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Posted By Cloud Law on 11/23/2022

Hit and Run Accidents

When a driver is negligently operating a motor vehicle they can cause a lot of damage, and even wrongful death to other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and even pedestrians. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for negligent drivers to make even more bad decisions at the scene of an accident, including fleeing the scene after hitting another vehicle. This only adds insult to injury as the victims are left with no one to hold responsible, on top of medical debt, loss of wages, and emotional suffering.

After a hit and run car accident, victims are left without justice when they can’t identify the driver that caused their accident. 

Evidence Collected at the Scene of a Hit and Run Accident

After a hit and run accident, the police should be called immediately to document the scene and collect evidence. It is important to collect as much evidence as possible and have the police do so as well to determine who is at fault for the accident. This is done so that the insurance companies cannot assign any blame to the victim and reduce the amount of their compensation for damages. Experienced hit and run car accident attorneys know exactly how to use collected evidence to prove there is no fault on the victim’s behalf. 

Here are the types of evidence that should be collected after a hit and run accident:

  • Photographs

    • Overall Scene

    • Vehicle Damage

    • Tire Marks

    • Damaged Property

    • Street Signs

    • Weather Conditions

    • Injuries

  • Witness Statements and Contact Information

  • Victim Statements

  • Area Surveillance Footage

  • Physical Evidence Left at Scene

Will Insurance Cover a Hit and Run Accident?

When driving, there is always a chance that someone will be driving negligently enough to cause an accident, and there is always a chance that they may end up leaving the scene of an accident. Victims may wonder whether the medical bills will be too much to bear while they recover. The accident may have impeded the victim’s ability to work, which in turn can cause them to miss rent or mortgage payments, and impact their ability to afford medical procedures. In cases where circumstances change and become more complex, an experienced car accident attorney can help a car accident victim understand their options. Various factors will determine the best strategy for each individual case, such as whether the hit and run driver is caught or remains unknown. 

If the hit and run driver is never identified, the victim may have to turn to their own uninsured/underinsured coverage. They can expect to recover the cost of any damages from this type of coverage, as it is generally included in most car accident policies. When dealing with the victim’s own car insurance they can believe that the insurance company is on their side. This is not true, because insurance companies will do whatever they can to not pay the victim their fair share. Unfortunately, a victim may find that their insurance company is not interested in offering them what they truly need during their healing process. Experienced hit and run accident lawyers are hired in order to protect the victim’s rights to fair compensation. 

If the at-fault driver is identified and arrested, the victim can move forward by filing a civil lawsuit against them. This means they will file a claim for damages that will demand reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This will include compensation for medical expenses that have amounted while the at-fault driver was evading police. There will also most likely be criminal charges against the at-fault driver as well, especially if there are serious injuries, extensive property damage, or wrongful death. The victim’s claim can proceed even if the criminal case has not yet been decided. 

If you’re hurt or your vehicle is damaged in a hit-and-run, a personal injury lawyer will fight to ensure victims are fairly compensated for costs or expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including:

  • Past and future lost wages

  • Past and future medical bills

  • Past and future rehabilitation costs

  • Pain and suffering

  • Cost to replace or repair the damaged property

  • Loss of consortium

  • Loss of career

  • Wrongful death

  • Anything else that pertains to the individual person’s case



What is Considered a Hit and Run Accident?

In the eyes of the law, a hit and run accident is defined as, “The failure of a driver to remain at the site of a vehicle crash and fulfill other statutory duties, when the crash at issue involves death, bodily injury, or property damage.” State hit and run statutes are precise and cover many types of car accidents. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense in any state, and the penalties are often harsh. It is every driver’s responsibility to own up to their mistakes and negligence when they are the cause of an accident, especially when an innocent person is injured or wrongfully killed. This is something every US citizen agrees to when they receive their driver’s license. 

What to do After a Hit and Run Accident

The moments during and after a hit-and-run accident are the most important because once the negligent driver has fled the scene, almost all the evidence leaves with them. Therefore it is important to recognize what exactly a hit and run accident is, and what to do in the event it happens. According to the NHSTA, in 2015 there were approximately 766,000 hit and run accidents in the United States, which equates to one hit and run accident every 43 seconds. The more knowledge a driver has about hit and run accidents and what to do following them, the better chance they will have at receiving full compensation for any damages. 

Gathering information on the vehicle or driver in a hit and run accident can be incredibly valuable in a hit and run case. If you are able to do so safely, try to get as much information as possible, including:

  • Fleeing vehicles license plate number

  • Fleeing vehicle’s make, model, and color

  • Where damage is on the fleeing vehicle

  • The direction the vehicle fled in

  • Photos of damage to the victim’s vehicle

  • Date, time, location, and cause of the accident

  • Eyewitness testimonies

  • Copy of police report (this will be available about 2 weeks after the accident)

  • Video surveillance footage from nearby businesses or dashcams

Should I Seek Medical Attention After a Hit and Run Accident?

The answer is always yes. Even if the individual believes that they are not injured, they could have internal injuries that haven’t presented themselves yet. A lot of the time, the force of a car-on-car impact can jolt the internal organs around enough to damage them. Sometimes the symptoms of internal injuries are masked by adrenaline, or take time to appear, therefore being examined is very important. If not the victim could wind up with very serious medical complications, or even succumb to their injuries. 

