A hit and run accident is when a driver crashes into another vehicle, private property, or a pedestrian, and then flees the scene without identifying who they are or helping the injured party.
Leaving the scene of an accident without checking on the other people involved is just a horrible thing to do, and can easily be avoided by just staying there and dealing with it.
Since 2006, the number of reported hit and run accidents has increased to over 745,000 per year with almost 400,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths.
Sadly, these hit and run accidents involve a lot of bicyclists and pedestrians that are killed from these situations.
Most hit and run drivers are never caught and get away with their cowardly crime.
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, then please read this article below to better understand what your legal rights are and what you should do.
Why Contact The Law Offices of Daniel Kim
A hit and run accident normally leaves the victim in a bad situation all around.
It’s very sad that somebody could just leave you on the side of the road injured and bleeding, but it happens all the time.
Once you get out of the hospital and back home, it doesn’t really get any better as you have to deal with the insurance companies.
The insurance companies love to avoid paying large injury claim settlements, but hit and runs are the worst to deal with as the victim.
Daniel Kim is an aggressive and compassionate lawyer all rolled into one.
Daniel won’t be intimidated by the corporate insurance companies, but at the same time Daniel cares about his clients and their families.
Over his career as a personal injury lawyer Daniel Kim has helped many hit and run accident victims get maximum compensation for their injuries.
It gets very complicated dealing with the insurance adjusters who are automatically suspicious of any claim where the at-fault driver can’t be found or identified – aka “phantom drivers.”
At The Law Offices of Daniel Kim we will fight for our clients all the way, no matter how long your injury settlement takes.
More facts about Daniel Kim
- 99% client satisfaction rating
- Over 1000 reviews on Yelp, FB and Google
- A+ rating on the BBB
- You can contact us 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
- We help you get proper medical treatment
How Does The Police Find a Hit and Run Driver
Police officers have ways they use to help find a hit and run driver.
The information below might be available to help the police track down the driver.
- Police will speak to people in the area where the hit and run occurred. They will look for witnesses who were shopping nearby, people that live in the area might have seen something, or even local pedestrians might be able to give a description of what the driver or vehicle looked like.
- Surveillance footage can be a huge factor. It is very possible that a local business caught the entire accident on video and has the footage to share. This type of video footage could offer what type of car it was, the color of the vehicle, a description of the driver, and quite possible it might contain the actual license plate of the car in question. Also there could be people who had a dash cam footage or other witnesses who took cell phone pics or video of the hit and run vehicle.
- Vehicle or property damage. A lot of times a vehicle will leave paint behind on the object it hits. Police can sometimes use this information to find a vehicle that fits the right description.
What are the Penalties for a Hit and Run
California Vehicle Code 20002 – states that “anybody involved in a collision that damages property, including another vehicle, must stop immediately at the nearest location that does not interfere with traffic or anyone’s safety”.
If the hit and run accident only involved property damage then it’s a misdemeanor crime in California, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, years of probation, and a max fine of up to $1,000.
In some cases, you might also be required to pay restitution to the owners of the damaged property.
Since the misdemeanor offense involves driving, it could hinder your ability to get some jobs in your future, like getting a job that requires a commercial drivers license.
The crime also puts 2 points on a driving record, and if you get more than 2 points in a year you could find your license suspended or revoked.
California Vehicle Code 20001 – states the same as vehicle code 20002, but with a felony hit and run the effect of the accident will have been physical injury or death to somebody other than yourself, and you have to have known, or reasonably been expected to know that an injury or death occurred.
If and when a felony hit and run accident is tried as a felony, the penalties include –
- Fine of $1,000 to $10,000
- Time in California state prison up to 3 years but can be 4 years if a death or serious injury
- If it’s tried as a misdemeanor then jail time is less than 1 year in a county jail
The reality here is that if you are in a car accident don’t flee the scene.
Do the right thing (the humane thing) and stay there to help and own up to it.
Is There a Defense for Committing a Hit and Run
The reality is that you should always stay at the scene of an accident you were involved with.
But there are instances where a driver will hit you and flee the scene, only to later claim one of the defenses below –
- Response to an emergency – it can be claimed that you became involved in an accident while you were driving to the hospital or somewhere else due to an emergency. An example would be driving your wife to the hospital because she’s in labor.
- Unaware of an injury – being aware (having the knowledge of) is important when establishing someone’s fault in a hit and run accident. This defense is very hard to prove.
- Involuntary intoxication – This defense isn’t used often with success, but it has been done. Basically you say you were drugged and as a result you became involuntarily intoxicated and then involved in an accident.
Your Insurance Policy Could Include Medical Payments
Just like any accident you’ll want to notify your insurance company right away about the hit and run accident you were involved with.
Your best bet is to contact our law office for a FREE consultation before you start giving statements to insurance companies.
Then it is smart to read over your insurance policy again to really understand what type of coverage you have.
Basically every automobile insurance policy has a “notification and cooperation” clause that means you do agree you will tell the insurance company about each and every accident, and that you will agree to cooperate with any investigation process.?
Liability coverage won’t pay for your injuries or damages from a hit and run accident because the insurance will only pay for damages sustained by other people if the accident is your fault.
There are other types of coverage that might help you out.
Collision – this type of coverage will pay for property damage to your car no matter who was at fault, although odds are you’ll be paying a deductible if the damage is bad.
Personal Injury Protection or PIP – this coverage sometimes called Med-pay helps you to cover your passenger’s medical (hospital) bills after a hit and run accident, up to the available limits. If you had friends or family in the car they’ll be happy you had this.
Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury – this coverage can come into play if the total costs of your own injuries end up exceeding the limits that the hit and run driver has for liability coverage.
** You are only going to be eligible for the underinsured motorist coverage if the actual a-fault driver (person who did the hit and run) is found, and then their insurance company paid policy limits for your injuries and medical expenses.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) – this coverage can be a little tricky in a hit and run. Many times though it will be your only chance to get compensated from the insurance company if the hit and run driver can’t be found, or if they are found but don’t have adequate insurance.
Why Do Drivers Hit and Run
The obvious answer to this is that hit and run drivers leave the scene of the accident because they do not want to talk to the police or get caught.
This type of person is selfish and needs to be punished for their actions.
A hit and run driver could literally be anybody from a parent, teenager, drunk driver, senior citizen, doctor, etc.
Below is a common list of reasons why people flee the scene of an accident –
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driver has no license or insurance
- Is currently wanted by the police
- The driver is in the country illegally
- The driver just panics
- The car is stolen
- They have drugs or guns on them
- The driver might be in a company vehicle (FedEx, UPS, etc.) and wants to avoid trouble