Car accident claims make up a large portion of personal injury claims every year. However, in order for a claim to be filed, the identity of the negligent party must be known. Unfortunately, there are instances when a person will cause an accident to occur but flee the scene before providing their personal information or before someone can identify them. Hit and run accidents are far too common in the area of Santa Clarita and although it is a criminal offense, there are many who will flee from an accident because they cannot or do not want to take responsibility for their negligence.
A person may be guilty of a hit and run if they knowingly drive away from an accident that they caused without providing information as to their identity, insurance and form of contact. Depending on the accident, a hit and run offense may be processed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the accident only involved property damage and the driver fled the scene without acknowledging fault, he or she may eventually face charges at a misdemeanor level. However, if the accident that the driver caused involved personal injury to another person and they failed to stop and participate in post-accident routine, he or she may face felony level charges.
The obvious answer to this question is that the person who fled the scene of the accident is guilty of the hit and run. However, the answer is more complicated than that because, by nature of the very act, the person's identity and whereabouts are unknown. Therefore, the matter of holding them accountable for the civil and criminal offense they have committed is more difficult.
Following a hit and run accident, police and law enforcement will work to compile as much information as possible as to the vehicle and identity of the driver who left the scene. This information may be provided by the victims of the accident, eye witnesses and even examination of evidence at the scene. Not only will street cameras contribute to the police's investigation, but the accident itself may speak to the type of damaged vehicle they should be looking for. For example, if the accident was a rear-end accident, leaving black paint residue on the damaged vehicle and an eye witness identifies the other car as a black SUV, police officers can put out an APB for a black SUV with damage to the front end of the vehicle.
In most cases, the driver in a hit and run accident will eventually be found and brought to justice. Law enforcement takes fleeing from the scene of an injury accident seriously and the defendant will likely face harsh punishments which can include prison time and fines. Unfortunately, the criminal punishments for a hit and run accident do little for the victims of the actual accident, which seem to face the expenses and damages of the incident by themselves.
Obviously, in order to claim compensation for a negligent act that caused injuries to a person, the negligent party must be known and identified. Not only are hit and runs a criminal offense, but they keep the victims of the accident from knowing who caused their injuries and from claiming compensation that is rightfully theirs.
As mentioned above, police are often able to eventually find the driver who fled from the scene of the accident. While law enforcement will go on to press criminal charges against this person, the victims of the car accident have the right to seek compensation for the damages from that person as well. Since personal injury claims involving car accidents fall under a different jurisdiction than criminal justice, these claims can be made concurrent with the criminal trial.
Unfortunately, there are instances when the driver's identity is not discovered for a long time or the injured party is in need of financial assistance immediately. In such cases, it is common for one to find that their insurance policy covers hit and run accidents in a manner similar to uninsured or underinsured driver coverage.
Claims following a hit and run accident are far more complex than regular car accidents. In spite of those complexities, we understand the urgency of your need to recover necessary funds to cover the damages of the accident. At The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus, our San Fernando Valley car accident lawyers want to help you recover the compensation you deserve from this unfortunate event.
While it is the duty of our law enforcement agencies to bring these offenders to justice, it is our duty to see to it that your needs, rights and interests are fulfilled after being made a victim to a hit and run accident. Contact a San Fernando Valley car accident attorney from our office today to learn more about your options to claim compensation after being involved in a hit and run accident.