Cases of hit-and-run accidents are some of the most difficult to manage. Victims have to juggle their time between filing for compensation and recovering from their injuries. Having a trustworthy personal injury attorney can help you ease the burden of such incidents. Learning a few important things about hit-and-run accident laws can also help.
Defining a Hit-and-Run Accident
The simplest definition of a hit-and-run is an event whereby a person involved in the accident flees the scene without leaving any contact information. It can also describe situations wherein the person involved in the incident did not render any form of assistance to those who were injured.
It does not matter whether the one fleeing the scene is responsible for the accident or not. Any situation where either party leaves the accident scene without rendering assistance to those injured or leaving his or her contact information can be classified as a hit-and-run accident.
Why Some People Do It
There are many reasons why people tend to flee the scene. In most cases, this can be due to a perceived lapse on his or her part. For example, the person may have a suspended driver’s license or he may not have one at all. It is also possible that the person has already accumulated way too many tickets. Staying behind in a scene can only add up to his tickets.
People who are driving under the influence of illicit substances or are intoxicated know that staying behind is not a good idea. The person fleeing the scene may also have an outstanding arrest warrant. He would not want to stay behind and get caught in the process.
It is also possible that the person does not have valid car insurance. There are also those who do not own the car. Of course, there always situations wherein the driver does not want punishment from whoever owns the vehicle.
What Hit-and-Run Accident Victims Can Do
Your job is to stay put and remain calm. Contact the police department and report the accident right away. This will help document the incident. Check if there are people who have injuries. Tend to them as best as you can. If you can move your vehicle to the side of the road, then do so with care.
While waiting for the emergency medical services and the police to arrive, gather as much evidence as you can. Take photos of the scene. If there are witnesses in the area, you can talk to them, too. Ask for their contact details and whether they will be willing to serve as your witnesses.
Try to recall the other vehicle that was involved in the accident. Recall the license plate as well as vehicle characteristics. The brand and model of the car, including its color, should help authorities narrow down their search. Can you remember any bumper stickers or other identifying marks?
Check for any CCTV cameras in the area. There may be establishments that have these devices installed. They can provide you critical information about the accident as well as the other vehicle involved.
Once you have accomplished these things, call your insurer and inform them about the accident. Many car insurance companies cover situations such as hit-and-run accidents.
Legal Consequences for Fleeing the Accident Scene
The legal consequences for fleeing the accident scene can be very stiff. Hit-and-run cases are always treated as criminal cases. This can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on which state you are in.
Felony hit-and-run cases can have fines that can reach up to $20,000 plus a prison term of up to 15 years. Misdemeanor cases can have a fine of not more than $5,000 and a jail term of up to 12 months.
There are also administrative penalties in addition to criminal penalties. This can result in the automatic revocation or suspension of the driver’s license. Some states revoke the licenses for a maximum of 3 years. Other states observe permanent revocation.
Civil penalties are also quite common. This is especially true if the one fleeing the scene. Personal injury lawsuits can provide monetary compensation to the victims of hit-and-run accidents.
Hit-and-run victims are often left with the task of processing the claims and tending to their injuries. Lawyers, like those from Aronberg Law, can help ease the burden of processing claims and bringing the perpetrators to justice.