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Liability for Hit-and-Run Accidents: Pursuing Compensation as a Victim

December 8, 2023

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Hit-and-run accidents are traumatic events that can leave victims feeling helpless and distressed. In situations like these, victims often find themselves in a perplexing situation—they don’t know the identity of the person who caused the accident and thus have no straightforward way to pursue financial compensation. It is crucial to understand that hit-and-run accidents are serious criminal violations, even if the accident didn’t result in injuries. By law, the responsible driver must stop, exchange information, and remain at the scene until authorities arrive, especially if the other party is injured.

What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?

When a vehicle accident occurs, the involved driver and the affected party must adhere to the prescribed legal procedures stipulated by law. At a minimum, this procedure entails stopping at the accident scene to exchange essential contact information and insurance details. Unfortunately, situations can arise wherein the party responsible for the accident chooses to flee the scene without adequately identifying themselves or extending assistance to the victim. Such incidents are legally designated as "hit-and-run accidents" and often have adverse legal consequences.

Hit-and-Run Accident Statistics

In 2022, about 42,795 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on U.S. roadways. Additionally, in 2020, hit-and-run drivers were involved in 2,564 crash fatalities, an increase of 26% from 2019.

What Should You Do?

If you are the driver responsible for the car accident injury, you must stop at or near the accident scene as soon as it is safe. You must then exchange contact information, addresses, driver's license information, and insurance information with all parties involved in the accident. If the vehicle you collided with is unoccupied, it is essential to prepare a note containing the above information and securely affix it to the affected vehicle.

If the accident takes place outside of a public road or highway, you should promptly contact the local police department and provide them with details about how much damage occurred. It is important to cooperate fully with authorities.

However, if you are the victim in an accident and the person responsible flees the scene, it is imperative that you not attempt to pursue the fleeing driver. Instead, first, contact emergency services to report the incident. Then, gather as much relevant information as possible about the evading driver, including their license plate number and a detailed vehicle description. Make sure to take photos of the accident scene. If there were witnesses to the accident, obtain their contact information.

You should seek medical assistance, contact your insurance company to report the accident, and provide them with the information you collected.

By consulting with car accident lawyers, victims can then navigate the complex legal procedures that follow a hit-and-run accident.

Fleeing from an accident scene can have severe criminal penalties. If no injury occurred, someone breaking this law can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The offender can go to jail for up to six months, may be required to pay a fine of $1,000, and have their license suspended for six months.

If the victim sustained an injury in the hit-and-run, the charges can be elevated to a fifth-degree felony. If found guilty, the driver could serve 6-12 months in jail, pay a $2,500 fine, and have their driver’s license suspended for at least six months.

If the victim dies, the driver can be charged with a third-degree felony, serve up to five years in jail, and pay $10,000 in fines.

When an individual responsible for an accident deliberately leaves the scene, they may also face significant civil consequences. The court will likely interpret this action as inflicting more distress upon the victim, potentially resulting in a higher compensation amount.

Car accident lawyers can ensure that a hit-and-run driver, if found, receives the appropriate consequences for their actions and makes restitution for the damage caused.

Who Pays for Property Damage and Injuries After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

If your insurance policy includes collision coverage, this can cover the cost of damages for most car accidents. If the hit-and-run driver is identified, you can also pursue legal action against them to compensate you for your damages.

How Can Car Accident Lawyers Help You?

Cleveland car accident lawyers will review the accident details, obtain as much information from you as possible, and handle all the necessary legal paperwork for your claim to ensure your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation.

Get the legal assistance you need from the Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy car accident lawyers. Contact us today.

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