A car accident is one of the scariest moments in any person's life. And it's not just injury and car damage that victims need to worry about - you'll also be thrust into a tense situation with a total stranger. You don't know this person or understand their current situation. Being forthright is critical when handling these incidents, but what if you don't get a chance to handle it at all?
California is home to one of the country's most unfortunate trends - accidents involving a driver who bolts the scene. According to the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County had 28,000 hit and run incidents in 2015, which accounted for an astonishing 50% of all traffic accidents. Most of these incidents involve only minor damage, like someone striking a car in a restaurant parking lot and just taking off without leaving a note. But plenty still causes bodily harm and some have even been fatal.
A driver is guilty of a hit and run if they leave the scene of an accident before police arrive without providing any of their information. A driver leaving the scene without giving contact or insurance is guilty of a misdemeanor if there was any damage to the other vehicle. And if the other driver was injured, a felony charge may result, especially in the state of California. But despite stiff penalties, hit and run accidents still happen and you need to know what to do if you're the victim of one.
If You're Unharmed, Stay Calm
Unless there's a serious injury, it's important to keep your composure after a driver hits you and takes off. Getting angry or emotional won't make the other driver come back. Remember that cars are much, much easier to fix than bones. Keeping your wits will also help you better remember specifics of the accident, like the color or model of the hit and run driver's car, or maybe even a partial license plate. The more information you can give the police, the easier it will be for them to find the perpetrator.
DO NOT Chase The Other Driver
Always remember what Jules Winnfield said in the diner in Pulp Fiction - we're going to be cool here. Chasing down the car who hit you might feel like vindication, but this will only lead to more problems. Maybe the other driver isn't licensed or insured, or maybe they have warrants out for arrest. That's not something you want to find out in a one-on-one altercation. Leave the confrontation to the police, who you should immediately be calling anyway.
Call Your Insurance Company and Lawyer
Someone who hits you and leaves the scene is committing a crime. And if that accident caused injuries, it will likely be a felony. A hit and run victim's first call should always the police, but then make sure to contact your insurance company and a lawyer. Rush Injury Law has experience getting car accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you've been victimized by a hit and run driver in the San Francisco Bay area, contact Rush Injury Law today.