Hit-and-run accidents are accidents where a driver hits another driver or pedestrian and flees the scene soon afterward, without checking on the other person or exchanging contact information. These types of accidents can have severe consequences, for both the victim and the driver who flees.. If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident,you need to know your legal rights and what you can do to go after legal action against a driver that flees an accident.
According to ValuePenguin, hit-and-run accidents have become more frequent along with deaths from hit-and-run accidents. The number of deaths from hit-and-runs went from 1,393 in 2010 to 2,005 deaths in 2019. Furthermore, they stated that California, Texas and Florida have all recorded more than 1,000 fatal hit-and-runs, as the states with the three highest accidents.
Understanding Hit-and-Run Accidents
Hit-and-run accidents can be intentional or unintentional, but either way, the driver can face serious legal consequences. A hit-and-run accident is a criminal offense, and the driver who ran away can face criminal charges. Additionally, the driver can also be held liable for damages caused to the victim, and the victim can pursue legal action to seek compensation for injuries, property damage, and other losses that are involved in the accident.
Consequences of Hit-and-Run Accidents
Criminal Charges and Penalties
A hit-and-run accident is an offense that can lead to various charges or penalties depending on how bad the accident is and state's laws. For example, in some states, leaving the scene of an accident can be a misdemeanor offense, while in another, it can be considered a felony.
Some of the criminal charges that a hit-and-run driver can face include:
- Hit and run with injury or death
- Hit and run with property damage
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Vehicular manslaughter
Some penalties for hit-and-run offenses can include a fine, community service, probation, and even jail time.
In addition to criminal charges, hit-and-run drivers can also face civil liability for the damages caused to the victim. Civil liability means that the driver can be held responsible for the victim's losses and can be required to pay compensation for the damages.
Some of the damages that a hit-and-run victim can claim compensation for include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Pursuing Legal Action Against the Driver
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to file a claim against the driver. A claim is a legal action that seeks compensation for the injuries and losses suffered due to another person's negligence or wrongdoing. To pursue a personal injury claim against the hit-and-run driver, you will need to gather evidence and hire an injury attorney to represent you.
Reporting the Accident to the Police
The first thing to do in pursuing legal action against a hit-and-run driver is to report it to the police. Reporting the accident can help police investigate the case and determine the driver's identity and whereabouts. You should call the police as soon as possible after an accident and provide them with any details you can remember. You can provide them details like the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number, and the direction the driver fled to.
To pursue a personal injury claim, you will need to gather evidence to support your case. Some of the evidence that can be helpful includes:
- Eyewitness accounts of the accident
- Surveillance footage from nearby cameras
- Photos of the accident scene and any damage to your vehicle or property
- Medical records documenting your injuries and treatment
- Police reports
Filing a Lawsuit
If the hit-and-run driver is found, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit against them to seek compensation for your damages. It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit can be different in each state, so it is crucial to act quickly and consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Settling a Claim with Insurance Companies
If the hit-and-run driver could not be found, you may still be able to get compensation for the damages through your own insurance company. Many auto insurance policies include coverage for hit-and-run accidents, known as uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage can help you recover damages even if the driver is never identified.
When you file a claim with your insurance company, you need to provide them with the evidence you have found, including the police reports, your medical records and any possible witness statements. The insurance company will then conduct their own investigation and determine the value of your claim