According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 11 out of every 100 traffic accidents are hit and run accidents. In these accidents, 4.3% are fatal. But what are hit and run accidents? They are any accident where a driver crashes into another vehicle or pedestrian but leaves without identifying themselves. When you are involved in an accident, you must always try to assist those who may be in need, or at least call the police and fire rescue when circumstances call for it. Providing identification and insurance information to the other driver is also vital after you have been involved in an accident. In all 50 sates, there are laws saying that you are not permitted to leave the scene of an accident until these aspects have been cleared.
Most hit and run drivers will flee an accident because they do not want to be caught. Many of these drivers are actually never caught because they hit, run, and hide immediately before the other driver or pedestrian is able to get the make, model, year, or color of the car as well as identifying characteristics of the driver. According to the American Bar Association’s Criminal Section, there are many reasons why people commit this crime but a few of the most common reasons are because the driver is intoxicated, they may not have insurance, they are unlicensed, or they are in the country illegally. However, there are many more reasons than this.
To determine liability in a hit and run accident, an identification must be made first. Some of the best ways to identify a hit and run driver is by eyewitness identification, use an obtained license plate number, or any other means to identify the owner of the vehicle that caused your accident. After you have determined who caused your accident, criminal penalties or civil penalties may result.
Criminal Penalties: The vehicle’s driver is the responsible party in a hit and run accident. If the driver has no insurance, then the victim will have two ways to seek compensation – either out of the victims’ compensation fund put in place by the prosecutor’s office or a condition of the driver’s probation. In this way, the driver will legally have to pay the victim for their damages through monthly installments.
Civil Penalties: In civil cases, the driver and the owner are responsible parties. However, you may wonder how much a non-driver owner is liable for. This depends on the factors like, “Was he allowing an unlicensed driver to drive his vehicle at the time?” “Did he know that the driver was intoxicated and allowed them to drive anyway?” Permitting a driver to operate his car in any of these situations would constitute negligence. It is a driver’s legal duty of care to drive safely while looking out for the safety of other drivers sharing the roadways.
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Making a Claim
Making a claim for a hit and run accident is almost the same as making a claim for an identified or third party claim where records and bills are obtained and lost wages will be calculated regardless. A demand letter is sent to insurance and the insurance company can choose if they are going to pay up the policy limits. However, usually negotiations will happen instead so it is in your best interest to have an attorney for this. If the insurance company does not offer a satisfactory amount of compensation, you could make a claim through the courts. Arbitration may be the next option with the insurance company. If this is the route in which your case is headed, you can give us a call today at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. We can help you no matter where your case is headed in the hit and run process. Call today for more information.