Hit and run car accidents happen when the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision flees the scene. A hit and run incident typically involves a vehicle hitting a pedestrian, a cyclist, or another vehicle. It is considered to be one of the worst types of vehicular accidents because not only does it cause severe injuries, but the victims are often left in critical condition by the hit-and-run driver. The penalties for hit and run are more severe than other types of traffic accidents, with most states imposing fines of up to $20,000.
California’s Laws on Hit and Run Offenses
In California, a legal distinction is made between misdemeanor hit and runs and felony hit and runs. A motorist may be charged with a misdemeanor hit and run if they’re involved in a traffic collision that damages the property of another and they flee the scene without identifying themselves or providing contact information to the other parties.
Liability for hit and run offenses apply regardless of who was at fault or the amount of property or vehicular damage sustained. Hence, if one motorist who wasn’t responsible for the collision chooses to flee the scene of the accident, they may still be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the California Vehicle Code Section 20002.
In contrast, a motorist who refuses to stop after causing any type of injury to another person is guilty of a felony hit and run. Under CA Vehicle Code 20002, a person must stay at the scene of the accident and provide identifying information, including his or her name, current address, and the registration number of the vehicle.
A person who refuses to stay at the scene of the accident could face a variety of charges, including:
- Felony Hit and Run (CVC Sec. 20001),
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (California Penal Code, Sec. 191.5(b), and
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (CVC 23152 (a).
Hit and Run Involving a Parked Car
If your parked car is hit by a driver who subsequently flees the scene without leaving any identifying information, then he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor hit and run. This type of hit and run encompasses other types of property damage, including damage to bicycles, fences, private property, and pets.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
If you’ve been injured by a hit and run, the first thing you need to do is gather relevant information about the vehicle that hit you. This includes the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number. If possible, gather testimonies and contact details from any eyewitnesses.
Once you have gathered all the important information and have taken pictures of the accident site, file an accident report with the authorities. Include the details you’ve gathered and any physical descriptions of the car that hit you in your police report.
In the meantime, your own car insurance can shoulder your losses and damages until the hit-and-run driver is identified. However, take note that not all auto insurance covers hit and run cases. You’ll need to have uninsured motorist coverage for your losses to be covered.
Once the party at fault has been identified, you can claim your damages against him or her. This may include out-of-pocket expenses, lost earnings, medical bills, emotional and psychological distress, and property damage.
Hire a Savvy Hit and Run Lawyer to Receive Just Compensation
Justifying your claim against the party at fault can be challenging to say the least. To prove your claim, you’ll have to present evidence that the driver knew he’d caused damages or injuries and had deliberately fled the scene. The party at fault cannot be charged with a misdemeanor if they were unaware that they’d caused injuries or damages. The defendant may also argue that they were not behind the wheel when the collision occurred.
What’s more, you’ll be up against the defendant’s insurance adjusters and defense lawyers. These parties will not hesitate to have your claims dismissed. Hence, if you’re serious about protecting your claim and receiving just compensation for all of your suffering and losses, it’s best to hire Los Angeles-based car accident lawyers to represent you. Mesriani Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys will fight aggressively to ensure that you’re properly compensated.