It seems like just another day as you are making your commute to work when suddenly, a car pulls out in front of you. Thankfully, you have remained focused on your surroundings and used your quick reflexes to swerve out of the way. While it was a narrow miss, you could not help but swerve into a tree. The car that nearly hit you is just out of view by this point, and you are unable to make note of a license plate number. What comes to mind next is an overwhelming flood of questions. Fortunately, the attorneys at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP have answers…
What Qualifies as a Hit & Run?
The term “hit and run” is used when a motorist fails to stop and produce the proper driver documentation after causing damage to another person or their property. It is also referred to as a hit-skip, failure to render aid, and simply leaving the scene of an accident.
Is it Illegal to Leave the Scene of an Accident?
Leaving the scene is a serious offense. Providing information and, if necessary, rendering aid is a requirement for any person involved in an accident. A hit and run is essentially a failure on the part of a driver to accept responsibility for their part in a motor vehicle accident and can be considered a felony depending on the state and the severity of the accident.
What Are the Consequences?
If convicted of a hit and run, a first-time offender could be required to pay the victim for damages done to the vehicle, either through his insurance company or in fines assessed by the authorities. In states where insurance points are assessed, the offender will be tacked a high number of points. If the accident causes injuries to another person, the driver can lose his license and insurance on top of paying for the damages. A hit and run accident can also result in the death of a person. In such cases, the driver will be guilty of a felony no matter the state.
Do Hit & Run Victims Have a Case?
Generally, yes. A victim of a Connecticut hit and run accident can potentially recover damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, additional medical costs, the loss of any physical ability, any lost earnings, or any diminished earning capacity. If the driver and the vehicle are identified, the claim can be easily filed against the driver. If the driver is uninsured, then the victims will have to fall back on their own auto insurance policies.
The claim for damages must be filed within a prescribed period known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitation varies from state to state but in Connecticut, it is typically two years from the date of the accident. But the biggest problem in most hit and run cases is that the driver and the vehicle are seldom identified.
What if the Driver Cannot Be Identified?
Criminal prosecution requires the identification of the driver of the hit and run vehicle. If the driver and the vehicle cannot be identified, the victims must once again fall back on their own auto insurance policies if they hope to collect money damages. They can do so through the uninsured and underinsured motorists' coverage they have purchased. Such victims must then seek damages under state laws and perhaps from a third party.
What Should I Do After a Hit and Run Accident?
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, you should immediately contact the police. They can search the scene for evidence that could locate the phantom vehicle and provide access to medical care. Make sure you are seen by a doctor who can assess the severity of your injuries right away. Lastly, you should speak to a Connecticut injury attorney who can ensure you receive the most amount of money to cover your injuries and damages as well as relieve you of the burdening responsibilities that result from the accident.