Hit and Run Accidents

Edward A. Smith

Hit and run crashes are increasing in prevalence in the United States, and have been for more than a decade. In fact, as early as 2003, an article published in SFGate highlighted the fact that hit and runs in the state of California had risen dramatically in recent years, and that of all of the states in the nation, a greater percentage of drivers in the state of California fled from fatal accident scenes than did drivers elsewhere.

Ten years later, statistics published in an article by USA Today confirmed the above; hit and run crashes continued to remain a devastating problem in the state. The article highlights that nationally, there was a 13.7 percent increase in hit and run deaths over a three year period, and the problem in Los Angeles was described as an “absolute plague.” In fact, the problem was so bad in Los Angeles in the year 2013 that it garnered national attention. Statistics published by the California Office for Public Safety in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available) show that in Los Angeles county that year, there were 4,525 fatal and injury-causing hit and run collisions, accounting for more than eight percent of total fatal and injury crashes.

The problem continues today. In September of 2016, a 17-year-old girl who was walking in Sacramento was hit and killed – the driver fled the scene.

The statistics above are extremely concerning. If you are involved in a hit and run accident in California, I can help you to understand your options for compensation and provide you with legal support throughout the entire process. Here are a few important steps to take after being involved in a hit and run accident that may be useful in finding the driver and recovering the compensation you need:

Report Your Accident as Soon as Possible to the Proper Authorities

If you are involved in an accident in California, the law requires that you report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles if property damage valued at $750 or more occurred, any injuries were sustained by any parties, or if a death occurred. However, in addition to being in compliance with the law, reporting your accident to the proper authorities as soon as possible, preferably moments after the accident occurs, is critical to tracking down the driver who hit you and fled the scene of the accident. The sooner that you report the accident, the sooner the police can open an investigation, and the greater the chances are that the missing driver will be found.

When you report your accident to the police, be sure to provide officers with as much information as possible about the accident, what happened, and the other driver. If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask them to provide testimony to the police as well. If any video footage of the accident was recorded, this could prove extremely useful.

Seek Treatment for Your Injuries

Many people who are involved in hit and run accidents may worry about seeking treatment for their injuries as a result of fears about how the treatment will be paid for (typically, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance covers these injury types, but if the driver is missing, recovering compensation can be more complicated). Even if you are not sure how hospital bills will be paid, it is essential that you seek medical treatment. Making sure that you get the medical treatment you need should be a top priority. Not only will doing so protect your health and wellbeing, but may also be critical later on when filing a claim; if you do not seek medical attention early on, an insurance adjuster may question the validity of your injuries and deny or reduce your claim as such.

Review Your Own Insurance Policy

Because California is an at-fault car insurance state, drivers are required to carry liability insurance, which is used to pay for injuries to others when drivers cause accidents. However, if the accident was a hit and run, filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy may be impossible. When this is the case, hit and run accident victims should turn to their own insurance policy for possible coverage.

One type of auto coverage that may help to pay for your injuries after a crash that you did not cause is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. While this type of coverage is not required in California, many drivers choose to purchase it. This type of coverage will pay for your medical expenses, as well as the medical expenses of anyone in your car at the time of the accident, if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have, or does not have enough, insurance. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage will also pay for injuries for you and any of your family members when hit by a hit and run driver while acting as a pedestrian or bicyclist.

The other type of insurance coverage that is offered through your own policy, and which is also option, is medical payments coverage. The minimum policy amount for this is $1,000, but many California drivers choose to purchase it in greater coverage amounts. Medical payments coverage covers the costs of injuries to you and your passengers in a crash, regardless of who is at fault.

If you do not carry either of these insurance policies, and are therefore unable to recover compensation through your own insurance company, all hope is not lost; our law office will work hard to explore all recovery options.

Contact Me As Soon as Possible - Our Law Office Will Conduct a Thorough Investigation

I realize how devastating it can be to learn that the driver who hit you cannot be found, and therefore your recovery options are limited. I, and everyone else at our law offices, will work hard on your behalf to open an investigation to track down the responsible driver and hold them accountable for their actions. We have the resources and finances that your case deserves, and work with accident reconstruction experts, police officers, and forensic specialists to find at-fault drivers and prove their liability. We will interview all witnesses and gather all evidence related to your claim. Our law offices have a history of success when it comes to tracking down hit and run drivers. However, doing so is extremely time sensitive, so it is imperative that you call me and schedule your free case consultation as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the more evidence that is destroyed. Additionally, the longer that you wait to take action, the closer that you get to surpassing the state’s statute of limitations for filing a claim. If you wait too long, you may be permanently barred from seeking damages for your injuries at all.

I Can Help You

I understand what you are going through after a hit and run crash, and I’ve worked with numerous other hit and run victims in the past, many of whom had suffered serious and tragic injuries in their accidents, and had no idea where to turn or how they could recover financial compensation for their losses. While finding the at-fault driver is not always possible, my team works hard to conduct a thorough investigation to track the driver down. If the driver is found, I can assist you in filing your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or filing a lawsuit directly against the negligent driver to recover your maximum compensation amount. When a settlement cannot be reached out of court, I am prepared to litigate on your behalf.

If the hit and run driver cannot be located, I will review all applicable insurance policies and work with you and insurance adjusters to come to a fair settlement amount that fully compensates you for your losses. I can also aid you in filing a lawsuit when necessary.

Being in an accident in itself is tragic enough; being involved in an accident with a driver who flees the scene and leaves you unable to collect on the money you need to move your life forward is horrific. At The Law Offices of Edward Smith, I will advocate for you.

If you have been in a hit and run accident, or if you have lost a family member in a hit and run crash, please call me today. You can fill out an online form on our website, and I will contact you shortly. Or, you can call me directly at 916-921-6400 or 800-404-5400. Consultations are always free, and I charge on a contingency basis, which means I will never request payment from you unless I do my job in getting you a settlement check first. Call me at your earliest convenience to learn more about your options, your rights under the law, and what to do next to improve your future.

California Hit and Run Injury Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a California hit and run injury attorney with the primary accident information website on the web, www.AutoAccident.com. If you or your loved one has suffered a personal injury in a hit and run collision, call me now at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. 

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