Being hurt in a car accident is never fun, but being the target of a hit-and-run motorist can be especially upsetting. Aside from the obvious moral failure of every hit-and-run driver, they also harm injured parties in other ways. This holds true regardless of whether the victims are motorcyclists, pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers of vehicles.
Numerous injured people require emergency medical attention. People who could live may not if hit-and-run drivers don’t provide or request prompt care. Furthermore, even seemingly small injuries have the potential to worsen.
If you or a loved one have been hurt or fatally injured and need a San Jose hit and run injury lawyer, the team at Suit Litigation is here to help you recover and potentially find the appropriate party to hold them responsible.
Why Hire a San Jose Hit and Run Attorney?
The insurance industry is very complicated. Some insurance providers may decide not to cover particular sorts of accidents, such as hit-and-runs, in order to take advantage of the complexities of the market. Lower value claims paid out help insurance companies’ bottom lines because they are, above all, for-profit organizations focused on making a profit.
Employing a hit-and-run attorney is essential for this reason. Whether they choose to compensate you or not depends on your insurance company. Hit and run lawyers advocate for your needs after an automobile accident. A meaningful recovery can be achieved by working with a company that has a track record of success when negotiating with insurance providers.
Additionally, hit and run lawyers might bargain for you to avoid being responsible for payment until you receive your settlement or judgment by negotiating medical bills and auto repair expenses on your behalf.
What is a Hit and Run Accident?
When the at-fault driver in a collision leaves the scene, it is referred to as a hit-and-run accident. The person typically runs away to avoid being found guilty of a crime or to avoid accepting responsibility for their careless conduct. A driver in California is required by law to stay at the site of an accident, especially if there are injuries (with exceptions if they need immediate medical attention). In addition to exchanging information with the other drivers and/or passengers involved in the collision, the driver is required to give specific information to law police.
If a driver flees the scene of an accident without doing so, they could be charged with a felony and punished criminally. Additionally, his or her driver’s license can be suspended. Depending on how serious the accident was, hit-and-run offenses can range from misdemeanors to felonies.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident?
Avoid pursuing the evading driver. Leaving the accident scene could place you in a precarious situation: You’ll lose out on hearing from eyewitnesses, and authorities might wonder who was truly at fault. Furthermore, since you can’t predict the other driver’s behavior, you run the risk of getting into another collision or putting yourself in danger.
Regardless of injuries, drivers will often dial 911 following an accident. However, a driver should always phone 911 after a hit-and-run to provide any identifying information and to file a report.
Call the police or your insurance provider right away to file a police report or a claim for an accident. The formal accident report will be helpful when you file your accident claim and will aid authorities in their search for the missing driver.
Obtain as much information as you can about the driver, the vehicle, and the collision, including:
- License plate numbers
- the model, make, and color of the vehicle
- location of damage incurred on the other vehicle (i.e., left tail light, driver’s side door, etc.)
- the other vehicle’s direction of travel (i.e., headed north down a main street)
- photos documenting the damage to your car,
- the accident’s location, date, time, and cause.
- any other identifying information about the driver (hair color, clothes, ethnicity, etc.)
Any and all information about the driver and car is helpful and will help eventually identify the party. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are some of the most difficult cases to solve. Data reported in California would indicate that only 1 out of every 10 hit and run accidents are solved. The LAPD reported that they were only able to find 8% of fleeing drivers.
Who is Responsible in a Hit and Run Accident?
Fleeing from an accident site is against the law in California. Every time there is an accident, even if the driver is not at fault or there is no damage or injuries, the motorist is compelled to stop. According to California Vehicle Code Section 20002, a driver who causes merely property damage in a hit-and-run might be prosecuted with a misdemeanor. However, the charge is upgraded to a felony and carries a mandatory jail sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to $10,000 if the hit-and-run results in damage or death.
If the other driver strikes your car and flees the scene, make a note of the vehicle’s color, make, model, and license plate number. If there are any witnesses, talk to them and make sure you collect their contact details. They might have spotted the opposing driver. This information should be given to your auto accident lawyer, the police, and your insurance provider.
The driver responsible for a hit and run may get away without ever being found. However, if the correct information is obtained, it may be easier to track down the person. Even if you are unable to find the guilty party, injured drivers should still file a claim with their insurance. Many insurance companies offer policies or coverage when involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
The main reason a driver leaves a scene is because they do not have insurance, which is against the law in California.
How to Track Down the Driver of a Hit and Run Accident?
