Were you injured in a collision in Elk Grove with a driver who subsequently fled the scene before exchanging information or waiting for law enforcement to arrive? Leaving the crash scene is considered a hit-and-run traffic offense in California.
The California Highway Patrol reports almost 27,000 people statewide were injured in hit-and-run accidents in one recent year, while another 391 people died in hit-and-run crashes. Hit-and-runs are especially devastating for people who’ve been injured because they may find it difficult to recover fair compensation for the harm they’ve suffered.
Just because you were hit by a driver who fled the scene doesn’t mean you have no legal recourse. The Elk Grove, CA, hit-and-run accident lawyers at Black & DePaoli, PC, have over 25 years of experience helping crash victims seek compensation for their injuries. We serve clients throughout the Sacramento area and California more broadly. Our focus on personal injury cases helps us deliver exceptional results for our clients.
Contact us today for a free claim review and advice about your legal options.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
When a car accident occurs, all the drivers involved are supposed to stop, make sure everyone is OK, and exchange insurance information before going their separate ways. Not only is this practice common courtesy, but it also makes it easier for all the drivers to get what they need to start an insurance claim.
However, when someone is involved in an accident and flees the scene without talking to the other drivers, it’s known as a hit-and-run crash. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident without stopping to check on the others involved, it puts crash victims at greater risk of severe injuries and makes it harder for victims to get the money they need to cover their losses.
What Are My Legal Responsibilities After a Car Accident?
The California Vehicle Code spells out drivers’ duties if involved in an accident. Here are your responsibilities if you’re in a car accident:
- If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location to prevent additional crashes.
- Give your name and address to the other driver. If you’re driving a car belonging to someone else, give the vehicle owner’s name and address.
- If asked, present your driver’s license and vehicle registration.
- If the other driver is not present (such as if you hit a parked car), leave a note in a conspicuous location with the information listed above.
- If anyone was injured or killed, notify the authorities and provide medical assistance as best you can.
What Happens If a Driver Flees the Scene of an Accident?
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime under California law. If someone flees the scene of an accident and there was only property damage, they can be charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run. The penalties for a misdemeanor hit-and-run include up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and two points on your driver’s license.
If someone flees the scene of an accident involving injuries or death, they can be charged with felony hit-and-run. The penalties for a felony hit-and-run include up to four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
As a practical matter, though, finding a driver who flees the scene of an accident is often an impossible task. Unless you have a picture of the car that hit you, a license plate number, or a detailed description, police will find it more challenging to track down one car among the millions of registered vehicles in California. If you see a driver trying to flee the scene of an accident, try to get whatever evidence you can before they leave, as long as you can do so safely.
Uninsured Motorist Claims After a Hit-and-Run Crash in Elk Grove
Because it can be such a challenge to find a driver who flees the crash scene, your best option for recovering compensation after a hit-and-run is often to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your insurance company.
Insurance companies treat hit-and-run drivers as uninsured motorists, which allows you to recover some compensation for your losses from your auto insurance policy. However, do not expect the insurance company to automatically pay you what you deserve. It is often necessary to get an attorney to represent your interests against the insurer.
California drivers are not required to carry UM coverage. The state requires insurers to offer UM coverage to drivers, but drivers can decline it. We strongly recommend you purchase UM coverage if you can afford it. Otherwise, you could find it challenging to pay for your expenses if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident.
How an Elk Grove Car Accident Lawyer Can Help with a UM Claim
It’s a good idea to get help from an attorney when you file a UM claim after a hit-and-run. Because an uninsured motorist claim may be your only option for recovering compensation, you need to do what you can to recover as much money as possible.
Even though you’re filing a claim with your insurance company, you’ll still need to provide evidence of the crash and the harm you suffered. The insurance company’s goal is still to pay out as little as possible on your claim. A car accident attorney can help you find the proof you need and maximize the potential compensation you receive through your claim.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer in Elk Grove?
Many hit-and-run accident victims are skeptical of talking to a lawyer because they’re worried about how much it might cost. At Black & DePaoli, PC, we don’t charge our clients upfront fees. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means that we don’t charge you any fees unless and until we help you collect compensation for your losses.
Once we’ve recovered as much compensation for you as we can, a portion of whatever money you recover will go toward covering our fees. This fee structure allows us to help anyone afford high-quality legal representation regardless of their financial situation.
Contact Our Experienced Elk Grove Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Today
You should never have to sit idly by as another driver flees the scene of your injury accident. However, if the unthinkable has happened to you, it’s important to remember that you still have options.
The Elk Grove hit-and-run accident lawyers at Black & DePaoli, PC, are ready to review your case and help you find the best path forward. Call us or contact us online for a free initial consultation right away.