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Running away from a motor vehicle accident is an illegal act in California and in fact any other state. The California Vehicle Code Sections, 20001 and 20002 state that those involved in a motor vehicle accident where injury and property damage have taken place are required to stop and remain at the scene of the accident. They are required to provide their contact information to any other driver involved. If a vehicle is damaged and the owner is not present, the driver causing the damage is required by law to leave a note that can be seen easily with contact information.
Despite the legal requirements, hit and run accidents are common events. Every year in California, according to the California Highway Patrol, there are more than 14,000 injuries that have happened because of a hit and run incident. Added to this statistic is the fact that approximately 11% of crashes reported to police involve a hit and run driver and there are 1,500 fatalities in hit and run accidents annually. Pedestrians make up close to 60% of victims of this type of accident and 20% of pedestrian fatalities involve hit and run accident events.
Any Evidence is Useful in a Hit and Run Accident
In most hit and run accidents, it is usually difficult for a victim to identify the vehicle driver who caused the accident. If you were seriously injured, taking the license plate number, the make and model of the vehicle may have been impossible. However, this does not necessarily mean you are never able to get hold of any witnesses. If the accident took place in an urban area security cameras may have taken footage of the accident which may help to identify the driver. The police should be contacted as they may not have tried to search for and apprehend the driver unless you ask them to. They may have evidence on CCTV cameras with the license number plate of the offending vehicle.
Your Own Insurance May Cover You
If you find you are not able to establish the identity of the hit and run driver, it may still be possible to recover compensation through your own insurer. It is a legal requirement that insurance companies offer an auto policy cover for an uninsured motorist causing accident and injury.
If you chose this option when you took out your policy it may help you to get full compensation for the costs of your injuries. Coverage for an uninsured driver includes accidents caused by hit and run drivers. There are caps on the amount of money your insurer is required to pay you. In California, for example, this includes $15,000 for each person for bodily injury, $30,000 for the whole accident and only $3,500 for damage to property. You may get more if you had elected for a higher coverage rate for these types of accidents depending on the nature of damage and injury.
In addition, if you selected coverage for medical costs to cover you for any bodily injury, regardless of who is at fault, or vehicle damage as well, you may find you are able to use this cover to relieve your financial burden of your injuries.
You Will Need a Personal Injury Attorney
No insurer ever wants to settle, even if you are adequately insured and have paid all the necessary premiums up to the date of the hit and run accident. Many insurance adjusters spend a lot of time trying to reduce the value of your claim by saying the evidence provided is not sufficient to justify it.
A good personal injury attorney understands the tactics used by insurers and can present evidence and argument to convince the person or company to pay your entitlements. If you are a pedestrian who has been injured in a hit and run you should still consult a personal injury attorney who may be able to find witnesses who saw the accident and uncover any CCTV footage at your accident that may be reveal the identity of the driver that caused your injuries.