Being in a car accident is stressful enough, but when the other party involved flees the scene, things can get even more stressful and difficult to deal with. Known as “hit and run” accidents, these types of incidents occur once every 43 seconds in the United States, according to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Of all 50 states, hit and run accidents are most common in California and other western states, and in between 2010 and 2019, hit and run accidents caused 3,056 deaths in California alone. In total, California accounts for 17 percent of all fatal hit and run car crashes in the United States, which represents the largest share of any state.
In California, leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor if no one was injured, and is punishable by imprisonment up to six months, and a fine up to $1,000. If a person is injured, leaving the scene of an accident is a felony crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, depending on the specific facts at hand.
But despite hit and runs being illegal, why do so many people do it? The reasons vary, but most commonly, it’s because the driver doesn’t have insurance, or because the driver wants to avoid the police, who will file an accident report. The driver may have outstanding warrants for his or her arrest, may have drugs or other prohibited items in the car, or the driver himself may have been under the influence.
More than likely, a person is confused and bewildered after being involved in a hit and run accident. In this blog post, we’ll explain some essential steps to take after a hit and run accident.
No matter how minor or severe the damage is, you should call 911 and notify the police of your accident as soon as it happens. If you are aware that the other person fled the scene, you can inform the police dispatcher of that, too, in case they may have an officer nearby who saw the vehicle. In any event, the police report serves as an official and verified account of the events that occurred. You’ll need it for your insurance and for a potential lawsuit.
After an accident occurs, memories fade quickly. As soon as possible, make a note of everything you remember about the other vehicle and the details of the accident. Take as many photos of the accident scene, including damage to your vehicle, as soon as possible. If you try to later recall important details, you might not remember them.
Some insurance companies cover hit-and-run incidents, and others don’t. Either way, it’s a good idea to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident, so your memories will be fresh, and so the record-keeping process can begin. Don’t worry if your insurance company says you’ll be financially responsible for the accident.
As soon as you can, you should make an appointment to speak with a San Diego hit-and-run accident attorney, who can assist you in evaluating your options and assessing your case. In a hit and run case, an attorney can help you pursue compensation from the driver who fled, after investigating the accident and assisting in identifying the driver. An attorney can also help you maximize benefits from your own insurance company, who may be holding out coverage in bad faith.
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