Suffered A Hit And Run? Understand Your Legal Rights
A hit and run accident, by definition, occurs when a driver is involved in an accident but leaves the scene without exchanging information, making sure that anyone else involved is okay, notifying police, or calling for any needed medical aid. Hit and run accidents are a crime, the extent of which varies by state and based on the situation. Here's why you should always call an attorney if you've been the victim of a hit and run accident.
It Doesn't Matter Who Was At Fault
Some people choose not to pursue a hit and run accident because they believe that they were at fault in the accident, so the driver who left the scene isn't to blame. However, it's important that you understand that, no matter who was at fault for the accident, leaving the scene is a crime and the other driver is responsible for that crime.
Every state considers leaving the scene an automatic crime, but the level varies based on the incident. It's usually considered a misdemeanor if the fleeing driver hit an empty, parked car, a fence, or another similar object. It's only considered a felony if there was another person involved who was injured.
Hit And Run Accidents Are Taken Seriously
When you file a claim for a hit and run accident, the courts take these claims seriously. The other driver will face criminal charges for the incident, but you also have the right to seek civil restitution for your injuries or property damage. In fact, most courts will automatically double or triple the award as a punitive damage benefit because the other driver fled the scene.
You'll Need An Attorney
Hit and run accidents can be difficult to pursue on your own. You'll want the help of an experienced hit and run attorney to help you with the necessary investigation, identification of the other driver, and evidence gathering to prove your case.
You can make some of this process easier by gathering some necessary information at the scene when the accident happens. Try to get pictures of the other car either before or while it's fleeing the scene. If you can get a picture of the driver, even better.
Make sure to get contact information for any witnesses that were there. They can help with testifying to the other driver's actions and may be able to help identify them. You may also want to get pictures of the area where it happened, including any business storefronts in the area. Sometimes, business surveillance cameras can capture what's happening on the street, giving you clear evidence of the incident.
Talk with a hit and run attorney today, such as Paul R Bennet PC, about your situation. He or she can advise you about the best next steps.