If the number of hit and runs in the Atlanta area is any indication, it appears to support evidence that there is an upward trend across our country in this crime. From 2000 to 2006, we saw a 20 percent increase in hit-and-run accidents nationally. The crime is becoming so prevalent, many state and local governments are increasing penalties for all types of hit and run accidents. Only recently, Texas added stiffer penalties for fatal hit-and-runs. The situation is so bad in Los Angeles, the LA Weekly Blog has been running stories about the rampant increase in this crime which garnered national attention in a 20/20 story. I applaud efforts to give potential hit-and-run offenders a reason to obey the law, as well as greater publicity about this crime.
In my work as an Atlanta injury lawyer, I help families recover after serious injury and trauma. When an accident or injury occurs and victims need medical help, time can be critical is saving life and limb. After an accident and in the best of circumstances, medical attention can be critical to a victim’s survival. But when victims are ignored by hit-and-run drivers, their injuries can be worsened by the passage of time without help.
Just this week, two accidents involving hit-and-run drivers have impacted the lives of the victims, one of them has died at age 16. In the first accident, a total of three cars apparently hit the teen, but only one of them stopped. It is thought that the victim was riding a skateboard that slipped away from him and the teen walked into busy traffic to get the board. He was a student at Monroe Area High School.
Authorities know that he was first hit by a Honda, then by a truck and lastly by a Chevy Tahoe. The driver of the truck was the only one to stop at the scene of this accident. Some drivers who were not part of this accident stopped to help as well.
A second driver was interviewed and is talking with authorities. That driver and the third one who is yet to be found, could well face hit-and-run charges and perhaps vehicular homicide since the teen tragically died from his injuries. Reports indicate that one of the driver’s who did not stop has been interviewed after his or her vehicle was identified.
In another horrific hit-and-run two friends were sitting on a wall near and Atlanta park in the early morning hours on Saturday. They were hit by a car that left its lane and veered into them. Both apparently were hurt badly, with such severe injuries as broken pelvis and partial leg amputation. The young female victims of this accident are 22 and and 21 years in age and are best friends.
Reports indicate that the driver of the vehicle that hit these young women may have been driving a stolen rental car. He was said to have run after hitting the two. The person involved in this is still being sought and the public is being asked to help with information.
The law in Georgia is clear, do not engage in hit-and-run. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated, section § 40-6-270 drivers are required to stop at or return to scene of accident that results in injury or death of any other person or damage to a vehicle. In addition, drivers in these circumstances are to help any injured person with reasonable assistance, including getting medical attention. It is also required that the driver make reasonable efforts to get medical help and also to contact the police or other agency, to report the crash and get help. This law also provides for a felony if the accident is the cause of death or serious injury to others occurs.
I sincerely hope that with greater attention to the penalties involved in this type of accident and the fact that it is a crime in our state, drivers will understand not only their legal obligations, but their moral obligations, to assist those they injure on the roads. My heart goes out to the families of these young people who have been injured or lost their lives in these sad circumstances.
When families are dealing with the injury or death of a loved one that has been caused by another person, sometimes they are so overwhelmed they do not know where to turn for trusted guidance. For two decades, I have been dedicated to helping families deal with and recover from accident and injury. My legal work with families is handled with compassion and care. Please contact me personally at The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, for guidance and support.