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Hit and Run

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If you have been involved in a car accident where the other driver fled the scene of the accident, you might be entitled to take legal action against them. This type of car accident is called a hit-and-run accident and is an extremely serious offense that can lead to jail time and fines for the offender. If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact Mountain States Injury Law to learn how we can help you.

Women looking at her damaged car

What is a Hit and Run Car Accident?

According to the laws in the U.S., if you are involved in a car accident, it is illegal to immediately leave the scene without following certain procedures. A hit-and-run car accident can mean hitting a pedestrian, damaging property, or hitting another vehicle.

The law requires that the liable driver be ready to provide their information to anyone with reasonable grounds to request it. For example, the driver of the vehicle might request the contact information of the driver and their insurance company to get compensation for their damages. In some cases, the drivers must remain at the accident scene until police can arrive and document the accident.

In some states, if the owner of the vehicle cannot be located, the driver can simply leave a note with their contact information or call the local police to report the accident. If the liable driver fails to follow these procedures, they can face civil liability.

The at-fault driver may also face serious criminal liability for causing severe harm to another person or someone’s personal property and fleeing the scene. In most states, the license of the liable driver is automatically suspended after a hit-and-run accident. If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident due to drunk driving, your driving license could be revoked. Driving despite license revocation is an infraction that can result in hefty fines.

Some states in the U.S. require the motorist responsible for the crash to stop and assist the injured party or seek medical emergency services for any injured individuals before leaving the scene of the crash.

Car accident in the rear mirror

Why Do Drivers Flee The Scene?

There could be many reasons why a driver would flee the scene of the accident, including the following:

  • The motorist was driving a stolen vehicle.
  • The driver might be charged with other crimes and wants to avoid facing them.
  • The driver was driving their employer’s vehicle and did not want to face the consequences of informing their employer about the crash.
  • The driver is not a documented citizen.
  • The driver was drunk. Driving under the influence can be charged as a felony in most states if they have a prior history of similar offenses.
  • The driver is involved in drug dealing.
  • The driver might be afraid of getting their commercial driving license revoked.
  • If the victim sustains severe injuries due to the accident, it can result in a criminal record and conviction for the liable motorist. This can be one of the reasons why drivers flee the scene.

In all states, hit-and-run accidents resulting in slight damage or inconvenience to another person or their personal property can be charged as a misdemeanor. In civil liability cases, the motorist is required to pay compensation to the victim after being sued in court.
However, if the post-accident injuries cause death or significant damages, the penalty can be charged as a felony. Felony hit-and-run accident charges can lead to imprisonment according to state laws.

What to Do If You are Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident

Here is what you can do if you are involved in a hit-and-run car accident.

Gather Information

While gathering as much information as possible after the accident is mandatory, do not attempt to chase the liable motorist if they flee from the scene. While you may deserve compensation for the damages that occurred, you do not have the legal authority to chase the other driver, leave that up to the law enforcement agencies.

Your first instinct after the crash should be to record the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved and gather personal information such as name, contact, and insurance company details from any other drivers who were involved.

Document the Accident

Make notes of whatever you remember happened at the time of the accident. You can also gather information from witnesses to support your claim. You should collect witnesses’ contact information in case you need them to testify in court.

Get a Police Report

If the local police are nearby, they are likely to arrive soon at the crash site and make a report of the scene and collect information from the witnesses and the victim. If that happens, you can request a copy of that report afterward to share with your legal representative or to give it to your insurer.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Hit-and-run accident cases can take some time to resolve, so one of the first things you should do is inform your insurance company. If your vehicle was totaled, you might need a replacement vehicle which the insurance company can provide.

You can also file a claim with your insurance company or file a lawsuit against the other driver if they are found.

How Can An Attorney Help in a Hit and Run Case?

An attorney can help you locate the driver that fled the scene using the evidence you gather and some of their other resources. The at-fault driver might try to claim that they did not intentionally flee the scene or the accident was not their fault. This can make it challenging for you to get compensation for the accident.

Expert legal representation from Mountain States Injury Law can enable you to earn fair and full compensation for any economic or non-economic damages resulting from the accident.

Our attorney can also inform you whether your case is entitled to punitive damages or not. In rare hit-and-run car accident cases, the victim can receive punitive damages if the offending driver acted recklessly during the accident. You won’t have to worry about negotiations with your insurance company if you choose to file a claim, as an attorney from Mountain States Injury Law can take care of that for you.

Dale G. Casares

Colorado, Idaho, and Montana
Personal Injury Attorney

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