Getting in a car accident is bad enough, but being involved in a hit and run is much worse. If you were the victim of a hit and run and the at-fault driver is not adequately insured, you might face costs. And if you are considered at-fault—even if the accident was minor—you’ll likely have to deal with some fairly serious consequences.
Robert White, Odessa personal injury attorney, explains what you need to know about hit and runs, when you might be charged with a hit and run and how to financially protect yourself if you were the victim.
What Hit and Run Means
A hit and run can occur with a pedestrian, an object or another vehicle. When a person hits something and then flees the scene without identifying themselves or trying to get a pedestrian help, they have become part of a “hit and run.”
In almost all states, it doesn’t matter who caused the car accident—if you leave the scene, you are part of a hit and run. There are usually exceptions for individuals who had to move away from the scene to get help—for instance, if you are trying to attain emergency assistance from someone or looking for cell service to call 911. However, you must return to the scene after you’ve gotten assistance.
Additionally, some states consider hitting an animal and not reporting it to be a hit and run. And most states treat backing into a car in the parking lot without leaving a note that identifies you as a hit and run.
What Happens to Someone Charged with a Hit and Run?
There are criminal, civil and administrative penalties to be faced when an individual is charged with a hit and run. They vary by state. Criminal penalties are classified as felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the accident. Felonies are usually reserved for a hit and run involving an injured person. Felony penalties usually cost between $5,000 and $20,000. There is also a very real possibility of jail time.
Civil penalties tend to occur when an individual is considered at fault for the accident. If you are an injured victim, you might sue whoever hit you. You might try to have them pay for your medical costs, damages to your property and wages lost if you were unable to work due to injury.
Administrative penalties are imposed on an individual’s driver’s license, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Often, an individual’s license is suspended for a certain period of time after he or she has been involved in a hit and run, even if it was only classified as a misdemeanor.
How Do I Protect Myself If I’m Not At Fault?
If you are not at fault, you can unfortunately still be faced with costs following a car accident. Consider getting uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to avoid being stuck with any bills of you are involved in a hit and run. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have liability insurance, or whose liability limits are too low to adequately cover the damage or medical expenses. These types of insurance can be very affordable, and well worth their cost following the misfortune of an accident.
Talk to an Odessa Personal Injury Attorney
Talk to an Odessa personal injury attorney for details on the best ways to protect yourself during a hit and run. A personal injury lawyer will give you representation, information and support as you seek proper compensation for the damages you’ve faced.