Car crashes can be traumatic, resulting in severe physical and emotional harm. Fortunately, most of the time, drivers responsible for car crashes face up to their mistake and compensate victims accordingly. But some drivers attempt to evade consequences by fleeing the scene of the crash. Known as a hit-and-run, this is a criminal act in California.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may feel lost and hopeless. Seeking compensation for your injuries is usually contingent upon making the responsible party pay for their actions, after all. Even if the police cannot find the driver, you may still have options.
In the weeks and months following a car crash, you should be focusing on recovering from your injuries, not worrying about medical bills and the financial strain of lost wages. A Long Beach hit and run accident lawyer can support you in this challenging period. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC is dedicated to helping victims pursue justice and fair compensation. Consider calling the office at (800) 598-7557 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Rules & Consequences of a Hit-and-Run in California
In California, like most states, drivers are required to behave responsibly and obey all traffic rules. When one fails to do so, they may face the consequences. Depending on the infraction, these consequences may range from paying a fine to the state to license suspension or imprisonment. When a driver damages another person’s property or causes bodily injury, they may be liable for the harm caused.
One of the essential traffic rules in California pertains to drivers’ actions after an accident. Regardless of the collision’s location or nature, according to California Vehicle Code (VEH) §20002, drivers must stop at the scene. Unless the driver is incapacitated, they are also responsible for providing reasonable assistance to any injured parties. If the crash was severe, drivers must notify law enforcement. Regardless of whether any injuries occurred, drivers must exchange personal data with one another, including names, contact information, and insurance details.
Some hit and run incidents occur because the driver did not realize they had hit anything or anyone. For instance, a driver may bump or scrape another parked car in a lot and not know they had done so. Rarely, these incidents may occur if a driver hits a pedestrian at night, for example, and does not know they had done so.
However, most hit and run incidents occur because the driver does not want to face the consequences of their irresponsible or reckless behavior. The perpetrator may have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for instance, and fled the scene to avoid being breath tested by law enforcement, which would result in a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. People driving under the influence are significantly more likely to cause a crash and substantially more likely to make poor decisions, such as fleeing the scene. Drivers may also flee the scene if they have prior convictions, traffic violations, or otherwise if they are on probation or driving with a suspended or invalid license. Drivers may flee if they do not have adequate insurance coverage as well.
Regardless of why a driver flees, a hit-and-run is a criminal offense. When the driver only causes property damage, it is usually a misdemeanor. However, if the person caused bodily injury or death, it is typically a felony under California law.
In addition to criminal charges, perpetrators of hit-and-run crashes may be liable to compensate their victims for the damages they cause. Victims have the right to pursue such compensation through the responsible party’s insurance provider, if they have one, or through a civil suit.
For a free legal consultation with a hit and run accidents lawyer serving Long Beach, call 800-598-7557
How a Long Beach Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Can Help
Pursuing justice in a hit-and-run accident can be a complicated, time-consuming, and emotionally draining experience. It may be difficult enough to seek compensation from another party under normal circumstances, particularly if the fault is contested. But when the responsible party is not immediately identifiable, the process can take even more time, energy, and resources. This is why some hit-and-run victims seek legal counsel.
A Long Beach hit and run accident lawyer can assist you throughout the entire process. First, an attorney will gather evidence to establish the circumstances that led to the crash and who was at fault. At this stage, they may ask for eyewitness testimonies and photos from the crash scene, as well as medical and police reports. The attorney will also establish the extent of your injuries and identify what types of damages you may be entitled to. They will proceed by building a case and advocating for fair compensation on your behalf.
There are a couple of potential routes to seek compensation in a hit-and-run accident. The first is pursuing compensation through your insurance company if you have uninsured driver coverage. If police cannot identify the perpetrator, this may be your only option.
If you can identify the responsible driver, you may pursue compensation from their insurance company or through a civil suit. If the driver’s insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover the full extent of your injuries, you may wish to do both.
A lawyer can help you determine your best course of action. They can also support you throughout the processes, which require that you follow specific protocols and procedures. In addition to helping you file the appropriate documents in the necessary manner within the applicable time limits, your attorney will be your advocate in situations such as negotiating with insurance providers or representing you in a courtroom.
Be Aware of Deadlines
After any car crash type, it is crucial to notify your insurance provider as soon as possible. Most insurance policies include a clause requiring policyholders to file a claim within a “reasonable time” after an incident. This usually entails a few weeks, at most. Failure to do so may result in claim denial.
You should also be aware of the statute of limitations, or time limit within which you can bring a lawsuit against the responsible driver. In California, per California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, victims have two years from the date of a personal injury incident, such as a hit-and-run collision, to file a civil suit.
Long Beach Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Near Me 800-598-7557
Let Ben Crump Law, PLLC, Be Your Advocate
Hit-and-run collisions can be even more challenging to overcome than typical crashes. However, many victims do manage to receive fair compensation for their injuries. If you are ready to discuss your case and find out if a lawyer can assist you, call the office of Ben Crump Law, PLLC, at (800) 598-7557. These Long Beach hit and run accident lawyers will fight for you, whether in negotiations with insurance companies or a civil court of law. Get in touch today to discuss your options.