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What Is a Hit and Run?

Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

A hit and run refers to the act of causing a traffic accident and then leaving the scene without stopping to identify oneself or offer assistance to anyone who might need help. This type of incident can involve a collision with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object. It is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, including the entire state of Illinois, because it infringes upon the legal duties of a driver involved in a traffic collision.

When a hit and run accident occurs, the hit and run driver who flees the scene is not only evading responsibility but also potentially placing victims at further risk by not calling emergency services. Victims are left to deal with the aftermath, which can include property damage, physical injury, and emotional trauma. The legal consequences for committing a hit and run can be severe, including fines, license revocation, and even imprisonment.

Investigations into hit-and-run accidents focus on identifying the fleeing party. Law enforcement agencies use various methods like surveillance footage, witness statements, and vehicle damage assessments to track down the responsible individual. These investigations aim to bring justice for the victims and deter future occurrences by upholding traffic laws and regulations.

Judges Hammer With Hit And Run Sign

Understanding Hit and Run Incidents

Hit and run incidents involve drivers who leave the scene of a vehicle accident without identifying themselves or providing assistance to others involved. These crashes raise significant legal and ethical concerns.

Legal Definition

A hit-and-run crash constitutes a crime in which a driver involved in a vehicle accident illegally leaves the scene without fulfilling their legal responsibilities. These duties typically include:

  • Providing personal identification
  • Furnishing vehicle registration details
  • Offering aid to any injured parties

Legal ramifications of a hit and run incident can vary depending on jurisdiction, but they often include fines and license points if there is property damage only, all the way up to long-term prison sentences if there are any fatalities involved.

Common Scenarios

Hit and run scenarios often involve:

  • Drivers fleeing the scene of an accident after causing property damage to parked cars
  • Accidents where drivers panic and exit the scene in fear of repercussions
  • Crashes where a vehicle involved leaves, believing the impact was minor or to avoid driving under influence charges

It is vital for individuals to understand that staying at the accident scene is not only a legal obligation but ensures all parties involved can receive necessary assistance and information.

The Legal Consequences

Hit and run incidents carry significant legal repercussions that fall under two broad categories: criminal charges and civil penalties. These consequences are determined based on the severity of the incident and the jurisdiction.

Criminal Charges

Following a hit and run, the victim or a witness typically files a police report. Law enforcement agencies investigate the incident, and if the hit and run involved death or serious injury, charges could escalate from misdemeanor to felony.

Misdemeanor: If there are no serious injuries or fatalities, a hit and run may result in misdemeanor charges. These often include fines and potential jail time.

Felony: When an accident involves death or serious bodily harm, felony charges are likely. The other driver faces significant prison time, higher fines, and a long-term suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.

Civil Penalties

In addition to criminal charges, the driver responsible for a hit and run may also face civil penalties.

Damages: The offending driver can be held liable for the victim’s medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and other related costs.

Punitive Damages: In certain cases, courts may award punitive damages aimed at punishing the responsible driver for particularly reckless behavior.

Through the conviction of criminal charges and the enforcement of civil penalties, justice systems aim to hold accountable those who evade responsibility in hit and run cases.

Immediate Actions to Take

In case of a hit and run, there are crucial measures to implement immediately to ensure safety and proper documentation. These steps are significant in the aftermath of the incident.

At the Accident Scene

Safety First: They must ensure that all parties involved are safe. If there are injuries, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Alert Authorities: One should call the police as soon as possible. A police officer can file a report which may be indispensable for insurance claims and legal proceedings.

Gather Information: If the fleeing vehicle’s license plate number is visible, it should be written down immediately. Any details about the vehicle and the direction it went can assist the police in their investigation.

Documenting Evidence

Photographs: They should take photos of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, any visible damage, skid marks, and road conditions.

Witnesses: Contact details of witnesses should be collected. Witnesses can provide an independent account of the event that may support the victim’s claim.

Driver’s License: The victim should ensure they have their driver’s license and all necessary documents at hand for when the authorities arrive to compile a complete report.

Dealing with Insurance

When a hit and run occurs, it’s essential to understand the process for notifying one’s insurance company and the role of uninsured motorist coverage. Reporting in a timely manner and knowing your coverage details is crucial.

Filing a Claim

After a hit and run incident, the vehicle owner should promptly contact their car insurance company to report the incident. The following steps should be taken:

Gather Information: Collect as much information as possible about the event, including the time, location, and any potential witnesses.

Police Report: File a police report immediately, as insurers often rely on this document for processing the claim.

Notification: Notify the insurance company as soon as possible. Delaying this could potentially affect the claim’s success.

Documentation: Provide the insurance company with all required documentation, which may include photos of the damage, the police report, and a detailed account of the incident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is a provision in many auto insurance policies that protects drivers in the event that the at-fault party cannot be identified or is uninsured.

