Reasons for Hit-and-Run AccidentsHit and run accidents occur when a driver strikes another vehicle or individual and decides to flee the scene. In many cases, these crashes happen late at night when there are next to no witnesses. Victims may not be able to give any useful information to identify the car and may be disoriented from the crash. Perpetrators of hit and run accidents usually flee for any number of reasons. For one, they may simply be acting out of fear with a fight or flight response and choose the flight option. Running away from the accident, though illegal, could seem like the best choice in that moment, especially if they don’t feel they caused any damage to anyone. They may also be driving illegally, whether without any insurance coverage or without a valid driver’s license. Their insurance could be expired and they are waiting for a new policy; their license may have expired; or they could be driving a car that has not passed inspection. Further, they could have warrants out for their arrest due to previous charges, unpaid parking tickets, child support arrears, and more. If an individual cannot cover the damages he inflicted, he is more likely to flee the scene after a crash, despite being required to stick around and administer help and medical aid, as well as to exchange information with the victim. Hit-and-run crashes are usually prefaced by an act of negligence, such as speeding, tailgating, ignoring the right of way laws, texting while driving, operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and more. If you have been involved in such a crash, you should reach out to one of our eprt lawyers in Los Angeles.
What Changes in a Hit and Run CaseNormal car accident cases involve you pursuing fair compensation from the liable driver. You will need to gather evidence, take down witness statements, and and more, but anything that you could have gotten from the other driver is suddenly unavailable. For example, if you were hit while turning, you could file a claim for various damages with the responsible driver’s insurance company. However, because you don’t know the license plate number or name of the individuals, you won’t be able to target a specific insurance company. As such, this only leaves you with your own insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is offered by various insurance agencies. It is meant to protect you in these kinds of situations, such as when a diver does not have any insurance coverage at all or if the individual fled the scene. You will have to give as much information as possible to the police so they can conduct a search for the responsible driver, but in a city as large and populated as Los Angeles, it may be a fruitless search altogether. Filing a claim with your own insurance company may thus be the only option you have. Our skilled lawyers at Downtown LA Law Group can help you deal with the insurance agents who handle your policy.
Injuries from Car CrashesA car crash can be devastating, but usually, the driver who hit you will call an ambulance if you require it or will try to help you in some way. Some injuries are particularly severe and should only be treated by the paramedics, however. A hit and run incident, though, may not result in you getting any medical help if you were seriously wounded and the responsible driver fled the scene. You may have to wait for some time if you are paralyzed, unable to move, trapped, or if your phone were broken. It is no surprise that many individuals in these crashes have worse injuries because of the wait that can happen between the accident and medical treatment. Some of the injuries that are most commonly associated with car accidents include:
- Broken arms and legs
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Brain damage
- Closed head injuries
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Crushing and penetrative injuries
- Muscle damage
- Sprains and dislocations
- Nerve damage
- Facial scarring and disfigurement
- Collapsed lungs
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Severed limbs
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
What to Do Following a Hit and RunThere are normal steps that you should take after a car accident, such as taking down the responsible driver’s information, but if the driver fled, you won’t be able to do so. You will have to get eyewitnesses’ statements and bystanders’ testimonies to back up your claim that you were struck and to help the police identify the responsible driver. You should take as many photos of your injuries as you can and snap pictures of the damage to your car. If you are too injured, take the pictures when you’re able to. The most important thing that you can do, though, is to get medical treatment at once. If you wait too long to get treated by paramedics or go to the doctor, the insurance company can claim that you were not as badly hurt in the accident as you claim. A long gap between treatment and medical help can point to something else causing the injuries. Even if you feel you were not hurt, you should still get treated to evaluate any potential damages; some injuries may not show up immediately and may take some time to manifest. Regardless, you should hold on to the medical report and healthcare professional’s notes. Lastly, to ensure that you will have the best chance of receiving compensation from a claim, you should reach out to one of our accident attorneys in Los Angeles at Downtown LA Law Group. Many individuals will try to handle their claims themselves, which we do not recommend.
The Necessity of Legal HelpIn some accidents involving no bodily harm, you could do without an attorney, as you will likely only need to pursue compensation for property damage and lost wages. There will not be too much room to claim that the expenses were too costly or that you were making them up; you could provide a mechanic’s estimate and a pay stub to show what you owe and what you missed out on. Additionally, these claims are usually not as pricey as those involving medical treatment, and insurance agents are much more likely to settle them quickly. However, if you were hurt, the insurance agent will do all he can to show that you do not deserve the amount of compensation you are seeking. He will deny your claim, say that you exaggerated your injuries, question the extent of your damages, and even state that you were likely at fault for the incident. This process can become draining, and if you were hurt, you may not have the energy or health to pursue the claim any further. The added stress can also delay your recovery time and even worsen your injuries. For this reason, it is crucial that you get legal representation to handle your case for you. We will be able to negotiate the best deal with the insurance agent and will ensure that it is at the front of the queue at all times. Our lawyers have years of experience in this area of law and we have won millions of dollars for our clients who are victims of hit and run cases. Most personal injury lawsuits are predicated on negligence, but since you cannot point to a single party that was negligent in his duty while on the road, you will be left with a claim against your own insurance company, invoking the uninsured motorist coverage in your policy.
