California is marked as the deadliest State for Hit-and Run Accidents. For the record, California shares about 17% of hit-and-run accidents that occurred within the country from 2010 to 2019. By knowing anything and everything about Hit-and-run accidents, we might just shift from the highest rate of cases down to the lowest count.
Understanding the Case: What is a Hit-and-Run accident?
There are about fourteen million, two hundred and one thousand, four hundred (14,201,400) automobiles registered in the state of California. This makes California the state with the most number of car vehicle registrations. With these figures, it is very likely that car accidents can occur at any given time. To add, California also holds the greatest number of Hit-and-run accidents from 2010 to 2019 with a total of:
- two thousand, nine hundred, forty-eight (2,948) hit-and-run cases
- three thousand and fifty-six (3,056) deaths accounted for
- about one hundred and four (104) deaths per a hundred (100) car crashes
- Largest contribution in percentage of hit-and-run accidents with about seventeen percent (17%)
With these alarming hit-and-run statistics in California, information regarding this type of accident is important to have. Though we hope you never need it, it is always best to be prepared and informed.
Hit-and-runs in California
By definition, hit-and-run crashes are accidents that occur when an individual hits and causes damages to a person, vehicle or personal property then eventually leaves the scene. It is tagged as a hit-and-run case when the party liable is aware of the damages done and runs away from the scene without contacting local authorities or noting the owner of the vehicle or property.This incident actually happens frequently in most states in the US. In California alone, there is about twenty-six percent (26%) increase in hit-and-run crashes from 2019 to 2020.
Furthermore, Hit-and-run cases can be labeled as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specifics of the case.
When is hit-and-run a felony?
If the hit-and-run driver causes property damages, then it is accounted as a misdemeanor. On the other hand, a hit-and-run is recorded as a felony when the driver causes physical injuries and substantial health risks to a pedestrian or another driver.
Hit-and-run Penalties and Consequences
As mentioned, there are different classifications of hit-and-run crashes depending on the severity of the damages done. Each classification also has its corresponding penalties. . California Vehicle Code 20002 – Misdemeanor Hit and Run is specifically drafted to impose penalties on a defendant that is involved in an accident which results in property damages. To be accused, the driver must be guilty of the following according to CALCRIM:
- The hit-and-run crash caused damage to an individual’s property
- The hit-and-run driver knew that the nature of the accident and the property damages done
- You deliberately left the scene of the accident and/or failed to inform the owner regarding the property damages
Moreover, the penalty for misdemeanor Hit-and-run are as follows:
- Six (6) months in the county jail
- Fine up to one thousand dollars (&1,000)
- Community service and probation (may be imposed depending on the severity of case and existing criminal history of the driver)
- Compensation for the property damages
Likewise, there are also consequences enforced when committing a felony through a Hit-and-run crash.California Vehicle Code 20001 identifies the crime of felony hit-and-run to a driver who is involved in an accident resulting to an injury, critical health risks or death to an individual and leaving the scene without disclosing your personal information to a law enforcer such as name, driver’s license number, registration of vehicle or other pieces of information. To be able to identify as an offender of said law, the driver must be responsible of the following as stated by CALCRIM 2140:
- The hit-and-run crash caused physical injuries or fatality to an individual
- You were aware that incident caused injuries or death
- You failed to fulfill the legal requirements
Furthermore, the penalty of felony Hit-and-run are as follows:
- Up to one (1) year in county jail with ninety (90) days of service
- Fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)
- Victim reparation
- Two points in your driving record in California DMV
Serious injury or death
- Two to four years in California state prison
- Fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)
- Victim monetary compensation
- Two points in your driving record in California DMV
Acting on the Case: What to Do when Involved in a Hit-and-run Crash?
There are several scenarios that you may encounter when you are involved in a Hit-and-run crash. You may be an individual whose property was damaged, an injured victim or you can also be the driver. Whichever side of the equation you are on, we think the following tips can help you react properly in case of a hit-and-run accident.
