Hit and Run
Hit and run, or also referred to as hit-skip, is a crime in many States in which a person or an entity, such as a motor vehicle, is involved in a collision, causing damage to a person or property, and fails to stop to offer assistance and to take responsibility for the damages. A frequent form of hit and run is when a driver leaves the scene of an accident, leaving injured people or damaged property without following the proper protocol of an accident.
A particularly serious form of hit and run is when the driver is intoxicated, or pedestrians are involved. Drunk driving hit and run racks up multiple criminal charges, one for DUI and one for leaving the scene.
Causes of hit and run
Although there is no excuse for leaving an injured person to suffer in an accident without help, there are a number of reasons why an individual would flee the scene: driving without a license, has no insurance or underinsured, drunk or under the influence of drugs, drives an unregistered car, has an outstanding arrest warrant, involved in street racing, or just gets scared and is unable to assess the seriousness of the accident.
Hit and run statistics
Hit and run accidents are governed by State law, and the statistics vary from State to State. What is typical for each State, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is that it has increased in the past decade. Another alarming factor is that about 11% of all vehicle accidents are hit and run. The majority of hit and run fatalities involve passengers of vehicles, bicyclists, drivers, individuals outside their cars, and motorcyclists.
Hit and run injuries are similar to those of vehicle accident injuries or pedestrian injuries: simple bruises, minor cuts, facial injuries, head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, foot, and leg injuries, and more serious ones such as head trauma, paralysis or even death.
What shall I do in case of a hit and run?
Avoiding responsibility, especially after an accident, requires a disturbed emotional state of mind. Lots can be learned from crime prevention tips: stop your vehicle where it will not impede the flow of traffic; exchange personal details in case of an accident or leave on the scene if the owner is not present; record the license plate number and the damages of the vehicle that wants to flee the scene, and call the police; preserve all physical and testimonial evidence; call for immediate assistance if anyone is injured and if the injury is in a remote area, you must bring the injured person to the nearest hospital; keep a record of the injury and how it affected your life; never leave the scene of an accident whether it is your fault or not; and call your insurance company as well as your Little Rock injury lawyer.
What mistakes shall I avoid?
If you caused the accident, do not leave the scene, and if you do, turn yourself into the police and call an experienced hit and run lawyer. If you are the victim, follow the dos and don’ts we recommended in this site: do not settle your claim before you know the extent of your injury; do not give a recorded statement or sign anything without the advice of your lawyer; do not jump at the first offer, and never delay seeking medical treatment.
How to prevent hit and run?
Preventing hit and run accidents can be a bit challenging, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved that make the reaction of drivers unpredictable. However, there are a number of measures that can minimize the occurrences and/or the damages:
- exercise defensive driving and allow plenty of room between you and the vehicles around you;
- do not get distracted when driving with phone calls, text messages, maps, etc;
- if you need to exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle, first remove your car from traffic lanes before exchanging information;
- always be proactive and not reactive, expect the unexpected;
- and maintain your vehicle as recommended by the manufacturer.
Some legal advice
Hit and run carry both civil as well as criminal liabilities. Public liability is based on negligence, which caused the injuries and the damages. To prove civil liability, one has to confirm that the negligence caused the sufferings, so if you leave the scene and are not at fault, there may be no civil liability. In the criminal case, if the only property is damaged, the penalty could range from a fine to serving up to six months in jail.
However, if there is injury involved, hit and run is a felony in every State and the penalty is more serious ranging from high fines, suspension of driver license, and jail time that can be as long as 30 years for a first-degree felony. If you are involved in a hit and run accident, call an Little Rock injury lawyer Arkansas and/or a criminal lawyer immediately.