We’ve written in the past about what to do after a car accident and injury in California, but a hit-and-run accident requires a slightly different plan. If you are injured in an accident in which the driver flees the scene of the crash, here’s what you should do in the minutes, hours, and days after the incident:
Get medical attention.
Hit-and-run accidents often involve pedestrians and cyclists, and they often result in severe injury. Go to an emergency room or your doctor’s office for treatment. Continue treatment until you are fully recovered. Never try to pursue your hit-and-run driver immediately after an accident, especially if you are injured.
Locate any witnesses in the area.
Chances are a witness to the car accident saw more than you did, or will be able to recall the details of the accident better. A witness to a hit-and-run accident may have had time to note important information, such as the make and model of the vehicle which hit you, or what the driver looked like. Be sure these witnesses don’t leave the accident scene before give you their contact information.
Help with the police investigation.
You probably will have difficulty collecting compensation and receiving due justice if your hit-and-run case is never solved. While you certainly can’t take the investigation into your own hands, you can be a helpful witness by giving police as much detailed information as possible about the incident.
Read your insurance policy and file a report.
It is vital to know what kind of insurance coverage you have if you have been in a hit-and-run accident. If you have sufficient uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, then your insurance company may be obligated to pick up the tab on damages. If you don’t, then you may end up eating the cost yourself if the hit-and-run driver is not found.
Speak with a CA injury lawyer.
An experienced accident attorney can help you understand your case and your rights as an injury victim. Even if you are unsure whether you have a claim, speaking with a lawyer can help you know your options for action and provide the reassurance that you have done what you can. At Russell & Lazarus, we offer accident victims and their families free case evaluations. Call today to request yours: (949) 851-0222.
What You Should Know About Hit and Run Accidents
Did you know that U.S. government statistics state that more than 10% of all car accidents fall into the hit and run category? The state of California has the highest number of any state. Car accidents are stressful enough. A hit and run accident brings other stresses and challenges.
If you are involved in such an accident, you will want to report any information you have to the police. Also, consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Russell & Lazarus, APC today.
What Exactly Does a “Hit and Run” Accident Entail?
A hit and run is exactly what it sounds like. When a motor vehicle driver hits another person, object (e.g. utility pole), or another vehicle, and then flees, that is a hit and run.
California law identifies two types of hit and run. There is a misdemeanor offense and a felony offense. Both laws require the driver of a vehicle that is in an accident to stop. Moreover, the driver that causes the accident has an obligation to locate the property owner, or exchange information with the other party (e.g. name, address, vehicle description, and insurance information).
- Misdemeanor hit and run occurs if you cause property damage. This offense carries up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
- Felony hit and run occurs when you injure or cause death to another that you hit. Depending on the severity, this can carry jail or prison time up to 4 years and fines up to $10,000. If the court changes the charge to vehicular manslaughter, you could face an additional 5 years in prison.
Hit and runs are no joke. Victims can face damages and injuries. If you are a victim, contact an experienced attorney today.
Why Do People Flee Accident Scenes?
A hit and run accident can happen anywhere and at anytime. Anyone can be a victim. However, there are some usual circumstances in which a person runs from the accident scene. One reason is a driver does not have car insurance. It is against California law not to carry car insurance. This can cause the accused to flee an accident scene. Another reason someone might flee is if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Finally, if the accused is wanted by the law for other reasons, they may leave the accident scene.
How Can Authorities Locate a Hit and Run Perpetrator?
Hit and runs occur because it is likely the accused is trying to escape liability. In many cases it can be hard to locate the perpetrator, unless there are eyewitness or some other evidence. Sometimes the investigating authorities able to find the fleeing driver through other means such as:
- Paint chips from the impact on the other car or property
- Car pieces or other evidence at the accident scene
- Reports from witnesses
- Vehicle descriptions or license plates
- Traffic camera/security camera photographs or video
What to Do If You Are a Victim of a Hit and Run
If you were in a hit and run accident there are several steps you should take:
- First, if you have injuries, seek medical attention. This allows you to not only get treatment for your injuries, but also can serve as documentation. You may need this later as evidence to authenticate your damages.
- Second, if there are any witnesses, get their contact information and account of the incident.
- Third, contact the police and file a report. You will want this for documentation later and the authorities
- Fourth, assemble any other pertinent information, such as license plate numbers, videos, or photos.
- Finally, consider seeking legal counsel, even if it is just to learn your rights and recourse.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Hit and run accidents are stressful. If you sustained injuries, that stress becomes more severe. Contact an attorney to discuss your recourse and legal options. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we are experienced in handling all types of personal injury cases. Call us today at (888) 907-2176 for a free consultation.
What to Do after a Hit-and-Run Accident in Orange County
Being injured in a hit-and-run accident is a terrifying experience, and it’s easy to forget the most important details in the confusion of the aftermath. Unfortunately, those details can make a big difference in how—and if—you are able to recover compensation for your injuries. Although seeking medical attention should be your first priority, here are a few steps you should take immediately following an Orange County hit-and-run accident if you are able:
- Write everything down. Write down as much information as you have regarding the car that hit you, including the make, model, color, license plate number, etc. Gather the names and contact information for any witnesses, and try to write down a summary of what happened before, during, and after the accident.
- Report the accident to the police. Call the police as soon as possible to report the accident. In California, a hit-and-run accident is a crime. If the driver left the scene of an accident that caused an injury, he or she could be facing felony charges.
- Call your insurance company. Let your insurance company know that you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run, and follow the instructions they give you.
- Contact an experienced Orange County hit-and-run attorney. An experienced attorney can be a valuable guide in this confusing time and will help protect your rights and gather evidence.
Victims of OC hit-and-run accidents often have a difficult time pursuing compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a hit-and-run driver, an experienced Orange County accident attorney would be happy to meet with you in a free, no-obligation consultation to answer your questions and provide further guidance. Just give us a call today at (949) 851-0222, or fill out the confidential online contact form on this page to learn more.
I was injured in a hit-and-run accident in Orange County How can I get compensation for my medical bills?
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident in the OC, you probably already know that it can be complicated to pursue compensation for your medical bills and other expenses. Unfortunately, hit-and-run victims are faced with a number of complications that can make filing an insurance claim difficult—or even impossible.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your OC hit-and-run accident, you may be able to recover compensation by:
- Identifying the driver who left the scene. Depending on the evidence available, you may be able to identify the driver who hit you, and file a claim with his or her insurance company—even if he or she has not been found by the police.
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company. In some cases, you may be able to file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company to pay for the injuries you sustained in the accident.
- The California Victim Compensation Program. In certain limited cases, victims of California hit-and-run accidents may be able to recover compensation through state programs if they have suffered significant physical or emotional injury as a result of the crime.
Contact an Orange County Accident Attorney
If you’re having trouble getting answers after an auto accident, reach out to an experienced Orange County accident attorney today. At Russell & Lazarus, we would be happy to review the specific details of your case and provide further guidance in a completely free, no-obligation consultation. Give us a call today at (800) 268-9228 to learn more.