Mar 15, 2024 Michael M. Day Law Firm

What Happens if I’m Injured by a Hit-and-Run Driver in a Bicycle Accident?

Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are quite common in Georgia, particularly for accidents involving bicyclists. Some motorists claim that they did not realize they had hit someone. Others fear the consequences, particularly if they are driving without insurance.

So, if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident and the driver flees the scene, do you have any chance of recovering compensation for your injuries, including your pain and suffering and time lost from work?

An experienced personal injury lawyer can often help bicycle accident victims recover damages, but hit-and-run cases are particularly challenging. It is best to start working with an attorney as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of success in gathering evidence crucial to the claim.

Collecting Evidence

When you’ve been hurt in a collision on your bicycle, your first priority is protecting your health, so you may not have taken photos or written down details about the vehicle that hit you. If you did, of course, that evidence is excellent. If you didn’t, there are still ways to gather evidence.

Send someone to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Take photographs of the area where the collision occurred from all angles. Check for skid marks, and if there are none, photograph the pavement anyway because that might demonstrate that the driver made no effort to slow down.

In many cases, a hit-and-run accident with a bicycle causes a driver’s license plate to come loose. Check for loose bolts, try to follow the route the car would have taken, and see if you can locate a license plate.

Take photos of all the homes and businesses in the area. Then, someone can contact property owners or managers to see if they have security camera footage showing vehicles at the time of the accident. Video footage might also identify witnesses to the accident. 

In hit-and-run cases and in accidents where a pedestrian or bicyclist is injured, witnesses are often more willing to testify, and they make more of an effort to remember details about the driver who caused the accident. Witnesses to this type of accident sometimes even take additional steps to help, such as using their phones to photograph the license plate of the vehicle or the driver. However, if you were seriously injured and taken away by ambulance, witnesses may not know what to do with their evidence. You can try posting flyers at the scene asking anyone to contact your attorney if they have information that could help identify the driver or prove that the driver’s actions caused the accident.

Professional Investigation

Hit and run is a criminal offense in Georgia, and when the victim is severely injured, it can be prosecuted as a felony. This gives the driver plenty of motivation to hide involvement. However, police and other investigators can use a variety of professional techniques to locate the offending driver. For instance, traffic camera footage could be obtained to identify vehicles in the vicinity at the time, and cell phone records can be used to pinpoint the location of drivers.

While police investigation may provide results, law enforcement officials are stretched thin, so it is a good idea to have your attorney and others assist in the investigation whenever possible. Locating a hit-and-run driver can take considerable effort, but the evidence that leads to identification also often demonstrates liability for the accident as well, so once you have located the driver, you will also have a good start toward establishing that the driver’s negligence caused the accident and your injuries, which is required before you can obtain compensation.

Check Your Insurance

You may be entitled to benefits through the company that provides your own auto insurance, even though you weren’t driving your car at the time of the accident. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, that often covers instances where a driver left the scene before you could collect information from them. Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in Georgia, but it is recommended that many people have this coverage as part of their policy. If you don’t have this coverage but a family member that you live with does, you may be covered by their policy.

If you have medical pay coverage on your auto policy, you might also receive insurance compensation. This coverage can cover medical expenses for up to three years or more after an accident.

Watch the Statute of Limitations

Georgia law sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a legal claim after an injury. In most cases, you must prepare and file your claim within two years of the injury or you lose the right to seek compensation. However, some factors can cause the clock to be paused, giving you more time to file. For instance, if a criminal lawsuit is brought against the driver who hit you, the statute of limitations for your claim could be delayed to allow the criminal case to conclude. An attorney can ensure that you act in time to preserve your rights under Georgia law.

Punitive Damages May Be Available

When you find the driver responsible for causing a bicycle accident, you can seek compensation to make up for your losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and emotional distress. These are compensatory damages.

In rare cases, if a driver’s actions were highly illegal, the law allows a victim to seek additional damages, known as punitive damages. These are designed to punish wrongdoing and send a warning message to others. For instance, if the driver fled the scene because they were drunk, that is a situation where you may be able to obtain additional punitive damages.

When you’ve been hurt by a hit-and-run driver, you need all the evidence you can get to identify the driver and hold them accountable. Acting quickly can provide crucial keys to identity.At the Michael M. Day Law Firm, we fight tirelessly to help accident victims recover the compensation they deserve after bicycle accidents, car accidents, truck accidents, and more. We know how to collect and present evidence persuasively to make your case solid. For a free case evaluation after your bicycle accident, contact us now.