Another reason why it is important to seek medical attention after a hit and run is to establish that there are injuries. Any injury from the accident will be documented in a medical record that can be provided in court or to insurance companies when requesting compensation for damages. The individual will also want to record any symptoms or pain they are feeling so that there is a paper trail of emotional and physical pain caused by the accident. Injuries that can be sustained in a hit and run car accident can include, but are not limited to:

  • Whiplash

  • Nerve damage

  • Concussion

  • Internal bleeding

  • Soft tissue injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Broken bones

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Many more

Parked Car Hit and Run

When a car is parked in a parking lot or on the street, the owner is not always there to witness when their vehicle was hit. Without the owner there to witness the hit and run, the process to follow after a parked car hit and run is a little different. The police should be called to document the incident, and they should collect as much evidence as possible. The difference is they cannot identify the driver or the make and model of their vehicle unless there is an eyewitness or video footage. Because of this, the owner of the hit vehicle should ask the store or surrounding businesses for any footage they have that could identify the driver. 

Hit and Run Investigations

In many states, the hit and run investigation process is typically not very thorough for a misdemeanor or minor property damage. Often, investigators will take photos and write a report, but finding the perpetrator is nearly impossible without camera footage. However, if the accident results in serious injury, death, or extensive property damage they will conduct a full investigation and try their hardest to find the at-fault driver. 

After the police arrive on the scene, they will immediately provide first aid or call for emergency medical personnel in order to help the victims of the hit and run accident if they are seriously injured. Once medical personnel arrives, or if there are no injuries, law enforcement officers will process the scene by:

  • Conducting interviews with eyewitnesses, victims, and passengers to obtain a description of the at-fault driver and their vehicle. 

  • Conducting a full search of the scene of the accident and surrounding areas in an attempt to locate the negligent driver. 

  • View video surveillance footage from traffic cameras and area businesses. 

If the at-fault driver is identified they will be arrested if the victims sustained serious injuries or were wrongfully killed. If the accident caused minor property damage, they will most likely receive a summons in the mail. 

Hit and Run Penalties

The penalties for a hit and run car accident can vary, depending on the severity of the accident. For example, the penalties for only property damage will be less than if someone was seriously injured or wrongfully killed. 

How a Hit and Run Conviction Can Alter Your Life

A hit and run conviction can have life-altering legal consequences. A hit and run conviction is serious, and will show up on background checks, job applications, etc as a result. When an individual is convicted of a felony hit and run offense, they will lose even more, such as their right to own a firearm or deadly weapon, and may even lose opportunities to further their education. 

Additionally, the potential consequences of being convicted of leaving the scene of an accident can be incredibly serious. From legal consequences such as fines and community service to social and interpersonal ramifications such as loss of employment or child custody, a hit and run conviction can have life-altering significance. Some of the potential interpersonal and professional impacts of a hit and run conviction that may be overlooked while focusing on legal concerns include:

  • Employment Opportunities – Because most job applications require individuals to list any criminal convictions they have, an individual convicted of a hit and run may lose their job, or may not have the same employment opportunities presented to them. They may have applications tossed out, or overlooked that they were previously a candidate for. A conviction can also exclude the individual from being eligible to apply for jobs they may want. For example, any job related to operating or driving vehicles will not accept an application from someone that has a hit and run conviction. 

  • Housing – Landlords often do background checks on prospective tenants. Therefore anyone who has a felony conviction on their record will likely have a hard time finding a place to live. Landlords do not look kindly on felony convictions, as they have a duty to protect their other tenants and their property. 

  • Immigration Status – The immigration status of an individual can be significantly affected by a felony conviction. Deportation, denial of citizenship, and denial of the right to enter or remain in the United States are possible penalties.

  • Child Custody Agreements – When discussing child custody, the courts are required to consider the best interests of the child. The character and ability to provide and be a good parent are serious factors that are called into question in custody battles when the individual has a hit and run or other felony conviction.

  • Voting – Any individual who has been convicted of a felony will lose their right to vote. 

  • Traveling – Some may not be able to ever experience a dream job or vacation if they are convicted of a criminal offense. Countries like Canada refuse entry to individuals who have been convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanor offenses. 

  • Reputation and Social Life – The reputation and social implications of a felony conviction can be severe. Friends and professional colleagues may not want to be associated with a convicted felon.

Average Settlement Amounts For Hit and Run Accidents

There is no average settlement amount for a hit and run accident. This is because each case and state are unique and have varying factors that can affect the amount of compensation they receive. For example, victims who receive minor injuries will not receive as much pain and suffering compensation as those who sustained severe injuries or even wrongful death. 

The best way to fully understand and calculate a settlement amount for a hit and run car accident is to obtain legal representation from an experienced hit and run lawyer. An experienced attorney will know exactly how to maximize settlements so that victims receive fair compensation for their injuries and expenses. Damages that can be claimed in a serious hit and run car accident settlement can include but are not limited to:

  • Economic Damages

    • Medical Expenses

    • Lost Wages

    • Property Damage

  • Non-Economic Damages

    • Pain and Suffering

Its no secret that insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to lower compensation amounts for a victim even if it is the victim's policy that is covering the damages. Drivers use their hard-earned money to pay their insurance policies on time and responsibly, therefore the insurance companies need to be held to their responsibilities as well when the victim is in a time of need. An experienced injury lawyer will make sure they are.

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