When you are involved in a car accident with another vehicle, both drivers must pull over, ensure everyone is safe, and exchange contact and insurance information to ensure they are properly compensated for any injuries or losses either party suffered from the collision. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it is also the law.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an at-fault driver to illegally flee the scene of the accident immediately after crashing into another vehicle. This type of collision is commonly known as a “hit and run.”
There are two primary types of hit and run accidents: crashes involving others (e.g., drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.) and crashes involving unattended vehicles. The latter occurs more frequently since the driver of an unattended vehicle often has no idea who struck his/her vehicle or how it happened.
The following are a few common reasons why people may flee the scene of a collision:
The hit-and-run driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and fails to respond rationally to the situation or flee the scene out of fear of being caught
The hit-and-run driver has a suspended/revoked license, an outstanding warrant, or prior convictions/infractions
The hit-and-run driver cannot wait for the owner of the unattended vehicle to return
Most hit-and-run drivers feel guilty and ashamed of their actions. The genuine remorse and shock they experience after causing harm to someone else, in combination with fear of being caught or plain immaturity, motivates some culprits to unlawfully leave the scene and avoid liability.
Being a victim of a hit-and-run accident can be stressful and traumatizing, to say the least. Understanding how to respond before the incident occurs may help you control the situation the best you can.
The steps to take after being struck by a hit-and-run driver include:
If you or another person suffered a serious injury, call 911 – The first thing to do following a hit and run is to ensure everyone is safe. If anyone is hurt, call an ambulance for immediate medical attention.
Move your car out of harm’s way – Since the at-fault driver fled the scene, it is unnecessary to remain in the exact spot where the crash happened, especially if you are creating a traffic jam. If you can still drive your vehicle, move it to a nearby shoulder or parking lot.
Call the police – If you have already called for medical assistance, law enforcement officials may also be on their way. Whether there are any injuries or not, contacting the police and filing a report can help the authorities track down the culprit.
Document the scene – While what transpired is still fresh in your mind, remember and write down as many details as possible about the vehicle that hit you, such as the license plate number, make, model, color, and size. Take pictures or record videos of the scene and the damage to your vehicle. If there are any witnesses who are willing to cooperate with your claim and the investigation, obtain their contact information.
File a claim with your auto insurance carrier – If you have the proper coverage (e.g., collision, medical payments, as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage), you may file a claim on your own insurance for the medical expenses and property damage caused in the hit and run accident.
Hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. A misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and/or a fine of up to $600, while a felony conviction is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident in Connecticut, call Zayas Law Firm at (860) 854-9156 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Hartford and Stratford!