Someone Hit My Car And Drove Off
Being a victim of a hit-and-run accident can be a very scary and overwhelming experience. When someone collides with your vehicle and flees the scene, you may have multiple questions about what you should do next. According to ValuePenguin, California has the highest amount of deadly crashes involving a hit-and-run. About 10.1% of fatal crashes in California between 2012-2021 involved hit-and-run accidents. In this blog, we’ll outline the steps you should take if someone hits your car and drives away.
Consequences of Committing a Hit-and-Run in California
In California, all motorists involved in an auto accident are required to remain at the scene, provide reasonable assistance, report the accident to the police, and exchange contact and insurance information. Unfortunately, some motorists do not follow these rules, and hit-and-run accidents are common in California.
Committing a hit-and-run in California comes with severe legal consequences. The penalties for a hit-and-run vary based on the extent of damage or injuries caused. They can include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.
According to California Vehicle Code 20001, a misdemeanor hit-and-run occurs when the driver flees the scene of the accident that resulted in property damage and no injuries. For example, a driver may have hit an empty parked car and left the scene of the accident. Penalties for a misdemeanor hit-and-run can include the following:
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- Fines up to $1,000
- Restitution to the victims for property damage
- 2 points on your driving record
Hit-and-run accidents that result in physical injuries can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
If the hit-and-run caused injury or death the penalties can include the penalties listed below.
- Up to 1 year in jail
- $1,000-10,000 in fines
- 2-4 years in state prison
- $1,000-10,000 in fines
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Hit-And-Run in California
Remain at an Accident Scene and File a Police Report
Stay at the accident scene, but ensure your car is not in the path of oncoming traffic. If possible, move your car to a well-lit location. If the other driver has fled, contact law enforcement promptly. Filing a police report is crucial for documenting the incident and initiating an investigation.
Write Down the Details
As soon as it’s safe to do so, document the details of the accident. Write down the following information:
- The time, date, and location
- The make, model, and color of the other vehicle involved
- The direction the other driver fled
- Visible damage to your car
- Any unique markings on the other vehicle such as stickers or damage
Seek Medical Attention
If you or anyone else is injured, seek medical care immediately. Even if you don’t think you’re hurt, it’s crucial to get a medical examination. Some injuries may not show symptoms immediately but could worsen over time.
Collect as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of the accident scene, visible injuries, broken glass, skid marks, car parts, and damage to your vehicle.
Speak to Witnesses
If there are bystanders who witnessed the incident, ask for their contact information and if they would be willing to provide a statement. Eyewitness accounts can strengthen your case when dealing with an insurance claim.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the hit-and-run. Some insurance policies may cover hit-and-run incidents under the uninsured motorist coverage, which compensates you when the at-fault party is unidentified or lacks insurance. This can depend on the type of insurance coverage you have.
Consult with a California Car Accident Lawyer
An experienced Garden Grove car accident attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and help you recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
What Kind of Insurance Covers a Hit-And-Run in California?
In California, uninsured motorist coverage can help provide protection in the event of a hit-and-run. This coverage is designed to compensate you for injuries or damages caused by a driver who lacks insurance or cannot be identified.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI): This coverage can help pay for medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering resulting from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD): UMPD covers property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. In a hit-and-run, where the at-fault driver is unknown, UMPD can be crucial for repairing your vehicle.
How Much Compensation Can I Claim for a Hit-and-Run Claim?
The amount of compensation you can claim for a hit-and-run incident depends on various factors, including the extent of your injuries and property damage.
Medical expenses: This includes hospital bills, doctor’s fees, medication costs, and rehabilitation expenses related to injuries sustained in the hit-and-run.
Lost income: If you are unable to work due to injuries from the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the income you’ve lost during your recovery.
Property damage: Compensation for repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other property damaged in the hit-and-run.
Pain and suffering: These damages can include mental distress, physical pain, emotional trauma, and the impact of the accident on your life.
Wrongful death: If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses including funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Do I Need a California Car Accident Lawyer?
Navigating the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident can be complex, especially when dealing with insurance companies and legal proceedings. While it’s not mandatory to hire a California car accident lawyer, doing so can offer several benefits:
Investigation and evidence gathering: Personal injury lawyers have the resources and experience to conduct thorough investigations, gather evidence, and build a strong case. This can be invaluable in hit-and-run incidents where identifying the at-fault party is challenging.
Negotiation skills: An auto accident lawyer will deal with the insurance companies and negotiate for fair compensation on your behalf. They understand the tactics insurers may use to minimize payouts and will fight for the maximum compensation available.
Court representation: If the at-fault party disputes liability, an experienced trial lawyer lawyer will advocate for you in court. They can present your case, argue on your behalf, and work to resolve your case in a timely manner.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, seeking legal advice is crucial to protect your rights and pursue fair compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assess the details of your case, provide guidance on the best course of action, and protect your rights. Grove Accident Lawyers is dedicated to helping personal injury victims recover just compensation for their injuries and losses. Our Garden Grove law firm maintains a 99% success rate and has obtained missions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Call us today to schedule a no risk, free consultation.