hit-and-run drivers. That statistic probably includes the substantial number of drivers who turn themselves in. More significantly for our purposes, the percentage may be higher in civil court, because of the lower standard of proof.
Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this context, that probably means solid evidence that places the defendant behind the wheel of that particular car at or near the time of the accident and at or near the scene of the pedestrian accident.
But in a negligence case, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence. If the victim’s Georgia pedestrian accident attorney establishes that the defendant owned the vehicle used in the crash, it is more likely than not that the defendant was also driving the car at the critical moment.
So, in other words, state prosecutors must identify the hit-and-run driver. But a victim/plaintiff must only identify the hit-and-run vehicle. As outlined below, that is usually a much easier exercise.
Evidence in Georgia Hit and Run Crashes
In both civil and criminal court, the party with the burden of proof must assemble evidence. In car crash cases, this process is incumbent on the victim/plaintiffs. Although first responders gather some evidence such as witness statements, securing the scene and attending to injured victims are their main priorities. Furthermore, the accident report is often incomplete, because if the victim is killed or seriously injured, the reporting officer often only hears one side of the story.
Some key evidence for a Georgia hit and run pedestrian accident includes:
- Additional Witness Statements: Many people do not want to talk to police officers, for many different reasons. However, many more people are willing to talk to an attorney or an attorney’s representative.
- Surveillance Video: Between red-light cameras and nearby security cameras, video evidence is often available. And, remember that victim/plaintiffs need only identify the vehicle as opposed to the person driving the vehicle.
- Body Shops: More likely than not, a person who owns a car with damage matching the hit-and-run crash also caused that wreck.
To better facilitate this process, pedestrian accident attorneys often partner with private investigators.
Damages for Hit and Run Cases in Georgia
Whether or not the tortfeasor is located, victim/plaintiffs have legal options.
In both these instances, pedestrian accident victims are entitled to compensation for their economic losses. Medical bills, which can run as high as $100,000 or more for many injury-related hospital stays, are usually the largest items in this category. Victims are also entitled to compensation for their lost wages or any lost property.
Money is available for noneconomic losses as well, such as loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). Money cannot fully compensate for these losses, but it helps immensely. Typically, both economic and noneconomic damages are tax-free, since they are related to a physical injury.
If the negligent driver is identified, juries often award additional punitive damages, especially if the driver did not come forward on their own. These damages punish them and help deter future wrongdoing. In some cases, a damages cap may apply.
If the hit and run driver is not found, most victims can file claims against their own insurance companies. These matters are almost exactly like a negligence case, except if the matter does not settle, the dispute usually goes to arbitration instead of trial.
Contact an Atlanta, GA, Pedestrian Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Legal Options
Substantial compensation is available in many pedestrian hit-and-run cases. For a free consultation with an experienced pedestrian injury lawyer in Atlanta, contact Council & Associates, LLC. Our pedestrian injury attorneys do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.