Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in California and across the country, but motorists do it every day. In some cases, injured victims are left behind.
A hit-and-run accident can be a frightening experience, especially if you’ve been hurt. What should you do if another driver hits you and leaves the scene, and what steps should you take to receive compensation for your injuries and other harm?
Actions to Take at the Scene
You should never follow a hit-and-run driver, since doing so could put your safety in jeopardy. However, try to get as much information as possible. Note as many details as you can about the car, including the make, model, color and any identifying bumper stickers, dents or other unique characteristics.
Getting the license number — or even a partial plate number — can significantly assist police in identifying the driver. In addition, make a note of any damage sustained by the other vehicle. Did any parts fall off on the roadway? Is the front bumper hanging down from the impact?
If you get a look at the driver, try to give the police as much of a description as possible, and try to speak to any witnesses at the scene to gather as much information as you can.
Write down everything you can remember, including the circumstances just before the crash, the position of your car, the direction and relative speed of the other car, and any other relevant information.
You should call 911 immediately — or ask someone else to call if you’re injured — so that police can respond to the scene of the accident and gather information. If you are hurt, you should have emergency responders check you at the scene and follow their instructions for seeking further care.
Working with Experienced Hit and Run Accident Attorneys
Soon after a hit-and-run accident, you’ll need to notify your insurance company. However, consider speaking to an experienced attorney first to ensure that your rights are protected.
Whether a hit and run causes injuries or property damage, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident. Penalties can be severe, especially if someone is injured.
Police and the court system will work to identify and punish the perpetrator, and hit and run consequences can include jail time and fines. However, those funds go to the state rather toward compensating victims for the expenses associated with being involved in a hit and run.
Your hit-and-run accident attorneys will assist you in filing a civil lawsuit to recover the compensation you’re due. Your expenses associated with the accident may include substantial medical bills, time lost from work, the need to pay for assistance such as child care, pain and suffering, and other costs.
Defenses Against Hit and Run
An individual who hits you and leaves the scene likely will have a skilled defense attorney providing representation for a criminal case. The attorney may employ a number of defenses to secure the best possible outcome for the defendant, including asserting that the defendant was not at the scene of the accident.
In addition, a defense attorney may argue that the individual in question was not driving or that he or she mistakenly believed that no collision with another vehicle had occurred.
Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, you can file a claim for damages if you were injured or your vehicle was damaged. Should the defendant be convicted of hit-and-run charges in criminal court, your accident attorney will have evidence to make a stronger case for your claim.
Suing for Damages After a Hit and Run
Hit-and-run crashes often result in tragedy, whether fatalities or life-altering injuries to survivors. If you or a loved one have been injured in a hit and run, you may have suffered serious injuries that will mean extensive medical bills and lost income.
By working with hit-and-run accident attorneys, you can feel confident that you are doing all you can to make yourself whole financially. The attorneys at The Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill have significant experience working to secure justice and adequate compensation for hit-and-run victims. To schedule a free consultation, please contact our offices.