Being involved in a car accident can cause drastic changes in your life. Sometimes, there are cases where the driver at fault leaves the scene of the incident. When this happens, you might wonder if you can locate and sue the driver. Investigations for hit-and-run cases take days or months to be resolved, depending on the challenges of the claim.
What is the Hit and Run Investigation Process in California?
Anyone involved in a car accident must report the accident to the police. However, some cases show that the at-fault party tries to escape the consequences of the incident and leaves the scene. Victims of hit-and-run incidents may feel frustrated, especially since there is no assurance whether you will be able to locate the driver at fault or not. Thanks to police officers and experts, most hit-and-run cases are resolved through a thorough investigation process.
STEP 1: Examining the accident scene
Generally, a hit-and-run investigation starts after the accident happens. Police enforcement visits the area of the accident and tries to gather existing evidence within the scene. They tend to do the following to try to identify the driver liable for the accident:
Checks the condition of the victim.
In some cases, victims of accidents suffer from injuries. If this happens, police officers reach out to health professionals if the individual needs some medical assistance. If they can, police enforcement also interviews and speaks with the victims.
Gather evidence from the scene.
After questioning the victim, police officers also search for other possible proof or evidence to be able to understand the nature of the accident, such as:
- video or CCTV footage
- Testimony of witnesses
- license plate numbers gathered by witnesses
- Pictures of the accident scene
- photographs of any damaged property
- Condition of the location, such as tire marks on the ground
- Remnants of other vehicle’s paint on the victim’s car
STEP 2: Making an initial report
After documenting all relevant evidence from the scene, police enforcements make an initial file report which may help locate the driver at fault. Sometimes, they can quickly identify the at-fault party by piecing all recorded proofs together.
STEP 3: Searching for more information about the party involved in the accident
In case the enforcement officer is not able to determine the identity of the at-fault party through the available evidence, they will try to strengthen the investigation by looking at other possible proofs, such as:
- Different surveillance or CCTV footages near the location
- Testimonies of witnesses from nearby shops or establishments
- Patients of hospitals or clinics within the location
STEP 4: Evaluating the total restitution
Usually, drivers can reach out to their insurance company to seek restitution. The insurance company determines the compensation for medical bills and other expenses related to the incident by examining the police report. Sometimes, this becomes a challenge to the victim, especially if they have limited knowledge of the case. This also becomes difficult when claim adjusters pressure you into taking the reduced value of compensation.
STEP 5: Reaching out to a legal expert
When you feel overwhelmed and confused about the hit-and-run investigation, it is best to reach out to lawyers who can help you from the initial case report to the settlement. They can also aid in maximizing the value of the insurance coverage to ensure that you will get the total value of your claim.
How Long Do Hit and Run Investigations Take?
A hit-and-run investigation can run for days or months, depending on the nature of your case. In the worst-case scenario, police officers might not identify the driver. It also takes several days for the insurance company and a legal expert to negotiate and settle on the restitution, especially if you have ongoing medical care and expenses.
Moreover, you are given two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If you cannot resolve the claim within the given time, your lawsuit will be dismissed immediately. This is why it is highly recommended to contact a lawyer to help you determine the case within two years after the incident.
Are there any Hit and Run Cases in California?
In 2019, California had the highest record of hit-and-run accidents with a total number of two thousand, nine hundred and forty-eight (2,948) car crashes. The statistics also show that:
- Three thousand and fifty-six fatalities (3,056) related to hit-and-run accidents.
- There were one hundred and four (104) deaths for every one hundred (100) hit-and-run car crashes.
- Individuals aged twenty-five (25) to thirty-four (34) years old were most likely to die in a hit-and-run accident.
With the increasing figures of hit-and-run accidents, there are several reasons why drivers choose to flee the scene after a car crash.
Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene of an Accident?
It is illegal for an individual to refrain from providing immediate help to victims of the crash and leave the scene after the incident. However, there are still cases where the driver chooses to flee the scene, and this may be caused by the following reasons:
- Uninsured driver
Sometimes, drivers negatively respond to the accident and leave the scene because they do not have insurance to cover the damages done.
- Driver with existing violations
In some cases, drivers flee the location of the accident because they have ongoing violations or outstanding warrants of arrest.
- The driver is driving under the influence or intoxication.
When an individual is driving under the influence or intoxication, they have likely impaired judgment. Sometimes, they are unaware they hit a property or a pedestrian. And if they are, they choose not to respond correctly due to poor judgment.
- Driver without license
It is illegal to drive a vehicle when you do not have a valid driver’s license. That is why some drivers leave the scene to avoid this violation.
What are the Challenges in a Hiit-and-Run Lawsuit?
There are certain complexities that you may encounter when dealing with a hit-and-run lawsuit, such as:
- Lack of valid evidence
- The bargaining of reduced restitution by the insurance company
- Determining the liable party of the accident
- Driver’s behavior
- Time constraints for proving the lawsuit
If you ever face these challenges, it is highly suggested that you reach out to a legal expert to deal with your case. This way, you will get the total value of the restitution and prove your claim. Jacoby and Meyers is a team of competent attorneys with extensive experience in hit-and-run cases in California. We provide the highest quality of service to get your normal life back.
Give us a call today at 888-960-0480 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you.