If you are a victim of Hit-and-run crash and you have a damaged property due to the incident, we suggest that you:
- Stop your vehicle and immediately call 911 for police enforcement assistance
- If possible, you may transfer your car to a safe location to refrain traffic commotion and jam
- File a car accident report
- Document all possible evidences such as the property damages and witnesses’ contact details
- Share and record each other’s personal information if the driver involved stayed at the scene
- Contact a hit-and-run lawyer to assist you in building your case
An injured victim (With or without damaged property)
In the event that you have been injured in the Hit-and-run crash, promptly follow the steps provided to ensure safe recovery:
- Seek medical attention right away and call 911
- If you have non-serious injuries and able to move without health risks, photograph and record possible pieces of evidence
- Cooperate with the police enforcements
- Reach to a hit-and-run lawyer to seek economic and non-economic compensation through your case
Are you the hit-and-run driver?
It is understandable that you will panic and feel frustrated when you accidentally hit a property or an individual. However, there are steps that you can take to properly resolve the situation as the hit-and-run driver:
- Safely halt your engine and pullover as soon as possible.
- Check and assess your vehicle, the property damaged and injured victims if there are any
- Call 911 and seek for medical assistance when there are injured victims
- Record all possible pieces of evidence
- Exchange personal information with other parties involved
- Participate and cooperate with police enforcements
- Never flee the scene without following the protocols and resolving the situation
Evidence to support your Hit-and run claim
As you move forward with the hit-and-run case,you will be needing some pieces of evidence that will strengthen your claim. Here are a list of the necessary information needed to build you case:
- Surveillance or CCTV footage of the accident
- Contact details and testimony from witnesses or accident reconstruction experts
- Your medical records if injured
- Any bills, estimates, or invoices from the property repair costs or medical treatments
- Documents from your work, such as time off requests, that present lost wages
Additionally, if you want to pursue a hit-and-run lawsuit, you must file the case two years after the accident according to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1. Time is limited due to law because it is required to measure the severity and validity of the injuries caused by the accident. If you act on the case on your own and choose to make trial and error strategies, you might lose significant time and, eventually, your entire case. This is why it is suggested that you reach out to an expert in dealing with your claim.
Validating the Case: Can I Still Reach the Hit-and-run Driver?
In the event that the driver decides to leave the scene, this may cause frustration, anger and confusion to the victims. The question now is, how can you find the driver of the hit-and-run accident? Similar to this incident is a recent hit-and-run case last August of 2022 when the police located an impounded Mini Cooper that was used by the hit-and-run driver. The assailant later on came forward to LAPD Police Station which helped in settling the case.
If you experience a similar case where the hit-and-run driver immediately leaves the scene, here are some tips to help you locate the driver:
- Do not follow the hit-and-run driver for your safety.
- Contact 911 and seek for medical and police assistance immediately
- Document possible pieces of evidence such as contact details and testimony of witnesses
- Check for surveillance or CCTV footage for more information on the hit-and-run driver
- Reach out to a hit-and-run lawyer to aid in building your case
Leaving the Scene: Why do hit-and-run drivers flee?
You may also be wondering why some hit-and-run drivers come up with the decision of leaving the scene. It is human instinct to flee when you sense danger and fear. However, that is not a valid reason to leave the scene of the accident without properly resolving the situation. With that, here are some of the reasons why hit-and-run drivers depart from the scene:
- The driver has an outstanding warrant for another crime
- The individual is driving under the influence or intoxication
- The driver does not have a valid driver’s license
- The driver may not have proper documentation as an immigrant
- The driver does not have an insurance to cover for the damages
Conquering the Case: Who can help me win the hit-and-run case?
