It happens to everyone. You’ve been rushing all day. It was a stressful day at work, and now you’re running by the grocery store and the pharmacy and you’re going to be late for dinner with the kids. You’re not looking very carefully and you end up bumping into a parked car as you’re leaving the parking lot.
This isn’t the end of the world, but you have to take it seriously. The most important thing is to stop, take a deep breath, and get out to check on both cars. If you hit a parked car and go on to leave the parking lot without talking to anyone or even leaving a note, that is legally a hit and run.
Your Legal Obligations
A hit and run offense refers to any type of car accident or collision where a driver leaves without identifying themselves or waiting for the police. Georgia state law states that a driver who hits another car, regardless of it’s in motion or not must stop at or return to the scene of the accident. Not doing so is a crime, and law enforcement will not take it lightly. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, you always need to stop and park again when you hit a car.
You might get out and see no visible damage to your car or the other driver’s car. Fortunately, that means you probably won’t be on the hook for expensive repairs, but it doesn’t mean you can leave. The other driver may be able to identify damage that you can’t.
To fulfill your legal obligation, you need to make an effort to find the driver. Ask other people around you to see if you can locate them and exchange information. If you can’t find the driver, but there is obvious damage to the car, you should consider calling the police. Leaving the scene without calling the police if there is expensive damage can still count as a hit and run in Georgia.
If there’s no sign of the driver and the damage seems slight or nonexistent, you can leave a note for the driver. Include at least your name, phone number, address, and an explanation. Put this in on the windshield where it will be seen and take precautions if necessary so that it doesn’t fall off or get rained on.
Protecting Your Own Liability
As the driver at fault, you will be responsible for all damages caused by the accident, at least in Georgia and many other states. However, your liability will be less than it would have been if you had committed a hit and run with a parked car.
There are other ways you can defend yourself if you’re worried you’ll be held responsible for a lot of damages. Take pictures of both cars right after the accident and write down exactly what happened for your own record. Don’t explicitly apologize to the driver either. You might also consider finding an attorney to help you study your options if you’re worried.