These Cases Often Require an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Thousands of accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians occur on America’s streets and highways every year. A lot of these accidents result in severe injuries and fatalities, and the victims are almost always are pedestrians. Many of these accidents are categorized as hit-and-run cases. Talk with an experience pedestrian accident lawyer if you were injured by a car while walking.
The meaning of a hit-and-run accident
When a traffic accident occurs, both parties involved in the crash are required to remain at the scene of the crash and wait for the police to arrive. But not all drivers are law-abiding citizens; some of them leave the scene without stopping. This makes it a hit-and-run accident. Hit-and-run is a serious offence and carries severe penalties for the guilty party.
In most states, the simple act of leaving the scene after colliding with another vehicle or hitting a pedestrian makes one guilty of hit-and-run regardless of who caused the accident. The driver can, however, leave the scene temporarily to get emergency assistance, such as to seek medical attention. But he/she must return immediately.
It’s not necessary for a hit-and-run accident to happen on a street or highway. If a driver backs into another car in a parking lot or a private road and leaves the scene, then it is considered a hit-and-run. But if the other car is unoccupied and the driver leaves a notes with his name and contact number, then it won’t be considered a hit-and-run accident.
Here are the five important facts you should know about hit-and-run:
- The driver who leaves the scene of the crash can be charged with hit-and-run even if the accident was not his fault.
- A hit-and-run driver can be charged with felony hit-and-run even if the only person injured or killed was his passenger.
- A driver involved in a crash may temporarily leave the scene of the accident to seek necessary medical attention for himself or anyone injured in the crash. But he/she must return immediately.
- A hit-and-run driver can be charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run even if there was no damage to another vehicle.
- A misdemeanor hit-and-run case may be resolved with a civil compromise.
Penalties for a hit-and-run accident
There are three types of penalties for a hit-and-run offense: criminal, administrative and civil penalties.
- Criminal penalties: In most states, a hit-and-run accident is classified as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstance. Misdemeanor hit-and-run carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Felony hit-and-run carries a fine of between $5,000 and $20,000 and a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
- Administrative penalties: In almost every state, administrative penalties for a hit-and-run offense result in an automatic suspension or revocation of the guilty party’s driver’s license for a period of six months, regardless of whether it was classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. The revocation could be for as long as three years in some states. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the offense, it could even be for a lifetime.
- Civil penalties: If a driver is charged with felony or misdemeanor hit-and-run on top of causing the accident, he/she will have to pay compensation for all damages. Some states may impose ‘treble damages’ on him/her, which means that any damages awarded to the plaintiff will be automatically tripled as punishment for bad behavior.
In addition to the penalties discussed here, the insurance company of the hit-and-run driver may cancel his/her insurance policy.
In case a hit-and-run driver is never found
All is not lost if the hit-and-run driver is never found. You may seek financial compensation through your own auto insurance if you have uninsured motorist coverage. If the hit-and-driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage, then you can seek compensation from your own insurance through an underinsured motorist claim (UIM).
What to do (and not to do) if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident
If you are injured or if your loved one is killed in a hit-and-run accident while walking, then you should do the following:
- Call 911 and wait for the police.
- Ask someone to take pictures of your injuries as well as the scene of the accident.
- Talk to witness and write down their name, address and phone number.
- Seek medical treatment for your injuries immediately.
- Call a reputed pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as you can.
- Do not talk to any insurance company before talking to your lawyer.
- Do not sign any documents sent to you by any insurance company without showing it to your lawyer.
- Do not refuse medical treatment for your injuries.