This July in Baton Rouge a 74-year old woman died after being hit by a dump-truck driver who then fled the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, such incidents appear to be on the rise as drivers increasingly opt for self-preservation over personal responsibility. Of those pedestrians who die from being hit by an automobile, a full twenty percent are the result of hit-and-run accidents. Since 2001, there has been a fifteen percent increase nationwide in this type of accident. With this in mind, it is important to consider the following:
Why Drivers Leave the Scene of an Accident
The hit-and-run driver may not have a valid license, may be driving illegally, may be driving while under the influence, may be uninsured, or may simply not want to deal with the consequences of their actions. Auto Club statistics attribute at least twenty percent of hit-and-run accidents to unlicensed drivers while others narrow that further, believing the large number of unlicensed illegal immigrants is a factor in the number of hit-and-run accidents. After all, if an illegal immigrant remains on the scene of the accident they not only risk legal action stemming from the accident, but possibly deportation or other consequences as well.
The Crime of a Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-run is actually a secondary crime after the initial crime of the accident itself. Fleeing from the accident is a crime as well as driving without a valid license or driving under the influence. The impaired person who leaves the scene of the accident may do so with the intent of sobering up, thus incurring fewer charges, however leaving the scene is never acceptable. The law requires that even if a collision involves only property the driver is legally required to stop and make every effort to contact the other party. This means that those who run into a parked car in the mall parking lot and drive away have committed the crime of hit-and-run. The crime of hit-and-run can bring fines and even prison time, although tracking down a hit-and-run driver can be very difficult. Many drivers are unable to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle that hit them, and some cannot even describe the vehicle or the driver at all.
What You Should Do Following the Accident
If you are able to identify the car and driver and if there was a witness to the hit-and-run, you stand a much better chance of forcing him or her to make restitution. If you are able to do so, immediately after the accident write down everything that you remember. Include all details, no matter how unimportant they may seem at the time. Notify the police and if there were witnesses, get their name and contact information. Of course you should be checked out at the emergency room or by your family physician, even if you think you were not injured. Oftentimes the symptoms of an injury are masked by the surge of adrenaline your body experiences during an accident.
Call Koederitz Law Firm to Get the Help You Need
After attending to your health and notifying the police, you should speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can assess the facts of your accident and provide you with legal advice. Gary P. Koederitz of Koederitz Law Firm has over three decades of experience representing hundreds of individuals injured in automobile accidents. We would like to help you through this difficult time, and we can assist you with the insurance claims process. We want to ensure that your legal rights are fully protected, and we want to obtain compensation for you for all damages you suffer, including any pain and suffering, mental distress, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Call us at (225) 295-9494 today to schedule your free initial consultation.