Scope of Coverage: This type of coverage typically pays for repairs to the insured’s vehicle and may cover medical expenses.

Claim Process: To make a claim under uninsured motorist coverage, the insured must provide proof that the incident was a hit and run and that the responsible party is unidentified or uninsured.

Policy Limits: The coverage is subject to the limits set forth in the policy, which will dictate the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out.

Legal Assistance

Victims of hit-and-run accidents should prioritize seeking proper legal guidance to navigate the complexities of the legal system. Expert legal assistance from a car accident lawyer here at Mike Agruss Law ensures that one’s rights are protected and helps in pursuing appropriate compensation.

Hiring a Lawyer

When selecting a personal injury lawyer, one should look for experience and a track record of success in handling hit-and-run cases. A skilled attorney can manage case specifics, from initial consultation to courtroom representation, if necessary.

Criteria for Choosing a Lawyer:

  • Specialization in car accident or personal injury cases
  • Positive client testimonials and case outcomes
  • Accessibility and a willingness to communicate case progress

Mike Agruss Law offers services tailored for victims of hit-and-run incidents, focusing on personal attention and a commitment to securing justice for our clients.

The Role of Your Attorney

The attorney’s role extends beyond mere representation in court. They meticulously handle case investigation, negotiation with insurance companies, and legal documentation. Their responsibilities Include:

  • Collecting and analyzing evidence to establish the other party’s fault
  • Corresponding with insurance companies to ensure fair claim settlement
  • Representing the client’s interests in all legal proceedings

Decisive action and knowledgeable advocacy from your legal representative are vital to the success of your hit-and-run claim. You can always count on the legal team at Mike Agruss Law to help you as much as possible after a motor vehicle accident.

Financial Compensation

Victims of hit-and-run incidents can seek financial compensation for damages incurred. Property damage often represents a significant portion of these claims.

Calculating Damages

Damages to property in a hit-and-run include vehicle repair costs or the market value of a totaled vehicle. They firstly assess the fair market value or the actual cash value of the property lost. Insurance companies use formulas involving the vehicle’s depreciation, mileage, and pre-accident condition. Damage assessments come from professional appraisals or repair shop estimates.

Examples of property damage valuation include the amount needed to restore the vehicle to its pre-accident condition. If repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the vehicle’s value, it’s declared a total loss. The owner receives the market value instead.

Recovery Process

The recovery process involves filing an insurance claim and possibly a lawsuit for uninsured losses. Initially, one must file a claim with their insurance provider, assuming they have uninsured motorist coverage. Subsequently, if the at-fault party is located, the victim may file a claim against that individual’s insurance. If the damages exceed policy limits or the driver remains unidentified, the victim might resort to a civil lawsuit for compensation.

Steps in the Insurance Claim Process:

  1. Notification: Inform the insurance company immediately after the incident.
  2. Documentation: Gather all evidence such as photos, repair estimates, and police reports.
  3. Claim Evaluation: The insurer evaluates the claim and determines fault and coverage.
  4. Settlement Offer: The insurance company makes a compensation offer.
  5. Agreement: Once both parties agree on the compensation, the claim is settled.

Victims may require legal advice to navigate the complexities of recovering damages after a hit-and-run incident.

Prevention and Safety

Effective prevention and safety measures are essential in reducing the incidence of hit and run accidents. Implementing strategies to avoid such incidents and adhering to safe driving practices can significantly contribute to road safety for all users.

Avoiding Hit and Runs

Increased Visibility: Drivers should ensure their vehicles are visible to others, especially at night, by maintaining functioning headlights and tail lights. Reflective materials and proper signaling can make a difference.

Parking in Secure Areas: Whenever possible, park in well-lit and populated areas to deter potential hit and run situations for parked vehicles.

Safe Driving Practices

Attention to Surroundings: Drivers need to stay constantly aware of their surroundings, including other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, to avoid collisions that can lead to hit and run scenarios.

Adherence to Traffic Laws: Obeying speed limits, traffic signals, and signage significantly reduces the chances of accidents. It’s imperative for drivers to follow these guidelines strictly.

By focusing on these specific strategies, individuals can contribute to a safer driving environment and help prevent hit and run incidents.

Mike Agruss Law Takes On Hit and Run Drivers

Mike Agruss Law is committed to advocating for victims of hit-and-run crashes, ensuring they receive the full compensation they deserve. Understanding the trauma and confusion that follow such incidents, our firm offers compassionate yet aggressive representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system. With a relentless pursuit of justice, we stand by our clients every step of the way, fighting for their rights and working tirelessly to secure the financial restitution necessary to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Trust in Mike Agruss Law to be a powerful ally in your corner, championing your cause and striving for the best possible outcome. Book your free initial consultation today.

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