No matter how safely you drive, you can get into an accident because of other drivers. Most cases usually have the same standard procedures. However, some legalities might not apply if the at-fault driver didn’t cooperate and fled the scene. In these cases, you might feel at a loss about what to do next. Here are things that you must know and do about hit-and-run accidents:
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What is A Hit-And-Run Accident?
Hit-and-run accidents happen when a driver crashes into a pedestrian, property, or another vehicle without offering assistance or identification to victims. This type of accident can become complicated to work through because the at-fault driver might hide. This can delay identification and the overall process.
People commit hit-and-run for many reasons, such as:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Has stolen property or drugs in the vehicle
- Doesn’t have insurance
- Has no license or license is suspended
- Fear of losing license because of previous citations
- Driver doesn’t own the vehicle (stolen or borrowed)
Does Insurance Cover Hit-And-Run?
You might still be able to recover your financial damages in a hit-and-run accident. It all depends on your insurance policy. For instance, your Los Angeles hit-and-run lawyer might ask you if you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Also, they might check your insurance policy to determine your options.
UM coverage may help affected drivers recover their damages in the event that the at-fault party does not have any insurance. This policy may also be used to cover hit-and-run accidents because they fall under a similar situation: there is no insured person to cover your losses.
According to the California Department of Insurance (CDI), insurance companies are required to offer prospective policyholders the option to purchase UM coverage, but people are not required to buy it. If you decide to forego purchasing this policy, you must sign a waiver.
Will A Hit-And-Run Claim Raise My Insurance?
The short answer is no, hit-and-run accidents won’t raise insurance rates. This type of accident is so common that the California Department of Insurance and insurance providers anticipate the possibility of hit-and-run accidents.
However, your insurance coverage can vary depending on your policy. You must have certain types of coverage to become protected from hit-and-run accidents. Generally, they won’t affect your insurance rates, but you need to check your policy if you are covered for this type of accident.
Do’s and Dont’s
Even if the at-fault driver fled the scene, you must take the basic steps as suggested by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):
- Immediately stop your car and call 9-1-1 to summon police to the accident scene
- Move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to a safe location, if possible
- Exchange your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information with any involved drivers that remained at the scene and with the investigating police officer
- File a car accident report, especially if injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage occurred
If you’re uninjured and able to move, you might also want to do these steps:
- Take photos of your vehicle from many angles
- Obtain witness contact information, along with their descriptions of the hit-and-run vehicle and driver
- Take photos of any dropped parts or other debris that might help identify the car and driver that fled the scene.
In addition, you must also report the hit-and-run accident to your insurance provider. Likewise, you can consult a hit-and-run lawyer to get some clarity on your next steps. A hit-and-run accident attorney can help sort out your potential options and pursue compensation.
What Consequences does one face?
California’s laws consider hit-and-run as a misdemeanor or felony. Committing hit-and-run in violation of California Vehicle Code § 20002 can come with consequences and penalties. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Up to 6 months of jail time
- Fine up to $1,000
- Probation and community service (depending on criminal history)
- Compensation to victims for damages
- Additional points on your California DMV record, which can increase your insurance
If the hit-and-run driver becomes known later on, you might be able to file an insurance claim with their insurer or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Whether they turned themselves in or were caught by the police, the moment their identity is known, your options may open. Through a lawsuit, you may be able to pursue compensation for your medical expenses, property damage costs, lost income, and general pain and suffering.
Keep in mind that there is a deadline to sue in California. For a personal injury lawsuit, the deadline is generally two years after the accident occurred, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1. If you do not file your lawsuit within this timeframe, you might not be able to have your case heard.
What Evidence Is Needed To Convict A Hit-And-Run?
Any hit-and-run lawyer will advise you to collect as much information as possible about your accident. Whether you’re filing a claim or a lawsuit as a victim, you need evidence. You’ll need the following types of evidence for your case:
- Surveillance, security, or CCTV footage of the accident, if available
- Testimony from witnesses or accident reconstruction experts
- Your medical records
- Any bills, estimates, or invoices you receive for your medical treatments or property repair/replacement costs
- Documents from your work, such as pay stubs or time off requests, that indicate your lost wages
In addition, other information on the at-fault driver can help your case. This can include license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN), and other types of identification. However, these details can become difficult to take note of once the at-fault driver immediately fled the scene. In this case, you can get information that can identify the at-fault driver’s vehicle, such as the vehicle’s year, make, and model or other unique characteristics of the vehicle and driver.
Why Should I Get a Hit-And-Run Lawyer?
Getting involved in a hit-and-run accident can be very stressful. In addition to recovering from injuries, you need to locate the at-fault driver, meet deadlines, and find ways to receive compensation. All of these can happen simultaneously, which might take a toll on your overall well-being. Getting a hit-and-run lawyer can greatly help you navigate through your case. Whether you find the at-fault driver or not, an attorney can help you sort out options to help compensate for medical expenses, property damage costs, lost income, as well as general pain and suffering.
If you’re looking for the best hit-and-run lawyers, look no further than Jacoby and Meyers. We have a team of the best personal injury, auto accident, or hit-and-run lawyers in California, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento. Hire one of our car accident lawyers to help you get justice. Also, they can give you insight about complicated topics, including car accident settlements and more. In addition, they can help you:
- Prove negligence
- Define the Cost of Damages
- Build a strong claim
- Negotiate a Settlement
- Proceed with important deadlines in mind
Give us a call today at 888-960-0480 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you.