How to Get Compensation After A Hit-and-Run Car Accident?
Nothing ruins your day quite like a car accident–especially when you aren’t at fault, and the other driver speeds away before providing their information. This article will give you an overview of the common types of California hit-and-run car accidents, along with some tips on how to get a police report for a car accident. If you want to know how to receive excellent compensation after a hit-and-run, which resulted in injuries and property damage, pay attention to the post.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver causes property damage or personal injury/death to another person or their property and then flees the scene.
What to Do at the Scene of the Accident?
Drivers must remain at the scene and wait for the police, who will obtain firsthand statements, contact details, and vehicle registration information from them.
While waiting for the proper authorities to arrive, the injured party can begin gathering details of the accident while at the scene. These details include the other party’s contact details and vehicle registration information.
It’s also best to take photos or videos of what the scene looks like to serve as evidence that strengthens a personal injury case. Afterward, the injured party can submit a driver’s accident report to local authorities within 5 days for minor accidents.
How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident?
A police report is a written document created by the law enforcement officer who responds at the accident scene. It contains a summary of information related to the accident. This document often includes the following details:
- Details of the crash and location
- People and vehicles involved
- Witness statements or from the drivers and passengers
- A drawn diagram of the accident, specifically the paths of vehicles and points of collision
- Weather, roadway, and visibility conditions at the scene
- Law violations
- Initial findings of how the accident occurred
To get a copy of the police report, the driver must request it from the law enforcement officer or their respective office. If the victim is conscious after the crash, a police officer will hand them a receipt with the identification number for the police report.
Another way to obtain a copy is to call the traffic division and pay the administrative fee. However, if the receipt is lost or the driver doesn’t know the identification number for the police report, they can provide the date, time, and location of the car accident, along with their name, to claim it.
The Role of Fault in California Hit and Run
California is not a “no-fault” state. This means that each party’s insurance company is responsible for compensation according to the degree of fault of each individual.
For example, the insurance carrier could find one driver 55% at fault, which means they’ll pay 55% of the repairs while the other party pays the rest. Drivers may also sue for additional damages.
Regardless of the party at fault, both parties must abide by the California Vehicle Code to avoid criminal liability for a California hit-and-run collision. This means that if you were partially at fault, prosecutors could also charge you for a hit-and-run offense if you fled the scene.
Types of Hit-and-Run Accidents in California
As indicated above, a hit-and-run accident occurs in one of two situations: when property damage occurs and when personal injury or death occurs. The former is a misdemeanor, while the latter is a felony offense.
- Misdemeanor Hit-and-Run
When a car accident results in damage to property owned by someone else, the California Vehicle Code imposes four responsibilities on the driver:
- Immediately stop the vehicle and move it out of the roadway (if possible);
- Provide the other party with their name and address;
- Show the other party a copy of their driver’s license and vehicle registration. If the at-fault party doesn’t own the vehicle, provide the other party with the contact information of the person who does;
- Finally, exchange insurance information or face a $250 fee
California state laws prescribe these possible punishments for a misdemeanor hit-and-run offense:
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Restitution to the victim (i.e., payment for property damage)
- Two points on the driver’s DMV record that may increase their insurance premium
- Felony Hit-and-Run
A felony hit-and-run occurs when a car accident causes injury or death to someone else. The California Vehicle Code Section 20001 states that:
“Any driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to someone else shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill their legal requirements in Vehicle Code Sections 20003 and 20004.”
Together, these three sections require the driver to:
- Immediately stop at the crash site and provide the other party and police with identification;
- Provide “reasonable” assistance to the injured party, which includes transportation to a hospital if necessary;
- Call the police if someone dies;
- Provide the other party and police with car registration, insurance policy, and driver’s license
The prosecutor must show that the driver was “involved” in the accident. This means that there’s a direct connection between them and the crash. A connection is presumed where:
- They make any statements about the accident to the police, insurance adjuster, or other parties
- Damage to their car correlates to damage to the other person’s car
As a more serious crime, the felony hit-and-run results in harsher penalties. These include:
- Up to 1 year in county jail with at least 90 days served for a non-serious injury and up to 4 years in state prison for permanent injury or death
- A fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000
- Restitution to the victim
- Two points on the driver’s DMV record
How to File a Hit-and-Run Claim in California
If you’ve been involved in a California hit-and-run accident, you may be able to file a legal case depending on the amount of information you have. As soon as the collision occurs, take note of the following:
- The license plate number of the other car, even if only partial
- Make, model, and color of the other car, even if you have to guess
- Any damage caused by the accident
- Identifying characteristics of the other driver
- The direction in which the other car fled
If you don’t have enough information to pursue a claim against this other driver, you’ll have to rely on other means to get compensation.
Alternative Forms of Compensation
In a car accident where the other driver is at fault, you’ll want to seek compensation from the other driver’s car insurance. When that’s not possible, these options may help.
You may have an add-on to your car insurance called Medical Payments (MedPay) and/or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. These are “first-party” claims, meaning you fill them with your own insurance carrier.
With MedPay, fault doesn’t matter – your insurance carrier will pay your claim no matter who caused the accident. However, MedPay won’t cover every form of injury, particularly where the damages exceed the policy limit.
Expenses covered by MedPay include:
- Doctor, rehabilitation, and hospital bills
- Ambulance, medical imaging (e.g., x-rays, MRIs), and medical equipment charges
- Short- and long-term care
Even when the other driver is at fault in a hit-and-run accident, collision insurance will reimburse you for at least some damages. You will most likely have to pay a deductible, however.
Unlike MedPay, your insurer will not pay for medical bills. Collision insurance also will not cover property damage suffered by the other person.
Negligent Driver Insurance
Negligent driver insurance is optional in California. If you have chosen to pay for this added benefit, this policy will cover certain damages.
You must prove that the other driver acted negligently. This means they failed to act like a “reasonably prudent” person. In this case, you must show that a reasonably prudent person would not cause an accident and then flee the scene.
Uninsured Motorist Claim
If successful, an uninsured motorist claim can save you from paying your insurance deductible. To make a claim, you must know the other party’s insurance.
If you have enough information about the other driver before they fled the scene, it may be possible to locate them by their license plate or by following up on witness leads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Sue for a Hit-and-Run on a Parked Car?
Yes. Provided that only property damage occurs, this would be a misdemeanor hit-and-run.
What Evidence Is Needed to Convict in a Hit-and-Run Case?
This depends on whether the hit-and-run caused property versus bodily damage. However, the prosecutor must prove that the driver knew they caused bodily or property damage and then fled the scene purposefully.
Who Pays for Damages in a Hit-and-Run?
If you can track down the at-fault party, they will pay the damages. However, you can also obtain compensation from MedPay coverage, collision insurance, or negligent driver insurance.
File for a Hit-and-Run Compensation With Adamson Ahdoot
If you’ve suffered a hit-and-run car accident, your first concern may be whether you’ve been personally injured or how severe are your car damages. Let an experienced personal injury attorney at Adamson Ahdoot help you get your due compensation.
With decades of combined experience, our personal injury lawyers have successfully obtained the proper compensation for our clients. On top of that, you can get the peace of mind you deserve.
For more inquiries about hit-and-run accident claims, contact us today. Call us at (800) 310-1606 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.