It is expected that when someone crashes into you that he or she will do the right thing and stop. Sadly, not everyone obeys the law in this regard. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2,564 hit-and-run fatalities in 2020, showing an increase of 26 percent from the year before.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, call Siegfried & Jensen right away. Our experienced team of attorneys has served our loyal clients for over 30 years and helped them win over $1.2 billion in settlements. We are here to help you get the compensation you deserve, even if the other driver fled the scene.
Call Siegfried & Jensen today at (801) 845-9000 for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency basis, which means you will not have to pay anything out-of-pocket unless you win!
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Hit-and-run accidents occur when a driver hits another car, pedestrian, or biker without stopping at the scene. Most states require drivers to stop wherever it is safe.
There are several reasons why it is necessary to stop, which can include:
- Ensuring the other driver is not injured
- Calling authorities for help
- Exchanging contact information and insurance
- Speaking with the police
- Getting checked out for injuries
In cases where the accident did not involve a stationary object, a reasonable attempt should be made to contact the property owner. Each state has specific laws and procedures for how to properly handle a collision. Failing to do so can be considered a misdemeanor or even a felony, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Why Do People Hit and Run?
There are many reasons why a person may hit and run, including:
- The driver panics
- The driver is unable to think clearly after an accident
- The driver is young and is afraid of the consequences
- The driver might have a warrant
- The driver may not have a valid license, registration, or insurance
- The driver may be intoxicated or have illegal substances in the vehicle
- The driver does not think he or she would be able to pay for damages, perhaps due to driving uninsured
Can the Other Driver Be Identified?
With modern technology, it is easier than ever to find someone who decided to commit a hit-and-run. Many intersections these days have cameras that record every incident. Businesses that line the streets and other vehicles may also have cameras that could have captured the accident.
The worst thing you can do is try to chase down the other driver. Doing so can put yourself and others at risk of reckless driving, making the situation worse. Call the police and let them handle the situation by giving as much information as you can.
Civil and Criminal Liability
If a hit-and-run driver is caught, he or she may have to face both civil and criminal liability, depending on several factors, including the following:
- Civil liability: A hit-and-run driver may be sued by the driver he or she hit. This can include all costs associated with damage to the vehicle, injuries sustained, and lost time at work. The judge may even decide to impose a harsher punishment for causing the driver further stress by leaving the scene.
- Criminal liability: Most states consider it against the law to leave the scene after an accident. Any criminal charges would vary depending on the extent of the crime and the jurisdiction where it happened. The punishment could range from a simple misdemeanor to severe felony charges if the victim was injured.
Many states punish hit-and-run drivers with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and as much as $20,000 in fines.
How Do Insurance Companies Handle Hit-and-Run Accidents?
In most cases, a hit-and-run accident will likely be covered as if you were hit by someone who was uninsured. The following are two ways your insurance can help cover a hit-and-run accident:
- Bodily injury coverage: Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) insurance is a type of coverage that helps pay for injuries caused by an uninsured driver. This, combined with medical insurance, can help pay for your injuries. If you do not have either of these coverages, you may be responsible for paying for your own injuries.
- Property damage coverage: Collision insurance is optional, which will pay for the damage done to your vehicle. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) insurance will cover the damages caused by an uninsured driver. If you have neither UMPD nor collision coverage, then you will have to pay for the damages on your own.
What Should You Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Being involved in a car accident can be scary and stressful. This stress can be turned up a notch if the driver of the other vehicle decides to take off without warning. You may not know whether you can even seek compensation when you do not even know who the driver is.
Do not fret. There are several steps you can take to help the police find and hold the other driver accountable.
Gather as much information as you can
Information is going to be key in helping police find the other driver. You may not have a pen and paper on hand, but you can simply make a quick video on your phone if possible.
Give every detail you can remember, including:
- Date, time, and location of the incident
- Make and model of the car that hit you
- Any license plate information you can remember
- Any discernible features of the vehicle, like color or bumper stickers
Record every detail of the incident
Be specific about how the accident happened. For example, you were turning right and the other driver hit you. Add in what part of the other car hit you so police can look for vehicles with that type of damage.
Speak to witnesses
Being involved in an accident can make it difficult to remember every detail. Witnesses who saw the whole thing happen can be very helpful in your case. Gather as much contact information as possible.
Take photographs of the entire accident scene. Photos that show the vehicle damage, where the accident happened, the type of weather that day, and other factors or outcomes can be helpful in your case.
File a police report
If you are hit by someone else who decides to drive away, you should still call the police and file a report. This is true even if the damage to your vehicle is minor. The police have ways of finding out who the driver was, so not all hope of being compensated is lost.
Seek medical attention
If you want to be compensated for your injuries after a hit-and-run, you will need to provide proof of those injuries. Even if you do not feel pain, there can be some underlying issues that do not manifest themselves until later. Get checked out and make sure you have a record of your injuries.
Call a hit-and-run accident lawyer
Hit-and-run accident cases can be more complex than the average personal injury case. There is even a chance that the police cannot find who the other driver is, making the case downright challenging. A lawyer can help you sort out the process and offer any legal advice you might need.
Siegfried & Jensen Stands Ready to Help With Your Hit-and-Run Claim
No matter the type of accident you have, life will be difficult afterward. Money worries, added stress, pain, and suffering are only part of the story. The last thing you should need to worry about is whether you can receive compensation for your losses.
The attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen have been serving hit-and-run accident victims for over 30 years. We pride ourselves on offering expert legal services to our clients in their time of need. With a 97-percent win rate, our results speak for themselves.
Call Siegfried & Jensen today at (801) 845-9000 to learn more about your options. You can also send us a message on our website at your convenience.