Hit and Run Injury Claims

Hit and run injury claims

By David Carnes, Staff Writer

Hit and run injury claims are a type of personal injury claim and victims can recover compensation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “hit and run” accidents account for about 11 percent of all traffic accidents. Of these, more than 1 in 25 result in a fatality.  All 50 states make it a crime to “hit and run”. Moreover, it can also result in civil liability.

What is “Hit and Run”?

A “hit and run” occurs when a driver leaves the scene of a motor vehicle accident without rendering aid. This aid may take the form of calling the police and/or an ambulance, or simply exchanging contact details and insurance information. In most states, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime even if the accident was not the departing driver’s fault. Filing a civil lawsuit against an innocent driver who left the scene of the accident can get a bit more complicated.

Why Do People Hit and Run?

Drivers leave the scene of accidents for a variety of reasons. Although it is usually the driver at fault who leaves the scene, in some cases the victim of an accident will leave the scene. Some of the most common reasons for leaving the scene of an accident include:

  • The driver did not have a valid driver’s license
  • Possession of an illegal drug or other contraband
  • The driver caused a serious injury and is afraid of being prosecuted (particularly likely in car/pedestrian accident)
  • The driver was driving someone else’s car (perhaps his employer’s car)
  • Being intoxicated
  • The driver simply panicked

Finding the Driver

Ordinarily, locating the driver is the hardest part of winning hit and run injury claims. The accident may have happened so fast that you cannot identify either the driver or the car. The accident may have knocked you unconscious. In this case, you should interview potential witnesses. In some cases, you may even have to knock on doors in the neighborhood where the accident occurred. If you can’t find the driver, you may be forced to rely on your own insurance policy (assuming it covers hit and run accidents).

Criminal vs. Civil Cases

Just because the driver was acquitted in a criminal hit and run case doesn’t mean you can’t still win a lawsuit against him. To win a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This is a very high standard of proof. To win a civil (personal injury) case, you need only to meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard. You must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant who left the scene of the accident caused your damages and injuries.

Damages for Hit and Run Injury Claims

Suing someone for hit and run and suing someone for the traffic accident itself are two different claims. In an injury accident, suing someone for causing an accident is usually a straightforward personal injury case. To win damages (or a settlement) for leaving the scene of the accident, however, you must prove that the driver caused you damages by leaving the scene – your injuries may have been compounded by a failure to receive prompt medical treatment, for example. It is possible for you to win on both claims.

Hit and run injury claims require the help of an experienced accident attorney. Our accident attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim for a hit and run accident.

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