A hit and run is defined as a driver of a motor vehicle being involved in a car accident with a pedestrian, fixed object, or another car and then fleeing the scene, thereby failing to provide her name, contact information, license number, and other information required by statute after an auto accident. Most state laws require people to do this if they have been involved in any type of car, motorcycle, truck, or even bicycle accident. It’s also required even if the collision didn’t involve another vehicle but involved property or a pedestrian instead.
Hit and runs also occur when a driver collides with another vehicle when the other party is not present. For example, a driver who hits a parked car is required to leave a note with her contact information on the damaged vehicle, typically on the windshield.
People also read: Examples and Penalties of Hit and Run Accidents
When Do Hit and Runs Occur?
Hit and run accidents could occur for any number of reasons, but they are common among drivers who lack car insurance. Minimum insurance requirements vary from state to state, but they cover bodily injury, property damage liability, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist protection. It is illegal in most states to drive without any car insurance. Therefore, if an insured driver is involved in a car crash, she is more likely to flee the scene for fear of getting in trouble for lacking car insurance.
How is the Perpetrator Located?
As discussed above, hit and runs often occur because the perpetrator is trying to escape liability for one reason or another. For this reason, it is often difficult to locate the driver who has fled the scene. Authorities are often able to track down the missing driver through factors such as:
- Paint left on the other car after impact
- Car parts found at the scene of the incident
- Eye witness reports
- License plate numbers and automobile descriptions (make and year, etc.)
- Video footage (often pulled from security cameras in parking lots and garages)
- Photographs from bystanders or traffic cameras
Defenses to Hit and Run Accidents
Below are some potential defenses to hit and run charges:
- Emergency situations: If there is an ongoing emergency in progress, and the accident was an attempt to prevent the emergency, the hit and run may be excused. For example, if the driver is a husband whose wife is in the passenger’s seat and is in active labor, the hit and run may be excused.
- Involuntary Intoxication: Involuntary intoxication, or being forced or tricked to consume drugs or alcohol, can be a defense to a hit and run accident. A driver who collides into a telephone pole and subsequently drives off may not be guilty of the hit and run if she was roofied an hour before at a restaurant.
- Lack of knowledge: Generally, the defendant needs to be aware that they caused an injury or damage in order to be held liable. If they didn’t know that they caused an injury or property damage, and then left the scene, it may be difficult to hold them liable. However, they can be found negligent or even reckless if they should have known about the damage given the circumstances.
Hit and runs can be difficult to defend against, as every state requires the defendant to stop and leave her information except in unique circumstances.
How to React If You’ve Been the Victim of a Hit and Run
If you’ve been the victim of a hit and run automobile accident, and you have been injured, seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if you are a pedestrian involved in a hit and run. Failing to seek immediate medical attention will be used against you as evidence to reduce your recovery for damages. Further, keep copies of your medical records and bills as evidence of your injuries. You should also ask any eye witnesses to give their account of the accident to police, and give a statement to police yourself. If you can gather any additional information, such as photos, videos, or license plate numbers, report these to police.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
To defend yourself as the driver in a hit and run case, you should contact an skilled criminal defense attorney.
Filing damages for hit and run claims generally requires the expertise of a personal injury attorney.