Hit-and-run accidents occur when there is a collision, and the driver has left the scene. These types of accidents range in severity, from someone leaving the scene of a minor accident to leaving the scene of an accident that has killed or severely injured someone. In 2019, there were 304 fatal hit-and-run crashes in San Joaquin County, according to the Office of Traffic Safety’s Crash Rankings Results.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in California?
Even if you are not at fault for the accident, hit-and-run cases can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor under California Vehicle Code section 20002. If the accident caused property damage, then it is a misdemeanor. If the crash caused injuries, then leaving the scene of the accident is a felony.
The California Vehicle Code mandates drivers to take the following steps after an accident:
- Stay at the scene of the accident
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the person or the owner of the other vehicle. If you are not the owner of the car, then you must give the name, phone number, email address, and address of the car’s owner. You must also exchange your license and vehicle registration information with each other.
- If you did not hit a car but hit another type of property (traffic sign, parking meter, etc.), then you must leave a note with your contact information at the site and an explanation of what happened.
- You must contact the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement to file a police report.
Can you get compensation for a hit-and-run accident?
If someone hits you and then drives off, you should do your best to gather as much evidence as possible. It may feel impossible to do anything, but you can do the following steps:
- Get as many details of the fleeing vehicle as you can, such as its license plate number, make and model, color, and so on
- Take pictures of your vehicle in the surrounding areas
- Write the date, time, and location of the accident
- Write down the amount of damage
- Get the contact information for any witnesses, including their name, phone number, email address, and physical address
- Call the police to file an incident report. Give them as many details as possible, and they will attempt to find the guilty driver
What to Do If Someone Left the Scene of an Accident
If someone has left the scene of the accident and cannot be identified, then you will still need to file a claim with your auto insurance company. This is where having uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is important because it is through your insurance that you will be able to get the coverage your need to fix your vehicle and pay for your medical expenses. You will have to first pay your deductible.
Common Injuries From Hit-And-Run Accidents
Since pedestrians are the most likely victims of hit-and-run accidents, the injuries are usually severe. Even if a victim was inside a vehicle at the time of the accident, they are still likely to suffer cuts and lacerations; fractures and broken bones; burns; neck, back, and spine injuries; whiplash; internal bleeding; facial disfigurement.
Traumatic brain injuries are common and dangerous. TBI can range in severity from mild to severe, with some symptoms not appearing for several days or weeks and other symptoms leading to lifelong challenges. Symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual
Severe TBI can result in slurred speech, convulsions or seizures, inability to wake up from sleep, enlargement of the pupil in one or both eyes, sensitivity to light and sound, cognitive impairment, and severe headaches.
Injuries from hit-and-run accidents can take months or years to heal or may never heal and lead to chronic conditions. Many victims require physical therapy to regain their mobility, balance, and range of motion in their joints. If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident and are facing enormous medical costs, then contact Brown & Gessell to find out what your legal options are.
Since 2009, the number of hit-and-run fatalities has steadily increased at an average rate of 7.2% per year. The most fatal year since the NHTSA started compiling statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes in 1975, was in 2016 when there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run crashes that resulted in 2,049 fatalities.
Of those crashes, 1,398 involved non-vehicle occupants such as bicyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians make up the majority of victims who are killed in hit-and-run crashes. One in five pedestrian deaths involved a hit-and-run crash, with 19.5% of pedestrian fatalities caused by hit-and-run drivers in the ten-year period between 2006 and 2016.
Research has shown that the age of the victim has a lot to do with whether or not the driver will stop and help them. When the victim was between the ages of six and 15, the driver came forward to be identified more than 60% of the time. However, when the victim is between 31 and 55 years of age, there is only a 39% driver identification rate.
Talk To A Stockton Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer
You should speak to a hit-and-run lawyer who can provide you with the legal counsel and the help you need if you have been injured in a hit-and-run crash. You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages if you have health insurance or uninsured motorist protection coverage. The Law Offices of Brown & Gessell works with hit-and-run crash victims and uses all of our resources to help victims get the compensation they need. Once the driver is found, we aggressively pursue your claim against the at-fault driver. We serve clients in the city of Stockton but also in the San Joaquin Valley and Northern California. Call our office at (209) 430-5480 to set up your risk-free case evaluation with a hit-and-run attorney. We are eager to help you during this difficult time.