A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information. Approximately 11% of all traffic accidents involve a hit and run incident, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Obligations in an Accident
In the case of a car accident, the law requires that you:
- Exchange insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle
- Determine whether passengers need medical help and obtain aid if needed
- Contact the police to inform them of the accident and comply with all requests of law enforcement (this includes remaining at the scene)
- Produce a drivers license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration
- Submit to a test of intoxication or impairment if asked by law enforcement
If a driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no information, you are the victim of a hit and run. Unless you can find someone who witnessed the incident, and can identify the individual who caused the damage, repairing your car will be between you and your insurance company. The type of coverage needed to recover costs depends on what damage was done and how it happened. For example, if someone smashed in your window and stole your radio, your comprehensive policy covering theft and vandalism would recover the loss. Many times, your uninsured or underinsured coverages will cover the damages.
If you are in your car, a car hits you and speeds off, you are the victim of a hit and run. Before the car gets out of sight, try write down as much identifying information as possible about the vehicle (model, make, license plate number) and its driver. Then you should immediately contact the police. No matter how tempting it may be, don’t chase the driver. You can’t be sure what the other driver may be thinking, or what sort of action will be taken once you’ve been spotted. Plus, your adrenaline may cause you to drive without your usual caution, and you might create your own accident. If the other driver can be identified, you or your insurance company can contact that person’s insurance carrier and file a claim for damages. Your collision insurance or uninsured motorist insurance might cover repairs in an attended vehicle hit-and-run, but you’ll still be responsible for paying the deductible.
Every jurisdiction mandates that all parties must stop their vehicles when involved in an accident. If either driver does not stop, he will face criminal penalties, which vary by state. The criminal penalties for a hit and run are generally less serious if the accident involves solely property damage (like a mailbox or light pole) and not the injury of another person or vehicle. The penalties for a hit and run will also depend on the driver’s history and whether other individuals involved in the accident are severely injured. Fines usually range from $5,000 to $20,000 and incarceration can be a possible consequence. There can also be administrative penalties to the driver’s license, such as suspension or revocation. Furthermore, there can be civil penalties, such as a lawsuit that takes punitive action with treble damages. This means that in addition to the amount needed to pay for the damages, the judge could triple the amount paid to the plaintiff as a way to punish the defendant’s behavior.
If you have been the victim of an accident, use the Car Accident Claim Calculator to estimate the value of your case.