In a span of two months, Orange County saw a rash of serious hit-and-run traffic accidents: over a dozen crashes which resulted in a number of severe injuries and fatalities. In a handful of these cases, the driver was found and charged, but in other cases, local police are still looking for information and suspects.
A hit-and-run accident occurs when the driver who causes a collision flees from the scene of the accident without stopping to give aid, call for help, or cooperate with police. Across the country, about one in ten accidents involve a driver who leaves the accident scene. In Southern California, however, the number is about double that due to the high number of unlicensed, uninsured, and/or illegal drivers.
Yes, in California it is illegal to leave the scene of a traffic accident. In fact, under California law, you must stop as soon as possible after the wreck, provide reasonable assistance to any injury victims, exchange insurance information and registration, and file a police report. If no one is in the car you damaged, you must leave a note. It is a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident in which property was damaged, and it is a felony to flee the accident scene if someone was injured in the crash.
If the authorities locate the person who caused your car accident, that person could face a criminal trial (in which he or she may be convicted of the hit-and-run crime) as well as a civil lawsuit (in which he or she may be responsible to pay damages to you, the hit-and-run victim).
If the hit-and-run driver is not found, you may find yourself in a difficult situation. Your insurance provider may cover the costs if you have certain evidence and if you have an insurance policy which covers hit-and-run accidents. However, you still must collect evidence and prove fault before filing your claim.
As you can see, hit-and-run accidents can be more difficult to understand than other types of motor vehicle accidents—and, unfortunately, they are common in Southern California. If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident—or, if a loved one was injured or killed in such an accident—you may wish to speak with an experienced California car accident attorney. Call Russell & Lazarus today to schedule a free, private consultation: (949) 851-0222.