Being involved in a car accident can be both a scary and frustrating experience. However, certain factors like a driver hitting your car and then leaving the scene of the accident can make the situation even worse.
While under California law drivers have a duty to exchange contact and insurance information after a car accident, the fact is that some drivers flee the scene of an accident either out of fear or because they are uninsured. This can make the situation more complex for the victim(s) by making it more difficult for them to file a personal injury claim and receive compensation for their injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a hit-and-run driver in Downey, the auto accident attorney at The JLF Firm can advise you accordingly on how to protect your rights to compensation.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident in California?
An accident is considered a hit-and-run in California if a driver involved in an accident flees the scene without stopping to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s) involved. California law states drivers are required to move their vehicles out of traffic (if it is safe and possible to do so), exchange information, and offer “reasonable assistance” to anyone who is injured following an accident.
If a driver leaves the scene of an accident without first meeting these requirements, they have committed a hit-and-run.
Anytime you are involved in a car accident in California, whether or not you are at fault, it is critical that you pull over and exchange information with the other driver in order to avoid being accused of a hit and run.
What Steps Should I Take Following a Hit-and-Run?
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be traumatic, and you may be unsure what your next steps should be if you are hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, there are certain steps that you can take to protect yourself and give yourself the best chances of ensuring you are properly compensated for your injuries including:
Making sure everyone is safe
If you are not severely injured and your car is driveable, your first step should be to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic and check on yourself and your passengers. Your first priority should be calling for medical attention if anyone needs it.
Calling the police to file a report
Your next priority will be to call the police, as getting law enforcement involved will raise your chances of finding the other driver so that you can ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries and property damage. The police can help you to gather evidence, collect witness statements, and file an official accident report. Having a police report will be crucial when it comes time to file an insurance claim, and it can be necessary to support your personal injury claim against the other driver if they are caught.
Next, it is essential that you gather as much evidence about the accident as possible, as this can help you to track down the other driver and build your personal injury claim. Try to write down as much information as you can remember about the accident including the time and location as well as any identifying information about the other car/driver that could help police track them down. Even a car’s make, model, color, and partial license plate number can help authorities find the other driver. You will also want to take pictures of your car and the accident scene for insurance purposes.
Gather witness information
If possible, survey the scene of the accident to see if there is anyone who may have witnessed the accident who would be willing to make a statement, and collect their contact information. The information they provide to the police and your insurance company could greatly strengthen your case.
How an Attorney Can Help After a Hit-and-Run
After being involved in a hit-and-run accident, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take next as you work with insurance companies to get a fair settlement. This is why it is critical that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
At The JLF Firm, we know how stressful the time immediately following a hit-and-run accident can be, and we work hard to serve each of our clients with care and compassion. If you or a loved one was injured in a hit-and-run accident in California, we can work with you to help gather evidence to track down the other driver, and we can negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf to get you a fair settlement.
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure your rights are looked out for as you seek compensation for your injuries following a hit-and-run accident. Feel free to contact The JLF Firm to learn how we can support you if you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident.
FAQs About Hit-and-Run Accidents
Will my car insurance cover a hit-and-run accident?
This depends on the type of coverage you have. Unfortunately, drivers in California cannot use uninsured motorist coverage to pay for damages to their vehicle if the other driver is unidentifiable. However, if you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance may cover your injuries and damage to your car (once your deductible is paid).
How common are hit-and-run accidents in California?
According to the most recent data available in the 2021 Annual Report from the California Office of Traffic Safety, just over 18,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred during the year, resulting in more than 23,000 reported injuries.