Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys in OC
Fleeing the scene of a collision you were in is against the law in California, as well as every other state. Nevertheless, drivers still flee the scene of an accident for a variety of reasons – and they are rarely honest ones.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run in California, you still have options under the law. Our Orange County car accident lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie can help.
In the most recent year for which statistics are available, hit-and-run accidents accounted for 11.7% of all traffic crashes nationwide, as reported by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Nearby Los Angeles is the hit-and-run capital of the nation, with these accidents reportedly happening every 18 minutes.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run, it is essential to gather as much information as you can and stay in contact with your insurance company and law enforcement. The more details you can give the police officer, the better. If you can do so, provide information about:
- Vehicle make, model, and color
- Any unique or identifying marks on the vehicle, such as bumper stickers or dents
- Driver’s appearance (if you got a look at the driver)
- License plate number (if you were able to see it in whole or in part)
- Circumstances surrounding the crash
There may be evidence left behind, even after the hit-and-run driver has fled the scene. Evidence may include a paint scrape at the point of impact, or a piece broken off from the body of the other car. If any eyewitnesses are nearby, get their contact information for corroborating testimony. If you are able, take pictures of your vehicle and the accident scene.
Hit-and-run victims suffer different types of injuries, from mild to severe to fatal. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Facial trauma
- Fractured bones
- Neck, back, and spinal cord damage
- Internal injuries
Hit-and-run is a misdemeanor in California if the driver only caused property damage. It carries criminal penalties of up to six months in jail, probation, a fine of up to $1,000, and possible restitution to the victim.
When a hit-and-run accident causes injury or death to another person, it will be charged as a felony. Upon conviction, the driver may face a state prison sentence of two to four years, and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000, or both.
In addition to criminal penalties, there may be consequences for hit-and-run drivers in civil court. Victims have the right to sue for damages and are likely to recover punitive damages. These additional damages are designed to punish a defendant for acting in a particularly egregious manner or intentionally or recklessly causing harm to another, as well as to deter similar conduct in the future.
Under state law, you may file a claim for up to two years after a hit-and-run. Of course, the sooner you submit a claim, the sooner you should be compensated.
- Collision coverage should help cover the damage to your car.
- Med Pay or your own health insurance can cover your injuries, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. If the at-fault driver is found, a lawsuit may reimburse these costs.
- If the hit-and-run driver is never identified, you can still file a claim against your UM/UIM motorist coverage, but it may not cover property damage. If you have uninsured motorist property damage insurance, it can cover your car after a hit-and-run.
- If the driver is found, you can file a claim against the driver’s liability coverage. Your auto insurance company may have a lien on any damages awarded to you for money it paid out previously, under the right of subrogation.
- If the at-fault driver is found but does not have insurance, you can file a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In a civil lawsuit, you may be able to recover out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and punitive damages. Call Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474 for sound legal guidance if you have been the victim of this crime. Our team of trial lawyers will take every legal action necessary to help you seek full compensation for all damages, through every source.
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