What Is a Hit and Run?
People often think of a hit and run as a car crashing into a vehicle or pedestrian and never slowing down. But any time a person hits an object and leaves before making a report, it’s a case for a California hit and run lawyer. Fleeing an accident in which there is damage to property or injuries to anyone involved is against the law. A person who is involved in a hit and run might be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. In California, It doesn’t matter if they are at fault for the accident or not. They have a legal obligation to stay at the scene and determine if any help is needed.
Hit-and-run accidents are often deadly and occur too often in California. A statement from the AAA stated that there were 2,049 deaths in the United States alone that resulted from hit and run car accidents. with 337 of those deaths occuring in California. There are serious consequences when a driver flees the scene of an accident. If you are a victim of a hit-and-run car accident, you will need the services of an experienced California hit an run accident attorney to help you fight for rightful compensation.
Help Tracking Down the Driver
The victim of a hit and run has a lot riding on finding the driver who left the scene. If they were the one who caused the accident, they are responsible for paying the injured party’s medical bills and other damages. A hit and run lawyer can help find the driver so their client can get the compensation they need.
An experienced California hit and run lawyer from Krasney Law will use the evidence available to track down the driver. Accident witness testimony, evidence such as traffic cameras, and more can help identify who the driver is. At the same time, we will work with you to help you understand your insurance policy. Our personal injury lawyers help you file the paperwork and get all the financial help available to you.
Filing an Uninsured Driver Claim in California
Normally, when a car accident occurs, the drivers involved in the crash stay at the scene and exchange insurance information. The insurance company for the driver who is totally or mostly at fault is responsible for the damages.
When the responsible driver flees the scene, the injured party still needs compensation for their expenses. If their car insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, they might be able to get compensation by filing an uninsured driver claim.
Felony Hit and Run
Felonies are more serious crimes that also impose more severe punishments. A hit and run is usually classified as a felony when there is any injury to a person, whether it is the occupant of a vehicle or a pedestrian. The penalties for felony hit and runs vary by state. In California, a felony hit and run carries a punishment of up to three years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. The maximum penalties are usually imposed when injuries from a hit and run result in death.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run in California
A driver might be charged with a misdemeanor for fleeing an accident that causes damage to property. It doesn’t matter what the property is or its value. Most often, the property is a vehicle that is parked and unoccupied. Items like mailboxes, fences, homes, or pets are also included. The driver has the same responsibility to stop and provide their information to the property owner as they do when people with injuries are involved. For example, if they hit a parked vehicle and they can’t contact the owner, they should leave the information on the vehicle windshield.
The punishment for a misdemeanor hit and run is much less severe than that of a felony. In California, the maximum penalty includes up to 6 months in jail, probation, and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Legal Consequences for Hit-and-Run Drivers in California
Under any circumstances, it is never a good idea to leave the scene of a car accident. The state of California considers leaving an accident scene as a criminal offense and there are stiff penalties for doing so, including a suspended, misdemeneaor or revoked license and jail time. California statute states:
You may be charged with California misdemeanor hit and run if you:
- leave the scene of an accident,
- without first identifying yourself to the other party or parties involved, and
- another’s property was damaged in the accident.
Hit and Run Defenses
Drivers leave the scene of an accident for many reasons. While some flee in the hopes they won’t get caught and have to pay, others are legitimate. These include:
- They didn’t realize the accident occurred – It isn’t unusual for drivers to “bump” another vehicle without realizing it happened. This is especially true for those who drive larger vehicles like SUVs. If they didn’t realize they hit a smaller vehicle, they weren’t aware of any injuries either.
- Their vehicle is the only one that sustained damage – If a driver’s vehicle is the only one that sustained damage, they don’t have the responsibility of exchanging information. They can’t be charged with a hit and run if there wasn’t damage to someone else’s property.
- They weren’t the one driving their vehicle – Identifying the vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean identifying the driver. If someone else borrowed or stole the car, the owner can’t be charged with hit and run. The only exception is if the owner was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the crash and they knew the driver fled the scene.
Prosecution for a California Hit and Run
In California, drivers might be charged with a misdemeanor or felony hit and run regardless of who was at fault, the amount of damage, and the severity of another person’s injuries. The state will prosecute people who leave the scene without identifying themselves to the other party if another person’s property is damaged or someone other than the driver is injured or their injuries result in death.
Your Options After a Hit and Run
Being the victim of a vehicle crash is stressful and expensive. When your injuries are due to a hit and run driver, it adds to your worries. Many people believe they don’t have any options for getting compensation after a hit and run accident.
Discuss your case with an experienced and knowledgeable hit and run attorney in California. You might have other options other than paying your medical expenses and property repair costs out of pocket. A hit and run accident lawyer can advise you on starting an investigation into the crash. You can file a claim with your own insurance company if the driver can’t be found and you have uninsured motorist coverage.
In some cases, you might be able to bring a claim against another party. If someone else contributed to the accident, they might also share in the liability for your damages. Don’t give up on your case before you speak to a California hit and run lawyer.
What To Do If You Were Hit in California?
The way you respond to a hit-and-run accident in California has the potential to alter the result of your case. Therefore, it is important to remain calm and keep in a mind the following steps after a hit-and-run car accident:
- Look for Witnesses
Following the accident if you are not injured, look for anyone who may of saw the crash. Their witness report may be used as evidence in your case.
- Do Not Chase the Driver, No Matter What
It can be tempting to want to chase the driver after an accident, but it is best to refrain from doing so. Why would this action not be a good idea? First, you do not who the driver is, what his/her state of mind is, and what they’re reason is. Second, you may be feeling angry or resentment which could cloud your judgement and lead to an accident.
- Call the 911
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident in California, it is important to contact the police and file an accident report using the information that you have recorded. Filing this document is highly important. This official document will give you something to rely upon later in your case.
Hire A California Hit and Run Attorney Today!
Contact the personal injury lawyers at Krasney Law today to understand your rights and what steps to take next. An experienced California hit and run attorney can guide you through the process to get compensation for your damages. We offer free consultations in all personal injury cases and you never pay attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you.