How Long to File a ClaimThe statute of limitations to file a claim for a hit and run accident is two years from the date of the incident. A recent law was introduced that allows prosecutors to charge individuals who fled the scene of an accident up to six years after the incident occurred, but you will still not be able to take action if you wait longer than two years. However, there are exceptions to this rule that could extend the deadline. You may have been under 18 at the time of the incident, in which case, the deadline would begin when you turned legal age. You may also have been so severely injured that you were left mentally or physically incapacitated; you would then be able to file a lawsuit after you returned to full health, and the time limit would start from the time you recovered. The defendant could also retroactively be traced to having left the state or country; this would mean that the time limit would not begin counting down until he returned to California. For more details on the statute of limitations and whether or not you are eligible for any exemptions, contact our qualified lawyers in Los Angeles at the Downtown LA Law Group.
What We Earn for YouOur lawyers will strive to earn you proper and fair coverage for your damages from a hit and run accident. We will fight to make sure that your insurance company covers all the necessary expenses, and we won’t stop negotiating a better possible deal until we’re satisfied with the offer. Under the law, you can earn some of the following:
- Medical expenses, including surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, medication, future medical procedures, and more
- Lost wages from the past and the future
- Emotional pain and suffering, such as PTSD, anxiety, fear, psychological trauma, and more
- Property damage to your car and personal belongings
- Wrongful death expenses if a family or loved one passed away, such as funeral expenses, loss of consortium, pre-death medical bills and pain and suffering, loss of expected inheritance, and more
Wrongly accused of a Hit and Run Accident?Getting involved in a traffic accident can be overwhelming. The anxiety and fear can quickly override common sense causing you to drive off even when you know that you need to pull over and exchange useful information with the other driver. In the state of California, leaving the scene of an accident is one of the major driving offenses and it comes with very harsh penalties. The team of criminal defense lawyers here at our downtown LA law firm always employ the most aggressive legal strategies in order to protect our clients that have been involved in hit and run incidents anywhere within the state of California. California legislation requires that all drivers who have been involved in an accident pull over immediately and exchange insurance and driver’s license information with the other driver. This is regardless of who is at fault; failure to do so may lead to felony or misdemeanor hit and run charges. So you’ve been struck by a hit and run driver and have suffered injuries as a result of your car accident. You were following all the rules of the road, and another driver’s negligence causes them to strike your vehicle or cause you to get into an accident. Instead of doing the right (not to mention legal) thing, pull over and hand over their insurance information, they make a dash for it and leave you out in the dust. Problem is, you’ve been hurt, and may have racked up significant medical bills as a result of your injuries. You may have suffered injuries that require future medical care, or have missed time off of work, forcing you to lose income. For many responsible drivers, the moments after a car accident can be difficult enough. Being hit by a hit and run driver only exacerbates the issue. Fortunately, victims of hit and run drivers can still receive compensation for their bodily injuries through their own insurance policy; specifically for their uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
Learn more about your legal options by chatting with a representative now.
What Do I Need to Do After a Hit and Run Accident?According to the Uninsured Motorist Act, as outlined in California Insurance Code §11580.2(b), a claimant must satisfy three requisites in order to be eligible for UIM coverage after a hit and run accident. These requirement are:
- Physical contact – there must be physical contact with the automobile of the hit and run driver and the injured victim or their automobile. This might seem like common sense, but there are several instances where a hit and run driver might cause an accident without physical contact. For example, if the hit and run driver swerves in front of your vehicle, causing you to crash, this prong is not satisfied.
- Report to Police – A victim of a hit and run driver must report the accident to the police within 24 hours of the accident. It must be reported to the city where the accident occurred, or the sheriff of the county where the accident took place.
- Statement to insurer – the victim must give a statement to their own insurance company under oath, claiming that there is a cause of action against the hit and run driver whose identity is unknown
Call (213) 389-3765 to set up a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a case.Hit and run accidents may also involve a single car where the driver flees the scene after destroying property or hitting a pedestrian.
Forms of hit and run cases that we normally handle
- property damage caused by the driver hitting a parked car
- the driver hitting a pedestrian causing wrongful death or serious injury
- property damage caused by the driver hitting a telephone pole
Felony and Misdemeanor Hit and RunHow serious the accident is determines the level of the crime. For instance, in a situation where no person is injured but property is destroyed, this may be judged as a misdemeanor. However, if the hit and run accident involves the death of a person or very serious injury that involves long recovery, the driver might face more serious charges. In many instances, drivers who flee the scene of the accident do so because they fear that they might be found to have committed another offense such as:
- driving a stolen vehicle
- driving under the influence
- driving under suspension
- reckless driving
- driving without insurance