Every year, the United States witnesses more than 2.5 million car accidents, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among these incidents, a notable portion involves hit and run accidents, where one party involved leaves the scene without fulfilling their legal obligations, such as providing insurance information. These occurrences often stem from individuals seeking to evade the repercussions associated with their insurance or liability.
In the aftermath of a hit and run accident, it is crucial to navigate the situation effectively. Your insurance provider can play a pivotal role in alleviating the financial burden incurred. Concurrently, law enforcement agencies will employ their resources to track down the elusive driver, facilitating the potential for reparation through legal channels. Through meticulous attention to detail and diligent investigative work, authorities are well-equipped to locate the responsible party.
Understanding Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents can be among the most vexing incidents to contend with. They occur when the driver of the other vehicle involved departs the scene without offering insurance information or rendering aid to any injured parties. Such accidents can involve multiple vehicles or a vehicle and a pedestrian. The absence of the other driver’s insurance details complicates the process of filing claims and pursuing legal recourse.
Common Injuries from Hit and Run Accidents
Car accidents can result in a range of injuries, varying in severity depending on the circumstances. These may include:
- Broken Bones: Often prevalent in accidents involving pedestrians.
- Head Injuries: Encompassing trauma to the head, which can lead to concussions, brain injuries, and significant cerebral damage.
- Bruising: Occurring due to various factors, including the impact of seatbelts and airbags.
- Whiplash: Involves injury to the neck muscles during the accident, which may necessitate medical intervention.
- Cuts: Common due to debris from the accident, including broken glass.
While this list is not exhaustive, any injury sustained in a car accident warrants immediate medical attention, followed by diligent follow-up care.
Determining Liability in Hit and Run Accidents
Assigning liability in hit and run accidents can be intricate, particularly in cases where the other vehicle is untraceable. In some instances, fault may be readily apparent, while in others, comprehensive investigative efforts by law enforcement are required. To safeguard your interests, it is imperative to adhere to all necessary protocols, including providing insurance information and promptly involving the authorities.
Financial Implications of Hit and Run Accidents
The aftermath of a car accident can entail various forms of financial strain, including:
- Medical Expenses: Covering emergency care and ongoing treatment, which are crucial for a full recovery.
- Property Damage: Encompasses repairs or replacement of the vehicle, along with potential loss of personal belongings.
- Lost Wages: Resulting from extended periods of work absence due to injuries or vehicle repair.
Additional expenses may also arise. As the victim, you need not bear this burden alone. Pursuing compensation through legal channels, provided the responsible party is located, is a viable recourse.
Navigating a Hit and Run Incident in California
Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or property damage is a criminal offense, yet it remains a regrettable reality that motorists sometimes opt to flee, often driven by a lack of proper insurance coverage or a sense of culpability. Despite such circumstances, it is imperative to pursue fair compensation and seek justice.
1. Prioritize Medical Assessment
Ensuring the well-being of all parties involved is paramount. Promptly dial 911 and endeavor to reach a safe location. Maintaining composure while awaiting law enforcement’s arrival is crucial.
2. Thorough Documentation
Resist the urge to pursue the fleeing vehicle; instead, pull over safely and document pertinent information. If a license plate number or partial details are discernible, record them promptly. Strive to recollect the make, model, and color of the offending vehicle.
3. Identify Potential Witnesses
Once in a secure position, actively seek out potential witnesses. Record their names and contact information, and kindly request their cooperation in providing a police statement, if feasible.
4. Lodge a Police Report
When law enforcement arrives, relay a detailed account of the incident in a composed manner. Refrain from pressuring officers to engage in pursuit. Remain at the scene until authorized to depart.
5. Inform Your Insurance Provider
If you managed to ascertain the identity of the offending vehicle, there may be recourse in compelling their insurance company to cover damages and potential injuries. However, it is worth acknowledging that many hit and run drivers are either uninsured, unlicensed, or face legal repercussions. Expectations from such parties may be modest.
Depending on your insurance coverage, there may be an avenue to have your expenses covered, provided you have opted for adequate protection against uninsured or under-insured drivers. Absent such coverage, you may find yourself shouldering the financial burden.
While such circumstances are unfortunate, they underscore the importance of securing comprehensive insurance coverage, inclusive of protection against uninsured and under-insured drivers.
It is not uncommon for individuals to flee minor collisions in parking lots, where damage is minimal. Conversely, more severe hit and run incidents entail victims being abandoned without assistance, disregarding their well-being. Typically, the responsible party absconds to evade financial responsibility. Frequently, these evasions arise from driving without insurance, leaving the victim to pursue recourse through their own insurance providers, potentially imperiling their immediate well-being in the aftermath of the collision.
Understanding Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Your Los Angeles hit-and-run accident lawyer will inquire about your insurance policy and whether you have UM coverage. This type of coverage can come to your aid when the at-fault party is uninsured, which is often the case in hit-and-run incidents. By having UM coverage, you can rely on your own insurance policy to cover your losses.
Utilizing UM Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents:
Hit-and-run accidents pose a similar situation to accidents involving uninsured drivers, as there is no insured person to hold liable for the damages. In such cases, UM coverage becomes invaluable, allowing affected drivers to seek compensation for their losses.
Mandatory Offer and Optional Purchase:
According to the California Department of Insurance (CDI), insurance companies are required to offer UM coverage to prospective policyholders in California. However, it is important to note that purchasing this coverage is not mandatory. Policyholders have the choice to opt for UM coverage or waive it by signing a waiver.
If You Find the Hit-and-Run Driver Later On
If the hit-and-run driver’s identity becomes known, you have options for seeking compensation. You can file an insurance claim with the insurer or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. This allows you to seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage costs, lost income, and the physical and emotional pain you’ve endured.
It’s important to note that there is a deadline to file a lawsuit in California. Generally, for a personal injury lawsuit, you have two years from the date of the accident to take legal action, as outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in your case not being heard.
Managing Hit and Run Accidents
In the event of a hit and run accident, prioritize seeking immediate medical attention for all parties involved. Subsequently, contact the police to provide as much information as possible about the elusive driver. Simultaneously, notify your insurance company and initiate the claims process. This proactive approach ensures you receive necessary support for expenses incurred and lays the groundwork for potential legal action.
Hit and run accidents present distinct challenges, but with diligent adherence to procedural steps and timely involvement of authorities and insurers, you can navigate through the complexities. Through these concerted efforts, you stand better positioned to recover from the incident and seek rightful compensation.
Hit and Run Accidents FAQs
What type of insurance will pay for damages if you are the victim of a hit and run driver?
Regardless of fault, collision insurance will cover the costs of repairing your vehicle.
What is the difference between misdemeanor and felony hit and run?
In California, hit and run is a misdemeanor if it only results in property damage. However, if bodily injury or death occurs, the responsible driver may face felony charges.
What happens if a hit and run driver is never identified or apprehended?
Unfortunately, if the responsible driver is never identified or found, they may evade legal consequences. This can lead to victims bearing the financial burden. A skilled Los Angeles hit and run lawyer can assist in negotiating with the insurance company, establishing fault, and securing compensation.
Can a passenger be charged with hit and run in California?
Depending on the circumstances, a passenger may be held accountable for a hit and run accident in California. If the passenger encourages the driver to flee the scene or is complicit in their negligent actions, they may face criminal charges.