Being in a car accident is already stressful enough, but what if the driver immediately leaves the scene of the incident? It is completely acceptable to feel angry, frustrated, confused and devastated when you experience a hit-and-run crash. You may tend to have a number of questions that seem to be impossible to answer. And as you decide to move forward with the hit-and-run case, you may encounter the following complications when dealing with the claim:
- Time constraints
As mentioned earlier, you must file a hit-and-run accident case two years after the incident. Physical injuries are a vital piece of evidence that can support your claim. So, it is critical to investigate the injuries as soon as the victims experience these. Aside from that, you might lose significant time and ultimately, your entire case if you decide to move forward with the case without following the proper process of filing and dealing with a lawsuit.
- Limited pieces of evidence
More often than not, victims of hit-and-run accidents have difficulty finding the driver at fault because they have limited evidence to help with the search. This especially applies to hit-and-run accidents that happen in areas without surveillance or CCTV and fewer people within the location. In addition, drivers tend to flee when the accident happens at night with low visibility, according to the Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- Lack of knowledge on hit-and-run cases
It is difficult to proceed with a case if you have limited knowledge on how to file a hit-and-run accident lawsuit. News reports and articles may help and give you an idea about the nature of hit-and-run cases. However, these pieces of information may be vague and general. In this case, you may want to reach out to an expert in dealing with the hit-and-run claim.
What is a personal injury lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer helps victims who are suffering from serious to non-serious injuries from accidents and are seeking financial compensation. In general, they can help you when:
- you are injured from a situation caused by someone else’s negligence
- You need to seek compensation for the economical and non-economic damages caused by someone else’s wrongdoings
- You want to have your normal life back after an accident
Personal injury lawyers specialize in tort law which comprises civil litigation for injuries such as;
- motor vehicle accidents
- slip and fall accidents
- workplace injuries
- medical malpractice
- pedestrian accidents which include hit-run-accidents
- Other accidents caused by negligence of others
A hit-and-run lawyer can help you gain pieces of evidence, negotiate compensation for damages and gain your normal life back. If you are searching for a hit-and-run lawyer with proven record and undoubted expertise, Jacoby and Meyers is here for you. We make sure to:
- deliver the highest quality service with our knowledgeable team of goal-driven and experienced personal injury lawyers.
- initiate, help and stay with you from the initiation of your case until the settlement of your claim.
- see to it that you receive the full value of your claim.
We are a team of experienced personal injury lawyers that cater to hit-and-run crash victims in California and we make sure that you will fully recover from any incident with full compensation and liability.
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.
Comparing the Case: Do other people have similar hit-and-run crash experience?
Hit-and-run California is not uncommon as you think. In fact, there were two thousand, five hundred and sixty-four (2,564) fatalities resulting from hit-and-run crashes in 2020. That was actually an alarming increase from two thousand and thirty seven (2,037) hit-and-run related deaths accounted for in 2019. In addition, there were also pedestrians and bicycle accidents recorded that were caused by hit-and-run incidents:
- Out of six hundred thousand, five hundred and sixteen (6,516) pedestrian fatalities documented in 2020, one thousand, five hundred and eight-two (1,582 – 24%) were involved in hit-and-run crashes
- Out of nine hundred and thirty-eight (938) bicycle accident fatalities, two hundred and two (202 – 22%) were involved in hit-and-run crashes in 2020.
In addition to that, there are also a number of hit-and-run cases that are counted as misdemeanor or those car accidents that cause property damages to an individual. In the United States, there is a twenty percent (20%) increase in car accident property damage claims in 2020 alone.In total, there are about hundreds and thousands of hit-and-run cases in the country, and specifically in California.
So if you are wondering if you are alone in this specific case, the answer is no. There are countless hit-and-run crashes documented in the previous years. But do not fret, Jacoby and Meyers have a team of experienced hit-and-run lawyers who will be with you all throughout your case.
- Hit-and-Run Laws in California
- What Usually Happens After A hit-and-run
- What Evidence is Needed to Convict a Hit-and-Run in California
- Hit-and-Run Investigation Process
- 360-degree look at Hit-and-Run Accidents: For Victims and At-fault parties