If you’ve ever been the victim of a hit-and-run car accident, you know it can be startling, frustrating or downright terrifying. Most of us associate hit-and-runs with a car accidents between two vehicles, but in some cases pedestrians andbicyclists are hit – other times, someone’s property is damaged. The obvious main component of a hit and run is that the driver of the car doing the hitting flees the scene without leaving adequate information for the other driver, pedestrian or property owner.
I was involved in a hit-and-run car accident in my younger years, but luckily nothing serious. The accident occurred on my way to senior prom, of all places, when our limo was hit and the driver of the other car fled the scene. Thankfully no one was injured and no major damage was done. I’ve also had a parked car be the victim of a more casual hit-and-run. I’m sure many of you have had your own awful experience of returning to your car to find a huge dent, ding, or strip of paint across your vehicle with no one around to claim responsibility- not even a note! That’s always a serious bummer but a far better outcome than some potential outcomes. When a pedestrian or bicyclist is the victim of a hit and run car accident the results can be deadly. According to the NHTSA’s National Pedestrian Crash Report ,one in five pedestrians killed were killed by a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident.
In California if you’re injured (or killed) in a car accident, according to the Vehicle Code (VC) 20003, if the driver fails to stop, they can be charged with a felony. If a driver hits another person they MUST both identify themselves to the injured person AND give them assistance in seeking out medical care. That can be as simple as calling 911.
If there are no injuries involved in the hit-and-run car accident, but there is damage, as required by the California Driving code (VC) 20002 the driver is required to 1) stop and 2) give you their drivers license, vehicle registration, and residence address of the registered owner of the vehicle. Failing to comply with either of those requirements can result in a misdemeanor. The driver can be punished by up to six months in jail or by a fine up to $1,000 or both.
Luckily these days there are many surveillance videos, from municipal to private security cameras in streetside stores, and almost anyone with a cell phone will gladly assist you getting a photo or video of the vehicle making their escape. (Don’t believe me? Just search YouTube for hit-and-run.) Surveillance video can be helpful in any accident, even if it’s not a hit-and-run. If you’re in San Francisco, you may have been following the accident where a bicyclist was hit and killed by a truck earlier this month. Family and friends later found surveillance video. Be sure you seek out surveillance footage from neighboring stores as soon as possible. In most cases the footage is taped over a few days and sometimes up to a week later and will be gone for good. Also be sure to report your incident to the police immediately after the incident. Their investigation may be successful in finding the person responsible for the damage, injury and/or death.
Hit and runs car accidents can come in many forms. All it takes is one vehicle with an irresponsible driver and unfortunately there are many of those on the road. If you or a loved one is injured or killed in hit-and-run motor vehicle accident, contact the law offices of Nelson Barry for a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.