The state is notorious for having lots of problems regarding traffic and motor vehicle accidents, from a very high rate of uninsured drivers to one of the highest vehicle accident fatality rates in the country. One persistent issue that routinely causes losses and legal challenges to drivers is hit and run.
A hit and run occurs whenever a driver causes an accident and flees. This may occur with a parked vehicle, as state law requires a driver to attempt to locate the owner of the parked vehicle they hit or at least leave a note with their contact information. Hit-and-run offenses may also occur in active traffic. State law requires drivers to stop whenever an accident happens. If the accident results in property damage, injury, or death, the accident must be reported to the police.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should call 911 to report the incident and try to record as much information as you can about the vehicle that hit you. If you remember any details about the driver’s appearance, the make, and model of their vehicle, or any part of their license plate number, record these details while your memory is fresh. Remain at the scene of the accident until first responders arrive.
Once the police investigate and take your statement, you should be free to go, and you should seek medical care immediately. You could have suffered injuries that are not yet noticeable, and prompt medical examination can prevent any unseen injuries from worsening. After addressing your medical needs, you should speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.
Ensuring Accountability for a Hit and Run
An experienced attorney is an optimal resource to consult when it comes to proving liability for a recent hit-and-run accident. The police should actively search for the at-fault driver. Using your description of the driver and their vehicle, they may be able to locate the hit-and-run driver relatively quickly based on damage to their own vehicle, their proximity to the scene of the accident, and testimony from any witnesses who saw the accident happen.
Hit and run is a crime, and the at-fault driver will face criminal prosecution from the state along with your civil claim for damages. Under state law, you can file an auto insurance claim for some initial recovery, but their insurance alone is unlikely to cover the full scope of the damages they inflicted on you. Additionally, they are likely to face criminal penalties, including fines, jail time, and restitution to the victims of their actions. When you have an experienced attorney representing you, they can not only help you maximize the results of your civil case but also explain how the criminal case from the state could influence your final recovery.
Q: What Evidence Is Needed to Convict for Hit and Run in California?
A: The crime of hit and run pertains to knowingly causing an accident resulting in injury and/or property damage and fleeing the scene. Hit and run applies even if the at-fault driver hits a parked and unattended vehicle. State law requires any driver involved in an accident to report the accident to 911 and remain at the scene of the accident until first responders arrive. If you are unsure how to prove fault for a recent hit-and-run accident, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Q: What Are the Consequences of Hit and Run?
A: If a driver is convicted of a hit-and-run offense, they will first and foremost face liability for any and all damages caused to others. A misdemeanor hit and run is punishable by up to six months in county jail plus a fine of $1,000. If charged as a felony, the defendant faces fines that can reach $10,000 and state prison time of up to four years. At both levels, the defendant is also likely to face restitution to the victim as an element of their sentence.
Q: How Do You Locate a Hit-and-Run Driver?
A: An experienced attorney can help their client identify and locate the driver responsible for a recent hit-and-run accident. Evidence that may assist in holding the at-fault driver accountable includes traffic camera footage from the area around where the accident happened and eyewitness statements from those who saw the accident happen in real time. If you recall any details about the hit-and-run driver responsible for your accident, such as the make and model of their car and/or any portion of their license plate number, give this information to responding officers immediately.
Q: How Much Can I Receive for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A: State law allows the victim of any personal injury to seek full compensation for all the financial losses they sustained in the incident, such as property damage, medical expenses, future medical treatment costs, lost income, and lost earning capacity. They may also seek pain and suffering compensation to reflect the physical pain and psychological distress they experienced from the incident. Additionally, since hit and run is a crime, the at-fault driver may owe restitution to the victim, or they could be required to pay punitive damages in addition to the victim’s other civil damages.
Q: Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for a Hit-and-Run Accident Case?
A: While you have the right to pursue compensation on your own without hiring legal counsel, you are far more likely to succeed in holding the at-fault driver accountable for your hit-and-run accident with an attorney’s assistance. Your attorney will help you gather the evidence needed to establish liability and prove the extent of all your damages. You are not only more likely to win your case but also maximize your case award when you have legal counsel you can trust.
Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the robust legal support you need for a complex hit-and-run case. Our firm has assisted many past clients with their motor vehicle accident cases, and we know the challenges you may face as you seek accountability and compensation for your losses. Get in touch with us today to set up a consultation with our team and learn more about your options for legal recourse following a hit-and-run accident.