Road traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pedestrian accidents alone result in a death every 88 minutes. When you account for accidents of all types, including hit and run accidents, the fatality rates are much higher, as are the costs to the economy in terms of lost productivity, property damage, insurance costs, and medical care and treatment expenses.
Hit and run accidents are especially problematic because the guilty party is often not identified. This exposes the victim to additional costs and may leave them with little recourse in terms of compensation and coverage. Were you involved in a hit and run accident? The Bohemia hit and run accident lawyer team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. is ready to help. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (631) 600-0000.
Causes and Penalties
A hit and run accident is defined as a crash or an accident in which the offending party strikes another party and leaves the scene without identifying themselves or exchanging insurance information. There are many ways such an accident can occur. A drunk driver may strike you and drive off. A pedestrian may be struck by a vehicle that does not stop. A vehicle may strike someone, a parked vehicle, or roadside fixtures and cause damage without stopping to see if they can contact the affected party.
The are many reasons a person may commit a hit and run accident. The most common reason is that the offending driver does not have insurance coverage or is a suspect in a crime. Distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or malicious intent are other reasons someone may strike someone else on the road and not stop to redress the issue.
Hit and run penalties vary from state to state. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the extent of damages or injury that result, criminal charges may be levied against the at-fault driver—assuming the driver is identified at some point. Accidents resulting in significant property damage are usually categorized as a misdemeanor and come with penalties of up to $5,000, one year in jail, or both. The guilty party’s driving privileges may also be suspended—again, pending identification.
Drivers who are guilty of a hit and run accident can also face a civil suit for damages if the accident causes personal injuries or property damage. If you were struck in a hit and run accident, you should seek coverage for medical expenses, vehicle damage, emotional trauma, and other damages you’ve suffered. The guilty driver would be held responsible for paying these damages.
Felony charges may be levied against at-fault drivers guilty of a hit and run accident if the incident involves or results in significant bodily harm, major property damage, police evasion, or wrongful death.
There are a few exceptions that may absolve an at-fault driver for an accident, however. If someone was involuntarily drugged, was responding to an emergency, or left the scene believing that no injuries or property damage caused, a hit and run driver may be able to defend his or her actions. It would be up to your lawyer, the representatives of the at-fault driver, and a judge or jury to determine the outcome of such cases.
For more information, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. today at (631) 600-0000.
Injuries, Damages, and Compensation
People typically suffer the same types of injuries and can seek similar compensation for hit and run accidents as they can for a regular accident.
Injuries and property damages commonly seen in hit and run accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Lacerations and scarring
You can usually seek coverage and compensation for the following, depending on how serious your hit and run accident was:
- Vehicle damage
- Lost income
- Medical treatment and care
- Therapy and surgery
The issue with hit and run accidents is that, if the offending party is never identified, who can you seek damages from? This is where underinsured and uninsured policies come into play.
Insurance Coverage for Hit and Run Accidents
According to the Insurance Information Institute, roughly one in eight drivers are uninsured. This means you can be struck at any time by a driver that does not have insurance and will either have to cover your damages themselves or will be unable to cover you at all. If someone drives without insurance, it is not likely that they can afford insurance to begin with, leaving you with very few options in terms of recovery.
This is where your underinsured or uninsured motorist policy can help. Most major insurers offer their clients uninsured driver coverage. Depending on the limits of your policy, this coverage provides you with compensation up to a certain limit—usually $25,000 or so—if you are struck by a driver that does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for your damages or injuries.
Hit and run accidents are treated the same way as uninsured accidents. You can file a claim with your insurance company stating that you were struck by a vehicle that fled the scene. You would have to provide evidence of the accident, but this is one way you can seek compensation. A Bohemia hit and run accident lawyer on our team can assist you with this step of the process and with filing a claim. Contact us to learn how.
Identifying the At-Fault Driver
There are many ways you can attempt to identify the at-fault driver that struck you. You can speak with eyewitnesses, obtain dashcam or surveillance camera footage from local businesses or parking garages, and look into nearby accident reports in an attempt to identify vehicles or drivers that may have been involved in an accident with you before leaving the scene.
A Bohemia Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Is Here to Help
For assistance with your hit and run accident case, we strongly encourage you to contact our Bohemia hit and run accident lawyer team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. today at (631) 600-0000. Call now for a free case evaluation and to learn about the next steps you must take with your hit and run accident case.