You might be concerned that the motorist in a hit-and-run accident won’t ever be found when they depart the scene after causing injuries. If you wish to be reimbursed for your damages, you must be able to identify the driver.
However, just because this careless motorist fled the scene of the accident does not automatically make him or her liable. You should call the police and request a copy of the police report if the driver who struck you flees the scene.
Even if the hit-and-run driver was never located, you will need the police report to submit a claim to your own insurance provider for your injuries and vehicle damages (assuming you have collision insurance) (if you purchased uninsured motorist coverage). If you manage to find the reckless driver, you will also require this report. You can submit a claim to their insurance provider.
Especially if someone has identifying information about the driver and his or her vehicle, the authorities are more likely to examine your accident as a crime if you were hurt in the collision.
Witnesses and Cameras from the Accident
The type and model of the car, the license plate number in full or in part, or other details that can help the police or your lawyer find the driver may have been noted by a witness who was furious that the motorist left the scene.
Check to see if any nearby establishments had video surveillance that might have captured the accident and the driver if your accident happened close to one. Due to the frequently finite recording capacity, you must act promptly. Additionally, you could knock on the doors of any residences or businesses nearby your collision site. You can find a witness who was outside when your accident occurred but witnessed anything important.
Lawyers and Other Authorities
Even in a hit-and-run collision, hiring a knowledgeable auto accident lawyer is a wise decision. He can help you pursue all possible sources of compensation for your injuries and may have further ideas for finding the hit-and-run motorist. If you know the license plate number of the car, you might be able to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and get the name and address of the person who hit you. It’s best to inform law police about license plate numbers, nevertheless.
A Driver’s Options for Recovery After a Hit and Run
Any costs associated with a hit-and-run accident shouldn’t be your responsibility. However, depending on the specifics of your accident and the accompanying criminal investigation, you may have different recovery (and legal) alternatives.
Your coverage will depend on whether or not the at-fault driver has insurance if such information is available. You are entitled to compensation from insured defendants as stated in their liability insurance policy. The minimal liability insurance requirements in California offer up to bodily injury insurance coverage of $15,000 per person, $5,000 in total property damage, and $30,000 in total physical harm per accident.
Unfortunately, many hit-and-run drivers fled the scene because they are aware that they do not have enough insurance coverage, even if some may carry more insurance than the required amount.
You might be able to submit an injury claim with your own insurer under your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage if the driver is later found out to be uninsured. UM coverage must be made available to you by your insurance company, even though it is not required under California law. Your UM insurance will pay for your medical expenses and, in some situations, lost wages, but it won’t pay for any property damage.
Reasons a Driver May Flee After an Accident
In hit-and-run incidents, the drivers frequently escape because they believe they have broken the law and are worried about being caught. This makes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting while driving, or engaging in other potentially extremely negligent behavior more likely to result in hit-and-run accidents. These careless drivers frequently are aware of their wrongdoing and believe that leaving the scene will help them avoid punishment.
Drivers in San Jose, CA, often leave the scene of an accident for a variety of reasons. Some motorists worry about being accused of driving under the influence of intoxicants like alcohol or narcotics. They could also worry about being accused of other traffic offenses related to inflicting harm or death while intoxicated.
Other motorists may elude you if they’re operating a vehicle without a valid license, a valid registration, or valid insurance. Some of them might be operating a stolen car or be wanted by the authorities for some other crime, like an unsatisfied warrant. Some people are simply terrified of the repercussions of what they have done.
Does a Criminal Trial Affect a Civil Claim After a Hit and Run?
Every time a driver is in an accident, the law requires them to stop, exchange information, and provide medical treatment if necessary. If a driver does not stop after an accident, even a minor one, they are breaking the law and could be prosecuted. The type of punishment the driver receives after a hit-and-run accident is primarily determined by the extent of the injuries and property damage inflicted, which can range from a misdemeanor and the suspension of driving privileges to fines and jail time.
After a car accident, you can still sue the at-fault driver civilly, even if they are facing criminal charges. The criminal charges will have no bearing on the civil process. Sometimes, a judge will stay the civil case until the criminal case has run its course to see the outcome. However, the outcome is not used to sway the court to find the party guilty or innocent. However, parties could use it as a bargaining tool in pre-trial settlement negotiations.
Hiring San Jose Hit and Run Attorneys
Regardless of whether a hit and run driver is caught or gets away, you will need to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to pursue maximum compensation. A San Jose hit and run attorney at Suits Litigation, Inc. will personally handle your free consultation and discuss all of the legal options available based on the unique circumstances of your accident. Contact Suits Litigation today to schedule your free consultation.