Being Involved in a Hit and Run Car Accident in Phoenix
When a driver crashes with another vehicle, pedestrian, person riding a bicycle or property and then flees the scene, it is called a hit and run accident. These drivers often flee due to fear of responsibility or charges of some sort. They leave without identifying themselves, helping the injured or otherwise taking care of the responsibilities drivers have under the law. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 11 percent of all auto accidents are hit and run. This includes 4.3 percent of the accidents that result in fatal injuries.
When a driver is involved in an auto accident, the law requires them to remain on the scene and render aid as needed to other parties. This aid is general help to injured people, calling 911 for help and otherwise doing one’s personal duty to others involved in the accident. It is also the responsibility of each driver to provide their identifying information, contact details and insurance policy information to other drivers and the police.
Hit and run is a crime in every state of the United States. It may be a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the magnitude of the accident and other circumstances. Resulting judgments may involve jail time in a county facility or even time in a state prison. Substantial fines are also often applied to drivers that caused the injury. Community service is sometimes offered as an option versus jail time.
The majority of hit and run drivers get away with their crime. They quickly hide their vehicle and evidence of the accident. Because car accident victims are often stunned or in shock after the wreck, it is hard for them to remember identifying information about the vehicle that hit them. Most often, victims do not even see the make, model, year or color of the offending driver’s car.
Luckily, video cameras are more common on roadways and business now than ever before. So these cameras can be quite useful in identifying hit and run drivers.
Why Drivers Hit and Run
Drivers hit and run because they fear responsibility for the accident or being held accountable for other actions, such as being under the influence of a drug or alcohol. They do not want to be caught for something and act selfishly without concern for others involved in the accident. Hit and run drivers cross all demographics, age groups and social classes. These drivers are not necessarily the criminal “type,” but may be someone like a school teacher, doctor, accountant, or other average citizen without other crimes on their record.
According to the article on USA Today, crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that over the years of 2009 – 2011, the number of fatal hit and run accidents had increased year over year. That state with most fatalities in by car California with a staggering 2,833 fatal crashes in 2014.
We have found that the most common reasons why the types of accident occur include:
- Driver intoxication
- Lack of auto insurance
- A stolen vehicle or vehicle borrowed without permission
- Unlicensed driving
- Excessive driving citations
- Company car use in the accident
- Outstanding warrants
- Suspended license
- Illegal immigration to the country
- Transporting of illegal substances or stolen property at the time of the accident
- Fear of arrest or repercussions of negligence in the accident
Identifying the Hit and Run Driver
Police will provide support in trying to identify a hit and run driver. This does not usually fall on the shoulders of accident victims and police actively pursue these drivers through investigations. All 50 states consider hit and run a criminal offense.
The problem is that the police are overburdened with more pressing types of cases and hit and run accidents often fall into a low priority category. But if the case is serious enough, police will start a criminal investigation to try to find and interview the offending driver. If this driver can be identified, an arrest may occur. But an arrest is sadly rare in these types of investigations.
It is difficult for hit and run victims to identify the fleeing driver or their vehicle. Most victims are still in the process of being injured or recognizing that they have been in an accident, when the driver is fleeing. If an uninjured witness can be found, such as an observer on the street or in a nearby business, this type of witness can be very helpful in locating the hit and run driver.
Ways that you may be able to identify the hit and run driver include:
- Eyewitness identification
- Canvassing the neighborhood and area businesses with car information
- Business video cameras
- License plate information
Criminal Penalties after Hit and Run
In most cases, only the vehicle’s driver is criminally charged. If the vehicle has a separate owner who was not the one behind the wheel, that person will most often escape criminal penalties. That is, unless the owner had some sort of criminal participation in the hit and run accident, in which case the owner could be held criminally liable, too.
Victims may gain reparation from a victim’s compensation fund managed by the prosecutor’s office, if the criminally charged driver does not have insurance or money to compensate the victim for injuries and damages. Some criminal offenders are held accountable through probation, during which they must gain employment and pay the victim out of their own compensation as part of the terms of probation. If these payments are not made according to the agreement, the driver may be imprisoned.
There are a multitude of directions a hit and run case may go through claims, court and other processes. If you have been injured or endured property damage as part of a hit and run accident, gaining the help of an experienced auto accident attorney will provide the best possible results for your case.
Civil Penalties after Hit and Run
Through a civil case, both the owner of the car and the driver can be held accountable for the driver’s actions. This opens the door for multiple parties from whom the victim can gain compensation for injuries and property damage. When a company car is used for hit and run, the company can be sued in court. An experienced auto accident attorney can advise whether your hit and run victimization is a good case with potential for positive outcome through a civil suit.
Engaging an Attorney’s Help in Hit and Run Claims
Even though some hit and run drivers are identified by victims through license plates, it can be difficult to get the driver to admit that they were involved in the accident at all. If the driver will not admit his or her role, you will likely not be able to gain their insurance policy details.
If an attorney feels your particular case offers enough potential in court and to make the case worth their time and investment, you may be able to gain an attorney’s support for a hit and run claim. A lawsuit may be filed and the owner of the other vehicle can be subpoenaed for deposition. Such a deposition is a delicate matter for anyone daring to try to cover up their involvement in a hit and run accident, as lying under oath is a felony throughout the United States. This alone makes drivers confess in depositions in many instances and also helps victims gain the driver’s insurance information for a claim.
Experienced Legal Support for a Hit and Run Accident
Enlisting the help of an experienced and aggressive car accident lawyer will help you navigate the processes and claims associated with being a victim to such an accident. Call the attorneys of Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law now at 602-786-7039 for a free, no-obligation consultation and assessment of your hit and run accident claim.