This past week in
Atlanta, Georgia, we have had a very sad car accident incident. The assistant principal
at one of our local high schools has been arrested and charged with
three hit-and-run car wrecks, one of which injured another person, and driving under the influence (“DUI”).
Tanisha Rodgers Thomas is an assistant high school principal here in Atlanta
at Booker T. Washington High School. On December 21, 2011, right before
Christmas, Ms. Thomas was driving down Waterford Club Line when she allegedly
crossed the centerline and ran head on collision with another car. She
then did the very worst thing she possible could have done – she
left the scene.
Things got even worse from there. Ms. Thomas kept driving, and a short
time later, she allegedly ran a red light at Ga. 6 and Maxham road. She
hit another vehicle – and she left the scene again.
According to the allegations, Ms. Thomas only stopped when her vehicle
ran off the roadway into a curb and then crashed into a fire hydrant.
As an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I absolutely cringe when I see drivers
make the most serious mistake of all – leaving the scene of an automobile accident.
On my main web site, I have a page that talks about the law on
hit and run car wrecks in Georgia. The main code section is:
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to
or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or
attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene
of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith
return to the scene of the accident . . .
When a driver causes a wreck and then flees the scene of a car accident,
he leaves terrible chaos in his wake. The people who have been injured
during the wreck are not only trying to deal with the physical aftermath
of what happened to them – they also are saddled with the mental
anguish of worrying about how their injuries will be covered since the
driver (who at least theoretically had the insurance required by law)
just left the scene.
One of the main reasons that Georgia law requires a driver to stay at the
scene of the accident is so the driver can call for medical help for the
people who are injured. See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270(a)(3). If the driver
heads off, the people left behind may suffer far more – or even
die – because they cannot call for help themselves, and so they
do not get medical assistance in time.
When this assistant principal left the scene, she created problems for
all of the people she left in her wake – but also huge problems
for herself. The Atlanta Public Schools have allowed the principal to
keep her job for now, while her case runs through the court system. Given
the apparent evidence against the principal, however, it seems highly
likely that she will ultimately lose her job. In the meantime, the people
she hit are dealing with their injuries from a car wreck and worrying
about getting their crashed cars repaired or replaced.
Remember that if you are the victim of a
hit-and-run accident, you may still have automobile accident insurance coverage if you have
uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM coverage).